John McVie Q&A Session,
September 27 - October 10, 2004
First, I would like to thank you for putting the Mac in Fleetwood Mac. I have been a fan for nearly 30 years. I would also like to thank you for doing this Q & A here on the Penguin. This is a real treat getting a chance to ask a question of "Mr. Bassman". So, here goes:
1. Have you had a chance to listen to Christine's solo album, In The Meantime? If you have, what did you think of it?
2. Do you think there's a possibility if Fleetwood Mac ever records another album that Christine would be involved in any way? Maybe writing a few songs, adding some keyboards & of course, adding her beautiful voice, as well?
Thanks once again for doing this Q & A. I'm really looking forward to reading your answers to everyone's questions. (Mary Anne Bucher, Harleysville, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.)
Hi Mary Anne,
John: I know your thoughts on seeing Peter Green again in 1998 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction, but given some thought and time, would you (and Mick) consider playing alongside him one more time? I see that you got together with Jeremy Spencer on Mick's new solo album, and wondered if the original Mac (or part, at least) might trot out for the 40th anniversary?
Thanks for doing this Q&A - you're the best. (Mark McKeown, St. Andrews, United Kingdom)
Hi John! This is so great! I've been a fan for quite awhile. I have always thought it was pretty interesting that the whole band lived together for several years after Peter Green left. What was that like? Can you recall your BEST memory of living at benifold, (and maybe your WORST memory there also?) Thanks so much!! Cathi R.
First of all I'd like to say that I think you are and have been the best bass player in rock music since the beginning of your career.My question is (and I'm sure this is on the minds of many Mac fans),what does the future hold for Fleetwood Mac in terms of touring and music being released? Thanks for taking the time to do this!!!It is greatly appreciated! (Iggy Hernandez, Miami, Florida, U.S.A.)
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. If you had not been a musician, what would you have done with your life? Also, have you ever tried writing songs? (Maria, Ruidoso, New Mexico, U.S.A.)
John, first off thank you SO much for taking the time! My question for you is, when Stevie & Lindsey joined, did you feel that something big was about to happen or was it more like "ok well here we go again" and they didn't seem all that special or did you even care one way or another? Thanks again!!
-Al (Al Chapman, Stafford Springs, Connecticut, U.S.A.)
First off, I find this very cool that you have agreed to answer some of our questions. It's time I'm sure you'd rather be spending on a boat somewhere..
What I'm wondering is how the writing process works from your perspective? When, say, Stevie or Lindsey bring in a demo (and for the sake of this question, let's say it's Stevie with a stark piano demo)... do you start playing around with ideas right away? Do you wait until some guitar and keyboard ideas are out there? Wait and here what Mick might be doing in terms of rhythm? Thanks in advance for the insight.
The second question is a quick one - are the others in the band as plugged in as you?? Are Stevie and Lindsey as aware of the massive online community that is so supportive and appreciative of Fleetwood Mac as you (and Mick) clearly are?
Thanks again - and for all those years of music and touring. (Stephanie, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Your basslines on songs such as "Thrown Down", "Everybody Finds Out" and especially "Smile at You" are absolute knock-outs and amongst the best of your entire recording career, in my opinion. Was it frustrating for you not to be able to play these on stage on these last Fleetwood Mac tours ? Are there songs from Say You Will or any of the earlier Fleetwood Mac albums that you are just dying to re-visit ???
Thanks so much, Mr. McVie, for your incredible work throughout the years and I'm sure I speak for millions when I say: you made me appreciate and understand the importance and magic of bass-playing in music. Thank you, Max Comeau (Max Comeau, Candiac, Quebec, Canada)
I love your sense of humor! What was the funniest prank or joke that happened during the last tour, and were you a part of it? Rock on forever, please!!! (Lisa, Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.A.)
Hello Mr. McVie (I suppose this is more polite),
I'm sure you have been asked about what will happen now that the tour has ended over and over, and then some. My question is, where would you draw the line when it comes to Fleetwood Mac later in the years? In other words, when will you be too old to carry on with the Mac? After all, it would be ridiculous to see you, Mick, Lindsey and Stevie with walkers, hearing aids, false teeth, you know, the usual old age apparatus. (Maya Kappagantula, Davis, California, U.S.A.)
Hi John, Thanks for taking the time to answer my question. First off you are one of the greatest bass players ever! It has been a real pleasure to listen to your playing thru the years. Now here is my question. I am a huge fan of the Danny Kirwan era of Fleetwood Mac, so my question to you John is what are some of your fave songs from that era and if you have any memories to share of that period of Fleetwood Mac. Thanks for your time! (Juan S. Alemparte, Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
Hello Mr. McVie,
Thanks so much for taking our questions. First off I just wanna say you are the backbone of Fleetwood Mac, and your bass playing is the best in rock music. I hope I can meet you someday. My question though, is kind of not music-related though. Lindsey Buckingham has referred to you in interviews as a "staunch republican," so my question has two parts. First off are you now an official US Citizen and eligible to vote here? Secondly, a fan who got the backstage tour from the Fan Club on this tour, said your tour road case had a JOHN KERRY for PRESIDENT sticker on the side. Is that true, and are you a US Citizen, and if it is true was it put there as a joke of some sort? Thanks! (Chris McLeod, Locust Grove, Georgia, U.S.A.)
Dear Mr.McVie, Whose hilarious idea was it to have the cut-out of yourself for the "Tusk" video?
Love & Thanks, celestenadia (Celeste Nadia, Middletown, New Jersey, U.S.A.)
Hello, Mr. McVie,
Thank you so much for participating in this Q&A with us. Since I'm sure you'll receive many inquiries (and rightly so) about the various aspects of your career in music, I have a bit of an offbeat question.... I'd like to know if you have any anecdotes to share in regards to your days as a tax inspector.
I'm also curious to know if there was one defining moment that sealed your decision to quit your job and dedicate yourself to the Bluesbreakers on a full-time basis, or if the lure of music simply proved too compelling.
I'm not sure if you and the band quite realize the extent of it, but trust me when I say that Fleetwood Mac has a very passionate fan-base. So, while I have the chance, I'd like to take the opportunity to let you know that we're all anxiously waiting for remastered/expanded editions of 'Mirage' and 'Tango In The Night' (as well as your entire Warner Bros. back catalog), in the same vein as the terrific deluxe editions of 'Fleetwood Mac,' 'Rumours' and 'Tusk.' I'd also like to mention that a DVD compilation of Fleetwood Mac's videos is another item that Mac fans have longed for for years.
Anyway, I thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, and I hope you didn't mind my moment of opportunism. ;-)
Take good care! (Johnny Stew, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.)
First let me thank you so much for doing this Q&A, and for being part of a band whose music has really affected my life. It is wonderful of you to have this connection with the fans.
A lot has been written about the songs on 'Rumours' and how they were directed at certain people in the band-- and even today people always think Lindsey and Stevie are writing their songs about each other! I saw on a VH1 special that you said hearing Chris play Songbird made you cry-- obviously you have been emotionally affected by that song. So I just wanted to ask if you ever took any of her other songs personally- (and not just the Rumours ones but the older ones too) like you felt it was being directed at you? And also if you had written a song on Rumours what do you think YOU would have said to HER? (Andrea R., Levittown, PA, USA)
How would you characterize your friendship with Stevie Nicks throughout the band's heyday? From old footage onstage, it seems like you guys had a natural affinity for each other that's very sweet. Am I correct in my assumption, and if so, do you still? (Sara, Austin, Texas, U.S.A.)
Greetings!!! Thank you for your time, I have a few simple & short Bass related questions for you:
#1-What do you look for in a Bass guitar? Does how a Bass handle in the live environment weigh in on your decision?
#2-What did you think of some Bass contemporaries of the late 60's & early 70's, Such as Jack Bruce (of Cream), Chris Squire (of Yes), Paul McCartney (The Beatles/Wings) & John Paul Jones (of Led Zeppelin)?
#3-Who was your main influence on the Bass in your formative playing years?
Thanks again for your time and thanks for all the great bass playing...Brian j. (Brian j., Carnegie, Oklahoma, U.S.A.)
"Ahoy John!!!!" Thank you for YEARS of amazing music and your work and magic in Fleetwood Mac. You made me laugh with a couple of your comments on the Destiny Rules DVD. It made me wish we could have a chance to talk to you LIVE. Who knew that we'd have a chance to speak to you? Thank you for making that happen right here on The Penguin! Here's my question:
1-You've been through all the incarnations of Fleetwood Mac from Blues to Rock. What was the happiest of times in the band for you? (Apart from playing on the stage)
2-What do you consider your greatest accomplishment/contribution with this band? What particular work are you most proud of?
Thank you John! love, blackcat (blackcat, Pennsylvania, USA)
Hello there! I'm curious, You mentioned "the Peter you used to know"- what kind of man was that? Did you see any sign of emotional instability in him before he did acid, or do you think that's what really set it off? My opinion is that he might have left the band even without the whole Munich experience. It seems even before the acid he was sort of out there, wanting to give away the money and all.
For what's it's worth another clue might've been the fact that this chap who was your friend actually called Christine and told her not to marry you, I mean really, what kind of person does that, Did no one think that was peculiar? Didn't you want to knock his block off when you heard about that? oh well at least he wasn't too persuasive! Cheers and many thanks-- (Sarah; Sussex; United Kingdom )
Hi John! Many fans are upset that Bob Welch wasn't admitted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame with the rest of the band. What are your feelings on this? Are there any other members you feel should have been admitted that weren't? Thanks for the four decades of incredible music... it truly has changed countless lives. (Louie Golden, Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.A.)
John, concerning the widespread idea (among the fans, anyway) that Lindsey's tracks on some Fleetwood Mac albums are basically Lindsey himself playing all the instruments, I would like to ask you to which extent this is true.
I've understood myself that most (excluding tracks like "Songbird") of The White Album, Rumours and Mirage have the full Rumours-era line-up playing, this including Lindsey's tracks. Same with Say You Will, with exceptions like "Say Goodbye" and "Red Rover".
However, I've been under the impression that Lindsey's Tusk tracks are mainly himself playing all the instruments, and that the same is true with Tango In The Night. Of course there are occasions where I think you are playing: the official Tusk documentary shows you in the studio laying down the bass track for "Save Me A Place". And on Tango In The Night I think you are playing on "Caroline" as well, not to forget the ending of the title track. But in general, is it just him playing nearly everything on his tracks on the Tusk and Tango In The Night albums? (Gaius, , , Finland)
Hi John, Firstly thanks for doing this Q&A and, as a UK fan can I just say it was great to see you over here last winter, hope it won't be the last time!
Now my question: What is your opinion of the music you guys put out in between the two 'big eras' so to speak? This stuff is overlooked by so many people, but I think some of the best Mac songs come from this period (Hypnotized, Jewel Eyed Judy, Why, Future Games etc.). What do you think? Thanks once again. Greg (Greg Ireland, Faversham, Outside US and Canada, United Kingdom)
Hi Greg, Thank you for the questions,
It's so kind of you to take the time to answer our questions. I've been a Fleetwood Mac fan for 30+ years -- there's no one better than you guys. And your bass playing is just plain gorgeous.
My question is: what's your earliest musical memory? And whose music turns you on now (besides the Mac's, of course)?
Thanks so much for all the gigs and all the music, John McVie. I'll keep listening! Sylvie (Sylvie, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.)
I have enjoyed your photographs that have found their way into the public eye, such as the "Bare Trees" album cover and several more in "25 Years: The Chain"'s liner notes. Has photography been a lifelong passion of yours? Thank you for the musical memories and for answering our many questions. (Justin Klenow, San Mateo, California, U.S.A.)
Thank you for taking time to do this. My question has to do with the penguins - did you enjoy them prior to them becoming the FM mascot or was it the other way around? Cory Buckingham mentioned you had to buy a new suitcase in Australia to get them home.
Thanks again (Missi Lourimore, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.)
This happens to be pretty much the same question I asked Chris in her Q&A, but I figured it might be interesting to get *your* view on this time frame and then compare your answers!
Back in 1970 when Chris initially joined Fleetwood Mac, the press had said she was 'joining for appearances only' and was sort of viewing the US tour as simply 'taking a holiday'. Now if Jeremy *hadn't* suddenly left when he did and the band wasn't put into that 'crisis mode' of 'what do we do now?' --do you think she would have actually *stayed* w/ the band, or do you think she would have just gone back to her 'regular' life?
A lot has been said about the 'Jeremy leaving', but never much about the 'Chris staying'! That whole period always struck me as being pretty significant in terms of the direction you guys ended up taking.
Finally-- although I'm well aware that one more compliment might just push you over the edge-- I have to say an enormous thank you for doing this Q&A here, you are a sweetheart. To say you and your band have greatly affected my life would be an understatement.
Hi there John! Thanks again for doing this Q&A for us! Thank you, also, for the years of spectacular music, it's touched my life more than I can explain in words.
The great ones never leave us, and you are one of the great ones. What would you like your headstone to say about you? (Christy, Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.A.)
"I'LL BE BACK."
Which song(s) did you run into the most complications with during the recording of "Say You Will"? We only got a glimpse in the "Destiny Rules" documentary and with that many songs on the album, there must have been a few that stick out.(Chris Resnick, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.)
Hi Chris, Thanks for the questions,
Do you have any memories of that Annie Leibowitz/Rolling Stone photo session of all of you in bed together? Lindsey and Stevie recently shared some recollections with Rolling Stone and I was just curious what your feelings were on that experience. Stevie said you and Chris didn't want to be near each other. And what really happened with Lindsey and Stevie after the photo shoot was over!? (Katie W., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
What music do you listen to, or who are your favourite bands and artists? Any particular album? I'll be presumptuous and guess that they're from a previous era due to a simple lack of contenders from current times.
This of course written under the assumption that unlike us, you don't sit around with Tusk cranked up on repeat day after day. - Lux (Lux, , , Australia)
Hi Lux, Thanks for the questions,
Thank you so much for taking time to answer questions. I've thoroughly enjoyed your answers. I was wondering if there was a movie about the life and times of fleetwood mac- who would you want to play you? And who would you think for the other bandmates?
thanks again john, and keep on rockin'!
-sheri, grand jct. colorado (sheri, grand junction, Colorado, U.S.A.)
Hi Sheri,Thanks for the question,
I think that your taking the time to do this is really tremendous. Thank you.
In Martin Celmin's biography of Peter Green he mentions that you were the only band member who was NOT feeling any "trepidation" in regards to coming to America for your first tour of the States. Would you be able to elaborate on Celmins' comment and if you would, share any of your impressions of the country and "music scene" that you found here during those summer months in 1968?
Also I was curious about the sessions the band recorded for the BBC for radio broadcast - did the band ever use pre-recorded tracks, or add any instrumentation to a number after it had been recorded?
I am thinking of some of the Jeremy Spencer numbers where it is clearly Jeremy playing lead guitar and yet there is also piano on the track. This occurs on some numbers where neither Christine or any other pianist is listed as having been at the session. Any insight you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your time and here's hoping you continue to share your talent with your fans around the globe. (Richard J. Orlando, Mount Laurel, New Jersey, U.S.A.)
John, you were there during the craziness known as "Rumours." You were going through many personal trials and we are glad that all of you survived.
At one point, as Mick has revealed in his "tell all" book, he and Stevie had an affair that they regretted. When you did you personally find out, what was your reaction?
Stevie has said on several occassions that it would have been the "end" of Fleetwood Mac. With all the other craziness that went on in the band, why would that have been the clincher?
Were there times when you thought "it's OVER" in terms of your relationship with the band? Did you ever get so fed up that you wanted out?(Susan, , Pennsylvania, U.S.A.)
Hi Susan, Thank you for the questions,
Thank you very much for sharing your talents with us for the past ___ years (We're probably both too old to appreciate seeing the number in print). Most of us probably don't have an appreciation of how much hard work is involved.
Is there a chance for "John McVie's Gotta Band Again"? The 'Gotta Band' release remains a favorite of mine. Thanks, Ken (Ken, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.)
Thanks again for taking the time to answer our questions!
Who convinced you to sing background vocals on "Say You Love Me" during the Dance and how were they able to do that? Have you done any other vocals during your career with the Mac? (Amy, , Maryland, U.S.A.)
Hi John, Thank you so much for doing this! I'm a big fan of the band from the blues to Say You Will.
I wanted to know about the first time you met Mick. Do you have any specific memories that you could share? Thanks, Amy (Amy, New York, New York, U.S.A.)
It was just brilliant to see Fleetwood Mac tour Ireland, the UK and Europe last year. Any 'stand out' moments for you from that leg of the Tour ? And what did you make of the 'Penguin Shower' for your birthday at Birmingham, NEC ?! (I was the 'wag' who threw a Penguin chocolate bar *groan*) Best Wishes, Lisa (Lisa, Birmingham, Outside US and Canada, United Kingdom)
just wanted you to know i think you are cool :)
enjoyed seeing your pleasure on the boat segment during the filming of destiny rules :)
my question: were you happy with the end-result of the documentary, and would fleetwood mac consider doing another should the opportunity again arise? (niki, laguna beach, California, U.S.A.)
Many thanks for doing this Q&A, and thanks for giving music some of the greatest bass lines its history. I have two very different questions:
I was wondering what your live set-up is? i.e. any effects (racks or pedals), what cables you use, pre-amps/power-amps/combos?
And secondly, if you could play ONE Lindsey Buckingham song from any of his solo albums as part of a Fleetwood Mac concert, what would you choose?
Thanks so much, rock on! (Seteca, London, , United Kingdom)
During the craziness of the Rumours success-- getting rich, winning awards, being on magazine covers, attracting so much attention etc-- did you enjoy that time, or was it really not so much fun for everyone because of all the personal things going on in the band? (Emily; Colorado, USA)
Hi Emily,Thanks for your questions,
Hi John, Thanks for taking part in the Q & A. I'm a big fan of the Future Games/Bare Trees line-up. Do you know if these albums are ever going to be remastered and do you know if there are any unreleased tracks from this era still in the can?
I've always loved your playing with Mick Taylor. Are you still in touch or likely to record again?
I think of Tusk as the greatest double album ever and an underrated gem. 25 years on, what do you think of Tusk as an album and your playing on it? (Chas, London, , United Kingdom)
Hi Chas, Thanks for the questions,
Hi John, Thank you for taking the time to do this.
My question is, although you are now a US citizen do you still feel English?
Also in a previous reply you mentioned "soccer playing" do you support a team? if so which one?
Gail (Gail Heaton, Southampton, , United Kingdom)
Hi Gail, Thanks for the questions,
John, I've been a fan for a great many years and it's wonderful to have this opportunity to 'chat' with you. I very much envy your involvement and immersion in London's 'Blues Boom' back in the late 60's, and was wondering if you had any memories to share from that time, any experiences that stand out. For example, who did you and the other band members enjoy seeing when you weren't working on stage yourself? Which clubs did you enjoy frequenting?
I assume your 'blues connection' was how you got to know Christine. Was it initially easy or difficult having a relationship with someone who was on the same career path as you, and perhaps in the back of your mind did you have an inkling that she'd one day join you in Fleetwood Mac? In an odd way (for longtime fans such as myself) it all seems to have been destined.
Your candor in this forum is much appreciated; all the best to you, and thanks for all the music. (William R., United Kingdom)
Hi William, Thanks for the questions,
First of all thanks so much for doing this, I'm so shocked that I get to ask John McVie a question. My question is about the songs you decide to play in concert. Do you play a big role in that? And if so what do you think about playing Sisters of the Moon on the next tour. And how about playing 1 or 2 old pre-1975 songs. Has that idea ever come up? It'd be great to hear Oh Well, Green Manalishi, or Hypnotised. (Mickman, Buffalo, New York, U.S.A.)
Hi John! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! It really means a lot to us fans.
My question has to do with when the band is performing onstage. You have always just kind of hung back in the shadows, playing the heck out of your bass. Do you kind of like to stay on the down low, and not say much? I'm just curious about your feelings when you're playing in front of a crowd.
My second question is short. How does your daughter, Molly, feel about music? I know she did some singing with Stevie's niece on Say You Will, but does she plan on doing anything in music later in life?
Thanks again for doing this, and thank you for being apart of some of the best music ever made! (Amber Dodds, Lima, Ohio, U.S.A.)
Hi Amber, Thanks for the questions,
Thanks so much for doing the q and a. I never thought I'd get to "talk" with a member of my favorite band.
How is it decided which songs will make it onto the album? Are the record companies, like Warner's, involved in this at all?
I know why "Silver Springs" was left off, but am wondering about "You and I Part I" and "Down Endless Street"...
PS The SYW concert was terrific! (Vianna Barksdale, Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.A.)
Hi Vianna, Thanks for the questions,
Thanks for taking your time to answer our inquiries.
I saw the "Time" incarnation of Fleetwood Mac at the free concert in Van Nuys back in 1994. I thought that was a great lineup...granted not the most well known.
Was there ever any discussion of doing a second album with Dave, Billy & Bekka?
What was your overall feeling during the recording of "Time"? (Steve Denison, Long Beach, California, U.S.A.)
Thank you so much for being there... and thank you for all the music! My question is kind of strange... i've been told that you keep a record of all the serial numbers of bass guitars you've ever owned. Is this true? If so, i think i may have a bass you once owned. Would you be able to tell me if it was ever yours? It's a pre CBS 1962 Fender Precision serial number 74415. I've owned this bass for 15 years and often wondered if it was true.
Thank you so much. Jan Fullerlove (Janet Fullerlove, Much Wenlock, , United Kingdom)
Hi Jan, Thanks for the question.
Greetings Mr. McVie, my thanks for taking the time to share some insight here at the (great!) Penguin,
Could you share some of your influences on bass, who did you listen to back starting out?
Finally, including KILN HOUSE and SAY YOU WILL, FM has recorded several projects in a "home" setting. Do you prefer that to the traditional "studio" setting for recording?
My thanks for your time, Todd Richards, Host "Then Play On - The Fleetwood Mac Marathon" (Todd Richards, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.)
Hi Todd, Thanks for the questions,
I was fortunate enough to have a couple of very brief chats with you during the Mac's visit to London just before last Christmas. Leaving for one of the concerts at Earl's Court, you mentioned that Peter Green would be attending that night's show. Did he turn up? Did you all meet up? What happened?
Also, a couple of months ago the BBC screened an excellent (and well overdue-in my opinion) documentary about John Mayall's career featuring quite extensive interviews with yourself, Clapton, Mick Taylor and others. It also featured tantalising clips of Fleetwood Mac in a doc from 1969 called Turning Point (which I didn't see at the time!) in which you, sporting a fu man chu moustache, speak, and another of Peter, looking great, speaking in an amazing middle class accent! It's well worth seeing- --Hughie Flint's initial misgivings about Peter's playing--Clapton in retrospect feeling he owes Mayall a debt! Did you ever get to see this Mayall doc?
Best Regards, Tim Douglas (Tim Douglas, London, , United Kingdom)
Hi Tim, Thanks for the questions,
Hi John, You always were the coolest member of fleetwood mac. Great to talk with you. here's my question for you.
You're stranded on a desert island.
Assume you know you'll be rescued in a week ; Who would be the best company to sit and relax and shoot the breeze with for that time--- mick, lindsey, chris, or stevie.
Now assume you may be stuck there forever. Which of the 4 do you think would be the most creative in helping you think up ideas to survive on/get the heck off of the island.
Take care John, you're the best. (Rick T., San Francisco, California, USA)
Hi Rick, Thanks for the questions,
Hi John, first let me just say that I think it is really great you are doing this. Oh and second, seeing FMac on tour was awsome this last year. Stevie always seems to be surrounded by her yorkies (dogs)-- do the other members of the Mac have pets? (Barb, , California, U.S.A.)