Bob Welch, November 8 - 21, 1999
Hello once again, Bob! Thanks for answering my previous question. I am a part-time (i.e. low-paid) writer of everything from short stories to lyrics. Reading your answers about your art and its meaning over these past few days has really inspired me to get back to my creative process after a few months of seemingly terminal rut. Thank you for helping me re-focus. I was wondering what your creative process entails. Are you a creature of habit or spontaneous in nature? (Thomas, Chapel Hill, Tennessee, USA)
Thomas, all creative people go through the "doldrums" occasionally. I sure do ! I usually try to keep up some kind of routine, but writing songs for other artists is often more of a "craft" thing, which is a challenge in itself, than a sheer spontaneous inspiration thing. I think you have to keep both sides, the workmanship side, and the inspiration side up and running, because both are needed. You know how they say, "1 part inspiration, 5 parts perspiration".... It's a cliche, but there's a lot of truth to it ! But don't get me wrong... I've gone months where everything I did I thought was a load of s--t. !;-)
Hi Bob, These are mostly comments than questions. So it may be kind of long. Sorry!! I just wanted to say that despite what other Fleetwood Mac members may think of you, I believe your contributions to the group was extraordinary. Just by reading your comments through interviews and other things, I genuinely believe you are a nice guy.
I was born in 1973, so I do not really remember much of the Fleetwood Mac 'Early Days' line-up. Just in the last couple of years did I really get into Fleetwood Mac. The drama aside, I was really interested in the music, especially the pre-Lindsey-Stevie era. I really didn't think that I would like the music, because I grew up listening to the Lindsey-Stevie pop line-up. Was I pleasantly surprised. I was truly amazed that I really enjoyed it. You were definitely a major player in that group. For certain members not to acknowledge that is ridiculous.
When I listened to your songs like, (my favorite), "Emerald Eyes" and "Miles Away", from 'Mystery to Me'. "Coming Home" and "Safe Harbour", among others, from 'Heroes are Hard to Find', I became such a huge fan.
Recently a friend sent me a videotape of Fleetwood Mac in concert. And was I shocked and pleasantly surprised to find your set from the California Jam concert on there too. Even though I never seen you live in concert, I want to tell you I really enjoyed this one. Is it possible that you would be touring somewhere in the near future? If so, I would be very happy. I am so happy that you kept in touch with Stevie Nicks. She is also a favorite of mine. She also seems like a genuinely nice person.
I'm really looking forward to getting your new CD. I just purchased it on the internet and hope to get it soon. Is it really signed? Thank you so much for doing this Q & A session with us. No I will not ask you about the Rock & Roll induction, which I was hugely disappointed in your not being included. Thanks again. (Michelle Anderson, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Michelle, thanks for all of your very nice comments about my work ! I have no plans to tour at the moment, but that can change, as usual in this business, at a moments notice !;-)
I have been a fan of FM for over 18 years. Initially through the sound of Lindsey and Stevie. However everyone that has ever contributed has been special in their own way and vital to the mystic vibe that has been since the beginning. Thanks for answering everyone's questions, are you going to do a tour? I hope you get the RRHOF situation reversed for everyone. I think you are very poetic musically and lyrically when you sing you can hear the emotion, and you have a set of nuts. Good luck. (Kim, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Kim, thanks for the compliments !
Hello Bob, thank you for doing this. My introduction to Fleetwood Mac was when Hypnotized was a hit single. I remember getting excited when it was played on the radio. What a cool drum riff in that song. Can you tell me how Hypnotized was put together musically. You said before that Guns and Roses practiced in your garage. Can you tell me more about Guns and Roses. The next time you talk to Stevie tell her to do this Q+A session on the Penguin. She will have a blast, because you are. (Jim Miller, Sturgis, South Dakota, USA)
Jim, I've talked a lot about "Hypnotized" in a couple of earlier answers. Gun's nRoses were a couple of 'street "kids (Rose,Stradlin), a Hollywood kid (Slash) and a "good family in Pasadena" kid (Adler) who all were hanging around the periphery of the West Hollywood music/dope scene. I, as one of the "older" or more established members of that "scene", provided Izzy and Paul a place to sleep, and write songs when they were, as was usually the case, broke. They would look up in admiration at the gold records on my wall and go wow ! That's what I want ! So in spite of the general degradation and waste of that whole scene, maybe I inspired them a little ...
Can you tell me a little about your parents, Robert Welch Sr. and Templeton Fox?
By the way...I know I'm a bit cut n' dry and to the point, but I just wanted to thank you so much for doing this question and answer session. You really don't know what it means to me, but you've played and extremely STRONG influence on my life. Perhaps one day our paths may cross, but all I can say for now is that I truly thank the universal intelligence for BOB WELCH! (K.E. Gil, Los Angeles, California, USA)
KE, and thank YOU for all your thoughtful questions !
Would you mind one more Danny Kirwan question? Although it was long ago, can you shed any light on his equipment during your time together in F-Mac. His guitar collection, amps, effects...etc.
How did you keep your glasses from falling off while playing onstage, they seemed to defy gravity? It's a silly, but real question.
Again...thanks so much for your time and honest, detailed answers. Ice down your typing fingers, they must be swollen at this point. (Terry, Avon, Colorado, USA)
Terry,for once short and sweet;
I have one last question, and I hope I've gotten it in before the deadline! How does it make you feel to see the amazing number of questions you've received and the interest we all have for your opinions and music? So much for the HOF crowd, the so-called critics, and the media that try to get people to ignore and forget about the "middle period" of FM!!
If you do decide to tour, PLEASE come to Denver!! Meanwhile, I'm going to go listen to those five great FM albums with you on them again!! Thanks. (Dennis Goodyear, Denver, Colorado, USA)
Thanks for all the praise Dennis ! This whole 2 week q&a feels like a " coming out" party to me, because everyone has been so supportive ! It makes me feel that everything I've done musically in my past, hasn't been "for nothing". and that's a good feeling. believe me !
Bob, One last question: I was reading over Mick's book last night, the part where you joined the band. Somehow I never realized before that you were at Benifols. What was it like to live there? What did it look like? By the way, you know Mick says in the book you "saved Fleetwood Mac" =:-) Thanks so much for doing the Q and A - it's been fabulous. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. (Vianna, Alexandria, Virginia, USA)
Vianna-I've really enjoyed this q&a too !
I was interested when you said that Christine often "sniped" at you for hamming it up on the stage, and she probably did that to Stevie. I've always read and heard how Christine was always so nice and Stevie never realized she was jealous until someone told her. also, Stevie said that the 3 English people never made her and Lindsey feel like outsiders or the "new guys" in the band- I was just wondering if you thought this was probably true or a somewhat tactful omission of some incidents? (Laura, Virginia)
Laura, Chris was very "proper" and polite in a very "English" way on the surface, she never cursed and swore or anything, she was very "ladylike". You had to know her well to be able to catch the Birmingham sarcasm...With Chris,"what you saw" was not necessarily "what you got". She kept a lot of things to herself, but "smoldered" about it.
Hi Bob! Thanks so much for your insights into your years w/ Fleetwood Mac. I have a question concerning John and Christine McVie. You had mentioned that Chris was 'flirting' w/ the engineer, Martin Birch, in the studio. What was John's reaction to this, and what was the state of the McVie marriage during your years w/ the band? I always get the feeling that alcohol was the primary cause of their problems. Also, do you think John took any of Christine's songs personally-- for example, songs like 'Why', or 'Prove Your Love'? You also mentioned that Christine was tired of the road and wanted to maybe run a small shop. Do you think the McVie's (esp Chris) ever regretted not having a more 'traditional' lifestyle, with children, etc? Once again, thanks so much for your honesty, and I look forward to hearing your new album!! (Sylvia, California)
Sylvia, I could probably write a whole book on the subject of the "McVies" during that era ! Briefly,the state of their marriage seemed pretty rocky. I'm sure Chris might have been conflicted back then about family vs. career etc yes. Later on, I know she wasn't. There was a LOT of alcohol, and that never helps. I could be much more descriptive, but honestly I must save some of the "hairier" stories for my book !;-)
I was wondering if John McVie is as shy in real life as he is on stage. Do you know why he hangs in the back and doesn't want attention? Why did you include a poetry reading on Bare Trees? Thank you so much. (Edna, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Edna, John McVie IS sort of shy, he's not a "ho ho ho, slap you on the back" type of guy. John is a very bright guy, and can be real warm. Plus, a lot of the time he was pretty drunk...But I should talk!...I've had my problems too, and then some! I think that John, like a lot of musicians, is insecure, and some of the shyness comes from that. John didn't want pictures of himself on albums, that's why he put penguins etc. But when you think about it, putting a penguin instead of your picture is a way of really drawing MORE attention to yourself, not less...We're all pretty complicated I guess !;-)
Can you please shed some light toward the legal dispute between Clifford Davis (Adams) and members of Fleetwood Mac, which were eventually settled out of court on confidential terms? After reading Bob Brunning's book "Fleetwood Mac, The First 30 Years," several questions arose concerning Mick Fleetwood's involvement with the fake Fleetwood Mac. Do you personally believe Clifford Davis's statements about Mick Fleetwood's full knowledge and agreement toward the formation of the fake Fleetwood Mac and eventual plans to join them? Dave Walker seems to concur with Clifford's story and Fleetwood Mac's ex-accountant David Simmons says that there are signed affidavits stating that Mick Fleetwood was involved in a formation of an entirely new band, but would not tour in a planned 1974 U.S. tour. What's your opinion on this matter and if true....were you aware of it?
Furthermore, Simmons states that you were a manipulative person who was fully aware of the golden opportunities for Fleetwood Mac in the U.S. and was very unhappy that Clifford Davis had taken full advantage of this. From what I understand, Clifford Davis has always been labeled as Fleetwood Mac's evil money loathing ex-manager. In hindsight, do you feel Clifford Davis was treated unfairly?
What is your opinion of Stretch's hit single "Why Did You Do It," which is rumored to be directed toward Mick Fleetwood's actions during the fake Fleetwood Mac incident? (K.E. Gil, Los Angeles, California)
KE ..At one point in 1974, Clifford Davis sent me, Mick John and Chris (I don't think Bob Weston, who was "fired' at that point), a letter saying that he, Clifford, was "not going down because of the whims of irresponsible musicians", after having "pulled", what he called, "every string and stroke in the book". Davis also said, in that letter, that he intended to put together a "star-quality, headlining act", and that he was offering us "jobs" in this band, and we could take them - or not. I don't think that any of us responded to that letter...Be that as it may, Davis, without telling any of us, subsequent to that letter, booked the "bogus" Mac on a US tour, the 1st gig of which was at "the Syrian Mosque" in Pittsburgh, as I've discussed earlier. I found out about this by a random phone call.
Hi Bob, First of all, thank you for your HUGE response to my previous question! Secondly, I was wondering if anyone has said to you about your voice- (in my opinion) I think it sounds very similar to that of Dave Matthews. Has anyone ever asked or told you that? When I first listened to Mystery to Me, I thought so. Also, what was your thinking behind the covers of Mystery to Me and Heroes are Hard to Find? Thanks again! (Jeff Bechdel, Beaver, Pennsylvania, USA)
Jeff, RE "huge response"; That's why I'm doing this, it's not something I plan to do very often... and unlike a 'straight" interview situation, you guys know yer stuff about Fleetwood Mac, which makes me feel like talking !;-)
Bob, what song of yours is your most favorite during the Fleetwood Mac years (and if there's a special reason why)? And what is your favorite song of Christine's? (Julian, New York, USA)
Julian, this one is pretty easy..."Hypnotized" is without question my favorite from "middle period" Mac. For Chris, from that period, I think "Why" is probably my favorite.
Hi Bob!, I listened to your albums so many times in high school and college I wore the first set out and had to buy another! If you could have charged me royalties every time I played one of your albums, you could have made Bill Gates bank account look like chump change! Besides "Something Strong" being cut from Three Hearts, were there any other songs you recorded for other albums that never made it onto the finished product (or the B side of a 45)? I recently found your first RCA album as a Japanese import CD, was Eye Contact ever issued as a CD anywhere on the globe? I like the new CD, it's a nice intro to Bop for greenhorns like myself! Any chance that maybe down the road you'd decide to record a pop/rock CD again? Nice inter- chatting with you Bob! (Andrew Abel, Santa Monica, California, USA)
Andrew, thanks ! (for wearing out all those albums ;-)
What or who is that on the album cover of "Mystery To Me"? The art on that album is odd and intrigues me~I have always wondered what the concept behind it was. (I guess that's where the Mystery comes in). (Ernie Fuhr, Rockford, Illinois, USA)
Ernie, I think I answered this question...but just in case, the "Mystery...." cover was meant to mean, sort of, "no matter how we stuff ourselves with knowledge, we're all still monkeys"...The band "commissioned" the illustrator, who I think was a friend of Mick's sister....
Me again. I think I'm picking up bad habits from Tom and Steve. Have you ever considered writing any memoirs? The Mac incarnation of which you were such a great part is always underrated, and it'd be great to see your thoughts about it in book form (You've practically written one with this Q&A by now!). (Jim, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA)
Jim, yes, as I've mentioned, I'm working on a book ..Don't know how long it will take though...
I've been a fan of your music for many years. After reading Mick's autobiography, I got a real appreciation of what you did for Fleetwood Mac. I have been searching for years for c.d.'s or clean recordings of your Paris albums. Are they available anywhere? Thanks! (Walt Richardson, Canandaigua, New York, USA)
Walt, unfortunately, none of the Paris stuff is on CD....that I know of...
I've been a fan of your Mac work ever since I heard "Hypnotized" two years ago. When you opened for the Mac, did you ever join them during their own set for a song or two? (Ian, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Ian, yes, quite a few times I'd do something with 'em... More often though, Stevie would jump up on the end of my set...usually when they weren't the headliners.... Stevie just loved to perform....
Hell-o Bob When you write your book will it be about your life or about the Mac from start to finish? Do guys with big glasses really like girls with nice #&$* well Bob? Thanks again sir Robert. (Bill Seamans, Buffalo, Minnesota, USA)
Bill... The book will be about my whole life in the wonderful world of music.
You & Alvin Taylor worked together quite a bit...however, in all the times I've seen you in concert (between French Kiss & Man Overboard), you had a different drummer. Did Alvin just not want to tour? (oh, by the way, I DID see Alvin play with The Eric Burdon Band in '74)
I don't know where I got this from, but somewhere in the back of my grey matter, I recall hearing that when Mick was going to do his "Visitor" thing after the Tusk tour, that you were invited along, is that true?
More "memories"....just before I left the LA area to go on a tour of Canada, I recall seeing a couple of episodes of a late night video show that you were hosting. (one video shown was Billy Burnette's "Don't Say No"...kinda ironic in retrospect). I don't recall the name of the show. Did you enjoy doing that show? And how did it come about that you were picked to host??
Ah...a question I left out of my previous battery of "technical questions". File this one under "Product Evaluation": Since I'm a proud papa of a year-old Turner Model 1 (similar to Lindsey's), [thanks to my beautiful wife, Susan], I wondered if you've played one and what you think of them. (Steve Denison, Long Beach, California, USA)
Steve.... Alvin Taylor DID do the "Bob Welch and Friends" Roxy show with me... Alvin was generally too busy in the studio to go on the road though.