Showing posts with label Sunday Express. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sunday Express. Show all posts

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: Talking Drums Pt.2 "My red, African talking drum is my voice"

Sunday Express
June 1, 2014
by Mick Fleetwood

Every musician has his own Stradivarius.  My "Don't Leave Home Without It" is a beautiful, red, African talking drum.  It was made for me by Speedy, a Nigerian drummer (he played with Georgie Fame in London). Speedy presented me with the drum 46 years ago. It is completely impossible to replicate; I have tried several times but nothing comes close to the sound of that drum.

My red, African talking drum is my voice.  It is a part of me, a portable way to express myself. When I play it, this primitive, one-drum signature becomes a part of my body.  It allows me to participate without the cumbersome grandeur of a drum kit and it takes me back to the basics: the intense need we humans have to communicate.

I'm so attached to my talking drum that it comes with me on every tour, whether it is part of our set or not.  In all this time, only once has it disappeared.  Early Fleetwood Mac was on tour and in Dearborn, Michigan, in 1969 when the talking drum was stolen from the side of the stage in some funky little club.  I was heartsick over it. Lucky for me, the nefarious characters who hung around the club had a wide network. Word spread quickly as to the ownership of that drum. Some thief had a change of heart and returned it a few days later.

Needless to say, after that, it's always the first thing I train my drum tech to put away after a gig. I tell him to guard it with his life!

When I have it in my hands, it's like my muse takes over. I don't have a plan or a song mapped out; I never know what I'm going to play. It's like jazz, improvised. I chase the moment, blend the notes with the pitch of the drum. Over the years, I began embellishing my performance by talking nonsense, speaking in tongues, exposing the audience to bits of the provocative streaming of my subconscious.

Almost inaudibly, I croon, mostly pitiful fragments, such as: Don't leave me! I can't stand to be alone! I add some heavy breathing and a sprinkle of: Don't you want me? And it's cooking.

The audience begins echoing my calls and there you have it. A fire starts and the intricate improvisation around the beat of my African drum takes off!  This is my moment.

Fortunately for me, Lindsey Buckingham is never far from the stage when I begin this "Mad Man" routine. He's standing by, the proverbial vaudevillian hook in hand, just in case I get too obtuse or carried away beyond the point of return.

Just think. Without Lindsey I could still be out there, howling at the moon, me and my beloved, red African talking drum, making love to the night.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mick Fleetwood column: Talking Drums (via @daily_express) #FleetwoodMac

Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: Talking Drums: Part One 
WHY we are all dancing to the beat of the drum 
By: Mick Fleetwood
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Full article at Sunday Express

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mick Fleetwood goes his own way: "I AM A wearer of hats."

by Mick Fleetwood
Sunday Express

I've always worn hats, many hats, too many hats at times, and even though I've never given losing my hair much thought, hats have proven to be rather a chic fashion segue as the years have gone by.

Hats are poetic, romantic; they provide generous amounts of theatrics for an old drama queen like myself.

They're also handy to keep about in case things get desperate.

Did you know they make great coin collectors for busking?

My channelling of the Mad Hatter began as a "spark" from seeing my father getting ready for work, donning his Air Force peaked hats and berets.

I have memories of playing dress up in them.

I still have them but, after some 30 years in showbusiness, sad to say my head is somewhat larger than it once was, so my father's hats no longer fit.

I am a collector of hats.

Recently I went to the Westbrook Maker Hat Company in Venice, California, a fine place where all the felt hats are made the oldfashioned way, by hand.

After a lengthy fitting, I ordered several hats that I am excited to be wearing on our upcoming tour.

Hats have always been a big part of my showmanship.

Traditionally, after the encore, I walk on-stage to say my goodnights wearing a red, collapsible top hat, reminiscent of a mad ringmaster under the big top.

Even Stevie will don her top hat at some point during our show.

There are plenty of good hat wearers today but the guy I love the most at the moment is Pharrell Williams and his awesome hats.

I love even more the message of Happy.

That video going viral is a great example of the power of the internet to connect people world-over through music in a way that is both subversive and sublime.

Gotta love those "feelgood" songs!

Many years ago when I was short of a few bob and not "feeling so good" I was persuaded to visit a fortune teller.

Being a die-hard romantic and a believer in fairy tales, I was an easy mark.

Desperation makes us do strange things.

The dubious palm reader asked me what it was in life I needed.

"Well," I said. "I've run out of money!" She told me to bring her $10,000.

Then she instructed me to "donate" (we use this word loosely here) half of it to her "charity" (another loose translation) and the remaining $5,000 (all the money I had to my name) I was ordered to put inside my shoes and into the lining of my beloved hat.

Apparently I was to be rewarded a bounty worth one hundredfold of the investments I had just made.

I can say that it did feel different, walking around packed, head and foot, with the last bit of cash I had.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: Running away

From the Sunday Express (UK)
April 13, 2014
I WAS a three-time runaway as a kid from an English country boarding school. Early on, I decided to follow my dreams and made many, futile attempts to get the hell out.

By: Mick Fleetwood
Sunday Express, April 13, 2014

I was 11 when I made my first escape. I had drawn a picture of what I thought a naked lady looked like and had determined the only way I could see one in the flesh was to become a doctor. Now a normal child would have waited, studied and gone through the necessary channels but, dreamer that I was, I resolved to find my way to London that instant to study medicine!

Each time I ran away, the goal was to get to London. The city held a mythic attraction; I'd stop there for a night or two as I went back and forth to boarding school.

I stayed with my art student sister and her boyfriend. They took me to Cafe des Artistes, where I had my first sip of champagne, contributing enormously to my fantasy world. I was obsessed by that place, with its brooding beatnik types listening to jazz and smoking cigarettes. It was dark, cool, the place to be and I was hooked. Above all, I wanted to re-create this place.

Since my nomadic inclinations showed no signs of slowing, my parents, in their infinite wisdom, finally got the hint and signed me up for a day school nearby. Once at home, I set about cleaning out the old stables at our house and Club Keller was born, my first stab at re-creating my adored Cafe des Artistes. We served cola and sandwiches. I had a radio and entertained local friends with music and by playing drums.

At 15 I knew I wanted be a drummer and, with my father's blessing, I flew the nest.

My first job was playing with my band, The Cheynes, at London's Mandrake Club, which in its heyday used to host the likes of Liz Taylor and Eddie Fisher. But when I had my nightly residency there, the only remains of that once-thriving scene were the yellowed, celebrity-signed portraits which adorned the walls. Still, it was a club, in a basement, thick with intrigue and underground seediness.

Today I own Fleetwood's, my lifelong dream realised as a combination restaurant/club in Lahaina, Maui (where I live when I am not touring). We have fabulous, rooftop dining and a stage. People come to enjoy great food and music. I play there often with my friends and part-time residents of the island, Steven Tyler and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top and Willie K, a local talent.

I love it when people have a good time and enjoy themselves; it reminds me of those long ago days at Club Keller.

By the way, although I never stopped following my boyhood dreams, I let the "doctor" thing go. I soon learned that there are plenty of other ways to get to see naked women!

Check out Mick's previous articles in the Sunday Express
- Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: Quotes From Thoreau (March 30, 2014)
- Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: On The Road Again (March 23, 2014)
- Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: Motoring Nostalgia (March 16, 2014)
- Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: The Marquee Club (Mar 9, 2014)
- Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: Custom fashion (March 2, 2014)
- Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: Dreams of vinyl (Feb 23, 2014)

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: After 15 years, Christine McVie is to rejoin Fleetwood Mac 'where she belongs'

Mick Fleetwood revels that Fleetwood Mac are back - with a full pack
By: Matt Gibson
Sunday Express

Fleetwood Mac’s songbird is flying again, writes Matt Gibson. Christine McVie has conquered her fear of jet travel and will be touring with the band in America later this year, Mick Fleetwood has revealed.

McVie, the driving force behind some of the group’s biggest hits such as Little Lies, Songbird and Everywhere, left in 1998, saying her fear of flying made touring impossible. The band has had many personnel changes but core members have been Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Christine and her former husband John McVie and Lindsey Buckingham.
Sunday Express April 7, 2014 - UK
Writing in his exclusive Sunday Express column, drummer Fleetwood says: “The songbird has found her way home where she belongs and the amazing story of Fleetwood Mac continues.”

After 15 years, Christine McVie is to rejoin Fleetwood Mac 'where she belongs'

By: Mick Fleetwood
Sunday Express

FIFTEEN years ago I was on a flight, going to a gig somewhere, when my dear friend and virtual sister, Christine McVie, presented me with a very special silver key. A memento, given as a token of our long friendship, that key doubled as a sentimental talisman, meant to keep me safe on all my travels.

The other day, I found the key, tucked away in the fold of my passport case. Remarkably, it had been there for the entire duration of Christine’s hiatus from Fleetwood Mac. Now that she is joining us again, the symbolism is not lost on me. Once again we will be on tour, flying all over the world together. How perfect that this magic key should choose now to make its reappearance.

Christine admitted to me that when she and I first met, she was quivering in her boots, completely intimidated by me when I walked into her dressing room all those years ago at the Marquee Club. The irony being, of course, that my outward appearance, that of a bombastic madman, trapped in a 6ft 7ins frame, in no way mirrored my inner self. There is a reason why kids start crying when they see my giant body and long beard!

How was I to know at that first meeting that Christine would play a major role in my life, both as one of the integral members of Fleetwood Mac and as one of my greatest friends? At the time we met, it was our music that attracted Christine; she would come and see our shows and her band, Chicken Shack, would often be billed on the same night. As the story goes, she had a crush on Peter Green at first but then she got to know John McVie, with whom she fell in love, and married. Christine joined Fleetwood Mac in 1970, when Peter left the band.

Fifteen years ago, Christine sacrificed her touring life with Fleetwood Mac because of her fear of flying. She retired to her home in England.

I myself am all too familiar with the crippling effects of fear. Some time ago, I had a profound battle with stage fright, an issue which was obviously hugely problematic for me. I’ve learned to deal with it although, to some extent, I still have a certain amount of fear each time I step on stage which I must conquer.

The pay-off, because whenever a person prevails over fear there is always a tremendous pay-off, is when I land in the “Zone”. Then I can really enjoy the show and forget about the fear. Similarly, it transpired that in Christine’s life she’s managed to wrangle that fear. She can now get on a plane and be OK; she can play music again and travel.

In fact, she’s just come back from an African safari, travelling around in single engine planes no less! There is a perfect example of being scared and doing it anyway.

Christine is back, writing new songs, experimenting in the studio. It started with her playing Don’t Stop at the O2 in London last autumn. The song bird has found her way home where she belongs, and the amazing story of Fleetwood Mac continues...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: Quotes from Thoreau

By: Mick Fleetwood
Published: March 30, 2014
Source: Sunday Express

"If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away." - Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau's quote so brings to mind the experience of making the album Tusk. Much like when the Beatles made their White Album, Tusk, for us, was our walking away from predictability.

Kudos to Lindsey Buckingham, who was determined to break the mould of what we had done with Rumours and get away from the possibility of what can so often happen when success impedes artistic expression.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: On the road

ON THE road again - Just can't wait to get on the road again.
By: Mick Fleetwood
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Sunday Express (UK)

The life I love is making music with my friends, and I can't wait to get on the road again - Willie Nelson, On The Road Again.

All of us are familiar with my friend and comrade Willie Nelson's lyrics. As far as I am concerned, there's never been a truer sentiment written, since I love all those old feelings of excitement that ramp up before any tour starts.

My first real tour started with the release of our hit record, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac. We toured throughout Europe. Lugging equipment, setting up stages, taking small planes, ferries and buses, we had an itinerary of crummy, shared motel rooms, often sneaking five to a room and using overcoats for blankets. We travelled on no sleep and bad food, in broken-down vans, sometimes even hitchhiking to gigs. I loved every minute of it.

I adapted to the rhythm and the chaos of travelling so well because it was in my blood, having been raised in the Air Force. For me, it was the birth of the "Road Dog" - the bloke who is happier and more comfortable on the road than at home. I developed my skills as a ringmaster, organising and taking control of getting that circus out on the road.

I was in my element, channelling the spirit of the troubadour as we adhered to rigorous touring schedules. By the early 1970s Fleetwood Mac had started touring America. We were still driving ourselves to our gigs, sometimes through rain and snow storms.

Everything was low budget. We stayed at Holiday Inns. We did all our travelling in three large station wagons, now with a baby and wife in tow! Even as we hit the "Big Time" with the release of the album Fleetwood Mac.

I remember the last time we drove those station wagons, in Texas, on our way to play a huge festival. We were fighting our way through terrible traffic. Everyone on the highway seemed to be headed to that same location, and the traffic was getting worse. That's when our friend and road manager, John Courage, took control and said: "Whatever you do, Mick, don't stop following me!" Our cavalcade went rogue. We broke every law in the book as we climbed up on the kerb, leaving a 15-mile sea of solid traffic in the dust.

We arrived in time, panicked and breathless. I walked into The Eagles' dressing room; they had been convinced we weren't going to show up. Imagine Glenn Frey's surprise when I told him how we got there in our three station wagons! (The Eagles were at that time enjoying the same level of success as Fleetwood Mac). The penny dropped, it was time to upgrade! The Eagles had all arrived in helicopters!

After that, all hell broke loose; we were like kids in a candy store, limos, private jets and all the rock 'n' roll excesses imaginable. Long gone were the innocent days.

The truth is, what I do is simple.

I play the drums. It's the only thing I am trained to do in life. The second I set foot on stage, sit down and play my drums, everything else melts away.

Today, to walk out on that stage takes a little more support than it used to in those sparse, early days. Now we have all the modern comforts; luxury hotels, first class travel, a team of amazing costumiers, make-up artists, assistants, lighting and sound engineers, techs, etc.

But I know it's our years of commitment and training, combined with all the lessons we learned in our time on the road, that have taught us that no matter what trials and tribulations that went before, we really know how to get "on with the show".

Check out Mick's 4 previous articles in the Sunday Express

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: Motoring nostalgia #FleetwoodMac

Photo: Michael Alan Ross

By: Mick Fleetwood
Sunday Express
March 16, 2014

DID you know that in the 17th and 18th centuries, “nostalgia” was deemed a mental disorder?

Actually, I have friends who would agree because when it comes to me and my cars, my nostalgia knows no bounds. It is an important link between my past and present self.

Each car I’ve owned has a story attached. My first was a London taxi that I bought for £12 from a neighbour in Notting Hill Gate.

The perfect vehicle to carry my equipment and take me from gig to gig, I loved that cab, with its solid doors and the familiar diesel rattle and hum. I’ve never had another car that could match the turning radius.

Sunday Express UK March 16, 2014
After the cab, vanity got the better of me and I bought a Jaguar XJ-120 sports car for about £60. It was a wreck, leaked as much oil as it used petrol. I couldn’t afford to buy the hard-top roof for the winter so, rain or shine (mostly rain), I drove it with no top at all.

I had a system to weather the storms; a leather cape, one of my dad’s Air Force flying helmets, goggles and enormous Air Forceissue gloves. I’d bomb down the motorways like a mad speed racer, arriving at my destination (no heater) frozen half to death, frost-bitten and soaked to the bone.

That’s what vanity does to you when it’s the car that counts. That car almost killed me when the entire transmission fell out on the road at a roundabout. I retired it soon after that.

In an out-of-character moment, the next car I bought with the novel intention of owning something that I could afford to run. It corresponded to the only time I thought I’d give up being a musician. I bought a little Deux Chevaux.

My pal, percussionist Dave de Silva, was also out of work. Our next possible career move was a choice between being window cleaners or painters and decorators.

Painting won the toss. Our first job? Painting a fresco. I decided, in my infinite wisdom, to paint an entire wall of intestines! And that dear little Deux Chevaux dutifully carried the paint. By far my favourite car of all time, though, was a little Austin 7, that we named Lettuce Leaf (it was racing green!). I’d see this car parked on my daily walk to visit with Andy Sylvester, who was playing with Chicken Shack with Christine McVie at that time. I had no money but I wrote a note and left it on the little car’s windscreen, saying: “I’m in love with your car, if it ever needs a good home please call me.”

Mick in his 1930 Austin 7 (Photo: Michael Alan Ross)

The owner saved the note and two years later, when he called, I had enough to purchase the car because I was playing in the Bo Street Runners. It was the car that drove me to my wedding with Jenny Boyd, the car that made me feel things were on the up.

After that I was unstoppable; I saved every dime to purchase more old classic cars, including a 1961 Bristol 401 and a beautiful 1955 MG TF. When we first moved to Los Angeles I bought a gold Cadillac convertible to console me when my other beauties could not make the transatlantic journey.

Poor Lettuce Leaf! When I went to seek my fame and fortune, I left it with my then brother-in-law, Eric Clapton. About 14 years later I got a call from his manager, asking if I wanted the car back! For the past 10 years it had been sitting, uncovered, in an apple orchard. Birds were nesting inside. But that little car was so well built it was very much intact.

I resurrected it and had it shipped to Maui to come live with me again. Now I take my 97-year-old mother to lunch in it every Sunday.

I’m not the only one who enjoys a good car story. Look at the millions of people who love watching Top Gear, a show that illustrates the many ways people become enamoured of their vehicles.

It’s my nature to wax nostalgic over my cars. I can’t bear to let go of even one of them. They represent my life and, in a strange way, they represent the different stages with Fleetwood Mac.

People’s lives become entangled with the lives of their cars; they hold memories and symbolise so much!

I’m obsessed with keeping mine going, no matter what ails them. It’s sort of like all the times Fleetwood Mac was as good as written off. I just kept tinkering, resurrecting, all to keep that motor running.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Mick Fleetwood: 50 years since the Marquee Club shaped and changed the course of my life

IT WAS 50 years since The Beatles first played the Ed Sullivan Show, and 50 years since the Marquee Club shaped and changed the course of my life.

By: Mick Fleetwood
Published: Sun, March 9, 2014
Sunday Express

It was there I made life-long friends, saved sweethearts and survived fights. It was there I went from complete obscurity to learning the tools of my trade from the musical masters of our time.

The Marquee was the jewel of the London clubs. All the musicians wanted to play there. It was a jazz club until the brilliant, groundbreaking management of John Gee, who guided its metamorphosis into the seminal rock and roll/rhythm and blues club whose influence is still relevant today.

I have a first, stomach-turning memory of playing the Marquee with my band The Cheynes. We had no following and it was a miracle to have been asked to back the legendary blues star Sonny Boy Williamson. This giant of a man played a tiny harmonica and dressed in the coolest suits, all mismatched fabrics in wild designs. We had studied his albums and learned his every note by heart to prepare for this honour.

On the night Sonny Boy went totally off book, dropping into the middle eight at different places. We just didn’t get it and kept trying to play the song the way we had learned it. We even tried to correct him by corralling him back to the way the song was supposed to go.

This did not go over well. He stopped playing in mid-song and bawled us out in front of the audience for not following his lead, not listening or watching for his signals.

The Marquee Club relocated to Wardour Street, where I saw the greats: Zoot Money and Cyril Davies, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, the Stones, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Mick Taylor, The Yardbirds, The Moody Blues, John Mayall And The Bluesbreakers just to name a few. So many screaming fans, crammed into that tiny sweatbox!

Early Fleetwood Mac was actually banned for a time from playing the Marquee. We were opening for John Mayall And The Bluesbreakers. Jeremy Spencer and I had a running joke at every gig involving a sex toy (that we had named Harold) which would be ceremoniously hung on the top of my bass drum for the duration of the show.

People loved Harold but one night, Jeremy appeared on stage with Harold dangling out of his trousers! Suffice it to say that we were severely reprimanded and Harold would never again make an appearance at the Marquee. (Harold’s showbiz life came to a crashing end at an American Southern Baptist college, where we were very nearly arrested for his performance. Poor Harold was too much for them and, much to my wife’s chagrin, he ended his days on show, sitting on our pine corner cabinet).

It’s a funny thing, going back to an iconic place to commemorate the fact that something great happened there.

I remember walking into the Marquee on a rainy day in the early 1980s like a ghost, wandering through a unique moment in time. I was there at the club’s inception and became a part of its history. This was where I came up the ranks, this was where I met John McVie, this was where the rhythm section of Fleetwood Mac was born. I hold it in my heart with utmost gratitude.

Mick Fleetwood joined the Sunday Express (UK) as a guest columnist beginning with his first column on February 16th . Previous columns below:

Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: New Technology 
Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: Custom fashion
Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: Dreams of vinyl

For more on the Marquee club, check out these websites: the Marquee Club | The Famous Marquee Club

Sunday, March 02, 2014

In the early days of Fleetwood Mac we liked to push the naughtiness envelope. - Mick Fleetwood

Mick Fleetwood Goes His Own Way: Custom fashion
By: Mick Fleetwood
March 2, 2014
Sunday Express

IT'S NOT exactly breaking news, my many dalliances with addiction in my life, but one hasn't been well-documented, and that's my absolute love of fashion.

Not so much fashion per se, rather my personal pursuit of theatrical self-expression through my clothes and what I present to the world.

Here's a riddle for you: What can a broke, 18-year-old, 6ft 6in beanpole find to wear in a ready-made shop? Answer? Absolutely nothing. I was left to scour the markets, usually ending up at the Army and Navy surplus store.

Then I met Rod Stewart and the incredible blues artist Long John Baldry who, incidentally, was 6ft 7in. Imagine my initial envy, seeing this tall man in garb I'd only dreamt of.

I played with Rod for two years and I attribute much of my fashion savvy to him and John. Not only were they renowned for their style, they shared their secrets, showing me the ways of bespoke tailoring on the cheap in London's East End.

I saved up for one thing that fit properly - a pair of trousers, a shirt - at a time. I was hooked. Finally, I had clothes that fit.

Then I acquired a bolt of Levi's denim (fallen off the back of a lorry) and had my first pair of jeans tailor-made. I thought I was in heaven. They were my prized possession until my poor mum washed them and then put them in the dryer.

She actually cried when she saw how distraught I was. I spent the entire day on the verge of tears, lying in the bath, trying to stretch them back to their original size, to no avail.

I still love having my jeans tailor-made (at The Stronghold in Venice, California) but trust me, I'm a stickler for pre-washed, pre-dried denim.

I really wanted a costume that stood out when I played gigs.

It had to be original, not too hot to play in and cheap.

I still had my school gym kit and fencing gear. I wore the knickerbockers, tore the sleeves off the jacket to make a waistcoat, put my gym shoes on.

That was the start of my stage costume, captured on the iconic Rumours cover, and I've worn some version of that ever since.

In the early days of Fleetwood Mac we liked to push the naughtiness envelope. At one gig I came back from a toilet break with the lavatory chains, a ball attached at each end, wrapped around my waist.

I did a solo, hitting the balls into the microphone, just to make the lads laugh. Talk about spontaneous expression! The funny part is, my balls never went away.

I began wearing wooden balls in everyday life, attached to my belt - quite the conversation starter. To this day I never play without them.

I was only one of the pioneers for diversity. Sir Mick Jagger, David Bowie and countless others who wanted to be outrageous and self-expressed, pushed the envelope of what was considered "masculine". We opened minds by blowing minds.

I say hats off to the Lady Gagas of today's world, those who challenge society's expectations and encourage people who are different from the mainstream to stay that way. Bravo.

There are a lot of minds that still need opening and blowing and much work to be done.

Mick Fleetwood is a guest Columnist with the Sunday Express.  This is his third contribution, his first two articles appeared on February 16th and February 23rd - you can read his first two columns here.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mick Fleetwood goes his own way: Dreams of vinyl

CALL me retro but I still love records. I have great memories of shopping for vinyl, playing amazing albums, listening to records with friends, trading music and discovering new sounds.

By: Mick Fleetwood
February 23, 2014

Records have always been a huge source of inspiration. To me there is nothing better than looking at the cover artwork, reading the liner notes and taking in the album’s entire experience.

The way they master music today, much of the integrity of the sound – the emotion and subtlety – is lost. Fleetwood Mac records have an organic sound that is more comfortable to the human ear. At least to mine!

I love listening. I am a great listener, although perhaps a few of my exes might not agree! But I repeat, I am a great listener. Being a drummer, I am well trained to listen. I am not playing a melody but listening to see where the beats come in, that is my skill. My hearing is sharp, acute, first rate.

When we were in the last phases of making the Rumours album, it dawned on the band that all that listening, playing, singing and writing, all that heartache and pain, time and poetry, was just sitting there on two reels of tape, totally vulnerable.

We realised that anything could happen to it. Of course, we never had a hard drive to back it up like you do now. It could all have been lost in an instant.

All kinds of what if? paranoia flooded our brains. What if there was an earthquake, a fire? What if a giant magnet came down from outer space and wiped out half of our reel? We made contingency plans and had copies made of the multi-tracks. Those we had locked up in a bank vault in Phoenix just to be safe.

We were like expectant parents with that album. We went so far as to accompany our “baby” to the “delivery room” and watched the first pressing of Rumours at the pressing plant. We stayed for hours, checking and rechecking to make sure the sound had kept its integrity.

We even hired an engineer whose only job was to watch over the quality of our sound. We were that protective.

My ears miss that analogue sound. Most people have no idea that what they are hearing on a daily basis is actually digital sound, or that digital sound has no sound waves, no high fidelity. All that compressing, in my opinion, takes a lot of the traditional dynamics out.

Fleetwood Mac released a full box set of vinyl recently and I know I am not alone in my fanatical audiophile ways. I just picked up a small, portable record player sold by Jack White’s Third Man Records. This record player actually has great sound.

I use it on the road so I can pacify my demanding ears and I have a lot of fun with it. At home I have a Thorens deck to play my beloved vinyl.

Did you know that you can actually play the gold ones, too? This, I discovered, after some hullaballoo in the late Seventies when people were complaining that their Rumours albums were not actually playing the album they had bought but a Frank Sinatra record instead.

I remember popping my gold record out of the frame to see what all the fuss was about. Sure enough, there was old Frankie Boy crooning away and my gold record spinning on the record player. Ironic after all the care we took at the pressing plant! I guess someone on the assembly line had gone to sleep on the job.

Of course Warner Brothers stopped the press but, hands down, I bet that Frank Sinatra/Fleetwood Mac album may be one of the most collectable we put out. Meet our precious baby, Frank. Isn’t he cute?

Mick Fleetwood is a guest Columnist with the Sunday Express.  This is his second contribution, his first appeared on February 16th - you can read that column here.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mick Fleetwood applauds the wide audience and opportunities that social networking has created for music and musicians

Mick Fleetwood joined the Sunday Express (UK) as a guest columnist. Mick's first column below is from today's Sunday Express (Feb 16th).

Sunday, October 18, 2009


IN A frank interview, the Fleetwood Mac star tells CHARLOTTE HEATHCOTE about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll and how, despite being battered by all three, she's emerged stronger than ever.

Fleetwood Mac are as famed for their in-fighting, feuds and messy, almost incestuous inter-band romances as for Go Your Own Way, Don’t Stop, Everywhere, The Chain and countless other adult-oriented rock songs that have seen them shift more than 100million records.

Stevie Nicks, however, makes absolutely no attempt to put a shiny PR gloss on the legendary tensions.

“We did our first tour and we were p***** off with each other then. We made another record [Rumours] and we were all angry with each other afterwards. We did Tusk and that was 13 months of anger. We did an 18-month tour and by the time that was done everyone was really not speaking...”

She’s half-weary, half-wry. “It’s really nothing new. It’s been happening since time began but if this was a bland, boring band we’d definitely not still be together.”

Stevie and her then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham brought a stability of sorts to the shape-shifting line-up of Fleetwood Mac in 1975, joining Mick Fleetwood, John and Christine McVie.

Christine left 11 years ago, ground down by relentless touring, and Stevie misses her ally “every day”.

The other four remain a unit, on the whole, which is especially miraculous when you consider that Stevie and Buckingham’s six-year relationship foundered during the recording of the drug-fuelled Rumours in 1976 (the McVies were splitting at the same time) and, shortly after the Rumours tour, Stevie fell for Fleetwood. They separated for the sake of the band.

By the time of Fleetwood Mac’s last tour, 2003’s Say You Will, Stevie’s relationship with Buckingham had become so fraught that, unless he treated her better this time around, she threatened to walk away “so fast that palm tree tops will fall on his head”.

Now, she says the underlying problem was how much she hated the Say You Will album.

“It was five years ago now so I can say I didn’t like it at all; I didn’t like making it, I didn’t like the songs, so that tour was very hard for me.”

On a Greatest Hits tour, however, there is no new material to quibble over.

“Doing all the very famous material is actually more fun,” insists this born entertainer. “It’s been a breath of fresh air for us to not have to worry about trying to sell [new] songs.”

With five platinum-selling solo records to her name, Stevie is easily the most successful member of Fleetwood Mac. Wasn’t she tempted to walk away during Say You Will?

“Well, I’m a peacemaker and I didn’t want us to break up because the music didn’t go my way. If I’ve learned nothing else in my 61 years it is that four years down the line you’re over it.” She sees the remaining foursome touring for another seven or eight years.

“I’m a performer and an entertainer, that’s what I live for. I would be dancing on tables in bars if I wasn’t in Fleetwood Mac, doing small shows all over the world, driving my van.”

Stevie’s passion for entertaining runs so deep, however, that she admits she has sacrificed all of her romantic relationships for the band but with no regrets.

“My love affair is with my work. I’ve had many wonderful relationships but I could never give up what I do for a relationship; in all of my relationships, at some point, that [prioritising] came up.

“Am I sad about the fact that I don’t have a relationship? No. I’m going to Europe to stay in the best hotels, to play huge shows, playing my music, to meet lots of interesting people. So I really don’t care.”

To Stevie’s amusement, her 81-year-old mother reckons she still hasn’t met Mr Right. She’s all too happy for her mother to be proved right but, to date, the love of her life is a member of the Eagles and not the one you’d expect.

After her split with Buckingham she spent 18 months with Don Henley but, of his bandmate Joe Walsh, she says: “He was the great love of my life. I fell in love with Joe in the same way that Lindsey fell in love with me.”

As their cocaine addiction spiralled out of control in the early Eighties, though, Walsh reluctantly left her for both of their sakes. Now she muses: “Maybe the people you can live best with aren’t the great love of your life; the men you love deeply, the calmer, more loving, more solid people but who you weren’t super passionately crazy in love with. The ones to marry aren’t the ones as crazy as you are.”

Her romance with Walsh was not the only fall-out of her drug addiction. Cocaine has left a hole in her septum, leaving her wishing her generation had not been told that cocaine was “safe, recreational and not a bigger deal than smoking pot or cigarettes”.

A bigger regret is that, after successful treatment for cocaine addiction, her friends persuaded her to see a psychiatrist, hoping this would ensure she avoided a relapse. The doctor prescribed the tranquilliser Klonopin.

“That took eight years out of my life,” she says.

“Those were my prime years, my 40s, when a lot of my heavy, creative activity was really happening. Klonopin grabbed hold of you and made you sit down on your couch and not get up.

“I just watched TV for eight years in a daze. I’m sorry I didn’t have a car crash on the way to seeing that doctor.”

So when Stevie finally got herself back on track, she needed to make up for lost time. “I made a decision a long time ago to follow my artistry. I decided that my mission here on this earth was to write songs for people and make them happy.”

● The UK leg of Fleetwood Mac’s Unleashed tour starts on Thursday and the double CD The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac is out tomorrow.