Taku Shares Tour Pictures

Percussionist Taku Hirano has posted tour pictures from the 2003-2004 Say You Will tour on his official website.

Photos of Stevie appear in the “Fleetwood Mac Tour” and “Bette Midler” galleries.

Dreams replayed

Fleetwood Mac, Rod Laver Arena, February 23, 2004

By Patrick Donovan
The Age (AU)
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Depending on your musical preference, Fleetwood Mac is one of the great lost blues bands, the quintessence of California soft-rock and LA excess or one of the greatest pop groups of all time.

Impartial rock historians would probably consider all three verdicts valid. The band did lose its edge after drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie replaced its crack blues guitarists with the pop dynamics of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. But while the new team propelled the band to superstar status with slickly crafted pop, the songs were underscored by real emotions and tension.

At Rod Laver Arena last night, about 12,000 fans paid up to $200 each to rekindle memories on the band’s first Australian tour in 14 years. But it was not just a nostalgia trip; they also played songs from their first studio album in 15 years, Say You Will.

The baby boomer-heavy crowd came to hear the hits off the sixth most popular album of all time, Rumours. Having sold just under 20 million copies, it continues to provide for them, with the Say You Will tour grossing $US91 million in the US last year.

Noticeably absent from the latest album and tour is John McVie’s ex-wife, keyboardist Christine McVie, perhaps the band’s unsung hero. But just the fact that former lovers Nicks and Buckingham can share the same stage is enough for the fans, and it was that pairing that worked best on stage here.

Fleetwood Mac were greater than the sum of their parts. Their chemistry was built on complementary songwriting, the sexual frisson between the band’s couples, a brandy-and-cocaine diet and all the resulting tensions.

Decked out in her signature multi-layered, free-flowing, goth-boudoir ensemble (which inspired many clones in the crowd), 55-year-old Nicks filled the arena with her husky voice on classics including The Chain, Dreams, Rhiannon and Gypsy.

Buckingham’s dextrous guitar playing had more room to fill in the absence of McVie’s keyboards, and at times he unleashed a frustrated rocker from within, with long self-indulgent solos. But his guitar-god posturing was really only possible in front of a crowd unaccustomed to harder rock.

The fact that the group is still performing is less a cash-in and more testament to survival. Buckingham summed it up: “It’s been a long and mostly a strange trip, but the point is, here we are.”

The gig peaked with a three-drum version of the tribal masterpiece Tusk, the classic Go your Own Way, and the hit that Bill Clinton adopted for his presidential campaign, Don’t Stop. The crowd was finally on their feet.

Fleetwood Mac play again at the Rod Laver Arena tonight (Tuesday).

Fleetwood Mac tops off spring itinerary, summer dates in the works

By Rob Evans
LiveDaily
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Classic rockers  Fleetwood Mac have put the finishing touches on the first leg of their upcoming North American tour, which will visit 27 cities in May and June.

A second leg of dates is in the works, which will keep the group on the road through the summer, according to Warner Bros. Records. The band, which last year issued its first album of all-new material in more than a decade, is currently touring Australia.

Cable networks VH1 and VH1 Classic have signed on as presenting sponsors of Fleetwood Mac’s U.S. outing, which will visit a mix of arenas and amphitheaters.

Members of Fleetwood Mac’s fan club have access to ticket pre-sales for each show, according to the band’s official website. The fan-club offering features two different ticket packages: the first–dubbed the “Bronze Presale”–includes a ticket in the first 30 rows, priced at face value plus a $10 service charge; the second–the “Platinum Package”–features tickets in the first five rows, an exclusive T-shirt and VIP laminate, an autographed tour book, a $25 coupon for the band’s online store, and a VIP backstage tour that does not include a meet-and-greet with the band, priced at $500.

On-sale information for most shows wasn’t available at press time, but tickets are expected to roll out soon.

Fleetwood Mac continues to support last April’s “Say You Will,” which is the band’s first studio album since 1986’s “Tango in the Night” to feature Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. Keyboardist-vocalist Christine McVie has retired from the group.

Tour Dates

May 2004
8 – Madison, WI – Kohl Center Arena
9 – Champaign, IL – Assembly Hall
12 – Green Bay, WI – Resch Center
14 – Antioch, TN – AmSouth Amphitheatre
15 – Atlanta, GA – Chastain Park Amphitheater
18 – West Palm Beach, FL – Sound Advice Amphitheatre
20 – Charlotte, NC – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
22 – Raleigh, NC – Alltel Pavilion
23 – Jacksonville, FL – Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
26 – Bristow, VA – Nissan Pavilion
28 – Mansfield, MA – Tweeter Center
29 – Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center

June 2004
1 – Scranton, PA – Montage Mountain
3 – Camden, NJ – Tweeter Center
5 – Hershey, PA – Hersheypark Stadium
6 – Wantagh, NY – Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach Theatre
8 – Hartford, CT – Ctnow.com Meadows Meadows Music Centre
10 – Pittsburgh, PA – Post-Gazette Pavilion
12 – Tinley Park, IL – Tweeter Center
13 – Cuyahoga Falls, OH – Blossom Music Center
16 – Dallas, TX – Smirnoff Music Center
17 – The Woodlands, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
20 – Irvine, CA – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
22 – Chula Vista, CA – Coors Amphitheater
24 – Fresno, CA – Save Mart Center
26 – Concord, CA – Chronicle Pavilion
27 – Marysville, CA – Sleep Train Amphitheater

Nicks dispels her image

By Nui te Koha
Herald Sun (AU)
Feb 21, 2004

Superstar Stevie Nicks had dispelled the myth of her witch alter-ego.

Nicks, 55, also revealed her image was an on-the-spot decision made 30 years ago.

Her so-called witch link dates back to Fleetwood Mac’s 1975 breakthrough hit, Rhiannon.

“But that really wasn’t about being a witch,” Nicks said.

“Rhiannon was a mythological goddess of horses and steeds, a maker of birds.

“She was a goddess who could save you. If you want to call her a witch, then you would have to say a very, very good witch. She never hurt me,” Nicks says.

Indeed, Nicks banked her now-famous image on black couture with a deliberate supernatural feel.

“I wanted to look like a Dickens character, like somebody straight out of Great Expectations. I wanted to be raggy and elegant.”

Nicks met a designer in 1974 and sketched a fashion plan.

“I drew an edgy skirt. I wanted it to be chiffon. I wanted it to fall in an edgy, handkerchief way,” she said.

“Then I wanted to harden up this ballerina thing with a pair of big clumpy boots.

“I wanted to put an industrial twist on the whole thing.”

A designer sewed Nicks’ outfit, which then made its debut on the cover of Mac’s defining album, Rumours.

Nicks says she managed only one year, when she went solo in 1983, without her black uniform.

“I wore pink,” she said, laughing. “After that, I said: ‘You know what? I look so much skinnier in black’. So I went back to black and figured that people were just going to have to get over the whole witch thing.”

Fleetwood Mac will perform at Rod Laver Arena on Monday and Tuesday.

A Mac with everything to go

FLEETWOOD Mac demanded a five-star visit with all the rock ‘n’ roll trimmings before they flew into Australia.

The Daily Telegraph (AU)
Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The Mac, one of the most successful music acts ever, has upped the ante on luxury living while on tour.

Promoters have agreed to Mac demands for their own 737 jet, a limousine for each band member and antique furniture flown in from a Bel Air mansion.

Mac frontwoman Stevie Nicks stayed in Hawaii for two weeks to acclimatise to Pacific time zones.

“I have to stop for a minute and thank all the gods of rock and roll that it can be done, one more time, in this fashion,” Nicks said.

“As I sit on that plane and watch those limousines come out on to the airfield, I ask: ‘Oh my God, where is Robert Plant, where is Jimmy Page?

“It’s like the old days. It’s huge. It’s as close to the 1970s as you can get.

“It’s very fun and it’s very dramatic.”

Nicks, 55, has weathered alcoholism and cocaine and anti-depressant addictions.

She says the new, sober Mac has earned its five-star lifestyle.

Lindsey Buckingham (guitar), John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums) bring their own furniture on tour.

Nicks insists on taking her furniture from a Bel Air mansion the band rented while recording their latest album, Say You Will.

“I lived with that furniture for almost a year, so it feels like home,” Nicks says.

Other Mac dressing rooms are personally decorated by Buckingham’s niece.

Nicks, an inspiration to two generations of female performers, takes her role seriously.

She is flattered to get calls for advice from Sheryl Crow, Michelle Branch and Natalie Maines, of the Dixie Chicks.

“I have a strong ego and I’m possessive of my songs, my performance and what I’ve done.”

Fleetwood Mac will perform in Sydney on March 7.

Rock giants call a five-star tune

By Nui Te Koha
Herald Sun (AU)
Tuesday, February 17, 2004

FLEETWOOD Mac wants a five-star visit with all the trimmings after flying into Australia yesterday.

The Mac, one of the most successful music acts ever, has upped the ante of luxury living while on tour. Promoters have agreed to Mac demands for their own 737 jet, a limousine for each band member and antique furniture flown in from a Bel Air mansion.

Mac front woman Stevie Nicks stayed in Hawaii for two weeks to acclimatise to Pacific time zones. “I have to stop for a minute and thank all the gods of rock and roll that it can be done, one more time, in this fashion,” Nicks told the Herald Sun.

“As I sit on that plane and watch those limousines come out on to the airfield, I ask: ‘Oh my God, where is (Led Zeppelin’s) Robert Plant, where is Jimmy Page?

“It’s like the old days. It’s huge. It’s as close to the 1970s as you can get.

“It’s very fun and it’s very dramatic.”

Nicks, 55, has weathered alcoholism and addictions to cocaine and anti-depressants.

She says the new, sober Mac has earned its five-star lifestyle.

Lindsey Buckingham (guitar), John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums) bring their own furniture on tour.

Nicks insists on taking her furniture from a Bel Air mansion the band rented while recording their latest album, Say You Will.

“I lived with that furniture for almost a year, so it feels like home. When I walk into my dressing room, I want to be cosy,” Nick said.

Other Mac dressing rooms are personally decorated by Buckingham’s niece.

Nicks, an inspiration to two generations of female performers, takes her role seriously.

She is flattered to receive calls for advice from Sheryl Crow, Michelle Branch and Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks.

“I have a very strong ego and I’m very possessive of my songs, my performance, and what I’ve done.”

She still conveys sexuality and sensuality in her music.

“But you need to retain some mystery,” Nicks said. “I think, with a lot of music today, the mystery is gone.

“And if there is no mystery, you aren’t even sexy. If people can see it all, why should they even bother to ask you out?

“Women being raunchy may be great for MTV, but they’re certainly not getting an invite home to see mum.”

Fleetwood Mac’s latest 2 1/2 hour show received rave reviews in the US and UK.

Fleetwood Mac performs at Rod Laver Arena on February 23 and 24.

Original rock chick

Stevie Nicks

By Nui te Koha
The Sunday Mail (AU)
Sunday, February 8, 2004

THERE was a time when their unspoken backstage demand was a showbag of illicit drugs. Those were, Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks says, the brandy and cocaine days.

“I am happy to say we are over the ridiculous,” Nicks chuckles. “However, it is still pretty fabulous. “There is beautiful red wine, if you drink red wine. I don’t. If you want Cristal champagne, it’s there. There are roses and flowers in all of our dressing rooms.

“We bring our own furniture with us. We try to make everything warm and cosy.”

Welcome to Rock Royalty Lifestyles 101, a course written by the band that adhered to and then rewrote the manual for fast living.

All that has changed, of course. Fleetwood Mac are older, wiser and sober.

Still, Nicks purrs happily through a list of must-haves she and the Mac are enjoying on their US tour.

A customised 737 jet is treat No. 1. Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham (vocals, guitar), John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums) are collected on the airport tarmac in separate limousines.

“Whenever I’m on that massive airplane, I have to tap myself on the shoulder and go, ‘Where is Led Zeppelin? They must be here somewhere’,” Nicks says.

“That is my fun memory of the old days. I think of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and the fact that we still get to do what they did, today. That is definitely a rock-star perk.”

Nicks, 55, is the original rock chick, poetic soul and do-or-die survivor in an extraordinary career of surreal highs and soulless lows.

She battled cocaine addiction after Mac’s defining album, Rumours, and its follow-up, Tusk. But a retreat into Klonopin, an anti-depressant drug, led to a social and creative vacuum from 1986 to 1993.

“In comparison to the eight years I spent on Klonopin, the cocaine and brandy wins hands down.”

It is now her mission to get Klonopin banned. “If you are ever in a drugstore and they put you on Klonopin, run out of there screaming.”

Today, 11 years after she snapped out of her medicated haze, Nicks is in a good place. Her latest album, Trouble In Shangri-La, marked a stellar return to form.

And the good chemistry in the historically turbulent Mac has warranted several happy reunions. But the Mac dynamic is different for this tour.

Christine McVie, a singer-songwriter equal on Rumours, is not in the line-up. She is chasing a solo career. Her absence, however, has seen the band revert to a guitar sound that Nicks and Buckingham refined before joining Fleetwood Mac in 1975.

Famously, Nicks’ and Buckingham’s real-life love affair ended spectacularly a year later. Every conflicting emotion ended up on Rumours, then years of silent animosity.

“We are in a very good place now,” Nicks says. “We are having a lot of fun on stage and for those 2½ hours we get up there and belong to each other. And we get to enjoy all the things we have worked for all these years.”

Nicks is still incredibly prolific. When she felt her songs for the latest Mac album, Say You Will, were not up to scratch, she asked for 30 days to write a new batch.

She returned with a cassette demo. By the fourth song, Buckingham was in tears. For Nicks, it was the ultimate compliment.

“I just write about what I see, and, coming back to the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, I see a lot. I go home, and when nobody sees me I get my journal and I write for hours. A year later, or two years later, I’ll go back to that prose and pull the poetry out of it.”

Nicks has been storing notes for an autobiography.

“I have journals all the way back to the beginning of Fleetwood Mac. The Klonopin journals,” she laughs, “are not so good.”

What would the first lines of Nicks’ autobiography say?

“It would go all the way back to when I was in fourth grade and my grandfather brought home a trunkload of 45s,” she says.

“He and I sat on the floor in my bedroom and listened to song after song after song. That, really, is when I started singing.”

But, even after all these years, she still suffers from stage fright.

“If you have stage fright, it never goes away. But then I wonder: is the key to that magical performance because of the fear?”

Luckily, Nicks still knows what she is capable of. “I walk on stage, I’m very strong, I’m still pretty cute – and I rock.”

Fleetwood Mac, Brisbane Entertainment Centre, February 19 (sold out) and 20. Tickets: 13 19 31.

Take it to the limit

By Phil Sutcliffe
Mojo
December 2003

“God knows all our lives are unimaginable without each other,” mutters Mick Fleetwood, glancing speculatively from one old friend to another. It’s a line you might expect to crop up in Friends or Cold Feet, but it’s quite a thing to say at Madison Square Garden in front of 20,000 people when you’re really just introducing the band.

This is Fleetwood Mac, though, the longest-running soap opera in rock’n’roll, so portentous lines never go amiss.

The underlying plot motif of recent months has been yet another comeback successfully accomplished. The new studio album, Say You Will, has sold a million in the US while the tour, begun last May, has grown and grown, now extending to Europe and seven November shows in the UK. And the revivified band, minus Christine McVie, “retired” pro tem, demonstrates nightly that this is no nostalgia trip, it’s Fleetwood Mac full on. Trim Lindsey Buckingham, 55, sings like a deranged Roy Orbison, dazzle-fingers the guitar strings, then stumbles away thumping his heart as if each solo might be his last. Stevie Nicks, 55 too, aflutter with black lace, so forgets her trademark wafty witchy ways that she punches the air like a Premiership goalscorer and defies the logic of middle-age, gravity and her stilettos to kick up her skirts and execute a dizzying Dervish twirl.

But that’s not all. Because here’s the news. Four songs in, Buckingham and Nicks, the romantic leads who broke up amid Rumours 27 years ago, are gazing into each others’ eyes across the stage as they sing a harmony. A little later, she hip-wiggles up to him and her fingers dance air guitar right next to his. In Landslide, as he reaches – let’s face it – a climax, she slips behind him, a hand on his arm and he turns and kisses her forehead. Then, at the end of Tusk, they fall into a full embrace. Buckingham breaks from the clinch and, bent like Quasimodo, makes for a microphone. He tilts his head back and roars. “Rrrrrraaaaarrrr!”

The following afternoon in a wood-panelled suite at the Waldorf Astoria, Stevie Nicks, as on-stage a living susurrus in diaphanous black, is chuckling about Buckingham’s silly walk and animal noises. Nothing to do with Victor Hugo, she says: “It’s Tusk the elephant. That whole African-drum, tusk-in-the-air, happy, religious, ritualistic thing, with Mick as the African chief. Making that record, we became like a tribe. In the studio we had two ivory tusks as tall as Mick on either side of the console. The board became ‘Tusk’. If something went wrong it was, ‘Tusk is down’. Those 13 months working in that room were our journey up the sacred mountain to the sacred African percussion, uh, place, where all the gods of music lived.”

Frankly, sacred mountains and gods of music were just the ticket to start MOJO’s retrospective on the notorious vinyl double that was 1979’s Tusk. Back then, record moguls dubbed it “Lindsey’s folly”. Yet, of late, MOJO has encountered diverse young bands – The Strokes, Air, The Webb Brothers, — unexpectedly quoting Tusk as influential. It was recently designated “a landmark of radical MOR” by The Guardian. How prescient American critical doyen Greil Marcus looks now, having written in his October 1979 Tusk review that “Fleetwood Mac is subverting the music from the inside out, very much like one of John LeCarre’s moles – who, planted in the heart of the establishment, does not begin his secret campaign of sabotage and betrayal until everyone has gotten used to him, and takes him for granted.”

Tusk erupted out of the lives in tornado turmoil. Three years before Tusk, with Buckingham-Nicks a promising duo and utterly broke, as an improbably Los Angeleno Mrs. Mop Nicks had set aside her chiffon in favour of “Ajax and a toilet brush”. Then Mick Fleetwood called and everything went wild. Joining Fleetwood (drums/band manager) and the McVies, John (bass) and Christine (keyboards/vocals), they made a US Top 10 album, Fleetwood Mac, which successfully shifted the band’s reputation from the Brit R&B of Peter Green days to Californian soft rock. Then came the global monster, eventual 30-million-selling Rumours. In the course of his vertical take-off, malign scriptwriters took over their lives.

Christine McVie walked out on her marriage to John, largely because of his boozing. Soon she was living with band lighting engineer Curry Grant, and, in the early days of Tusk, John married his secretary, Julie Rubens (one relationship that has endured). Nicks broke up with Buckingham after five fraught years. She took up with The Eagles’ Don Henley and others, while he played the field before going steady with a woman called Carol Harris. Fleetwood and his wife Jenny (Pattie Boyd-Harrison/Clapton’s sister) divorced and remarried. Then, unbeknownst to the band, he began an affair with Nicks.

And everyone drank, smoked and snorted loads. Unsurprisingly, when Buckingham called at Fleetwood’s Bel Air home early in 1978 to discuss strategy – “What the **** were we going to do now?” as the drummer puts it – it took three days.

Still sporting an enormous Afro yet captivated by new wave, Buckingham insisted that he couldn’t stand any laurel-flaunting ’Rumours II’ operation. Sitting in an airily sumptuous apartment at the Ritz-Carlton, he tells MOJO how he tried to convey that, in adapting to the band, “I was losing a great deal of myself” – to both their music and high-on-the-hog lifestyle. He wanted to record his songs at home, then bring them to the band.

Fleetwood, now 56, is ensconced 100 yards along the block in the rather more antique Plaza (different hotels because they all have their New York favourites; otherwise they’d all stay together, honest). His ultimate reaction to the “new boy” was that “what he suggested was quite possible and, I thought, a survival plan for the band – although I know I understood it more readily than John and Christine did.”

“Begrudging agreement” was all Buckingham needed. That May, he went home and got stuck in.

A daytime person and fervent admirer of the discipline his Olympic silver-medalist older brother Greg brought to swimming, he discovered “an extreme focus which was in many ways to the detriment of other parts of my life, I know. My thought was, let’s subvert the norm. Let’s slow the tape machine down, or speed it up, or put the mike on the bathroom floor and sing and beat on, uh, kleenex box! My mind was racing. I love it.”

Bearing home tapes of squally, manic pieces like The Ledge and Not That Funny, Buckingham would join the band at Village Recorders where the owners had re-equipped Studio D for around $1.4 million. The band were supposed to buy it, but when that fell through they ended up paying much the same in rent – not to mention nightly lobster and champagne takeaways.

The shiny new-machine look didn’t last. Tickled by the tusks, Nicks hung drapes above the desk, stuck paintings and Polaroids on the walls and plugged rainbow lights in everywhere. “It became very vibey, mystical, incensy and perfumed,” she purrs. But Buckingham was not for soothing. Engineer Ken Caillat, a Tusk co-producer and the boffin behind the DVD version due out early next year, still frowns on the guitarist’s contrariness: “He was a maniac. The first day, I set the studio up as usual. Then he said, ‘Turn every knob 180 degrees from where it is now and see what happens.’ He’d tape microphones to the studio floor and get into a sort of push-up position to sing. Early on, he came in and he’d freaked out in the shower and cut off all his hair with nail scissors. He was stressed. And into sound destruction.”

Given the band’s emotional history, calming influences hardly abounded. John McVie – 58 this month and not doing interviews – found himself regularly advising the whippersnapper Buckingham to get his hands off the bass parts, one reason for the bassist’s early departure from the studio to his ocean-going yacht and consequent substitution by a cardboard cut-out in the Tusk video.

While Caillat recollects “some kind moments” between Nicks and Buckingham, the guitarist/producer sees the peaceful passages as “exercises in denial”. Tellingly, he has recalled Nicks “coming in once a week to do her song and that would be it”, while her perception was that “I was in the studio every day for 13 months.” Feeling insecure within the band, she bonded more than ever with Christine and engaged The Eagles’ manager Irving Azoff, with whom she secretly set up a new label, Modern, to launch a solo career.

She didn’t inform Fleetwood of this intention until January, 1980. Their own veiled affair, meanwhile continued beyond the collapse of Fleetwood’s remarriage to Jenny in 1978, only to end suddenly that October when he fell for Sara Recor, Nicks’s best friend and titular inspiration for the song, written a few months earlier, that became Tusk’s most enduring hit.

For months after that, says Nicks, “We weren’t talking to each other very much. We were there, but looking past each other. Everybody was nervous: ‘Is she going to burst into tears and leave?’” Nicks believes the rest of the band realised what was going on, but Buckingham, his attention and perceptions fiercely “compartmentalised”, has said he knew nothing until a couple of years after the event when Fleetwood, in English gentlemanly fashion, gave him a ‘There’s something you ought to know’ speech.

Nor was that the last of the complications. Nicks had a liason with Caillat’s assistant engineer, Hernan Rojas. Christine McVie met Beach Boy Dennis Wilson one night at Village Recorders and within days he had moved into her mansion, haunting the Tusk sessions thereafter – Caillat describes him “coming in hammered, stinking of alcohol, walking around with a jug of vodka and orange juice in his hand”.

The uproar wasn’t all about love, though. Tusk’s leading actors, Buckingham and Fleetwood absorbed onslaughts that had nothing to do with the vagaries of eccentric ego and erratic passion. In July, 1978, during a touring time-out from recording, Buckingham collapsed in a Philadelphia hotel suite with a seizure, soon diagnosed as epilepsy. Intimations of mortality? “Not really; More, What the hell was that? You’re on the bathroom floor, your girlfriend’s crying and you’re, Huh? What? It does take a horrible toll on your body. You go into this complete coiled-spring thing. But once I was prescribed Dilantin I had no more problems.”

Then, within a few months, his father died, aged 56, after years of heart problems probably caused by the strain of running the family’s troubled coffee business. Morris Buckingham, who always encouraged Lindsey’s rock’n’rolling when a career in law or architecture would have better suited his social standing, is one of Tusk’s co-dedicatees. The other is Wing Commander Mike Fleetwood, Mick’s father, who died of cancer in summer, 1978. When Fleetwood learned that his father was fading he flew home. He was able to say a proper farewell and his father’s spirit stayed with him, tangibly, while the Tusk maelstrom raged to a conclusion.

“My father and mother used to come on tours for weeks on end,” says Fleetwood. “They were like parents to everyone on the road. I’d been hopeless at school and when I was 15 my father backed me in leaving to go to London and play drums. So it was gratifying to know he’d seen my pipedream come true. But after he died what I always had with me was the tapes he’d made of his own poems and other writings. Fantastic pieces. Whenever I’d get drunk we’d all sit around listening to my dad! Well, in truth, it was probably a bit strange to some people” ‘Oh, there goes Mick again, playing his dad’s tapes, sitting there on the floor with tears pouring down his cheeks.’ But that’s how much that all meant to me.”

In June, 1979, Tusk was done. Fleetwood Mac had a high old time recording the title track brass section and video at Dodger Stadium with the 100-string University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band. Nicks led the baton-twirlers, as she did in high school; Fleetwood banged the big bass drum. He updated Warner boss Mo Ostin on what they’d been up to – the 2- tracks, the million dollars – and recalls a response along the lines, “You’re insane doing a double album at this time. The business is fucked, we’re dying the death, we can’t sell records, and this will have to retail at twice the normal price. It’s suicide. You’ve got to stop ‘em!” So they went ahead. They had the power.

On October 10, out came 20 tracks and 72 minutes of strange, tripolar sounds; Buckingham barking and hollering into the back of beyond, Nicks murmuring mysticism, and McVie cooing and coaxing with the cool elegance of classic pop.

The opening two tracks set the tone. McVie’s Over And Over floats on a gentle stream of dappled piano and slide guitar, lovely, simple but neither daft nor innocent as it frets, albeit languidly, “Don’t turn me away/And don’t let me down.” Next up, it’s Buckingham’s The Ledge, and suddenly you’re at some deranged circus, drums stomping like a seaboot dance – Fleetwood’s blissfully minimalist sophistication on Over And Over is the perfect antithesis – the guitar off-key, and ungainly as a very fat man sprinting, the voice gloating, nagging, slurry and barely comprehensible. Nicks makes her entry with track five, Sara, laid-back cruise-rock and full-on sex, “Drowning in the sea of love/Where everyone would love to drown”. And so it rolls. The oddball and the familiar. The rowdy and the slick. Arguably, it’s even the man versus the women, as nine Buckingham tracks oppose (complement?) six from McVie and five from Nicks. Even so, while these extremes can hardly be overstated, Buckingham’s recollection is that the band did play on all but one of his songs – Save Me A Place – and his guitar, production and harmony vocal contributions to the McVie and Nicks compositions are clearly as diligent and sensitive as they were on the previous two albums. Ultimately, none of them could resist doing their best for the music, regardless of personal conflicts.

Ken Caillat, irked for the duration because he believed the band should “do something like Rumours, the public want that”, fought his corner when he took the lead on sequencing and largely ensured that “those more disturbing songs were spaced out between Christine’s and Stevie’s”. No wonder Buckingham long ago reconciled himself to the view that the Tusk effect is much like a wacky solo album constantly bobbing up and down demanding attention throughout somebody else’s record. But, disjointed and dislocated as it is, there’s not a dull track on it. It’s beautiful and nuts and not at all what’s supposed to happen in the music industry even now, and that’s why fans and bands are still coming to it fresh. Retrospecting in 1995, a latecomer to the album’s motley throng of disciples, Simon Reynolds wrote that, “Tusk ranks as one of the great career sabotage LPs in pop history alongside The Clash’s Sandinista!, ABC’s Beauty Stab and Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique”. He further compared it to Sly And The Family Stone’s There’s A Riot Goin’ On ”as anti-populist refusal of the soft option and the easy money, as cocaine-addled exercise in superstar experimentalism” and, giving Buckingham a thrill no doubt, to PiL’s Metal Box: “Both were long-awaited double albums released late in 1979, with bizarre packaging; both were essays in anti-rockism, both were attempts to sidestep an audience’s expectations.”

Yet, cruelly, Ostin’s hard-headed assessment of the times and the economy proved accurate. And the promotional strategists certainly didn’t help matters with a couple of desperate misfires. The utterly eccentric Tusk was the first single released – like some bizarre health warning to Rumours purchasers – after which, with great fanfare, the whole album was broadcast on Westwood One radio to the accompaniment, as Fleetwood later lamented, of a nation’s cassette recorders hissing away. It soon became evident that sales would total less than a quarter of its predecessor’s phenomenal figures.

However, before recriminations began, the mayor of Los Angeles declared the release date ‘Fleetwood Mac Day’. At the launch party, Nicks took the mike to thank revellers at Frederick’s of Hollywood’s saucy lingerie emporium for “believing in the crystal vision”.

The Tusk tour proved more blur than crystal vision. “It almost killed the band”, wrote Fleetwood in his autobiography. He meant both financially and, at times, physically as the frazzled fivesome decided that the only way to keep the show on the road from Pocatello, Idaho on October 26, 1979, to Los Angeles on September 1, 1980, was to indulge themselves. In America, they chartered their own planes, latterly the Caesar’s Palace casino’s private Boeing 707. In Europe, wary of airport customs’ drug-seeking diligence, they hired their own luxurious train.

Hoteliers must have cringed to hear of their coming. Nicks’s rooms had to be repainted pink, so a white piano was required. And Caillat recalls at one European stopover a window frame was removed and a crane deployed to get a baby grand into Christine’s suite. As for the men, they enjoyed a practical joke. A favourite was the celebration of tour manager John Courage’s birthday by filling his room with 50 chickens accompanied, for farmyard verisimilitude, by bales of straw. Inevitably, a further “king’s ransom” was spent on keeping the party supplied with cocaine and alcohol. They even argued extravagantly: Fleetwood has recalled spending $2,000 on an all-night shouting match with Sara on the phone from Japan to California.

Under all this self-inflicted pressure, Fleetwood’s robust constitution began to crack up, conspicuously so before Christmas, 1979 at the San Francisco press conference. His whole body went into spasm, though he stayed at his post, trying to answer questions while Christine massaged his shoulders. “It was hypoglycaemia,” says Fleetwood. “I was manic depressive, I’d hyperventilate. Eat a bowl of ice cream and I was all right for 20 minutes, then down again. It was 18 months of hell. I thought I was going crazy. I had these weird psychedelic, coma-like visions and quite a few of them turned out to be true. Once, I saw [co-producer] Richard Dashut in the control booth smoking a joint and a policeman walked in behind him. I rang him and he said a policeman friend of his had come by the studio that night. Gospel truth!”

Eventually, the condition was diagnosed and a diet suggested which, he discovered via rigorous testing, kept the hallucinations at bay while enabling him to “keep on rocking like a madman”.

Buckingham too started to come unscrewed, overwhelmed by frustrations about his relationship with Nicks, the way it ended, her position as crowd favourite at concerts. In March 1980, playing to 60,000 in Auckland, New Zealand while loaded with whisky (according to Fleetwood), he pulled his jacket over his head in grotesque imitation of Nicks’s drapes and started to ape her twirling moves. Then he ran across the stage and kicked her. Nicks carried on like a trouper.

In the dressing-room, head hung in shame, he was confronted by Christine McVie who slapped him and threw a glass of wine over him: “Don’t you ever do that to this band again! Ever! Is that clear?”

Buckingham can’t remember the events, but says, with bemusement: “Oh, I wouldn’t doubt that I mimicked Stevie on-stage. And kicked her? That could have happened too.”

The end of the Tusk tour was a relief to all. But within weeks the band members’ accountants, particularly Nicks’s man Irving Azoff, had all come to a conclusion about the tour: it played to enormous sell-out crowds and made no money. In two meetings that September, the second at Fleetwood’s house in Bel Air, the player-manager found himself encircled by inquisitorial suits and silent bandmates.

“It was a terrible occasion,” sighs Fleetwood. “My only defence was, Well, you try and stop them spending! Me and John Courage had tried early in the tour. We booked cheaper hotels. but we had so many complaints from the band. We were all basically insane! Instead of five limos we would have 14 because we loved everyone we were travelling with so the lighting guy and so on had cars too.” (Shrewd McVie eventually decided to take his “limo” in cash and travel on the crew bus.)

The band assured Fleetwood they trusted him, they knew he didn’t have his hand in the till. It was just that, as Buckingham puts it, “Mick isn’t a budget kind of guy.” And that meant, after six years as manager, he had to go – to be replace by the “committee” of individual representatives who, Fleetwood feels, have complicated band life ever since.

“It was pretty…ugly,” he says. “But I took it like a man. I remember halfway through the meeting I went up to my bedroom for a brandy and I said to Sara I was actually sort of relieved. It was all too much. It hurt. But I understood. And I was sound enough, yet again, to say ‘I can eat crow and move on’.” At different points, Fleetwood has called the Tusk story “the end of an era” and “the reason why this band still exists”. Nowadays, he tends to think both of these seeming contradictions are true.

Twenty-three years on, in Madison Square Garden, at the end of Don’t Stop, Buckingham and Nicks strike a startling tableau centre-stage. In profile, she stands with her back to him gazing upwards, he bends low over his guitar, his face buried in her ash-blonde hair. The crowd sighs. And steams. The hands of lovers young and old entwine. But it probably wouldn’t work if it wasn’t based on a true story.

At the Ritz-Carlton earlier that day, Buckingham mused, in his California way: “Stevie and I could never quite find each other after Tusk. You have to understand that this is someone I met when I was 16 [they duetted California Dreaming at a high school party before they were introduced]. I was completely devastated when she took off. And yet, trying to rise above that professionally, I produced hits for her, I had to do a lot of things for her that I really didn’t want to do. If I kicked her on-stage, that was….something coming through the veneer. There has been a lot of darkness.”

After Tusk, despite being blamed for its “failure”, Buckingham made two more albums with Fleetwood Mac, quitting in 1988 before the Tango In The Night tour. He released three intense, uncommercial solos, had one rejected by Warners, and drifted back into the Mac ambit via 1997’s MTV Unplugged and The Dance reunion live album. In the late ‘90s, he married and had two children, Will and Lee.

Nicks started her solo side-venture with the smash Bella Donna in 1981 and followed it with six others. With her off-stage life dominated by medical problems, she left the band after 1990’s undistinguished Behind The Mask. For eight years she was hooked on Klonopin, a tranquilliser prescribed by her doctor, but since 1994 she has beaten all her addictions, even the 60-a-day Kools.

Reconciliation came – slowly – out of the band reunions and, probably, a mellowing in Buckingham. Ken Caillat quotes a recent conversation: “He said, ’I’m a selfish guy.’ Which is true, he’s all about me, me, me. He admitted he had even been angry about having a child to start with. Then one day the kid grabbed his little finger and he just got it. He understood there was another world out there.”

And when Nicks rejoined Fleetwood Mac for the intriguingly Tusk-like Say You Will – he found her ready to forgive – and not forget, but laugh about “the time you threw that Les Paul at me” and such..

“Now, on the road, we’ve had many really good talks,” he says. “We’ve known each other most of our lives and yet we’re still trying to figure out what’s going on. Obviously, a lot of love as a subtext. But where is that love? How do we get in touch with any of that? For all of us, the decisions we make now are going to determine how we are as people until we die. Stevie and I are trying to look at it…with care.”

He grunts a laugh. “It’s significant that someone can end up, you know…. not having killed you!”

“Now I just adore him,” says Nicks, with ravishing candour. “He is my love. My first love and my love for all time. But we can’t ever be together. He has a lovely wife, Kristen, who I really like, and they are expecting their third child. The way he is with his children just knocks me out. I look at him now and just go, Oh, Stevie, you made a mistake!”

She leans forward. “But when we go on-stage together we are able to experience our love affair again – and again and again! For two and a half hours, four times a week…There isn’t really anybody in my life – it wouldn’t be good for me now anyway, I’m always away. But when hard times come over the next 20 or 30 years, when people we love die, he’ll be the first person I’ll call. Knowing that now, I think he has been able to let go of all the nasty things that happened and realise that, like I said to him, Lindsey, you’ll always have me. I’m always a phone call away. So you get it all.”

“It’s a forever story with those two,” grins Fleetwood. “As it is with all of us.” He likes forever stories. It’s his “obsession” that’s kept the band going since Peter Green’s departure in 1970. Even when Christine McVie quit after recording the rather sorry Time in 1995, the brand name duo continued as ever, ace rhythm section in search of a band. Fleetwood, long divorced from Sara, is now married again, to Lynn, with 18-month-old daughters. John McVie and Julie have a 14-year-old daughter, Molly. McVie has been a teetotal for years while, after eight years’ abstinence, Fleetwood feels confident his “occasional glass of wine” won’t set him off again.

The gabby one and the quiet one remain the bedrock of one another’s lives, Fleetwood reckons. “John is truly my best friend,” he says. “I adore him. It’s mutual. We’ve been through so much. He is the most truthful person I know. We share a sense of humour. Loyalty; Musically, we’ve done it for so long together that…anything else is shallow compared to John. Long ago, playing the blues, we learnt that a rhythm section needs to be gracious: you’re creating a platform for others. We don’t have musical egos at all.

“I have a home on Maui in Hawaii. Now John’s thinking, ‘Where do I go when I retire?’ And about three weeks ago on the plan he told me, ‘I’m pretty dam sure I’m going to build a house on Oahu’ [a neighbouring island]. Well, you’ve got to give yourself a few days off before you start pushing up daisies and to know that, in our latter years, he’s going to be just over the road…that makes me feel good.”

Fleetwood Mac going their own way

By Jim Beal Jr.
San Antonio Express-News
Friday, October 3, 2003

Lots of bands change. Few have changed as much as Fleetwood Mac. But few bands, especially rock bands, manage to stick it out for 36 years.

Since drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie joined forces in London in 1967 to play the blues with guitarists Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan, there have been several distinct, and distinctive, Fleetwood Macs. There’s the British blues band, the early ’70s quirky rock band, the mid-to-late-’70s pop/rock superstars, the mid-’80s “let’s all make solo albums” pop/rockers, the ’93 Bill Clinton presidential inauguration Fleetwood Mac, the mid-’90s Bekka Bramlett/Dave Mason/Billy Burnette band and, in 2003, the reunion of the pop/rock superstar band sans keyboardist/songwriter Christine McVie.

“I see them as separate bands, really,” Fleetwood said from a tour stop. “But John and myself are different from anyone else because we’ve been there from the beginning in 1967, just making our way through.

“The major innovations are fairly defined. When we started we were a blues band. The band we have now began with the advent of Christine though Christine has decided not to make this journey.”

The current Fleetwood Mac journey, a long tour supporting the release of the “Say You Will” CD, will stop Sunday at the SBC Center. Showtime is listed as 8 p.m.

“The band on the road now is the major part of Fleetwood Mac history,” Fleetwood said. “The band has been, on and off, together for 30 years. The changes came more often in the early days. It’s all part of an unusual story, a fairly fascinating road.

“We welcomed the people who came in with their talent. We never wanted to be what we were before. Our road has been about bringing people in who are talented and who had their own story to tell; songwriters, which me and John are not.”

The band on the road is Fleetwood and John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham (guitar, vocals, songwriter) and Stevie Nicks (vocals, songwriter). That quartet is augmented in concert by backing vocalists Sharon Celani and Mindy Stein, keyboard player Brett Tuggle, guitarists Neale Heywood and Carlos Rios and percussionist Taku Hirano. Most of the support players and singers have done a considerable amount of road and/or studio work with the band members.

“With Stevie, Lindsey, John and myself, we’re blessed with an extreme amount of material,” Fleetwood said. “With Christine deciding not to be part of this chapter, it brought Stevie and Lindsey together in a different way. We are now in a new phase of Fleetwood Mac. And Lindsey’s production work has allowed him more freedom.”

Fleetwood has been in the rock business long enough to know that the new phase and the old phase(s) must merge onstage.

The live show set was chosen “with some difficulty,” Fleetwood said with a laugh.

“We had two months of rehearsal,” he said. “What we did was not necessarily the most efficient way but we over-rehearsed as if we were going in the studio so we didn’t make any mistakes. We were so gung ho about presenting new songs that, in 21/2 hours of music, we found we weren’t being fair because we put in too much material people didn’t know. People like Fleetwood Mac but we want them to have a great time so we cut back but still pushed the envelope on the new songs. We hope the concert is a good representation. It seems to be from the fan reaction.”

In today’s music business/playlist climate, a band that stays together for almost four decades and scores smash hits along the way ends up competing with its old hits when a new disc is released.

“It’s just the nature of the beast and I don’t think it’s a happy story,” Fleetwood said. “The days are past for deejays to express themselves through what they choose to play. That’s suffocating new talent and doing the music a disservice.

“We’re blessed that a certain amount of our fan base knows we have a new album out. But it’s really farcical in a way. You can do some TV advertising, and that helps. But gone are the days when a deejay had the (nerve) to play five new songs off an Eric Clapton album. It’s hurting the music business and it’s coming back to bite the business in its rear end. The business might recover. It might not. But what can you do?”

What Fleetwood Mac did was make as good a record as it could.

“We made an album that’s worth a damn,” Fleetwood said. “Don’t think for one moment we’ve run out of gas. We’re prepared to work very, very hard on the road. We’ll be on the road for the better part of two years with this album.”

Rumours Confirmed – Fleetwood Mac Set for Belfast

By Jeff Magill
IC Network
Aug 27 2003

ULSTER will be celebrating the return of the Mac this December when the legendary Fleetwood Mac play Belfast for the first time in almost 20 years.

Hot on the heels of their successful album Say You Will, current members Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, John McVie and Lindsey Buckingham have announced that they will play a one-off show in the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, on December 8.

The show will be part of the band’s current world tour, the American leg of which has so far received rave reviews.

As well as playing tracks from their new album, the band have been giving fans what they really want — live versions of their greatest hits.

If “rumours” are to be believed, the classic tracks played on the US tour include Dreams, Say Goodbye, Tell Me Lies, Albatross, Go Your Own Way and Gypsy.

Fleetwood Mac formed in 1967 and over the past 26 years have enjoyed multi-million album sales.

The group fell apart in the early-1990s, with Stevie Nicks going on to achieve a successful solo career.

Now back together, minus Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer, the band’s Belfast date is a must for their legion of Ulster fans.

The band were originally due to play just two Dublin dates, on November 19 and 20, but these sold out within minutes.

A similar demand is expected for the Belfast date when tickets go on sale at 9am on Saturday, September 6.

Tickets for the concert cost �, � and �, and will be available from the Odyssey Box Office on 028 9073 9074 or Ticketmaster on 0870 243 4455.

Tickets will also be available online from http://www.ticketmaster.ie

j.magill@newsletter.co.uk