Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac is a British and American blues band formed in 1967. From the band's inception through the end of 1974, no incarnation of Fleetwood Mac lasted longer than two years, but all featured core members Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. Their two most successful periods have been during the late 60s British blues boom, when they were led by guitarist/singer-songwriter Peter Green, and from 1975 to 1987, when they went a pop-oriented direction with musicians Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and Stevie Nicks.
The band enjoyed more modest success in the intervening period between 1971 and 1974, with a line-up that included Bob Welch, and also during the 90s, which saw more personnel changes before the return of Nicks and Buckingham in 1997. More recently, the departure of Christine McVie from Fleetwood Mac in 1998 shifted around the group's plans for many years. McVie returned to the fold in 2014 and a coming tour featuring the reunited line-up is in the works.
The only member present in the band from the very beginning is its namesake drummer Mick Fleetwood. Bassist John McVie, despite his giving part of his name to the band, did not play on their first single nor at their first concerts. Keyboardist Christine McVie has, to date, appeared on all but two albums, either as a member or as a session musician. She also supplied the artwork for the album 'Kiln House'.
The band was started in London in 1967 by guitarist Peter Green, who recruited the rhythm section of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers: drummer Mick Fleetwood and bass guitarist John McVie. Green himself had replaced a departing member, Eric Clapton, as the lead guitarist of the "Bluesbreakers;" Green and McVie had appeared on John Mayall's 1967 A Hard Road album. The band employed another bassist, Bob Brunning, until John McVie was persuaded to join the band. (The band's first album Fleetwood Mac contains one song with Brunning on bass.) Slide-guitarist and Elmore James devotee, Jeremy Spencer, rounded out the lineup.
After its second album, Mr. Wonderful, a third guitarist, 18-year-old Danny Kirwan, was added to the lineup. At this point the band began shifting into a more melodic, introspective, and experimental/progressive mode. Most performances were built around the twin leads of Green and Kirwan, and Kirwan's songw
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Stevie Nicks: Confessions Of A Rock Chick Daily Mirror, Nov 2003
CURLED UP on the sofa at Fleetwood Mac's Los Angeles rehearsal studios, Stevie Nicks looks every inch the ageing rock chick survivor. At her feet is her Yorkshire terrier Sara, the size of a large rat with a fringe cut just like Stevie's. As her mistress offers me an outstretched hand, Sara bares her teeth and snaps at my heels.
"She thinks she's really a German shepherd and is always on patrol," rasps Stevie as she banishes the dog to its basket.
Nicks' trademark husky voice is indelibly marked by years spent ingesting mountains of cocaine, downing brandy by the bottle and smoking 60 cigarettes a day. Her tempestuous love life has featured affairs with the Mac's ultra-sensitive mastermind Lindsey Buckingham, drummer Mick Fleetwood and The Eagles' Don Henley.
All of these former partners are now enjoying late-flowering fatherhood, but at 55 Stevie is alone and childless. She insists she is content to be "a rock 'n' roll mama", providing inspiration and advice to her pals Sheryl Crow, The Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines and Courtney Love.
"I live all by myself in a beautiful house on a cliff by the ocean," she sighs. "I love being single. I don't regret never having children because I wanted this life. I would have been a very jealous mum if I'd had to turn my babies over to a succession of nannies.
"The first time I would have walked into a room and seen my baby girl walk over to somebody else would have broken my heart. I knew that and I knew I would have to take a five-year sabbatical to be a mother, but I didn't want to give up my career."
Trouble is something she knows all about. In the late '80s, a post-cocaine addiction to the prescription tranquiliser Klonopin proved almost fatal. She also suffered long bouts of chronic fatigue syndrome following the removal of her silicone breast implants.
"They made me very, very sick," says Stevie gravely. "I had them done in December 1976. I'd only been in Fleetwood Mac one year and I was getting a lot of attention. I had always thought my hips were too big and that I had no chest.
"I reckoned it would look better onstage, but I would advise every woman against having them. They will backfire on you, you'll have to take them out and that leaves you scarred. Pamela Anderson is going to be so sorry when she's 60.
"I think it's gotten worse these days. Nearly all young girls think they have to have bigger boobs. The unfortunate part is that the women who really have great boobs and a little waist are just the same as everybody else, so who cares? But I can't get mad at all these people because I did it, too."
The Mac are embarking on a world tour to promote Say You Will, Nicks' first original album with the group in 16 years, and it sees the reconvening of four-fifths of the classic Rumours line-up Stevie, Fleetwood, guitarist Buckingham and bassist John McVie. Despite much persuasion, John's ex-wife, Christine McVie, declined the invitation to join them.
As a solo artist and with the Mac, Nicks has sold close to 100 million records. Although her relationship with Buckingham is obviously a lot better than when he stormed out of the band in 1987 after calling her "a schizophrenic bitch" and throwing her over the bonnet of the car time has not healed all the wounds. Shortly before I met Nicks, Buckingham seemed close to tears when he told me that she had never thanked him for all the work he'd done on the album.
"Did he say that to you?" replies Nicks incredulously. "My God. All I can say is he worked his butt off. I give him all the credit. He took my little skeleton songs and turned them into fully finished pieces. The way we work hasn't changed and he is an immense talent, a craftsman beyond belief. I knew that the first time we met."
That was back in their San Francisco high school in the late '60s. The pair played in the same band for three years before falling in love and forming the duo Buckingham Nicks. Their fateful meeting with Mac founder member Mick Fleetwood inaugurated one of the most infamous and lucrative soap operas in rock history.
"We did have a great relationship at first," says Stevie. "I loved taking care of him and our house. I washed his jeans, embroidered stupid moons and stars on the bottom of them, and made it so he was perfect.
"But the day we joined Fleetwood Mac that all changed because we were famous and we were rich. The world really got in the way. I left him and he was torn up, but he wouldn't have been nearly so torn up if we hadn't been in a band together."
While the group's other marriage, between John and Christine McVie, also fell apart, Fleetwood Mac's cocaine consumption reached legendary proportions.
"I was really badly damaged from it and lucky to survive," Stevie admits. "Lindsey did the least but Christine, Mick and me really did a bunch of it. With something like that you wake up one morning and decide, 'I can continue doing this and I'll be dead in a year or I can stop and have a good musical life until I'm 90'.
"One day I woke up and I made that decision. It was pretty simple because I was sick. I was in detox for 28 days. Since I got out of the Betty Ford clinic in 1986, I haven't even seen any cocaine. People know not to bring it anywhere near me."
Nicks may be glad such excess is all in the past but admits she will sorely miss the companionship of Christine McVie, who barely featured on Say You Will and refused all of the group's exhortations to sign up for the forthcoming tour.
"Through all the ups and downs in the band, Christine and I stuck together," Stevie says. "I miss her funny English humour every day. It is lonely for me without her, but she just didn't want any part of the rock lifestyle anymore.
"We all tried everything we could to make her change her mind. We even offered to build her a kitchen on the road to make it feel like home, but she wouldn't have it. She was done."
Nicks has many plans for future solo career projects but she's now relishing the thought of raking over the ruins of her failed relationship with Buckingham. All in name of rock 'n' roll of course.
"Going onstage is my favourite part," she says. "When we play something like 'Go Your Own Way', of course it takes me right back to when we broke up. That never goes away.
"We know it stops when we come offstage. It's a lot of fun we get to yell at each other and argue out a lot of things we never got to argue out in private. It certainly makes it exciting for the audience."
Fleetwood Mac: Wembley Arena, London Sounds, Jun 1980
CROWDS, HOWEVER passive, make me unhappy. As Eli Wallach said on TV (The Magnificent Seven) last Sunday afternoon, "If God didn't want them to be sheared, he wouldn't have made them sheep."
Thankfully, though, the proliferation of old hippies and nice young couples in Wembley had little to complain about, since (despite the high ticket prices) Fleetwood Mac trimmed their fleece in the nicest possible way. The longhairs were probably a legacy from the Peter Green/blues era of the group who just woke up after a particularly powerful spliff, but the young lovers are definitely the core of the F. Mac audience.
Since they were doing a string of dates in London's worst empty swimming pool, I checked out Friday's show for about 45 minutes but gave up when the ache in my rear coincided nicely with Lindsey Buckingham dedicating a simpering ballad to birthday boy Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, whose brother Dennis is the paramour of Mac-ette Christine McVie (who once slept on Hugh Fielder's floor). On Sunday night I watched the whole carnival and can't say I was disappointed, maybe just a little surprised that an institution as aged as this could look so enthusiastic while going about its work. Other mild shocks were in the offing, too.
The general assumption of the all-too-hip is that Mac Mk 148 crystallises the world-weary ennui that reaps plenty post-teen coin, a notion of platinum doze-out reinforced by the band's gay divorcee image which fuelled the Rumours album. BUT: guitarist Buckingham leapt around like a crippled Action Man with appendicitis while wrenching out piercing screams from his instrument, this admirable racket interlocking with John McVie's bass lines which grumbled and growled in a manner that'd do Talking Heads no harm at all. If it wasn't for the interminable but demented jamming on the whip-and-thud of 'Not That Funny' they might almost be up for the title of Fleetwood Clash.
Of course, that image don't gel nohow with Christine McVie's waif-like vocals and slithering keyboards, or with the image of the girl with (I was bemused to discover) the leastest, frontperson Stevie Nicks (of 'Sit On My Face...' banning fame).
Though her spunky voice contributes heftily to funked-up epics like 'Break The Chain', most of the time she does little more than prance around the stage like Southern California's answer to Kate Bush, dressed in early Seventies stack-heeled footwear of indescribable ugliness, banging a tambourine and waving an increasingly ridiculous array of hippy-trippy dresses in the air.
She occasionally crouches with her head between her legs as if throwing up, as during the dreamy anthem 'Rhiannon', which pose reminds one of what people usually mean when they ask if you're into Fleetwood Mac these days. She also slips offstage to, er, powder her nose rather a lot.
People do get high on a girl wearing Julie Christie 'Far From The Madding Crowd' riding gear while conducting their adulation, I suppose, and even when her voice cracks after two months on the road it does have a kind of gauche charm.
Often emulated (see Heart) but never quite duplicated, they rendered 'Tusk' as a real "intense" but hypnotic mess, roared gently to a halt with 'Go Your Own Way' and encored with Nick's ethereal 'Sister Of The Moon' and Christine McVie's quiet 'Songbird'. I was suckered in completely by that point.
I'm only sorry they didn't do 'Train In Vain'.
Fleetwood Mac: Fleetwood Mac Circus, Nov 1975
FROM LISTENING to Fleetwood Mac, you'd think this once-definitive British blues band was a Southern California pop group and you'd be right. The three remaining English members drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassman John McVie, and keyboard player Chris-tine McVie have moved to Los Angeles and traded in their first American member, guitarist Bob Welch, for a pair of Americans, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. These two have enabled the band to bring about the musical-cultural transition quite smoothly, and they're largely respon-sible for making this new LP Fleetwood Mac's best since 1973's lovely Bare Trees.
Like Danny Kirwan, who dominated that album, Buckingham plays melodic, often near-poetic lead lead-guitar lines, but he sets these off with a varied as-sortment of Eagle-isms and Byrd-licks, which tend to surface in his rhythm playing. He also owns a durable, boy-next-door tenor and a songwriting style that imaginatively exploits pop conventions. Nicks, a writer-singer who was teamed with Buckingham on a Polydor album two years back, fits the band's personality less snugly than does her partner, particularly in her cautious, quavery lead vocals. But she adds greatly to the group-harmony sound, and her three songs give the LP a shadowy, reflective side which differs nicely from its predominately technicolor core.
Christine McVie's engaging songs and strong, womanly singing have on recent albums become Fleetwood Mac's most positive feature. She's better than ever here, with five songs (including one collaboration with Buckingham), each catchy and touching. Her keyboards match Buckingham's guitars in fluidity and gentility, and the instrumental blend works marvelously with the vocal leads and harmonies on tracks like McVie's 'Say You Love Me', 'Over My Head', and 'Warm Ways', and Buckingham's eerie 'I'm So Afraid'.
So Fleetwood Mac, which not long ago seemed to be unravelling, has new life and plenty of newfound charm. This is an easy-going, immensely playable record.
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