Saturday, September 12, 2009


Mick Fleetwood
Talking balls, blues and getting beamed up with the legendary drummer

by Anuhea Yagi

Oh my God! You are well informed," laughs Mick Fleetwood when I ask about his wooden balls.

Really? I figured it was a standard topic. Fleetwood is, after all, seen displaying the precariously hung pair on the cover of the 10th best-selling album of all time: Fleetwood Mac's 1977 release, Rumours. In the black-and-white photo, the legendary drummer assumes a Captain Morgan-like stance—toilet chain balls proudly dangling from his belt, a dewy Stevie Nicks draped over his leg.

A few minutes into our conversation, I grasp Fleetwood's style: effortless, humble, carefully informative and surprisingly unpretentious. He's gracious with his rolling anecdotes and seems to enjoy telling them with humorous tonal inflections. Take, for example, the history of his wooden balls.

"The original, original ones I do not have—but the ones that I have are very, very old. I won't say they're as old as me. But—it starts getting into X-rated commentary here—my balls are quite old."

Fleetwood confirms that the original pair were "lavatory chains." Though we're conversing over the phone, I imagine him pantomiming the vandalism as he narrates: "I came out—and I must admit I had a couple of glasses of English ale—and came out of the toilet with these, I ripped them off the—you know, I was very destructive—I ripped them off the toilet and had them hanging down between my legs."

As for what happened to those originals—the "juju" good luck charm he never performs (specifically) Fleetwood Mac shows without? "I lost them at a gig," he says. "Eventually somewhere they got ripped off." After that, he visited a carpenter to get a replacement set.

"In truth, I started off as a blues player. The whole ethic of a lot of blues music is slightly suggestive, might I say. And suitably, I walked out on stage with these two lavatory chains with these wooden balls hanging down, and after that it just stuck.

"Now that we've talked about my balls, let's talk about the evening we're going to be having."

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