Fleetwood Mac Writing 'New
Chapter' in History
Band reignites musical 'passion' that made them famous 30 years ago
By Earl Horlyk
8th July 2004
Drug fueled decadence and debauchery? Check. Infighting, backbiting,
and egos run amok? Check. And enough sexual intrigue to make even
Jackie Collins blush? Check. A trashy new beach read? Nah. It's
Fleetwood Mac, writing a new chapter in what has been called "Rock
and Roll's longest running soap opera."
Imagine it's 1975. Drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie,
the band's namesakes, having anchored Fleetwood Mac through numerous
personnel changes, finally find the winning combination of
singers/songwriters who will take the group to the top of the pop
charts and to the top of the gossip columns for years to come.
This latest incarnation of Fleetwood Mac has a lush, supple sound
that managed to merge the 'Kools menthol and Chardonnay' smoky blues
favored by Christine McVie with the San Francisco hippy-trippy song
stylings of vulnerable rock stud Lindsay Buckingham, and witchy
waif, Stevie Nicks. The group's unique chemistry and distinctive
sound gelled immediately and together, they provided a perfect
soundtrack to the blow-dried, blow-snorted, blow-jobbed excess of
Their best selling '78 "Rumours" is fueled by an avalanche of
cocaine and driven by the fact that two different couples,
comprising four-fifths of the group, are going through one hellava
breakup. Lindsay and Stevie, long considered the glam, folkie world
equivalent of Dick and Liz, decides to break off their personal
relationship. Stevie immediately hooks up with Mick, unbeknowst to
either of their fellow bandmates or Mick's first wife. The McVie
marriage also ends when Christine has an affair with a man with the
most unfortunate name in the annals of rock and roll, sound engineer
"Rumours" is jam packed with exquisite melodies and none-too-subtle
messages from the songwriters to their former or current lovers.
Listening to songs such as "Landslide," "Go Your Own Way," and
"Don't Stop" is like delving into somebody's personal diary. Never
before has 'real life' been laid so bare on vinyl and never before
has navel gazing been so danceable.
The hits kept on coming, only at a slower pace. Reports of drug
abuse, personal problems, and long running feuds took their toll.
Lindsay Buckingham's dramatic decision to leave the group in the
mid-'80s caused many to speculate that it was, indeed, the end of
the road for Fleetwood Mac.
Well, it's hard to keep a good band down. After several successful
comeback engagements, Fleetwood Mac is back, a bit more mellow, but
creating new material and introducing another generation to its
classic sound. The band, now consists of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie,
Lindsay Buckingham, and Stevie Nicks. Christine McVie is pursuing
other music interests.
In a telephone interview, I asked Mick Fleetwood how the group
dynamic has changed with Christine McVie's decision not to return.
"Chris is happy in England and I'm happy for her," Fleetwood says
diplomatically. "Once it became clear that she wasn't coming back, I
could see some good coming from it.""Not to take anything away from
Chris but I truly believe the band has a completely new vigor, a
really refreshing sensibility now," he explains. "Stevie's
surrounded by three men, two of whom she's had relationships with.
Everything she sings takes on a greater poignancy because of it."
Lindsay Buckingham has been quoted as saying he doesn't want
Fleetwood Mac to turn into a nostalgia act and that the group must
walk a fine line between staying fresh and contemporary without
alienating their old fans. So does Fleetwood agree? "Most
definitely. There's a real value in new music. And Lindsay remains a
master at pushing the envelope and writing the kind of material
that'll move the band forward musically. But we know our audiences
also want to hear their favorites, the songs that they have an
emotional attachment to. So we try to balance the new stuff with the
"I think because we were so brutally honest in some of our older
songs, they still resonate with people. There were times when there
wasn't a whole lot of communication going on in the band and thus,
no way of healing. So we poured all of that emotion into our music
and the public responded. It also helps us put everything we do
today in proper perspective."
Fleetwood is especially proud of the fact that his group has stood
the test of time. "When we started touring again, I'd looked out at
the audience, expecting to see people who grew up with our music,"
he says. "They turned out, but they also brought their kids. So
we're seeing a second generation of Fleetwood Mac fans. Sometimes
even a third generation. That's pretty cool."
Sadly, it's a sight Fleetwood fears may be disappearing. "The music
industry has changed so dramatically that I think the days of bands
or artists with that kind of multigenerational appeal may be over.
The music industry has become an entertainment business with a 'here
today/gone tomorrow' type of mentality. The talent base is still
there but new artists aren't given the time to grow and mature or to
build a catalog of material or an audience that'll have lasting
Fleetwood believes the unique chemistry forged during "Rumours" has
never really dissipated over the years. "There's an incredible
amount of emotion invested with this band outside of the music. The
vibration of what's happening isn't theater, it's real. John is my
oldest and dearest friend. My absolute love and friendship with
Stevie is stronger than ever. Lindsay and Stevie have long gone
their own way and they're still working out some old war wounds. But
on stage, all you can see is their passion."
And for fans, that should be all that matters. "I truly believe this
is a new chapter in the life of Fleetwood Mac."
Thanks to Michelle for sending in this article