Keith Olsen, May 8 - 21, 2000
First, thanks so much for doing a question and answer! I am so excited about this=:-) I have so many questions I hardly know where to begin. My first question is about a song that was written at the time of Tango in the Night but the song was not put on the album. That song is You and I Part I. Do you know what instruments Lindsey used to make the very beginning of the song? It sounds like there are bells in there - I assume Chris is on the keyboards and that's part of the sound but the rest I just can't figure out. Also do you know why the song was left off? They put You and I Part II on-why not Part I? I am asking because I LOVE this song. (Vianna, Alexandria, Virginia, USA)
On a question like this .... I only produced one album with Fleetwood Mac and one with Buckingham Nicks, "Tango" and "You and I Part I" are on albums that I didn't produce.... I wish I could help you.... My only idea to help you is to think of the era when the songs were recorded... synthesizers were in there infancy so therefore I'm sure any "sounds" were created using a combination of techniques and instruments playing the same thing.... I once did a similar thing using an OBOE, plucked cello, and a flute...... the combination resultant waveform sounded just like steel drums.... Ah, the masters centuries ago had a pretty good idea, eh?
How did you happen to meet Lindsey and Stevie? I gather you must have thought they were the highlight of Fritz - what about them made you think that? (Vianna)
I met Lindsey and Stevie through an agent in Los Angeles that was just getting started in the business. He was trying to get people to go up the SFO and see Fritz... had bad luck finding anyone with label signing power , so he asked me.... I guess in hopes of doing new demo's..... I thought Great a free trip to SFO and see a new band.... I saw them at a Catholic high school Friday night dance..... They were OK but not the super band of the future.... I agreed to cut for a couple of days in the studio, with the band a couple of weeks later... they came down to LA we cut four songs.. and I took Lindsey and Stevie aside and said to them " You know...you two really have a unique sound together.... but the rest of your band will hold you back" ......( a nice way of saying that they sucked!)... I could go on and on but there you have it!
Thanks so much for answering my questions. How did Mick happen to come to your studio? Had he previously heard things recorded there? (Vianna)
* and *
How were you chosen to produce the White Fleetwood Mac album? You were still a relatively inexperienced producer at that time...was it an 'organic' coming together considering you had inadvertently brought the new Fleetwood Mac together? (Tracy Garner, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Mick was introduced to me by an acquaintance of mine... his name escapes me... we made plans to talk further about me producing the next album by Mac... When he came out to Sound City, we made a deal for me to produce the next album in Feb of the next year...( it was Nov. I think?) I played several things that I had done at the studio, one of them was Frozen Love.... by Buckingham Nicks.
Keith-- First, thank you for taking the time to answer questions for the fans. My question concerns Stevie. Are you still close? Are you involved at all in any of the current recording sessions for her upcoming CD? If so, any hints as to what we can expect? How do you feel about her choices of pairing with Dallas Austin, Sheryl Crow, and now Macy Gray? (John Lilleston, Tampa, Florida, USA)
We talk several time a year, always have ... she's like my little sister.... we've written together, worked together, cried together..... Whenever we see each other, it's as if no time has passed... I think that her choice of Sheryl Crow is pretty cool...., Macy Gray and Dallas Austin we will have to wait and see-hear. I hope it will be great too.
Hello, what exactly is holding up the CD reissue of the Buckingham Nicks that all Fleetwood Mac want to have in their collections ? If it is reissued on CD will you be remastering it ? Thanks for all of your great productions especially, the Fleetwood Mac (white) album. (Steve Elliott, Arlington, Virginia, USA)
Lindsey and Stevie now own the rights to Buckingham Nicks... they bought it back from Polydor/polygram etc etc... The label in the beginning thought that the album lacked imagination... but by contract they had to release it... nice eh? What a wonderful business this is... I hope they (Lindsey and Stevie) will re release it soon... I'll get on their collective case about it...! I guess I have the only CD in the world.. I pulled out the masters over a year ago, baked them to re-adhere the oxide to the backing, then built a master digital from it... it took me back so many years.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to do this. Ok, what is your best memory and one of your funniest memories of working with Stevie and Lindsey? (Erin, Michigan, USA)
The best memory was when Stevie and Lindsey lived with me in my little Coldwater Cyn house in LA.... I was going to NYC to mix a live concert in Central Park for the James Gang.... Stevie and Lindsey's car had blown its transmission... so I lent them my car.... only if they would drive me to where the Limo was picking up the band at 5:00am .... and when I returned 3 days later pick me back up.... You have to imagine the next part... Stevie in a long heavy cotton robe... trying to drive a stick shift car... where the end of the robe got caught up in the pedals.... As she drove away (after dropping me off) the lead singer for the James Gang said " Keith, you'll never see that car again.." Well I said that he was crazy-- she only had to go 1.5 miles.....
Would you ever produce for Stevie and/or Lindsey again? (Pattie Cooke, Carrboro, North Carolina, USA)
Sure, but only if they really want to work at it... you know pre-production rehearsals... figure stuff out before you get to the studio... and do an album in 2 months (like most everybody else) not 2 or more years...
Hello Keith! Thank you for answering questions! I have a few questions...first, how was it that you met Lindsey and Stevie, and had them record their "Buckingham Nicks" album at Sound City? And second, what were they like, at that very early stage of their career, especially their recording career? What were their personalities like, compared to what they are now? And third, how did you get your start in the record producing business? Thanks again for taking the time to read and answer questions!!! (Claudia Brady-Drake, Moab, Utah, USA)
[First two questions were answered above to Vianna and John; third question is answered below.]
Hi Keith, you produced my favourite Ozzy Osbourne album "No Rest For The Wicked" back in 1988 with Roy Thomas Baker... Did the two of you actually work together or did you work on different tracks??? Any funny/sad/scary memories of Ozzy from the sessions??? And last but not least - is there any unreleased tracks from the sessions??? Thanks... (Kim Abrahamsson, Skovlunde, Denmark)
Roy and I didn't actually work together... Roy started the record... got called away... and I finished it.... I cut new tracks, guitars, vocals, backgrounds, mix..... did a bunch of work.... During the mixing... I wanted to be alone in the control room and for Ozzy to just come in every once in a while.... so I sat him down in my lounge with a laserdisc to entertain him.... I put in "Spinal Tap," the satire about the music business... I'm sure you've seen it, if not GO RENT IT NOW!.... Ozzy was laughing for the first 15 minutes or so... the next time I walked in to check on him... he was sitting there very sad and depressed.... he looked up at me and asked "Are we really like that???" I answered "Oh Yes, Definitely!!!!!!"
Hi Keith! Thanks so much for doing this for us fans! I know you are probably going to get a lot of questions about this, but I really want to hear about Stevie cleaning your house. Who's idea was it, did she offer, or did you? Also, how did you come about producing a track on "Rock A Little"? And why only one track? Thanks again for doing this! (Josh Williams, East Liverpool, Ohio, USA)
Stevie and Lindsey were short on cash.... Stevie wanted to work but not at a restaurant... so I offered to give them some money but Stevie said only if she would "work" for it... no charity..... I was in the middle of another project at the time...(Joe Walsh -- The Confessor") and had time only for 1 song... even though we cut about 5 tracks.... never had time to finish.... Also, it's an ownership or claiming issue... when another producer works on any project he (they) want only to have their songs on the record.....
Hi Keith, thank you so much for participating in this Q&A! How did you actually meet Lindsey and Stevie the first time? Did you see them in action with Fritz? Were you part of the group of "evil" record executives who stole them away from the rest of the band? (Tracy G., Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
[Mostly addressed above to Vianna but then Keith added:]
Hi Keith, It's great to have this opportunity! What can you tell us about the CDs with surround encoding? Is this what I've heard referred to as the "Super CD?" or CDs that will sound like DVDs? I've been trying to find more out about this. They will need new players right? How long until this actually hits the street? Any information at all will be most appreciated. Will you be doing any of the Fleetwood Mac albums? Thank you very much! (Timothy Kee, North Huntington, Pennsylvania, USA)
There are some CD's out there, but not too many... My idea of taking older multi-track masters and re-mixing them into Pro-logic surround to be re-released on a standard CD... went over at the Major Label level like a lead balloon.... See in the Eighties and before... the labels business administration departments gave up "artistic" control to the signing artists... this means that for the masters to be touched, all members of bands had to be notified, brought down to the sessions, and in some cases, the estate of a band member had to go through a "probate" to get permission to be "artist" and do a new mix.... needless to say no bites.... KORE Group Records has a Surround Version of "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" with Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks... they can be reached at 1-972-241-5182 in Texas.
I've heard Stevie say in an interview that four tracks were done for a second Buckingham Nicks album. Were you at the helm for those recordings? Do you remember which songs they were? (Tracy G., Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
No, I wasn't. Stevie and Lindsey were able to get some "after hour free" studio time from Sound City and they were working on it themselves.... Polydor records had dropped the band..... Dumb...eh? They thought there was no commercial value...
Hello Keith...I have a couple of questions regarding the second "Buckingham/Nicks" album that might have been released had Stevie and Lindsey not joined Fleetwood Mac. How many songs did they record for it, and which ones ended up being recorded later by Fleetwood Mac? Also, in your opinion, what is the most important skill one needs to be a good producer? Thank you! (Maria, Roswell, New Mexico, USA)
They recorded 4 songs, using free studio time at Sound City in LA, I had nothing to do with it ..... To be a good producer you need patience, understanding of an artist and the tools used in recording... and foremost... a vision of the "big" picture... to not make a mechanical, or normal, by the book, kind of recording.
Hi Keith-- What was your impression of Stevie and Lindsey when you first met them? Do you ever see either of them anymore? And what have you been up to recently? (Samantha, Lakewood, California, USA)
[First part answered above to Vianna but Keith also added:]
Lindsey has said in interviews that he and Stevie recorded at night in his father's coffee plant, were you involved in any of that? Is that just where they did the demos that were eventually re-recorded in your studio? (Tracy Garner, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Lindsey bought an old 4 track Ampex 1/2 inch machine and recorded all their ideas on it... then brought it (the machine and tapes) down to LA where we recorded new stuff and got the deal with Polydor.
Did Lindsey and Stevie already have viable material written or did they write specifically for the Buckingham Nicks album? (Tracy Garner)
Everything they wrote was only for Buckingham Nicks... Maybe Stevie would write hoping someone else would pick it up and record it.
Why did you not go on to produce the Rumours album? (Tracy Garner)
Rumours, rumours, rumours..... there was a question of payment of royalties.... or should I say, non-payment of royalties.... so the band decided to forge ahead on their own.... and as history shows... it worked real well... too bad it cost so much and took so long. But they went their way and I went mine.... both entities selling in excess of 100 million records....
Were Lindsey's talents as a producer obvious to you from the beginning? Was he actively involved on that level in the BN and White FM albums? (Tracy Garner)
The role of a producer is to act as a vehicle to get the artists creativity on tape in a manner that is cohesive and geared toward the marketplace you're going after. Stevie says that I acted "kind of like a "Director" in the movie business".... I would say she's right.
HI!! I was just wondering, what was it like to work with Stevie and Lindsey when Buckingham Nicks was made? THANK YOU!! (Christalyn Rhiannon Ray, Austin, Texas, USA)
It was a lot of fun.... trying to put together that album for under $25,000 was a lot of work and a lot of pre production... It all worked out great.
What was your first impression of Lindsey ? (Anne, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Great Voice, pretty good bass player..... then he started to play GREAT guitar.... what a talent....!
First, I would like to thank you for bringing Stevie and Lindsey to LA all those years ago. They have been two of my favorite performers since the 70's when they joined FM. They still have major chemistry when they sing together. Do you keep in touch with them and do you think there's a chance they'll ever get back together and record a "Buckingham Nicks II" and/or tour together?? Knowing Stevie as well as you did when they were younger, did you ever think she would become so successful as a solo performer, without Lindsey?? (Carol M., Campbell, California, USA)
It's hard to separate the two of them as individual artists... they both have done so much on their own and as major influences in FM... I always thought while we were cutting the white album that FM was not a blues band anymore.... it was so commercial, John McVie .... didn't really know if where we were going was the right choice... he liked it a lot, don't get me wrong.... he just kept reminding me that FM was a blues band....Oh well ...
Hi! Can you tell us about how you and Stevie came to write together for the song "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You?" What a beautiful and touching song! Did you see her perform the song on VH1's 'Storytellers?' Magnificent as always. Thank you! (Jo, Larksville, Pennsylvania, USA)
Stevie and I were working first at her house in Phoenix then in LA I had always had this idea for a bridge to make the transition from the verse/chorus repetition.... And then putting a key change as high as it is was exciting.
Hello and thank you for doing this. I just want to say that the one statement during Stevie's Behind The Music, about Stevie and Lindsey's voices coming together and being meant to sing together was an awesome thing for you to say...and totally agree with you. My question is...how did you come together with Stevie in 1985 to help her on "Rock A Little?" How different was it working with Stevie for "Rock A Little" compared to "Buckingham Nicks?" Thank you. (Jensen, Larksville, Pennsylvania, USA)
We didn't work that much in 1985 since I was doing another album (Joe Walsh the Confessor) But she had wanted to do some work with me again.
Hello Keith Olsen! I'm wondering if you could answer a few questions that an FM geek like me is sure to ask...1) How much pre-planning was done for the Fleetwood Mac White Album before you and the band entered the studio to produce it? Were Christine's songs, for example, fairly worked through? 2). Did you ever witness any strangeness or tension between various members during those sessions? Mick Fleetwood has written that Lindsey's lack of tact often caused friction between him and John. Did you see any of this? 3). How familiar were you with FM before Buckingham and Nicks joined? What did you think of their music with Bob Welch, etc? Thanks for doing this Q&A. It must be tiring reading so many "fan" questions. Suffice it to say, I admire your work: that "white album" is my favorite FM record in the band's entire catalog. :-) (Tony Leuzzi, Rochester, New York, USA)
So many questions.... Tony... wow
What were the sessions of "Rock A Little" like? I've read that they were difficult, due to Stevie's health and addictions...so much so, that Jimmy Iovine left the project. Were you signed on to help produce from the beginning, or after Jimmy left? Stevie is healthy and doing great now, thankfully! (Claudia, Moab, Utah, USA)
They were difficult, because of Stevie's health, addictions, attitude etc etc... ...so much so, that I left the project. It took several years for us to be friends again...
Hi Keith, I've watched you on video so much I think I know you! You want the work ready to produce when they come into your studio!!!! That's kewl !!! We Lindsey fans have waited about six years and no album has been forthcoming! Do you know him well enough now...to call and ask what's the big delay? (Char, North Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)
Pre production is very necessary to be able to see the "big Picture" when you first enter the studio... it's real hard for an artist to be objective with his own art....
Hi Keith, thanks for taking our questions. I am interested in the studio interaction between the producer and the musicians. How much give and take was there with Buckingham Nicks? At that young stage in their careers, were Lindsey and Stevie set in the way they wanted the tracks to sound, or did you have to point them in a particular direction? Also, please convince Lindsey and Stevie to release their album on CD. The fans are dying for it! Stevie included one track on Enchanted, which was the first time many of us have heard anything from the album. We're hooked! (Phillip Greene, Fort Worth, Texas, USA)
I would love to see it on CD too... While doing the Buckingham Nicks album we all three worked very much in sync toward that sound.
Were there any words for the songs "Stephanie" or "Django"? (Rick Jimenez, Hineville, Georgia, USA)
No, I don't think so.
How did Fleetwood Mac choose "Crystal" to remake? (Rick Jimenez)
It's a great song...note that one is in 6/8 the other version in 4/4.
How many musicians were on "Long Distance Winner"? (Rick Jimenez)
I really can't remember unless I look at the track sheets.
Do you think "Races Are Run" is about someone in particular? (Rick Jimenez)
Once again It's too long ago....
Do you think that Stevie and Lindsey will ever make another album together? (Rick Jimenez)
Should they? (Rick Jimenez)
Well maybe one song .... ONLY.
And would you like to be involved? (Rick Jimenez)
They are on their own now.....
I hope I didn't ask too much, but Buckingham Nicks is one of the best albums I've heard! Finally, what was Lindsey referring to in "I'm so afraid"? (Rick Jimenez)
I can't remember.... I cut over 100 albums, by 45 different artists, each album I went through 25 or more songs, picked 10-15, learned them, cut them, put them out... then went on to the next album.... It's pretty hard to remember all the little details.
Oh hi:) This is so cool you are doing this! Im very excited. First of all..I liked your part in Stevies BTM special on VH1. When you described how Stevie and Lindseys voice went together perfectly..that was a really nice moment. How was it working with those two? Did you get to know them much as people? Did you think that after BN they would be successful? Did you get along better with one more than the other? Also..Rock A Little is one of my fav albums..how was your whole contribution to that? Im confused about the varous producers and I wondered how that went...My last question ...how were Stevie and Lindsey changed once they joined Fleetwood Mac? Did you notice a change in them once they joined? Did you think that they would not get to be as good or as free when they joined that band? Again..thank you!!! (Janet, Palymyra, New Jersey, USA)
I answered a lot of your questions in other responses... but I would say they became family... Stevie more than Lindsey.
Hey there I want to thank you for giving us this time! The reading so far has been quite enjoyable... I was curious- when Stevie was cleaning your house would you say she preferred sweeping mopping or vacuuming? This is a serious question I promise! :) and how's the weather in Seattle? I'm from wash. and i kind of miss it, When i visit this summer i promise to go to the top of the Space Needle and yell "Hi Keith!" (Jessica Leigh Badten, Santa Barbara, California, USA)
Yell to the NORTH EAST..... I would say that dusting was her favorite, cause she would always find little surprises......
How did Buckingham and Nicks meet Waddy Wachtel, and how did that lead to his appearance on the 1973 Polydor album? Also, Wachtel always seemed such a dynamic stage performer, so why didn't he tour with Lindsey and Stevie in support of the record? Other commitments? Thanks, Keith! (David, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Waddy and Stevie / Lindsey were all signed to my production company called Pogologo Productions... Jorge Calderon was also signed..... I had know Waddy first since about 1966 when he came and hung out at a concert my band the MUSIC MACHINE did in Newport RI... we became friends back then... and when he came out to LA we hooked up again.
I wonder if you can cast some light on Stevie and Lindsey's working relationship with each other? We all know about how things were between them after they split up, and how Lindsey says he often didn't want to help Stevie craft her music, but what was their working relationship like while they were still a couple? In interviews Lindsey infers that Stevie's material was often very raw and that it was his role to mould that into a viable shape - was this something that you witnessed while they were working on Buckingham Nicks? Similarly Stevie often appears in interviews somewhat bitter that her music has been crafted in a form that is unrecognisable to her (or at least distorted) from the way she heard the song in her head - again is this something that was a matter of 'discussion' between them during the making of Buckingham Nicks? (Angela, Oxford, England)
Stevie writes little repetitive loops that she crafts melodies around them... this is one of the unique aspects of the way she writes.... sometimes this gets old quickly... so a more commercial chordal form needs to be implemented... this is what she sometimes considers too much change from the original....
Hi Keith! As you stated, the recording sessions for the White Album went pretty quickly, mostly because the tunes had already been written and rehearsed before getting into the studio. The vocal blend proved to be a template for the future 'sound' of Fleetwood Mac, were you aware of this being something special at the time? I'm wondering how the vocal harmonies were recorded, ie, were Lindsey, Chris and Stevie all recorded at once? What was your impression of the single remixes for this album? And finally, who's notion was it to add the car horn to the mix of 'Sugar Daddy'? I love hearing Chris crack up laughing at the end of that song. Thanks for your time Keith! (Doug LeVasseur, Providence, Rhode Island, USA)
We used three mics for the BG vocals... I believe they were AKG 451's and used them bussed to 1 track at a time... then tripled the BG's adjusting the balance to feature Stevie on 1 track, Lindsey on another, Christine on another...... I believe the sound effects were Chris' or John's idea... I really can't remember.
I first want to say thanks for the wonderful production job you did on the White Album. I received it as a gift on Christmas, 1976, and became a permanent fan of Fleetwood Mac as a result. I have many questions but will limit my inquiries to just a few.. Who made the decision for Lindsey to sing lead vocal on Stevie's beautiful "Crystal?"- not once, but twice. And were any other songs from the BN lp also considered for the White album? What is your favorite Fleetwood Mac song? (Keith, Washington DC, USA)
Lindsey always had the right timbre voice for that song. Too many to list.... I like the darker songs by Lindsey best.
Hi Keith! I have a couple questions for you: You mentioned "World Turning" (one of my favorite Mac songs)in response to someone else's question--I once read that Stevie was a bit upset because Lindsey and Chris wrote the song together without her--is this true? I think she also mentioned something like she and Lindsey never wrote songs together and I always thought "Frozen Love" was written by both of them. Can you please clear this up for me? OK one more question...of all the B/N songs chosen for the Mac album, why was "Crystal" chosen? I always wondered why "Frozen Love" and "Races are Run" were not on the track list for the White album--I think those were the strongest songs on the B/N album. Thank you for you attention and best of luck to you!! (Naomi S., Hoboken, New Jersey, USA)
Stevie was a bit upset over the writing team... but she got over it... Lindsey thought that Frozen Love was a bit too much for FM to track... let alone perform live.. FM didn't want to cut the single over again from the B/N album.
Hi Keith. Thanks so much for doing this! I have a couple of questions for you. First, I noticed that you and Stevie are credited with writing "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything" on the Rock-a-Little album, but Stevie only is credited on the Time Space album. Any story here? Second, I loved Kim Carnes' Cafe Racers album, and seem to recall that you produced it. What was she like to work with? (Bob Goodman, Pacific Palisades, California, USA)
Time and Space album is a typo.... this does happen in the record business... Kim Carnes is great to work with ...
Was there ever an attempt to make Buckingham Nicks into a full band? Duos are a such a rariety on record...did you have any misgivings about backing Lindsey and Stevie? Did you expect them to flop? (Tracy Garner, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
I never expected the record to flop.... duo's are ok, you just have to know how to market it.....
Hello, again, Keith! I read your answer to my previous question (about your work on "RAL"), which got me to wondering some more. You say you recorded five songs, which never made it on the album. What were these songs called? Also, if you think about it, since YOU introduced Mick to Stevie and Lindsey, you could be considered responsible for the famous Nicks-Buckingham incarnation of Fleetwood. How does it make you feel to lookat it that way? (Josh Williams, East Liverpool, Ohio, USA)
Well that is the way it happened..... and I think on RAL there was: 1000 days... Has anyone ever written..... etc.
Thank you for taking the time to answer questions for us. I would like to know if you feel that the music industry has given Stevie the proper recognition for her talent/career through the years ? I'm a huge fan of both her singing and writing. Thank you & Take care. (David Barrett, Palmetto, Georgia, USA)
I think that during the late 70's and into the 80's she was considered the Queen of Rock&Roll... she was the real female lead singer of the largest band in the world... Yeah, I think she has had the recognition.
Silly question...Were Stevie and Lindsey good house guests? Can you tell us of any habits (good or bad) that they had? Okay now for the serious question...During Buckingham Nicks, were Stevie's demos like skeletons, as Stevie herself had said, or did Lindsey and Stevie work them out til they sounded complete? Did you contribute a lot of ideas to the album or were you more of a guide? Thank you. (Jensen, Larksville, Pennsylvania, USA)
I'm full of ideas... always have been... but at least I know to say that my idea sucks.... S&L were great house guests...
Can you tell us what album you are most proud of as a producer? Why? (Jo, Larksville, Pennsylvania, USA)
I'm proud of several of the records that I've been involved with ... it's hard to single out the most important ONE... in groups of importance...
Hi Keith, Love your work, especially Buckingham Nicks! My question is, we all know the songs on BN were written by Stevie and Lindsey, but why on the inner sleeve below the lyrics to Frozen Love does it say "All songs written by John Lewis"? This has baffled me for years. (Dawn de Plater, Sydney, Australia)
I never knew that..... must be another typo... good to know.
Hi Keith! Thank you so much for answering the previous questions! I'm enjoying your Q&A immensely :) Were you there when Stevie recorded the demo to Rhiannon? The one where she is talking to Lindsey about Rhiannon being a beautiful name and needing to record the sound of 'birds rising'? Did you attempt to meet that request? (Tracy Garner, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Stevie wrote some in my house... in her house... then in my next house... It's hard to say... I remember her playing a bit of Landslide for me as she cried in my back room...