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Fleetwood, Mick - Founder of Fleetwood Mac

By: Dominick A. Miserandino

Living the exciting, but often difficult life of a rock star wasn't easy for Mick Fleetwood, but the legendary drummer fought his demons and won without sacrificing his ideals, dreams, and visions on how music should be created. Here he talks about his family, pursuing the elusive goal of success, and his role in process of being the driving force behind Fleetwood Mac.

DM) My first big question is about your new DVD...

MF) My life flashed in front of me. (laughs)

DM) What is one of the biggest lessons you've learned in making the
DVD and looking back on your life?

MF) First of all, the people who participated in the documentary, not that I saw all of it, I did become semi-involved in seeing the footage of, for example, my children. Elements of that were really interesting and were reflective; and I think one of the things that was really quite moving for me was hearing at the ripe old age of 28 and 30 how much my two eldest daughters remembered, and that some of it wasn't always a happy memory. Lots of love, and lots of great things, but they used to worry about me. They were just kids, and they should rock and roll around with Mom and Dad, but at some cost; and of course when you're in that moment, you don't realize it. But myself and my daughters have done a lot talking, but to still see that is a memory of where not to go...ever again.

DM) Did you not realize it at the time?

MF) No, because I was a young man. We were having fun, and family wasn't that important at that time, because otherwise you would have realized that. Was I totally irresponsible? Of course not, but just the dynamic of how much of that soaks into a child is a license you're not really supposed to take. That's a lesson I learned before doing this, but it was one of the most poignant parts of doing this documentary--and realizing that. Not beating myself up, but it was quite a reaffirmation of why that lifestyle became so tarnished and old hat. It was a major reaffirmation for me--I was glad that part of my life was over. I'm talking about substance abuse: too drunk, too drugged, too much fun, too selfish without realizing you were being selfish. I have two kids who didn't turn out dysfunctional, but they were still affected by that. To see them talking about it thirty yeas later was a good re-reminder.

DM) Was this almost cathartic in a way?

MF) It turned out that way, and I don't think it would have been as much fun if the director, Richard Journo, wasn't such a fantastic human being. And we are and we became incredibly close friends. I became just very comfortable, and we had a lot of fun doing it. A certain amount of traveling was done [the car journeys around London], and it let me free to remember what I was about. I didn't want this to be another Fleetwood Mac documentary. Can you separate it? No. But I wanted to explore why this whole thing started. And it started with me having a passion and desire to do what I wanted to do, which was very simple: to play the drums. Hence the title, Two Sticks and a Drum. I wanted to play drums. That's all I wanted. For so long, up until 20-odd years ago, that's all I did; and I was so happy doing it, and I'm still so happy doing. When it is all said and done, that's what I am. I'm just a drummer.

DM) When you talk about your life as a drummer, it strikes me that you've not followed the traditional route as a drummer. Usually the drummer takes more of a background role and doesn't often create a band. Instead, you've taken drumming to the forefront. Is that an accurate assessment?

MF) Yeah, I think it is. I don't think about it everyday, but I think it's something I love to do so much. Fleetwood Mac has gone through so much turmoil and musical change over the last 30-some-odd years, and I think (sometimes in humor) people have said to me, and somewhat to John as well, "How come you're still here?" I think some of it is quite simple. I wasn't about to let go of it. If this is what I love to do, and if somebody doesn't want to do it with us, then let's find somebody who does, versus had I been a lead guitar player or something, I think this band would have disintegrated a long time ago.

DM) Why do you say that?

MF) Because I think as a lead guitar player...had I been me, and with some of the social skills of wanting to go ahead and perform...I would have just formed a new band. I can't do that. I need people to be around me, so what do you do? You find them. Why would you want to throw something away? I never really thought of it like that before talking to you, but I think it's a fair summation of probably some of the ingredients of what it was to cause this band to get through all of those things. I think it really had to do with the fact that I was a drummer; I have a band that I'm in; and there's always been two or three people who went, so why break it up? I'm not that sort of person.

I'm always a patcher-upper of situations and I like to think in terms of fixing. I know now that some of my skills are about bringing people together. I can't stand things that aren't happy and nice so I'm always mediating, so I think that's helped keep Fleetwood Mac together and selfishly I needed a band to be in. Why would I want to be a drummer out of work and not play with people that I've already had an affinity with?

The events when Peter Greene left--and had any of the others been band leaders, they didn't want to do what I had did because it would have been a pain in the neck--they came naturally to me because I wasn't the guitar player with that sort of personality. I think in truth, I would have said, "I've lost my partner here; I'll just start another band." I never had that musical freedom because I didn't write songs.

DM) By the nature of being a drummer, it sounds like you were tied to the others...

MF) It was a perfect situation when you think of it. In terms of why this all happened, I think it is totally unique. I don't think there's any band that has prevailed in the way we've prevailed and has had so many diverse musical contributions.

DM) A lot of people comment on the stability or instability of Fleetwood Mac, but it sounds like it would have taken an entirely different route if you had been a guitarist.

MF) I think it would have. I really think, if I hadn't had that built-in desire to be around people. You're right--I can't function unless I'm doing this with other people. It's just the nature of the instrument. I don't consider myself an insecure person, but it's the nature of the instrument that causes a dependency.

DM) You say you don't describe yourself as an insecure person, but the idea of you're identity being tied to the band so closely by the nature of being a drummer...well, that would make me feel insecure.

MF) I think, in that instance, I would agree with you. There was a sense of hanging onto something, and that would certainly be some of insecurity. As a character, I don't feel that way, but I like to be around people, and my job as a musician is intertwined with the need of other players. If that is insecurity--which I think you're right--then that did exist and probably still does to some extent. I've literally sold body, soul, and myself, in some years, to this band--and at some great cost in terms of the dynamic with my children. Everything was about Fleetwood Mac, and now it's not. It's an even much more diverse life, but I still have a huge amount of love and regard for Fleetwood Mac.I'm amazingly overjoyed that we're doing another album and another tour, and everyone out here seems to be really excited we're doing it again. It's just a matter of balancing it out, and things got out of whack in the power days when we were young and successful. Do I feel really bad about it? No, but I am aware about it, and I've grown more aware about it.