Saturday , April 17 2021

"We will burn in hell if we do not play Glastonbury one day"

This strange, hilarious band is complicated, "says Mick Fleetwood." It's about people, it's not horrible. "I'm talking to a man who is the only member of Fleetwood Mac that appears in every band of the band after they are formed. go out on stage at Wembley Stadium in June, this will happen 52 years ago.

We talked about the period when Fleetwood Mac moved from stars to superstars with the release of Rumors in 1977. During the era of the seventies, the excess stone, when the myths of the band were stunned in stories of groupings, sexual exploitation, drug addiction and death.

Fleetwood Mac was not unknown for drugs: LSD cost the group its original leader, Peter Green, at the end of the sixties, and cocaine was part of the band's seventies. Fleetwood wrote in his autobiography that Rumors was written with a "white powder peeling off the wall in every room in the studio".

"I think we were cursed happy that our music never turned out because of the brain," says the 71-year-old drummer now, "and I think there are times in the truth where we could say that we have a beautiful Close, you know.

"Cocaine was everywhere, people who worked in banks [used it]. Personally, I had to run after that lifestyle, but fortunately, I did not get into another kind of drug that would be more harmful – I do not even know why, but I'm very grateful. Rakia, cocaine and beer, "he says, naming his poisons as he describes the 20 years of" powerful madness "that put him through the body." This way of life has become something that has come to an end … are I hope, will come out of it with your pants and not even take it out in a plastic bag. "

There is a real warmth and self-chattiness to Fleetwood. He notes that "many moments of creativity" for the band "were intertwined with sometimes extreme lifestyle choices". But that relationship with Fleetwood Mac, which is complicated, is not terrible, was the answer to the question of whether the fact that there are women in the group – Christine McQueee joining in 1970, Stevie Nix in 1975 – meant they avoided the kind of behavior that associates him with similar to Led Zeppelin and Vanilla Fudge at the time. "I absolutely do not doubt it and I thank God," he says.

"We all … everyone who was in Fleetwood Mac, as far as I was aware, was seemingly quite grown up by their parents – is not good with two shoes, God knows we are not, but there was a level of civility that the guys in the band were aware of: what is above the edge of decency. We all hear and know some of the things written for other groups, where you go, "oh, my God."

"Often chemical substances in young men and women lose, it's part of the breeding, and when they grow up in a rock and roll band, you guess what? You run out of the local disco for one night out, but a lot of that was hoping it was relaxed," adds he.

Christine McQueee confirmed that she was taking it: "Fleetwood Mac was a rough group, they had dirty minds, they still do it, but I laughed because I thought they were hysterical. I kind of became one of the guys that I think I'm still to this day, but I have always been treated with great respect. "

When the band was set up in 1967, of course, there were only boys, though they were not yet John McQueen. Mac part of the band's name was an attempt by founder Green to persuade Macqui to leave his steady whistle to play bass for Bluesbreakers. In the end, he did, with little conviction. It was a wise move. The band experienced significant success on the chart almost from the beginning of their career, with authentic blues sound built on the guitar's lead guitar and the starry rhythm part of McVie and Fleetwood, which to this day says it does not "know" the songs, instinctively plays them ("the power of those two," says Christine McQueen, "you can never know how it feels until you stand on stage with them").

They had single number 1 with "Albatross" in 1968, followed by two songs "Man of the World" and "Oh, Good", which reached No. 2 in the UK, plus three top 10 albums.

Christine Mackey and Mick Fleetwood (Getty)

Meanwhile, the young Christine Perfect, later becoming McQueen, had 20 hits with her band Chicken Shack and a short solo career that produced songs like "Close to Me", which still sounds amazing, although Macqui told me she went back and I recently listened to him and "I hated him … I was not a very reliable writer and it's probably one of my favorite songs on the planet." (Even geniuses can be wrong.)

She remembers when she and a member of the Chicken Shack group tried to watch and see Fleetwood Mac when they had one night, and recalls when she first met Fleetwood, who "had a perman that looked terrible … he was frightening at the beginning because of his height [he’s 6ft 4in]. For years I've been very shy of him. "

She married John McVie in 1968 and, according to Fleetwood, "basically withdrew into his wife" in 1969, after realizing that if they were in different groups they would never be seen. She played the keyboards of their 1968 album Mr. Wonderful, and he did it again in the 1970s Kitchen cottage. It was the band's first album after Green's departure, whose use of LSD changed its mental state in such an extreme way that it could no longer reconcile with the rest of the band. Fleetwood told Mackey, "Chris, you need it" – joined three days before the band left for America, and then we never looked back. "

For his part, McQueen says: "I did not want to go to America – I'm a real Anglo-Philip, I adore England – but the rest of the band promised me, we will go for three months, because we did not have a career there, nobody wanted to book us, we will return … 28 years later, I had to go back to England again. "

McQueue spent several years in the restoration of a house in Kent, enjoying life with her dogs until she missed the band. Fleetwood is in Maui, Hawaii, 17 years old, and lives there with his seven-year-old girl, Chelsea Hill – "we are joined in the hip."

The band played early songs such as "Black Magic Woman" (later filmed by Santana) and "Oh Good" on the vast tour that London dates back to, but Fleetwood says they can dig more than really early jobs specifically for Wembley gigs. McVie's return to the ranks of the band after 16 years in 2014 was "like something falling from the sky," he says. However, the band will perform without one key member. Lindsay Buckingham was fired in 2018 to be replaced by Neil Finn of Crowded House and guitarist Tom Petty Mike Campbell (who also wrote Don Henley's Summer Boys). The roots of Buckingham's departure are deep.

What is now considered the classic line-up – Fleetwood, John and Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham – took shape after the revolving door of guitarists leaving the band in the early Seventies left a gap that Fleetwood tried to fill with the man he’d heard playing on a Sound City studio tape of the Buckingham Nicks album (released in 1973). The duo were a couple, though, and so inseparable that Buckingham told Fleetwood that they only came as a package deal (“Stevie’s never forgiven me,” Fleetwood says). The band’s sound evolved with its new triumvirate of songwriters. Blues remained a backdrop, but Christine McVie’s classical roots, which can be clearly heard on “Songbird”, combined with Nicks’s folk-country influences and Buckingham’s innovative guitar structures to create something multi-textured and melodically rich. Their first album together, Fleetwood Mac (1975), which features classic tracks such as Nicks’s “Landslide” and Christine McVie’s “Over My Head”, went to No 1 in the US, selling more than 4 million copies.

The success of Rumours, though, took the band to a whole new level of fame. “You don’t see any money for a year after the album’s released,” McVie notes, “so when the first cheques started coming in, we all went berserk and went out and bought Porsches and Rolls-Royces.”

“There’s a picture of the five of us back in the day taken by [rock photographer] Neil Preston, and I always look at it and we’re laughing away, and we didn’t have any idea what was going to happen,” Fleetwood says. “No one could have imagined the success and the hardship and the torment.”

Torment because, just as the band became globally successful, interpersonal tensions were also threatening to tear it apart. Rumours was “the beginning of a lot of trouble and emotional turmoil within the band”, Fleetwood says ruefully. Perhaps it was inevitable for a band that contained two couples. But it’s also one of the abiding reasons why Fleetwood Mac are held in such affection. This was a band that was writing about real people trying to have real relationships and some of their lyrics cut to the quick: “listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness… remembering what you had / and what you lost, and what you had, and what you lost”, wrote Nicks in “Dreams”. “I ain’t gonna miss you when you go”, returned Buckingham on “Second Hand News”, “Packing up, shacking up’s all you wanna do”, he added on “Go Your Own Way”. Nicks dumped Buckingham in 1976, the same year that McVie had an affair with the band’s lighting director – “Ooh, you make loving fun” she wrote, telling her husband the song was about a dog.

“I think it’s part of how people relate to Fleetwood Mac,” Fleetwood says. “In many ways we’ve been too open and too truthful about stuff that is really none of anyone’s business. I think we were quite naive in the way we related a lot of that truth to people other than ourselves.” The outcome, though, he says, “is it’s part of our history and part of a human connection that is now actually a really lovely thing – that people relate to us because we’re not perfect, as many people aren’t themselves.”

The turmoil even extended to Fleetwood, who had an affair with Nicks. Had that sucked him into the emotional maelstrom as well? “That was all for the most part very unknown and it was very private,” he says. “I don’t mind talking about it and I don’t think Stevie would, because we know that that’s part of the story – it’s complicated in terms of the way the logistics of the band worked. To this very day, we’re really lucky that me and Stevie remained very, very dear friends or I’d be answering you very differently.”

The tension between Nicks and Buckingham though was intense, and famously led to a violent confrontation in 1987, in which Buckingham reportedly tried to choke her over a car bonnet. “That whole situation is for Stevie and Lindsey to answer about, but it’s no secret that their journey has been volatile in emotional terms,” Fleetwood says.

Buckingham told Rolling stone in October that he was given a message that “Stevie never wants to appear on a stage with you again” after he “smirked” during a thank you speech that she gave at a charity concert and claimed that she had given a “him or me” ultimatum to the rest of the band. Other reports suggested that Buckingham’s request to take three or four months off to go on a solo tour had been part of the decision. He took legal action against the group after being asked to leave, but in December it was reported that this had been settled, which may be why Fleetwood doesn’t want to discuss the issue.

“We survived the change we’re going through now,” he says, “none of it is going to be frothed off as, ‘who cares?’… but I have to say that we have two brilliant new members of Fleetwood Mac who are now part of our story, and I truly hope that we will be able to make some [new] music with both of them.”

Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and John McVie (Getty)

He’s quick to acknowledge Buckingham’s musical legacy within the band, especially his contribution to Tusk, the 1979 follow-up to Rumours, which he says is his personal favourite. “Kudos to Lindsey for sure, for us not doing a replica of Rumours.” The experimental nature of the double album raised eyebrows at the time. “It’s a very underproduced record, which I hated in the beginning,” McVie admits. “Now I actually really love it.” It has had a critical reappraisal, too, in recent years, and is considered by many to be a classic.

Looking back, Fleetwood admits that the life and times of the band have been so tumultuous that, “if I’d been a singer songwriter, I might have said, I’ve had enough, form a solo band, I’m done… All I can say is it’s a damn miracle [we’re still together]. "

Some things remain undone, though, most noticeably a Glastonbury appearance. In 49 years of the festival, the band has not appeared once, although rumours surfaced as usual that this was going to be the year. “We didn’t start them,” he laughs. “Of course, we’ve been asked to play and it’s never worked out.

“I think the legend of Glastonbury and Fleetwood Mac will come true,” he adds, “I think I’ll burn in hell if we don’t do it one day.”

Fleetwood Mac play Wembley Stadium on June 16 and 18

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