And Then There Were Six

Twenty years after their first hit,

Fleetwood Mac are more popular than ever.

Doug Adamson grabs a rare interview


Tracks Magazine
January 1989

There have been three distinct Fleetwood Macs. First came the 60s blues band led by Peter Green, who was later to burst into his manager's office, shotgun handed, demanding never to be sent royalty cheques again. Hits included Oh Well and Need Your Love So Bad.

The mid 70s featured the dual voices of Christine Perfect McVie and Stevie Nicks on Rumours, an all-time great album still selling proudly today, especially on CD. Hits included Don't Sop and Go Your Own Way.

The 80s Fleetwood Mac is more popular than ever: it's the cool, laidback sound of Tango In The Night, top album of 1988 in Tracks chart of the year, and the current Greatest Hits compilation. Hits include Everywhere and Little Lies. New boy Billy Burnette reckons this surprising staying power lies in the band's ability to assimilate personnel and situation changes. "The group operates very democratically," the guitarist states. "I haven't had any problems, apart from not being given my own private jet! It's like a big family, and we really genuinely get on well together. I'd known everyone else for a few years before I joined (as a member of Mick Fleetwood's Zoo) but it still surprised me. I know an awful lot of groups who don't get on."

So the motivation is still there?

"The motivation hasn't really changed since we started," explains founder member and giant drummer Mick Fleetwood. "We certainly earn a lot more money, but that hasn't changed my motivation because I've been on the financial roller coaster. When times were bad I still kept playing because that's what I do. It's the original reason I started, and although it's my job, I'm lucky to have a job I enjoy. It can go up and down but that's exactly how I look at it."

Fleetwood Mac's creative well never seems to run dry.

"Sure," agrees Mick. "We've goy four songwriters in the band, Billy and Rick (Vito) as well as the two girls, so there's a lot of choice. It's a nice problem to have so many ingredients to choose from."

Quality control is strict. Mainly, they ask the neighbours.

"The guy next door can tell you more about how great or bad something is than somebody in the business," claims Billy. "If people start talking right in the middle you know they don't like it. In my last neighbourhood, the houses were really close together. Every time I had something new the neighbours would hear it 400 times in a row at 5am. Next day when I went out, if they liked it they'd go, "Hey we like the new tune". If not, they'd give me a dirty look."

Thus most of Billy's songs are very quiet indeed! "I'm always writing," he goes on. "It's the same with everyone else. When the time comes for the new album, we'll all bring our tunes to the party".

"It will be a big surprise to all of us who comes out with the songs that make it. You think something you've done is great, but it might not really fit on the album. We'll cut more than then ten songs we need for the album and then narrow is down. The things that rise to the top will be the things that stick to the wall. There's a couple of new songs on Greatest Hits and that's opened the door."

Picking which hits would make Greatest Hits was a tricky process.

"There was a little compromise," admits Mick. We had big lists, chalk boards on the wall. We had to be aware of people's wants and needs. In England certain songs were bigger than in America. It was a hits album not you picking your favourite songs off the weird albums for a boxed set." Sadly not a soul thought of making it a double album, unless there's a second volume on the way.

Both Mick and Billy keep in touch with current trends. Mick enjoys Australian band Crowded House and they both admire they very British Cliff Richard, even if Billy isn't sure of the man's achievements.

"He's just had his 30th number one in Britain hasn't he?" (Actually Mistletoe And Wine was Cliff's 13th.)

Mick, of course, is British, but he won't be coming home soon.

"The three Brits, myself, John and Christine, were very aware of playing in London on the last tour. I don't crave to be in England as a person, but musically this is where it came from so when you come home you want it to be more than good. It's like playing in your home town, like playing LA for Billy, and to some extent me too now because LA is my home right now. I can see myself ending up in Australia though, because I like it there".

And what of the future?

We started work on the next album in January, confirms Mick. "If we get a move on, we're hoping to have it out towards the fall or whatever they call the end of summer".

"Then we'll start another world tour, with breaks so we can rest up. Remember we have two ladies in this band and we can't work them too hard. If it was left to us we'd be working every day, everywhere".


thanks to trackaghost who supplied this article


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Last Updated - 13 June 2004