By JON WOODHOUSE, Contributing Writer
Beginning in the early days of Fleetwood Mac, Mick Fleetwood would often snap pictures of his band mates. Over the years this hobby morphed into a more serious artistic endeavor. Two years ago his photographic work was included in American Photo magazine's "Photography Rocks" traveling exhibition, along with images by musician like Bryan Adams, Lenny Kravitz, Lou Reed and Graham Nash. And just this week, his photos were exhibited at Wailea's Celebrities Gallery.
"Way back in England I got into it by always having a camera with me to take pictures on the road," Mick explains at the opening. "Unbeknownst to me (Fleetwood Mac's bassist) John McVie was the silent photographer, who, unlike me who was a snap merchant, would take 30 pictures with his Leica and never tell anyone. We shared a house in Hampshire and he put in a dark room. He took the picture of Bare Trees in the mist (the Fleetwood Mac album cover), and actually won an award. In a way he was a mentor. John taught me to think about what I was taking. We're trying to persuade him to have an exhibition with me."
Fleetwood's Celebrities Gallery exhibit focuses on archetypal English pastoral scenes - images of poppy fields, a country lane, swans and his mom's house - that have a strong emotional connection for the legendary musician.
"About three years ago, before I moved my mother here, I was in England in Salisbury for a while," he continues.
"She was having a hip operation and I was getting ready to move her to Hawaii. While she was in hospital I would drive around and find a place to sit and wait for the so- called artistic moment. I have fun doing that. I really enjoy it, it's very calming. All these pictures were not snapshots. The poppy field totally caught me. I went back and took pictures on two different days. Salisbury Plain was where I came home to for years. A lot of this is around my mother leaving England and taking shots that had an empathy with her leaving, parts of her garden, river shots and villages."
Pleased that his photo work is finding an audience, he notes: "We're going on a tour of some galleries with an extend version of this. Some of it is celebrity driven and once you get over that, why not? The worst that's going to happen is people are going to say, it sucks, which is probably a good thing to get whacked down."
One can't imagine Mick Fleetwood has ever been told his artistic endeavors suck. He's more used to reaping laudatory reviews. Touring last year with Fleetwood Mac, a U.K. Guardian newspaper review praised: "Fans of Fleetwood Mac's blues-rock band incarnation are sent into rapture when the band piles into 'Oh Well,' so electrifying it could power a small town."
Following the Mac shows, Mick recently completed a tour of Australia and New Zealand, opening some concerts for Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald with his Maui-based Mick Fleetwood Blues Band.
"It was fantastic," he reports. "Boz used to tour with us in the old days. I met Michael here and spent some time before we went on the road. He's absolutely the sweetest, totally not a rock 'n' roll star. It was a fun tour - they remember the old Fleetwood Mac stuff, because of the English thing. When you play 'Albatross' in the States, no one knows what it is; there we played it as an encore."
With a live CD and DVD (shot in England) out, various Blues Band gigs are in the works, including some European festivals and, "maybe opening up for Meatloaf," he says. And later in the year, they are booked to play some dates with Texas rockers ZZ Top.
"That's totally great," he enthuses. "Billy (Gibbons) is a huge Fleetwood Mac/Peter Green fan. He's itching to get out and play. He's aware of Rick (Vito) and loves his playing."
Then there's the possibility of hooking up with Joe Walsh in between his Eagles' dates.
"I'm thinking about people to do it with, and it struck me that Joe Walsh has played religiously, and I thought it would be a great combo because he's a real rock 'n' roller," he says. "What a great bill, two guys, one from Fleetwood Mac and one from the Eagles, getting together."
In December the concert website Pollstar reported plans were brewing for the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac to join forces this year for a historic, massive stadium tour.
"We were supposed to be doing it now," Mick explains. "We were open to doing it, but there were some timing and lighting issues. Stevie (Nicks) didn't want to go on for the whole thing in daylight. Sadly it fell apart. I think it should happen."
From all reports the Mac's 2009 "Unleashed Tour" was a resounding success, which has whetted appetites for a new album.
"John's game, I am and Lindsey (Buckingham) is. Stevie was not so keen to make the commitment," he says. "I really feel we will do another album. I plan to spend some time with Lindsey in L.A. and explore some producers."
Nicks, he reports, is currently teamed with Grammy- winning producer Don Was, compiling a country version of Mac's epic "Rumours" album. "There will be another version of 'Rumous,' with some fairly well-known country artists," he adds.
And he's talked with Buckingham about doing something. "I asked if he ever wanted to get together and play, and do a corporate gig or something. He said, 'I will,' which is sort of unusual. I pitched him, what about you, me and John, without Stevie, we could do some great old rock 'n' roll stuff. I said we could call it the Men of Mac. So the Men of Mac are available to play your bar mitzvah."
Among other musical projects, Mick might get together with one of the Mac's early members - guitarist Jeremy Spencer - for some show dates.
"Jeremy has a new album out, and he's said he would really like to do something," Mick reveals. "There's some tasty stuff on it. Jeremy likes floaty instrumentals and the album has several. His voice has totally come back and he's playing great. If I knew I was going to do a productive tour in Europe, the Jeremy Spencer Band could open up."
Heading out with the Blues Band reminds Mick of his early days with Fleetwood Mac, long before their transformation into global rock stars packing arenas and stadiums.
"We're not at all plugged into a production, we don't even have a lighting guy," he explains, chuckling. "It's all about playing, and it's freer."
In a recent interview he reported that at the age of 62, he was playing louder and harder than ever.
"It means I'm more desperate the older I get," he says breaking up laughing. "I've put some weight on and that's got something to do with it, and I keep pretty fit. I'm really enjoying playing and it's still there. My Fleetwood Mac drum tech is going. 'What the **** are you doing?' I have aluminum sticks and I've never done stuff to them, but on the last Mac tour, every other song (he indicates he had to keep replacing them). Something happened, I'm taking Hulk pills or something," he jokes. "The whole downtime from Fleetwood Mac I got away from playing because of my lifestyle. Then before I moved here, I was on the track to playing again because I was not completely out of my gourd all the time. The whole ethic of getting back and playing has really been a good thing."
The allure of Maui has helped Mick attract some heavyweight musical friends to join him at his island home. Neighbors of his Kula estate may have heard the distinctive vocals of Paul Rodgers, the legendary singer of Free (of "All Right Now" fame) and Bad Company, and most recently touring as Queen's front man.
"I had a great time playing with Paul Rodgers and Rick and John at the farm," he explains. "I was in London in the same hotel. I love his singing, he's one of the greatest English singers; there's Rod, Joe Cocker and him. So I phoned him up and invited him to Maui, and he came for two weeks. Something quite interesting might come out of it. We're looking at trying to put some kind of bluesy/rock 'n roll, Traveling Wilburys thing together. It could be on a small level or quite a grand level with Fleetwood Mac's rhythm section and some fairly well-known people all getting together."