DRUMMER DISPELS SOME RUMOURS IN:

FLEETWOOD: My Life And Adventures

In Fleetwood Mac. by Mick Fleetwood with

Stephen Davis, William Morrow & Co.

 

Books, Music & Commentary

with B. D. Poe

 

The sultry swirling celtic witch, Stevie Nicks, seductively

casts her spells dancing nymph like, enraptured in some

dionysian fantasy, caught in the bands hypnotic syncopation,

she enthralls the audience with her sexy magic. Behind her

a madman glares through his drum kit relentlessly pounding

an intoxicating beat. The band drips with talent -a

hallucinogenic libation of musical Mead.

 

This is the popular image of Fleetwood Mac and the reason

why the drummer's biography is so compelling. For Fleetwood's

story goes far beyond the popular perception of the group

whose mid seventies album RUMOURS broke sales records

and dominated FM airplay.

 

It is the story of a tragic band who achieved success in the midst

of continuing strife and breakups, dispelling rumours and setting

the record straight.

 

Fleetwood drummed for Ronnie Spector and The Ronnettes

during their English tour with The Rolling Stones. (See our

review of Ronnie's book BE MY BABY) He played for John

Mayhall's Bluesbreakers, the British band that served to

launch many careers including those of Eric Clapton, Stones

guitarist Mick Taylor, and many others. He even became

related to both Clapton and George Harrison through marriage.

 

While many of his Friends and associates invaded American

pop charts with great success, Fleetwood continued on as

one of Britains most popular live blues rock bands. The UK

equivalent of The Greatful Dead. Great in concert - poor in

record sales.

 

Fleetwood Mac had all the right connections and great talent

yet they were plagued by misfortune. the band was mismanaged

and swindled out of their royalties. Three members were lost

to drugs and yet another to a religious cult. One bandmember

was fired for seducing Fleetwood's wife. Years later at the height

of success Fleetwood himself was accused of the same thing!

A pervading sense of irony runs through this book.

 

The Band's name was coined by legendary lead guitarist Peter

Green simply using the two last names of bandmembers. This

book is dedicated to Green. The Green God, Clapton's rival in

musical deification and the blues earned the praises of B.B. King.

 

But Peter Green abhorred the spotlight, celebrity and fame.

An undisputed master at his craft he none the less played with

reluctance yearning for something even more gratifying.

 

Green urged the band to give up materialism and play exclusively

for charity. When the other members refused to forsake all their

worldly goods -The Green God left the band, sold his instruments

and walked away from his craft. His use of LSD allegedly execrated

his departure. Working at various odd jobs, Green joined the ranks

of the downtrodden and poor whom he'd once tried to save.

 

Jeremy Spencer, a Bible reading family man, became the group's

front man. Onstage however, Jeremy's antics borderlined the obscene

which fascinated American audiences in 1971. During that tour, Spencer

strongly protested that he did not want to play Los Angeles. He claimed

it was the center of evil and "bad vibes."

 

Fleetwood and the band maintained the importance of playing L.A.

and Jeremy Spencer reluctantly agreed. Shortly before the show,

Jeremy took a walk and never returned. He met and joined the

cult Children Of God and disappeared leaving the band in shock.

 

Again Fleetwood Mac regrouped adding Bob Welch to their roster.

The lead guitarist Danny Kirwin's behavior got bizarre and Fleetwood

fired him. Kirwin ended up in a mental institution.

 

Yet another guitarist was added. But when Fleetwood discovered that

Bob Weston had been engaged in affair with his wife, he fired Bob

too. This and a contractual depute with their former manager influenced

Bob Welch, who went on to have a hit with "Sentimental Lady", to

leave the band. It looked like the end of Fleetwood Mac.

 

Regrouping again the band hired the team of Buckingham-Nicks largely

for Lindsey Buckingham's talent on guitar. Capable of rivaling Clapton,

Joe Walsh and even Jerry Garcia -Buckingham was a rare find. No one

thought for a moment that Buckingham's significant other, a fast food

waitress named Stevie Nicks would launch the band to Superstardom.

 

Their 1975 self titled album FLEETWOOD MAC went gold! On tour

Stevie Nicks captivated and charmed audiences. Their follow up

album RUMOURS did even better and Stevie Nicks became the

group's most recognizable member. Amazingly they did this during

a time when John and Christine McVie and the team of Buckingham

-Nicks were splitting up. Their animosity and resentments ran through

RUMOURS unbeknownst to most of their fans. "Well there you go

again, you say you want your freedom...Well who am I to keep you

down?" sang Stevie. It was rumoured that Fleetwood and Stevie were

having an affair. It was a miracle that the band was able to produce

the best selling album of that year.

 

Mick Fleetwood tells his story with candor, generosity and at points

the reserve of an English gentleman. He does avoid digging dirt

and kiss & tell. Not one to embarrass his bandmates or burn too many

bridges. FLEETWOOD is fascinating.

 

bdpoe@aol.com