Stage Life, June 1977

Fleetwood Mac
by Sam Charters (Managing Editor)

And you think you've got problems!

We were striking out all over the place trying to line up an in depth interview with Fleetwood Mac. The show at the Boston Gardens, slated for the evening of May 20 was canceled. So were the reservations made for myself and chief photographer John Rowlands to cover the show, take the photos ad complete the interview.

Not to worry, we would catch them in Syracuse May 28, rush back to the city and put the article and pictures together. The May 28th date at the venue in Syracuse was really slated for June 28. Now it was time to refrain from hitting the panic button. Surely we would be able to catch them on a day off and talk to at least some of the band members via phone. The band's travel time from South Carolina to Florida prevented the phone connection.

Two dates in Florida, one on Miami and another in Orlando, again stalled proceedings. I certainly wouldn't want to talk to an inquisitive writer on the days of large scale outdoor performances. Understandable. The following story is what time and accessibility permitted.

'Dreams' by Stevie Nicks
Gentoo Music, Inc./Welsh Witch Music
From Rumors

Now here you go again
You say you want your freedom
Well who am I to keep you down
It's only right that you should
Play the way you feel it
But listen carefully to the sound
Of your loneliness
Like a heartbeat...drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost...
And what you had...
And what you lost...

Who knows how many lovers and lovers-lost relate to these lyrics? Thousands, probably millions, remember similar explanations offered by someone close. Uttered during a moment of strength, breaking away from a stifling, seemingly hopelessly helpless relationship.

For Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, those lyrics have an all too startling reality to them.

Many of the tunes on their latest album titled Rumors provide some deep insights into the band member's personalities and private lives. This album is a mixture of what appears to be true life confessions and excellent rock 'n' roll with much more guts than MOR, Bread-type-vocal-harmonies.

The story content in many of the songs on this one, reflect the breakups of Nicks and Buckingham and Christine and John McVie. Both couples had been together six and eight years respectively. All of these private matters have been elaborated on by every music magazine and rock or show biz gossip columnist across the United States. These writers seem too interested in feeding their readers those so-called 'rumors'. And frankly, I'm finding it quite boring. Very often it's these personal experiences that lend themselves to the creative moments when a musical artist paints those emotional pictures in songs. It's criminal when those moments that lead to creativity are looked upon for juicy, inside story lines.

The previous album, Fleetwood Mac, released in 1975, spawned three hit singles; Say You Love Me, Rhiannon and Over My Head. By January of 1976 it had sold over four million copies and is still selling extremely well. Fleetwood Mac is still on the Billboard charts after 700 days.

Fleetwood Mac have now existed, in one form or another, for over ten years. The first eight of those ten years were mixed with moderate success, countless numbers of personnel changes and at times, found the band floundering in a sea of futility.

Originally called Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, the band was formed in mid-1967 by Peter Green. Green having come from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers brought Bluesbreakers' bassist John McVie and drummer/percussionist Mick Fleetwood with him when he left. Later they would add guitarists Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan.

Prior to Kirwan's arrival, Fleetwood Mac had their first album reach the number one spot on the British charts and stayed there 13 months. It was then the band had their first hit single, "Black Magic Woman." Yep, it's their tune...really! One month after Danny Kirwan joined the band, Fleetwood Mac would cut their million selling selling instrumental smash hit, "Albatross". Following this success on 1968, a tune called 'Green Manalishi', (like Albatross another smash hit on the British Charts) was followed by the release of Fleetwood Mac's third album (Warner's first Mac product) Then Play On. Many are of the opinion that this LP is the finest musical statement from the group's first phase. Others feel the album Mr. Wonderful was the major effort of the period. I'd say, Then Play On.

In 1970 Peter Green quit the band and has not played guitar professionally since then. Something about too many hassles regarding music money.

In early 1971 Jeremy Spencer took a walk on the eve of a bar date at the Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles. When he was finally located, three days later, he'd shaved his head, changed his name and assumed a new identity. He was now a member of the fundamentalist sect called The Children of God. Spencer remains a member of the sect to this day.

After Green's departure, Christine McVie was chosen to fill the vacancy. She had formerly lead a bluesband called Chickenshack under the name of Christine Perfect. Not unlike the original members, Christine was an ardent British blues devotee, with a twist. She had a tremendous talent that simply needed bringing out.

On the next LP Kiln House, Christine handled some of the vocals and keyboards as well as the album's cover design.

With the addition of yet another player, Bob Welch, a native Californian living in Paris, (Welch recruited for his vocal range and guitar talents) Fleetwood Mac released two more albums. Both Future Games and Bare Trees blended the vocal harmonies of Christine, Welch and Kirwan and refining a much mellower sound.

With the release of Bare Trees the band finally hit their highest sales figures in the United States. This held up until 1975 and the release of the Fleetwood Mac album.

The Penguin and Mystery To Me albums, while maintaining the easy listening moods of Bare Trees were a let down from the sale aspect. Even with the inconsequential stints by vocalist Dave Walker and guitarist Bob Weston, Christine and Bob Welch developed as superlative singers, arrangers and musically creative individuals on the penguin and Mystery LPs.

After legal hassles with a former manager, who tried foisting a fraudulent Fleetwood Mac on tour, were cleared up, the band relocated in Los Angeles and cut the Heroes Are Hard To Find album.

Welch returned to Paris after completing the tour promoting Heroes effort and formed his own band.

Again, Fleetwood Mac was called upon to reform or disband.

Mick Fleetwood began looking for some more new players. Fleetwood was played a tape, (just once--honest!) of the Buckingham Nicks album. Suitably impressed with both Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, Fleetwood asked them to join the band in early 1975. Nicks and Buckingham had played together since 1968 in a San Francisico band called Fritz until its demise in 1971. In 1973 they released the Buckingham Nicks.

Mick Fleetwood's exceptional choices in selcting Nicks and Buckingham are reaffirmed by a quick look at the charts. In many markets, the song 'Crystal', from the four year old Buckingham Nicks disc, is heading back up the ladder. The same song was re-recorded for the Fleetwood Mac album altering only slightly the cadence and melody line.

While Stevie Nicks had convinced Fleetwood she was a capable writer and aranger, Buckingham's guitar work on the track titled 'Stephanie' had to impress Fleetwood. After all, there was a desperate need for a new and diversified guitar player. A player who could sing as well. After all, Peter Green had replaced Eric Clapton in Mayall's Bluesbreakers, could sing and make an axe wail. 'Without A Leg To Stand On', another selection from the Buckingham Nicks LP may prove to be a classic in the years ahead. The lyrics of that selection lend to an interesting study of what may have been and quite possibly is no more. Along the lines of what you had...

After the release of the Fleetwood Mac album an extensive tour brought instant acclaim to a ten year old entity.

"We could tell by the first concert we ever did it was going to be good. That first show went down like a storm. There was something about the combination of people on the stage that was very special," said Christine.

With the Fleetwood Mac album having already surpassed the double platinum stage, Rumors locked in the Top Ten; stardom, success and the big bucks, have finally rolled Fleetwood Mac's way.

"I think that basically the audiences really like us as people. I think they have a good feeling about us in a very human way," said Stevie Nicks.

"And we never seem to stop progressing. Once you slot yourself, there's only so far you can go in any one direction. I really don't want to stop experimenting in different directions, just to see what we can do. Especially now that we have a combination of people who are able to do so many things so well," explained Christine.

"We can't really say where we're going," adds Lindsey, "because idea-wise we're always a little ahead of ourselves, which is the best creative situation to be in."

Mick Fleetwood sums things up best. "Right now there are three different front-line people. We've come back to how the band was in the beginning with Peter, Danny and Jeremy. They were all very different in fact, and people could enjoy different aspects within the band. Now with Stevie, Lindsey and Christine, we've come full circle."

It is interesting to note how important Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks are to the live shows. Not since the Mamas and Papas, have two lead female vocalists played such an integral role in helping to make a band happen.

Warner Bros. Records are certainly enjoying one of, if not, three biggest and fastest selling product from a group in the company's history. The band's balanced mixture of easy listening rock 'n' roll, along with some carefully planned, thoughtfully arranged melodic numbers, has enabled them to capture a wider range of record buyers than most bands of today.

John McVie and Mick Fleetwood are two of the finest players any rhythm section could hope for. I mean John Mayall ain't no dummy bub! After ten years the critics cannot dismiss Fleetwood Mac this time around. But be your own judge. See them on July 4 at the CNE Stadium.

Thanks to Karen for posting this to the Ledge and to Anusha for formatting and sending it to us.