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The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band

When Mick Fleetwood brings the curtain down on the Canterbury Festival Theatre it’s destined to be an evening of memorable reunions.

Not only is former band member Christine McVie who lives near the city going to be attending, he’ll also have his Kent-based god parents in the audience.

"I remember playing in the county back in the old days and am looking forward to seeing my god parents and Chris, who I’ll try and take out for lunch," says the legendary drummer and frontman of Fleetwood Mac whose band remains one of the most fondly regarded rock and pop acts of the last three decades.

They have put out an impressive tally of 20 albums with Rumours regularly appearing in the upper reaches of TV polls dedicated to the top 100 most popular records.

As much as Mick is looking forward to the European tour with his blues band, the shows might easily have been cancelled.

This summer the veteran musician was left deeply shocked at a serious accident his six-year-old daughter Ruby suffered in a LA swimming pool.

"My daughter is totally ok now, but she was in a terrible state and we were facing up to the fact that she might not have made it.

"It was very harrowing to discover she had been in accident- she’d been swimming at a friend’s house and ended up in a situation in the pool where she was deprived of oxygen.

"But someone at the poolside saved her with CPR- which was incredible. That’s why I’d always advise people to learn that technique," he explained of the traumatic episode which so nearly ended in tragedy.

Understandably, Cornwall-born Mick has been taking some much-needed time out at his home in Hawaii, which he’s found an excellent retreat for the family.

The island’s year round sunshine has been a factor in brightening their mood and is perhaps reflected in Fleetwood’s largely upbeat sounding new album.

"It’s really great here in Hawaii, there are some more built up parts of the island but it’s such a beautiful place. I’ve had property here since 1973, there’s some great music out here with vocal and church and my band are based out here, too. It’s a great place for us to rehearse for the tour."

His latest round of dates sees him in nostalgic mood casting his mind back to the raw fledgling sound of Fleetwood Mac. It’s a world away from the pop stylings of their 80s incarnation which saw their greatest period of chart success.

Down the years the band have been severe musical differences of opinion, battles with drug addiction and many tales of burnout.

In spite of such turmoil, Mick has never lost his life-long love of the music that’s afforded him a remarkable career.

Casting his mind back to his youth, he says that although there’s no strong history of performance in his family, he quickly gained a taste for playing which set him on the road to stardom.

Immersing himself in the early pop sounds of Gene Vincent and the Everly Brothers proved a spark to form his own bands.

His formative years were spent in several countries including Egypt and Norway, where his father was an RAF pilot.

"I discovered that I desperately wanted to play drums- there’s no telling where that came from though it was perhaps my father who was always doing crazy things like tapping on tables."

Much like many aspiring musicians, Mick drifted through a number of early groups including playing with a very young Rod Stewart in Shotgun Express.

This led to gigs with John Mayall’s infamous outfit, the Bluesbreakers from which the young drummer was allegedly fired for being too fond of his drink.

It proved to be their loss as he was shortly afterwards invited by Peter Green to join Fleetwood Mac. They were soon enjoying the trappings of success as their debut album reached the top 10.

"Those early days with Peter Green were great and I’ve the upmost respect for him and his music will be represented on our tour.

When the first album came out I remember thinking we’ve got a blues album to the top of the charts, how the hell did we do that!" he recalls of their rootsy early sound which garnered old-school admirers including the great BB King who recognised their potential.

But by the mid 70s, their sound had changed almost beyond recognition. According to Mick it was a natural evolution rather than a sudden overnight decision. How does he feel about their biggest chart hit with Rumours?

"Oh we were very pleased about that," he says sounding like the cat that got the cream.

An engaging character, he has been enthused by the reaction to his latest sounds which revisit his youth. Perhaps there was something in him that needed to revisit his early years, a sense of having come full circle.

"We’ve been getting people coming to our shows who are in their 50s and knew us from the old days, but there’s lots of kids in their 20s too which is good.

"I'm enjoying playing with Rick Vito again who is a fabulous player- it just feels really exciting and fun knowing that our music is getting a good reception from people.

We’re not playing huge places with this tour which is one of the things that interests me about it. There won’t be any of the material like Dreams or Rhiannon but rest assured that Fleetwood Mac will be back next year."