Sunday, November 09, 2014

Fleetwood Mac drummer tells Salon new "Rumours" stories, reflects on Stevie Nicks affair, shares regrets

Mick Fleetwood on “Rumours”-era excess: “I’m damn lucky I never killed anyone!”
Photo: Chris Pizzello

EXCLUSIVE: Fleetwood Mac drummer tells Salon new "Rumours" stories, reflects on Stevie Nicks affair, shares regrets

By David Daley

The Mick Fleetwood pictured on the back of his new memoir, “Play On: Now, Then and Fleetwood Mac,” looks fabulously content. This is the rock star as elegant dandy, stylish in tails, draped in an accent of gold jewelry, a trim white beard. It’s an advertisement for the good life, if not living right.

Crazy, isn’t it? Because the Fleetwood on the cover has a wicked gleam in his eye, as he peers out from under a rakish hat, hair down around his shoulders. This is the Fleetwood of the mid-t0-late ’70s, the drummer whose band was re-energized by the arrival of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, who recorded 1975′s “Fleetwood Mac” with “white powder peeling off the walls of every room” in the studio.

But the madness was only beginning: The relationships of Buckingham and Nicks, along with John and Christine McVie, were unraveling amidst angst, affairs and mountains of cocaine. “Rumours” chronicled the dissolution of it all, selling tens of millions of albums worldwide. They were among the biggest bands in the world, and they lived every moment of it to the extreme. “The drugs of course were plentiful,” Fleetwood writes, “and we partook of the finest Peruvian flake quite a bit, both to numb the pain and to find the energy to persevere.”

Even grander extravagance followed, and I don’t just mean “Tusk.” Their contracts required fleets of limos to be available on demand. Nicks and McVie wanted their hotel rooms freshly painted in specific colors before they arrived; Nicks also required a white piano. Cocaine was measured out to the entire touring party after the show — “everyone who lined up got their packet” — at a specific announced time in each city. “It was fabulously expensive, wonderful and sometimes depraved,” he admits.

The hits, of course, have fueled presidential campaigns and never gone away. Even the albums you think you know are studded with gems. The albums get discovered and rediscovered and continue to influence new generations. (Note to anyone in high school, or ahem, later than that, who I made of fun for loving them, from behind the righteousness of my Smiths shirt: Sorry about that!) And the five-piece band from those iconic albums is now back together and touring into next year — Fleetwood calls it a “victory lap” in the book, so you might check it out while you can — but he also reveals that the band is working on new material.

All of this, of course, is the stuff of great rock memoir, and “Play On” doesn’t hold back on the stories behind the songs or the dramas on the road and in the studio. Fleetwood is also deeply reflective on the relationships he sacrificed to the band, whether as a father, a husband or a son. We talked last week in New York. There was only 20 minutes and he gives long answers. The interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Continue to the full interview at

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