(BROADCAST SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13TH)
Rock 'n Roll Survivors (MSN VIDEO)
Reporter: Michael Usher
Producer: Sandra Cleary
Celebrity interviews aren't as easy as they look. You get used to spoilt stars who panic at the first sign of a personal question.
So meeting super-group Fleetwood Mac was a joy and a real revelation for Michael Usher.
There they were, some of the all-time greats, just itching to let it all hang out. What a story, a saga of passion, tangled love affairs, bitter hatred, acrimonious bust-ups and tearful reunions.
And in case you were wondering, there was plenty of the usual sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, too.
Four decades of absolute mayhem and the miracle is they're still around, still making terrific music together.
MICHAEL USHER: Far from the world's rock arenas and stadiums, the beat goes on for Mick Fleetwood, here, in his tropical hideaway in the Hawaiian paradise of Maui.
MICK FLEETWOOD: It's like a perfect hippie paradise. So, there you go, a mini Woodstock.
MICHAEL USHER: At 62, the legendary drummer and founder of Fleetwood Mac has got the band back together - Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and John McVie on the road again and halfway through a sell-out world tour.
MICK FLEETWOOD: I've always been the believer that we'd always keep going but, you know, over the last 16 years or so, I have to admit I'd go, I like, I wonder whether we can ever get this bunch out of Dodge again.
MICHAEL USHER: This bunch is one of the biggest-selling, most popular bands of all time. But, while they created unforgettable pop classics over four decades, behind the scenes, they lived the greatest rock'n'roll soap opera ever told - love triangles, broken marriages, tears, tantrums and drug addictions.
MICHAEL USHER: How do you describe that time now, looking back on it?
STEVIE NICKS: I would have been dead. It would have killed me. In another year, it would have killed me.
MICHAEL USHER: Centre-stage of the drama was the ethereal leading lady of the band, Stevie Nicks, the ultimate rock survivor at 61.
STEVIE NICKS: From the moment the lights go up and you walk out, as far as loving to sing, I love to sing more than anything. I think once you're in a band, and you like playing, and you like each other, and you like your music, what else do we do? It's who we are and it's what we do.
MICHAEL USHER: It's the music that held them together through the turmoil, and what's brought them together again for this tour.
MICHAEL USHER: That's beautiful. Do you still like playing it?
LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM: Oh, yeah, I love it, yeah.
MICHAEL USHER: For 59-year-old Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie's ex-lover, and the creative force behind the band, it's putting aside the bad times to celebrate all that was good.
MICHAEL USHER: Is it good getting back together again?
LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM: Oh, undoubtedly. I'm having the best time of my life out there. We are a band who is known to get together and then go away for a long time and come back together, and maybe that's how we've managed to stay together all this time, because our history has not been an easy one, personally.
MICK FLEETWOOD: I always joke with Lindsey and go, "It's the worst-run rock'n'roll franchise in the business!" We're all incredibly close friends that have been unbelievably dysfunctional at certain points and also been incredibly in love.
MICHAEL USHER: It was thanks to love that Stevie Nicks, a struggling singer-songwriter, even ended up in Fleetwood Mac. In 1975, her boyfriend, Lindsey Buckingham, was asked to join the existing band members, Mick Fleetwood and another couple, John and Christine McVie. He refused unless Stevie came too. One day, she was working as a waitress. Within months, she was touring with a hit album.
STEVIE NICKS: We were on the road in June and when we came back in September, October, Lindsey and I, together, had a million dollars.
MICHAEL USHER: A million dollars? 10 months earlier you were waiting tables?
STEVIE NICKS: Waitress, cleaning lady.
MICHAEL USHER: You literally had money all over the place?
STEVIE NICKS: We had hundred dollar bills everywhere. It was funny in a lot of ways because we'd been so poor that we were so stunned, you know, and, all of a sudden, you could really have anything you wanted. It was really something. I mean, it really was the dream come true overnight.
MICHAEL USHER: Their success was sudden and phenomenal. Their 1977 album 'Rumours' was one of the highest-selling releases of all time. But as the band hit a professional high, behind the scenes, their private lives were unravelling. John and Christine McVie's marriage was failing, and Stevie and Lindsey were about to split up.
STEVIE NICKS: We kept it together and then, you know, towards the end of the recording of 'Rumours', all the relationships really blew up.
MICHAEL USHER: All of them?
STEVIE NICKS: All of them, and nobody was going to leave, so, even if we were breaking up, we weren't, any of us, going to break up the band, and we were all writing great songs because we all had great sorrow to write about.
MICHAEL USHER: Inspiration.
STEVIE NICKS: Oh, yeah. So straight from the studios, straight to the piano in tears and to write a great song, you know, carry it back, play it for the band, and everybody would cry and everybody knew what it was about. But, on the other side of that, everybody is like, "Yes, one more great song!"
MICHAEL USHER: They were recording music, but barely speaking with each other. What they had to say, they said in song. It was Lindsey Buckingham who wrote 'Go Your Own Way', an anthem for the band's turmoil.
LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM: All of that fuelled the music and, to some degree, it really was part of the appeal of 'Rumours', you know, the musical soap opera aspect of it. It kind of brought out the voyeur in everyone.
MICHAEL USHER: There was more to come in the Fleetwood Mac saga. Fresh from her break-up with Lindsey, Stevie began an affair with Mick. To make matters worse, along with the sex and rock and roll, they'd embraced a culture of constant drug use. How deep and how heavy were your indulgences?
MICK FLEETWOOD: As deep as they could get. I mean, the only blessing was I never, never took anything, quote, in the opiate area ever, thank God. Booze and cocaine. More booze, more cocaine, and that was me for a long time.
STEVIE NICKS: For us it was basically brandy, cigarettes, pot and coke, and that was just a wicked little circle - "rat's wheel" I call it, that everybody was on, you know. You'd do some coke and you were nervous, and then you'd smoke some pot and then you'd calm down. You were too stoned and then you'd do some more coke to wake up and then you'd have a drink 'cause you were too nervous and that it was just, you know, it was just a nightmare.
MICHAEL USHER: A nightmare that lasted 10 years before Stevie finally checked into America's most famous rehab clinic.
STEVIE NICKS: In 1985, I went to Betty Ford, which is the army - Betty's army. This is not 'Celebrity Rehab'. There's nothing fun about it. It's not a spa.
MICHAEL USHER: What was the wake-up call for you? When did you realise "This is too much?"
STEVIE NICKS: I had a very dangerous little hole in my nose, and it could've really threatened my voice.
MICHAEL USHER: The fallout continued. Lindsey Buckingham quit, not returning for 10 years, and Christine McVie walked away forever. But, for Mick Fleetwood, the spirit of his band never died, and the journey is far from over.
MICK FLEETWOOD: It really is fascinating. It should be a film, it should be a play or something of that nature. So much fire and passion and misguided emotions, you know - fascinating.
MICHAEL USHER: And, so, the soap opera goes on. They're back together, heading to Australia later this year. Stevie and her ex-lovers on stage, playing all their classics. An incredible musical legacy of those turbulent times.
LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM: It's still a great band, you know? What can you say? I mean, under the worst of circumstances, it's still an extraordinary group of people whose chemistry transcends the individuals, and that's what we were, and still are, you know?
MICHAEL USHER: Stevie, what's your relationship with Lindsey?
STEVIE NICKS: Well, he's not my best friend and never will be because we were those kind of lovers and, when we broke up, it was awful, it was nasty and bad. We can never really be good friends. We care about each other very much but we don't hang out.
MICHAEL USHER: What's your relationship today with Mick?
STEVIE NICKS: We're best friends. We're still going to be watching movies and hanging out in Maui when we're 90.
MICHAEL USHER: She described you as her "best friend forever".
MICK FLEETWOOD: Yeah, it's a good thing.
MICHAEL USHER: That's a nice place to be in.
MICK FLEETWOOD: Yes, Stevie is a whole person and, for some years, she drifted away, you know, much like myself, and we came back. It's good.
MICHAEL USHER: You cherish that friendship obviously.
MICK FLEETWOOD: Very much so. She's a soul mate.
MICHAEL USHER: Stevie counts herself lucky to have survived it all and still be performing. She believes it was the music that saved her, and it will always be her first love. Is there room in your life right now for love or is it hard to be Mr Stevie Nicks?
STEVIE NICKS: It's hard. It's hard. It's very hard to be Mr Stevie Nicks and, so, right now, you know, I have - my relationship really is with my work, and I have a dog, a great dog, so, it's what I wanted. My life is what I wanted and the best thing is that I'm not going to die a drug addict and I am going to die someday a very happy artist who did everything that she wanted.