Well, you can’t get much bigger then Fleetwood Mac, can you?
In the wake of Lindsey Buckingham’s much-publicised departure and their combined chart success.
Dave Zimmer talks to the band that just refuses to lay down and die….
Record Mirror (UK)
Somebody should write a soap opera based on Fleetwood Mac’s career. They’ve been plagued by jealousy, bankruptcy and alcoholism; and when guitarist Lindsey Buckingham left the band last year, it looked like the end of the road.
Buckingham had been with Fleetwood Mac since 1975 when he and Stevie Nicks helped catapult the rather obscure ‘hippy’ band into the big time with the LP ‘Rumours’. To date, it’s sold over 30 million copies worldwide. But the relationship between Nicks and Buckingham soured, as Stevie explains.
“If Lindsey said the wall in the studio was grey, I’d be absolutely sure it was pink. In order to get one of my. songs on a record I’d have to say ‘Okay, the wall’s grey Lindsey’. Otherwise it was back on the bus.
“Now, this has nothing to do with the other members of Fleetwood Mac, who, from the beginning, have always been lovely to me, whereas with Lindsey, he would rather I just stayed at home doing laundry. We’re talking about a man who was in love with a woman and would just as soon she had faded out and just been his old lady or wife. Period.”
“Wooo,” sighs keyboard player Christine McVie after a full five seconds of silence. Drummer and founding member Mick Fleetwood interjects. “That situation changed somewhat in my opinion.”
Stevie narrows her eyes and says: “Not when it came down to the real things. Uh-huh. Never changed.”
Replaced by two guitarists, Billy Burnette and Rick Vito, Buckingham is now pursuing a solo career. It’s something the other members of Fleetwood Mac have been tempted to do, but they’ve come back to the band, especially now that they have another hit with ‘Tango In The Night’ and hit singles it’s spawned, including the latest, ‘Everywhere’.
Nicks tried to launch her own solo in 1981 with the release of Bella Donna’.
“There was a part of me that was ‘See, I can do it myself’,” she reveals . “I don’t need you every to do everything for me!”.
“But on my first solo tour, when I played in Houston in front of 12,000 and they said ‘Welcome Stevie’ I turned around and looked for Mick and Chris and John and couldn’t believe I was walking out there by myself.”
It’s doubtful anyone could have been happier to return to the Mac family then Mick Fleetwood. While he kept busy working with his side band, Zoo, and gave acting a shot, Fleetwood also ran into financial difficulties and had to file for bankruptcy. But the even-tempered drummer managed to keep his life together.
“Mick is like the daddy for us all and he always has been,” says keyboard player Christine McVie.
“John and Mick Christine concludes. “They’re the backbone of the group.”
By his own admission, John McVie needed a little support himself earlier this decade. Before the ‘Tango In The Night’ sessions began in 1985, John’s life was dominated by a drinking problem — which he has since recovered from.
Christine says: “He’s really doing wonderfully now.” But he’s not the type of person who enjoys talking about himself. Like a great many rock bass players, he prefers to remain in the background.
“By nature, John’s a very quiet, private person. On stage and in the studio, he’s always so steady, he never loses the groove. On the last record, he played amazingly.”
Listening to ‘Tango’, the entire band appear to be reaching frequent musical peaks. Stevie has never sounded better and Christine’s song, ‘Little Lies’, the band’s last top 20 single, is poetic whimsey at its best.
Buckingham’s presence is also apparent. Nicks may bear a grudge against her former partner, but it’s not a view all the band agree with.
“I have nothing but respect for Lindsey and what he’s doing,” says Christine. “He was never less than honest with us. And after 12 years in the band, it must have been something of a wrench for him to leave. But if someone’s not happy, then nobody’s happy. I think his decision was best for everyone concerned.”
During rehearsals for Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Shake The Cage Tour’ (they’ll be in the UK in May), Mick is obviously happy at how things are turning out. “It felt good to be playing again and the songs came together rather fast,” he explains. “Before our last one,” (the three-month Mirage Tour in ’82) “a lot of time was spent thinking and planning, then we’d creep up on stage and play a bit.
“Now we seem to be much more focused, there are no distractions and the onus is on the band as opposed to the individual. I’m all for solo projects, but when they create these long time lapses, everyone gets jittery. I mean, Fleetwood Mac used to be road dogs.” “It makes you feel like you don’t have a job,” continues Stevie.
With Fleetwood Mac’s touring schedule covering Australia and Europe, she shouldn’t have to worry about checking the classifieds for a while. And she can put her solo career on hold indefinitely.
“That’s no problem,” Stevie says. “I can’t think of nicer, more talented people to work with. I look forward to seeing them. I really do. For me, this is a pleasure thing. It makes everything else all right.”
A s Mick points out, “Besides me and John, there’ve been so many different players involved in the group.” Stevie admits: “I’ve never met half the people who used to be in the band.
“But the odds of seeing a grand anniversary celebration on stage is highly unlikely,” says Mick. “It might be fairly bizarre, though. But we’ve got enough going on without taking time out to look back. We’re touring to establish the band as it is now.”
In the wake of Fleetwood Mac’s personnel re-shuffle, you have to wonder how it affected the balance of power within the band.
“No-one is coming out as a kind of boss,” says Christine. “I guess you could say Lindsey used to fill that role in the studio, and at some point I’m sure someone else will emerge. Right now, I seem to be the one who’s taking care of the primary business. Mick is the group’s daddy, but we really don’t have one person who acts as boss. We all just sit around and mutually agree on things.”