Q&A Sessions
Tom Moncrieff:  August 20, 2008
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A Word from Tom to The Penguin:

I'd like to say thanks to anyone submitting questions here. I told Michele "Look, if no one submits anything, not to worry. I mean, who is this guy, anyway?" I bought my ticket for the Mystery Train a long time ago, and I'm good with it. I've never stopped making music, and I probably won't be writing a "Tell All" book any time soon. And don't call me Mr. or Sir! Tom works for me. - monte x

Greetings Mr. Moncrieff, Thanks so much for taking the time for this Q&A. I'm curious about your work on Stevie Nicks' demos (for both solo and FM work...). What was the process of the demo/writing sessions? When you were putting the parts together, were all the parts written, or were you able to formulate parts etc. as the recording process was going on? Again thanks for taking the time,

Todd Richards, Cleveland (host of Fleetwood Mac radio marathons of years past)

Usually Stevie had a ton of lyrics (go figure!) and some basic chords & melody for at least a verse and chorus. She'd play that for me, usually on piano; I'd get a tempo on a beat-box of some kind, and get a bass part going. If you record piano, bass, a beat and a vocal, things can take shape pretty quickly. She'd overdub some harmony ideas, and I’d do some guitars and percussion. All very intuitive. Making up parts and arrangements was what I had been doing for quite a long time, and it was very natural for me to step in and do this instead of Lindsey. I think their relationship was a little difficult then, and this way Stevie could record anything she wanted without feeling intimidated by Lindsey, and present what she wanted to FM. Or keep it for herself. Plus, Lindsey was getting more confidence in his own stuff, and was putting in a lot of time on his own. So, nothing written, all made up as we went along.

You built a recording studio in 1978. Where was this? How long did it remain open? David, Los Angeles, California

Stevie and I had a series of informal demo studios that we put together to record her songs.

I think the first one was when she bought her first house after joining FM. It was in the Hollywood Hills, and we called it "El Contento". It had a separate apartment underneath where I lived, and we put a bunch of gear in there. Some important stuff came out of that place. I think that's where we did the "Sara" demo. Later on, after Stevie had bought a new house further west, Walter Egan and I recorded his third album there for Columbia Records called "Hi-Fi".

The other one of importance was in Venice after she had purchased a condo in Marina Del Rey. I was in one of the three bedrooms, and the place was not big enough to set up any gear in, though there must have been a piano there for her to write on. I think we had recorded a couple of things in a local studio, but scheduling sessions wasn't very easy or spontaneous. I found a spot in a near-by industrial park about a mile away, and we started something a little more ambitious, but not a commercial studio. The goal was always to record her songs, demos, ideas, etc. and hopefully get them down quickly, but with enough quality that they could be used as "finals" if we happened to get some magic on tape. We also wanted a less formal setting than a big studio. More like a living room, lamps with scarves, personal stuff, whatever. No pressure, just music. We had a custom 16 track Stephens tape machine made in a road case so we could take it and some mics out to Arizona, if so moved. Unfortunately, that project fell apart after about a year due to a number of factors: a) rip-off builders, b) me being pretty naive, and c) Stevie and I had entered into a dark spot in our friendship because of all the crazy stuff going on around each FM member. Also, because I wasn't happy with the way our one co-written ("Golden Braid") song had turned out, and that really strained things for some time.

Hi Mr. Moncrieff, Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Years ago, I read on another board that you arranged Stevie’s “Sara” demo and you and Annie McLoone sang on it. Does that mean that, except for Stevie, no other members of Fleetwood Mac were on the demo? Annie McLoone once said that she knew of several different versions of the “Sara” demo. How many different versions do you know about and what are the differences between them? Is it possible there are some other demos with Fleetwood Mac on them or amalgamated demos, where Fleetwood Mac added parts on top of the demos that you did? For a long time, I thought that it was Lindsey sighing in the middle, when Stevie said, “I want to be a star, not a cleaning lady.” In 2004, even “Uncut Magazine” mentioned it was Lindsey. Is it really Lindsey’s sigh? If it isn’t, do you know who it is? Thanks a lot, John

On the "Sara" demo, as I recall, Mick might have overdubbed some shakers, or light percussion over at "El Contento". Other than that it was Stevie, Annie McLoone on vocals, and me. That's it.

However, Annie remembers us cutting the demo at The Village Recorders. The engineer for that would have been Hernan Rojas, who certainly was on the "Gypsy" sessions. That would have made it easier for FM to transfer the tapes and overdub onto them. Maybe we recorded it at "El Contento" and transferred those to 24 track tape. Hmmm.... the mystery goes on.

As far as other versions go, they could only be ruff mixes of the same demo with extra parts that we would have added as we went along. I'm not aware of any other "versions", like re-cutting the song. It was our version that FM used by overdubbing on top of what we had done (with some structural edits I didn't like). So what appeared on Tusk had John replaying the bass (of course) and my acoustic gtrs. When they put out the "Extreme Edition" of Tusk they included a mix of the original demo that included my bass and Annie's vocals. I have no idea why we were never given any credit. Maybe FM didn't want people to think they were using "studio musicians". Dunno.

Other demos: "Gypsy" is the most important after "Sara". Same basic tracking, with Stevie on piano and vocals, me on bass and beat-box. I overdubbed acoustic and electric guitars.

Generally, Stevie felt that if we fleshed out the songs (produced them a bit) they would be more comprehensible to FM. Some of Stevie's piano parts were very syncopated, and without a groove (or beat) underneath they were very confusing to some people. For some reason I was never confused by that and understood where her bars and structure was going, and so I was able to play parts that made things clearer to the listener, that being FM.

Don't know about the "sigh".

When Lindsey & Stevie joined Fleetwood Mac very early in 1975, an article ran in a Birmingham (Alabama) newspaper indicating that the musicians in the Buckingham Nicks band assumed that the gig with Fleetwood Mac would be temporary. Do you remember what you all talked about at that point? Did Buckingham Nicks really want to get back to their own band after a temporary time with Fleetwood Mac? David, Los Angeles, California

Yeah, I think that's what we were hoping for. You’d have to understand how tight we were personally, and how difficult it is (was) to succeed in the music business. When you are "in the trenches", so to speak, you have a special bond. Kind of a "fox-hole" mentality. And we were in the middle of recording Buckingham Nicks II with Richard Dashut, and it was hot, hot, hot. It wasn't just Keith Olsen playing his BN album for Mick. It was also Mick wandering around Sound City and hearing some of our tracks. Almost all of them were re-recorded later by FM. But none of us ever imagined that FM would take off like it did, and I'm sure that Stevie did not want to clean any more houses!

When and how did you meet Stevie and Lindsey? Dee, (CADreaming)

I met S&L when I was sharing an apartment with Richard Dashut in West L.A. I was one of Richard's musician friends, and when he met those guys out at Sound City, where he had just started working as a second engineer, he brought them over to get acquainted and play me some of their songs. We hit it off right away (not easy for me). Their songs absolutely blew me away. These were the demos that they had done up in Menlo Park on Lindsey's old 4-track tube Ampex tape machine. Just incredible.

Thank you for joining us here, Tom. For a long time there have been “Smile at You” demos floating around and I’m not sure who the band was on those old demos. The fans have different names for the different versions of the demos. The most popular demo is the “angry” Smile at You.

Did you ever participate on any “Smile at You” demos? If so, what was your role and who were the players on them with you? Back in 1982 Stevie talked about Fleetwood Mac not wanting to record the song for MIRAGE. I read that it was one of the songs they recorded at Le Chateau in Herouville, France, but I never knew if any of the demos I’ve heard over the years were from Fleetwood Mac’s discarded recording sessions or whether they were Stevie’s own demos. Any info would be appreciated.

Sorry to say I know nothing about that song, or even about that period of FM.

Thank you so much for doing a Q and A for us. Your work over the years has been great and just know that all of here at the Ledge are thankful for it. I am a huge Stevie/Mac fan and I guess my two questions are a bit on the lighthearted side. First, what is your favorite song that you played with Stevie on? I was also just wondering what your take on Stevie and Lindsey as people are. I know personally, I am a big fan of both, and would love to know what they are really like and compare it to fan's perceptions. Again thanks so much for doing this. We all really appreciate it.Ethan (musicman408)

I would have to say that the "Sara" demo is my most favorite. It meant a great deal to both Stevie and I. And it had that mysterious atmosphere to it. As for them, personally, they are both bright and without question incredibly talented and dedicated artists. They were both very generous to me while I continued on as a struggling musician and general mystery person.

Did you live in a house or apartment with Lindsey, Stevie and Richard Dashut? What are your memories of living with the three? Describe a typical day there.

Dee, (CADreaming)

I lived in a number of different places and combinations with them before and after they hit the big time. I think all three would probably remember me as the funniest, so my job was to keep us from sinking into a "shame spiral" of depression from not having any money or food, or whatever. Another part of that crew was Bob Aguirre, drummer for Fritz and the post-Hoppy BN. Bob and I took turns keeping things yukking. We did a wicked impersonation of the Isley Bros ("It's Your Thang").

A typical day consisted of smoking a lot of weed, listening to, and trading new music, and going to some local restaurant and destroying it. That was after joining FM, 'cause it required some pretty heavy tipping. I started wearing one of those plastic yellow raincoats to the restaurant. It later appeared in Walter Egan’s "Like You Do" video.

Hey Monte X! I actually have asked you this question before, but it kinda got lost in the shuffle. I also thought it might be something that other ledgies might have noticed. I've noticed that you are generally on camera less than your peers on different projects. I noticed you weren't in the theater in the "Like You Do" video, you're barely on the "Magnet and Steel" video, you are mostly overshadowed by glare in the live performance of "Hot Summer Nights" and you back is often turned to the camera in still photo shoots, as in the "Malibooz" album covers. The best pictures I have seen of you were on your "Surf Nation" album. Do you have an aversion to the camera?

Also, what is the story with the "Not Shy" pin and do you still have it? Thanks! Ananiah McCarrell

Yo, dude! That was my "Paul Is Dead" period. I was trying to look like a life-size cardboard cutout of myself. But, seriously, I hate taking photos. Some people just light up when the camera's on. I usually stick a finger in my nose so the photographer will point it in the other direction. The "Not Shy" pin was made by Columbia for Walter Egan's (wait for it) "Not Shy" album and I know I have it somewhere. Some other things too. Like stuff from the BN "Southern Safari" tour. Posters, bath towel with BN album cover on it, AND a t-shirt I couldn't put my big toe into.

Tom: Any hope of getting Annie McLoone's LP 'Fast Annie' out on CD, maybe with a few extra songs?? Thanks, Bill Janowski (Elmhurst, ILL)

Wow, great question. Hmmmmmm..... Let me see......... (fiddles in coat pocket). Oh, geee, I just happen to have a "Fast Annie" CD restoration on me, and... BAM! Maybe this is the part where I mention what I, and my partner of decades, Annie McLoone, have been doing (short story, please).

Annie and I have been both band mates and a production team for a long time. We have gone by the name of "Annie McLoone and the Rude Band" and/or "the Rude Band" until a couple of years ago when we decided to change our name to "Fast Annie". We have a website -, and you can contact us there for the original "Fast Annie" album restored to CD. (Mention this site for a discount!) b.t.w.: There are a number of fun photos there that include Stevie, Lindsey and Walter.

We are working on a new album under the band name "Fast Annie" (I know this might get confusing), and it features a majority of Annie's great tunes, her singing, and our current band. That's where the request for "extra songs" gets accomplished. We have a great drummer and bass player, and it'll be very exciting to finish it and put it out. And, by the way, I actually stopped working with Stevie to devote myself to “the Rude Band” full-time. More on that later.....

Then there's "Surf Nation" at - This is kind of my project, but it's really very much a band with the same line up as Fast Annie. That being: me on guitar, Annie on rhythm gtr, Tim Mullally on bass, and Frank Utecht on drums. Not for the squeamish. We're hoping to do a second CD before I die. Also, Annie and I have been producing artists in our area for the last five years, and we've been very lucky to have met a number of very talented songwriters and musicians. Some of them have CD's for sale, and some are in progress. One of them, Chris Kendall, I play Acoustic Gtr and Dobro with, and we're working on a second CD. All of this will be found shortly at RudeLab Records - or our production site So, thanks for asking (from the shameless plug dept.)

What is Stevie Nicks really like?? Do you still have a relationship with Her, Waddy, Lindsey, and Hoppy? Thanks, Scott

First, I should say that Stevie was more like my sister. That's probably why we were good friends for as long as we were. What was she like? Songwriting, first. Period. I'd say she was a strong-willed feminist who was also into girlie stuff. But certainly kick-ass as a performer and a woman. She worshipped Janis Joplin, and that's way good for me. I've seen Lindsey a couple of times when he's toured through Minnesota, with FM in 1997 (I think), and on his solo tour last year (2007?), and he killed! Bob (Aguirre) put us in touch and Lindsey paid for our band to come to the show and go backstage. Whenever we see each other it's like there hasn't been any gap in time. I talk to both Bob and Hoppy at least several times a year, and that’s always fun.

Waddy was not in BN and we were never friends at all. In fact, I always thought he and Keith Olsen were very condescending to me (and sometimes Stevie, as well). I was surprised to see him leading her band.

Tell us about your co-writing credit on GOLD & BRAID. It’s been a fan favorite ever since 1981, when Nicks introduced it on tour. Did you write the music & Stevie the words? Did you two work together on the song, or did you send her the music track (which is usually the way she co-wrote with others?) David, Los Angeles, California

Hmm... Okay, well. The story was: I used to put together music tracks, like radio songs that had the vocal turned off. I played everything, and as a budding producer I would work out my ideas on arrangements and hook lines, etc. It's one of the things that Lindsey and I shared. It was kind of abstract without a vocal, but you learn how to anticipate what might come next. And if you do it right, you leave room to add other sounds, and after a while it takes shape and is evocative on its own. Eventually I realized that I could put this to use as an artist and started "Surf Nation", our instrumental surf band that's built to be really eclectic (another shameless plug).

I had this batch of around six tunes that I was working on, and the track that became "Golden Braid" was one of them. Stevie was going out with a producer named Michael Jackson (no, not that one!) and he and I were hanging out (I learned some stuff from him, also). I played him some of my stuff and he thought the GB track sounded like it should be a record, as did Stevie. She wanted to write something on top of it, and regardless of how she co-wrote with others later, I'm pretty sure she had never tried to write words and melody on top of pre-existing chords and track. It's a weird thing to do. She always wrote lyrics first, and then came up with music to fit them.

She took the track, wrote what she wrote, and pretty much presented it to me as a finished song. Only problem was I thought the melody needed some more work and was figuring we'd be going back and forth on it. Not so much. So I was was kind of pissed off at the process (or lack, thereof). But I really do appreciate hearing that people like it. I think it would be fun to play live.

To your knowledge, did Walter Egan ever work on “Sisters of the Moon”? His version of the song really has a melody for the lead vocal that is an awful lot like what Stevie used on the piano demo? Do you know if that similarity is just a coincidence? John

It's the same song, so there's no coincidence at all. I knew it from her demo, and again, this was one of her songs that had a very syncopated rhythm in the piano part. I understood it, and helped make some sense of it so other people could hear it, and helped Walter put his demo together. The Walter Egan band learned this song, and performed it live while on tour between “Fundamental Roll” and the “Not Shy” album. Walter released his recording of this on his “The Lost Album” with Annie McLoone featured on vocals.

The funny thing was, it was what I thought of as Stevie's secret Motown worship. She came up with piano parts that sounded like the vibraphone parts on Motown records (think: "Come See About Me"). Very syncopated, but not when you have a straight drum part underneath it, like they did at Hitsville. That was something I wanted to explore more with her had we continued to work together.

Lindsey’s long-time girlfriend, Carol Ann Harris, published a memoir this year about her life with Lindsey. Have you read it and what are your thoughts? Dee (CADreaming)

A friend just sent us a copy, but I'm not sure I can read it. It's too much about the limousines and the "high" life. I am glad to hear she got married, and I wish her the best.

When I read about you, you always say that you learned a lot from Lindsey. Did he influence your musical evolution at all? Shape your approach as a musician? What sort of production tips did you pick up from him? What kind of things do you think he might have learned from YOU? Regards, Steve

Now it's really time to write the book!

Influence? Huge, yeah. What he did mostly was reinforce, or focus, my natural instincts as a musician/producer. All the stuff about keeping it simple. Have a really solid, unwavering groove, focused hooks and arrangement. I already knew that, but he proved that it was the path to making great music (or records). What we also had in common was a love of commercial radio music, not for the sake of making money, but because we were just transported by great pop records. Like "Caroline, No", or "Surf's Up" by the Beach Boys, for example. Or any record by Roy Orbison. It takes you to a special place that defies language. It's the reason why we do it.

Tips, either way? Well, he used a lot of different guitar tunings, like what is now called "Nashville Tuning", where you use the higher octave strings of a 12-string guitar, but you put them on a standard 6-string guitar. He also used a lot of "half-speed guitar". That's where you drop the tape machine speed from 15 ips to 7 1/2 ips in record, playing your part very slowly (drives the engineer insane). Then you play it back at normal speed and it has this wonderful "chimey" effect. He is the King of Chime.

Also, he never played by any rules, whatsoever. To do something mundane or clichéd was like death to him. Maybe he'd take a part that would be played on the hi-hat, but play it with a butter knife on the shower-head. Just switch things up, do the unexpected, always.

And most of all: THE BIG PICTURE. While most musicians are concentrating on their own part, the best musicians are concerned with the whole song, and are playing to that. It's a sum of many parts, a team thing. As a producer, anything less than that is usually bad or boring.

What he learned from me was a lot of Jewish slang.

We used to have a kind of music "show-and-tell" where we'd play each other some new music we'd found and were into. He played me Eddie Cochran and Elvis Costello. I played him Talking Heads and the Sex Pistols.

Hiya Tom, Wikipedia says that Stevie first recorded “Gypsy” with you in 1980. Is that right? What did you do on the song? Did you co-write, arrange, produce or play on it? Is it true that the song was going to be on “Bella Donna” but then Stevie changed her mind and kept it for Fleetwood Mac when Robin died? I’d love it if you could give us a rundown on the “Gypsy” history. Lindsey said that it was one of his favorite collaborations with Stevie.

What did you think of the “Mirage” final product of the song? Did Stevie discuss the meaning of the lyrics with you? Did she talk about the line “I can still see your bright eyes” in relation to Robin? Erica K.

I have to say I'm honored to be Wiki'd. Who'd a thought?

It sounds like you have most of the story right. I did my usual bass, beat-box, gtrs, perc, etc.Didn't write it, certainly produced the demo with Hernan Rojas (engineer), and helped give it form. Another demo used by FM and overdubbed on top. Maybe they used my acoustic rhythm guitars.

Stevie always talked about lyrics. That was her offspring, so it's like showing pictures of your new baby. As far as the Mirage version, I always liked our demos better, if for no better reason than they were fresher and more spontaneous sounding. We worked a lot faster, and more intuitively. Sometimes you can really grind the life out of a song. For example, the original demo of "Leather and Lace" with Don Henley was amazing. Beautiful and pure voices, those guys. I heard the album version and couldn't believe someone let that one get away.

Hi Tom, Stevie has talked about the lean years when you guys didn’t have any money quite often. She said you and Lindsey used to go to local restaurants, eat and then write a check for the meal, which, um, didn’t always clear. Sometimes, she said there was only a cheeseburger to share. What are your favorite “poor” stories from that period?

Stevie has talked about working as a waitress or cleaning the producer’s house. What other money was coming in? Did you have any odd jobs, to make ends meet? What about Lindsey and Richard? Were they bringing in any dough? When you were roommates, how did you split the rent? Did you just divide it 4 ways or did you all chip in, depending on who was flush that month? Thank you, Michelej1

During one period the dwellers were Stevie, Lindsey and Bob. I was on the road doing some dumb paying gig, so I wasn't in on the rent, though I might have stayed there occasionally for weeks at a time. But..

There was this woman who we'll refer to as KBH that was really infatuated with Lindsey (and how could you not be?) even though Stevie is right there. Well, K decides she's gonna fix us all supper. She gets the Hamburger Helper from the shelf, takes the last bit of actual burger meat and starts to cook away. By the time she was finished the meat had become little tiny grey B-B's, or smaller. Boiled meat, how English! That was it for a while. Nothin' but pure Helper.

You have said that you cut the bass part on the recording of SARA on the extended CD. John McVie’s bass on the actual album track seems to be exactly the same. How did that occur? It seems odd that John McVie would copy verbatim another bass player’s bass line. There seems to be a missing piece to the SARA puzzle here. Can you remember anything else that might help fill in some of the missing pieces? David, Los Angeles, California

My original bass part was simpler, no melodic lines. That kind of became John's signature, the melodic fill line on the bass.

Was the song “Stephanie” ever performed live? Dee (CADreaming)

Seems to me that we always played it in BN sets, certainly on the "Southern Safari" farewell tour.

Legend has it that Mick Fleetwood called Lindsey about maybe joining Fleetwood Mac on New Year’s Eve 1974? Were you with Lindsey and Stevie that night or did you hear about the call later? How did you feel about Lindsey and Stevie joining FM? Were you disappointed? Did you think the Buckingham Nicks band could have had a future if Fleetwood Mac had never come knockin’. Where did you go next in your career after Buckingham Nicks broke up? Susan

This would be my next book. I don't recall where we were when they told us, but it was devastating. We were working on a killer second album (this time with a real band, KO), Richard Dashut was engineering, but we had no money or support, or any real way to get any farther. The owner of Sound City, Joe Gottfried, had agreed to "spec" us the time ("cuz I 'spec I won't get paid!"). He was a great guy, and not just because of that. We thought we should have had a future, but joining FM was the only realistic thing S&L could do. They were just looking at the $350/week as a way to get by. No one had any idea what would eventually happen. But the reason that Fleetwood Mac became so big was because they finally had all of the right parts.

S&L brought great songs, great stage presence and energy, and an awesome producer/arranger in Lindsey. He knew how to take everyone's gifts and make them shine. When Rumors came out, everything was in place and that record became a blueprint for making hit records for the next ten years.

The so-called "Fleetwood Mac" album, engineered and co-produced by Keith Olsen didn't sound that good to me. We were playing most of those songs in BN, by the way. And we (Bob, Hoppy and I) loved those guys so much, what are you gonna do? Hold them back? Make ‘em feel bad? S&L were very gracious and generous to us in the following years. At one point Lindsey flew me out to hang with him on the road for a week while FM was touring so he could share the experience with me.

After the band broke up Hoppy went on the road with somebody and Bob and I went on to play with a band called "The Curtis Brothers". They had a record deal, were very good songwriters, and with the addition of Bob on drums and me on bass, we just killed live. I'm pretty sure we started to record their second album when some personal problems broke that band up (Oh, No!!!!!!!!!) But not before we went out on tour in Florida and had the tour money pulled out from under us. We were stranded with all of our gear, and no way to get back. But Lindsey bailed us out and we came home.

After that I ended up living with Stevie for the next few years, and it was there that I met and became friends with Walter Egan. And the next chapter of my life began...... (book three?)