Thanks for posting the people.com interview, SisterNightroad! Mick can give some very nice interviews such as this one - good to read.
Still hoping that someday a more affordable edition of Mick's upcoming book will be available...
Mick Fleetwood only just discovered the secret reason he wound up in Fleetwood Mac
The drummer explains how his new book, "Love That Burns," revealed things even he didn't know about his past
Little known fact: Besides drumming for Fleetwood Mac, Mick Fleetwood is a prolific author. Over the years, he’s written three books about his time with the beloved rock band, including a 2014 autobiography, “Play On: Now, Then, and Fleetwood Mac.”
Fleetwood’s latest effort, “Love That Burns: A Chronicle of Fleetwood Mac, Volume One: 1967–1974,” is slightly different: It’s a lavish, photo-heavy book that looks back at the group’s early days, when they were a scrappy blues band in England weathering an unsteady lineup and shifting musical trends.
Along with some incredible anecdotes — including photos of the band’s 1969 trip to Chess Records in Chicago, where they recorded with blues greats such as Buddy Guy and Willie Dixon — the book features short written remembrances from pivotal figures in the Fleetwood Mac universe: current members John McVie and Christine McVie, and former members Jeremy Spencer and Peter Green. Anchoring it all are Fleetwood’s memories and asides, which are full of wisdom, insightful observations and tenderness.
As far as takeaways from “Love That Burns,” Fleetwood wants readers to “really understand what motivated and started the band,” he says. “It was this whole love of playing music, for no other reason. We didn’t have any preconceived, ‘we’re going to be that type of band’ [notions] — we were just playing blues, which had no success formula attached to it at that point in time, at all. There [were] very few [bands] doing authentic, Chicago-based blues. You had Cream, and you had the Yardbirds. We were very true to the school, so our formula on paper was probably doomed.”
“But the irony was that it wasn’t,” he adds.
Fleetwood spoke with Salon in early August, during a packed two-day press blitz, about putting together “Love That Burns,” his thoughts on Fleetwood Mac turning 50 and the surprising thing he learned talking to his old friend Peter Green.
As of this summer, you’re celebrating 50 years of Fleetwood Mac. Does it feel that long to you?
Well, that’s a loaded question, does it feel that long to you. [Laughs.] Not really. This whole putting together of [a book] — it’s like making an album. This is a pictorial with editorial, so it’s not like [what] I’ve done in the past couple of times, [which is] actually sit down and write an autobiography. It’s really about visual moments [that are] poignant, that you can then write and put together a road map. Once you look at the road map, at that point, I would say “Yeah, it’s a long journey.” But when you’re on it, you don’t stop to [think]. It’s like anything — just on a personal level, you go “Oh my God, where did all the time go?”
It is nice to know, when you’re going to make a chronicle, as we’ve done with the book, [that you] have these milestone and signposts that validate that part of a journey with specific things that you go, “I never realized at the time, but that was worthwhile. And that was really fun, and that’s why I play what I play, and that’s where I learned it, and that’s where I let go of it.” All of that has a real value.
We’ve done, as a band, a lot. And the main thing is, [we] survived the original idea that those four original members of Fleetwood Mac had, which was a really simple desire just to play music that we really loved to play. To that extent, we started off lucky. Some people play, but they’re not really playing what they want to play, necessarily. When I was in a pop band, I hated it. Right from the beginning, [in] our version of being in a cover band — which, in essence, we sort of were — we were covering things that we adulated, that we loved, which was all the early blues masters.
One of my favorite parts of the book was the photos of you guys recording in Chicago with Buddy Guy, and then seeing the photos from when Fleetwood Mac opened for B.B. King. That stuff is just incredible. The reverence that you all had, both as players and in the studio, really stood out. As a fan, I thought that was really cool.
Well, it is, and I’m happy that you picked up on that. But, again, if I was pushed into a corner and said, “What did the process of putting this lovely book together reveal? Was there one thing you wanted to [accomplish]?” — outside of the obvious, which is to pay kudos to the band members and how we started this whole thing way back [when] — having said that, the one thing that really does stick out, that does really endorse “How did all of this really start?” it’s really accolated in the reveal of those pictures, and the story of us being in Chicago at Chess Records. No one really knows about all of that, to any great extent.
In truth, I myself had not forgotten. But going through those pictures and really digging into the memories of that — and talking with [producer] Mike Vernon, who took us there from our record company and remembering the details, some of which are cited in the book, but also a whole myriad bumper bundle of information that hit me — and I go, “Oh my God. How amazing was that, that these funny little kids from England end up in Chicago?” And too [it’s] something that the general public that know Fleetwood Mac do not know about.
So any form of document or interview that you’re doing, you know, it is fair to say that you look for those things that you hope will be interesting for people to go, “Oh my God, I never knew that.” And that’s why we love hearing things. I’m still looking and hearing and being reminded and educated about things that went on [with] The Beatles and bands that I love, and loved. You find out stuff. So I’m really hoping that some of that, some real extent, exists. And I feel it does in this lovely book.
[The] blues jam at Chess was amazing, to be there with Buddy Guy and Otis Spann and Willie Dixon, who’s like the godfather of Chicago electric blues. The whole scene revolved around him. A lot of people that aren’t blues enthusiasts realize someone like Willie Dixon was such a major player. But even moreso, he wrote so many songs, for bands like Led Zeppelin and “Back Door Man.” He was our, like, godfather, holding our hand around that whole trip, and put all of those great people in the studio with us. One, you feel grateful; two, you realize that that’s what started. Enthusiasm was all about that music, and that’s how Fleetwood Mac started, with that music.
Photo-wise, how did you guys decide what did and didn’t go in the book? Obviously, there were probably things you didn’t know were even documented.
The whole project basically started about two years ago in terms of one, having Genesis [Publications] have the enthusiasm, and the care and getting behind telling a story that, for the most part, is quite a boutique part of Fleetwood Mac’s history. But I think it’s going to be really fascinating for a lot of people; we all hope so. It’s a process.
We were all beating bushes and emptying cupboards and realizing “Oh, I wonder if that photo assistant still knows the guy or his family? Is he still alive?” All these things kept sparking endless amounts of information. I have to say, my nephew, Kells Jesse, who’s worked on this whole project with me and kept it so focused in my world, and then working with Genesis [Publications]—they are the masters. If you are not aware, they have done so many incredible publications. That’s a whole that’s a story in itself, how masterful they are [at] getting things that you think don’t exist anymore. Five months later, they find the guy that might have had the pictures.
A lot of that came down to what tells a story. You know, the old slightly corny adage, every picture tells a story. Obviously, with a book like this, you do tend to look for things that are relevant, that can start telling the story and keeping the story focused on the history of the early incarnations of Fleetwood Mac. I have stashes of pictures I’ve got copies of now and inherited that didn’t make it into the book. The book would be the width of a double-decker bus otherwise. You end up being selective.
You often find — much like I’ve noticed on putting an album together, a musical album — sometimes you could have a song, which in this case would be a photograph, and go “No, I don’t know, it’s a bit out of focus.” Or you go “Maybe the song isn’t strong enough.” And for all intents and purposes to explain what I’m trying to explain, it becomes the ugly duckling and is discarded.
However, those items sometimes create a balance. And then when you go back into the archive, or back into the early songs when you’re trying to put an album together, you go “You know what, now that song, we didn’t notice how strong it was.” You know, because when it’s complemented in the middle of other songs, it’s a great balancing counterpart to it.
That was an interesting thing. Sometimes, I found something that was so important, personally, to me, that I had to be very careful. Otherwise, it would be [a] “I, I, I, me, me, me” thing — and I hope to God it doesn’t feel like that. But there were moments, a couple of pictures of me and Peter Green, where I go, “I remember that so vividly,” and I was able to speak to it. And what triggered it was just a picture of me and my friend. It wasn’t us in the studio, or us getting on a plane for the first time to go to America, and all of those things do exist in this book.
Those moments were, in many ways, on a personal level. And this is not all about my journey, but I am sort of Hamlet’s ghost in the background trying to tell the story on behalf of a band that I’ve been in since 1967. So it’s all been a trip and, in many ways, more poignant than sitting down with a pen and writing a book. It’s quite fascinating.
With your descriptions of what the other bandmates brought to Fleetwood Mac, their contributions and their talents, especially when you’re writing about Peter Green, there was such a tenderness to those words that really stood out to me.
It was. A personal thing, which I hope — and just even saying that, I’m realizing you get it — there would be no band without this chap, Peter Green. He was my friend, and remains so. But we’re not super connected, because his life literally took him away, and the way his life went — and that’s a whole another story.
One of the things that was devastatingly great and mind-blowing was when I was talking to Peter for a few hours, and we transcribed some of the things that were said during, really, nearly three hours of talking with him, which I don’t often do. Among thousands of other things, I did want to ask him — and I thought it was relevant for the book — I said “You know, back in the day, when this all came together, why did you ask me to be at your side playing drums?” In the band that he was forming, you know?
I became his right-hand man, and that story goes on through today, in truth. I didn’t preconceive anything. I thought that he would probably, maybe say “Well, I thought you were a really good drummer.” [Laughs.] And he didn’t — he said “Well, you were so sad. You were so sad, and you had broken up with Jenny and you were brokenhearted, and I thought you needed to do something. And that’s what made my mind up that you, out of the choice of . . . ” — maybe two or three people he’d been thinking of. One was an old buddy of his, who I knew.
He said, “I thought you needed it. You needed to pull yourself together.” And I thought that was such a loving statement. It had nothing to do with playing. He did it as a friend to pull me out of being, you know, blue. And that tied in with this title [of the book], in no uncertain terms. And the irony of the title is, if you jump forward thirty years, the whole legacy of this strange band, is all interwoven with love, really, and dysfunctional versions of it as well.
Mick Fleetwood’s new Fleetwood Mac photo book and memoir, “Love that Burns,” arrives today
Genesis PublicationsMick Fleetwood‘s new limited-edition book, Love that Burns — A Chronicle of Fleetwood Mac: Volume 1, 1967-1974, officially gets published today. As its title suggests, the book delves into the band’s early history, and is packed with rare photos, memorabilia and personal recollections from Fleetwood and many of the group’s other members.
Love That Burns‘ main focus is on Fleetwood Mac’s original lineup, led by blues-guitar virtuoso Peter Green. Although Green was the group’s main singer, guitarist and songwriter, Fleetwood tells ABC Radio Green shied away from the spotlight. Mick says this attitude is reflected by the fact that Peter chose to name the band after its rhythm section — Fleetwood and bassist John McVie — and was furious when the group’s label included his name in their debut album’s title, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.
“He was the founding father that formed the spirit that continues through today,” Fleetwood maintains, “where everyone was always accepted for who they are, what they are, and bring what you have.”
The band’s name actually comes from a 1967 instrumental recording that Green, Fleetwood and McVie made while they were members of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. The trio recorded the track using studio time that Mayall gave Green as a birthday present. When the recording was done and Peter was asked what the tune’s name was, he said, “call it ‘Fleetwood Mac,’ ’cause John [McVie] and Mick are playing on it.”
That track and the 1968 Fleetwood Mac tune “Love That Burns” are included on a special seven-inch vinyl picture disc packaged with the new book.
Fleetwood will celebrate the book’s publication at a Q&A and meet-and-greet event at London’s Piccadilly Theatre on Tuesday, September 26.
For more details about Love that Burns, visit FleetwoodMacBook.com.
Mick Fleetwood Chats About Starting Fleetwood Mac: "It Was to Do With Pain"
The legendary drummer chronicles the first chapter of his band in Love That Burns.
Any music fan with a working knowledge of Fleetwood Mac can probably name at least five of the classic-rock titans’ hits: “Landslide,” “Rhiannon,” “The Chain,” “Dreams,” “You Make Loving Fun”—that is, the omnipresent radio fare that dominated airwaves in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, bolstered by Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar and Stevie Nicks’s and Christine McVie’s vocals. But that band was really the American sequel to Fleetwood Mac. Their origins trace back to 1967 and London’s mid-century blues explosion, with guitarist Peter Green at the helm and guitarist Jeremy Spencer, bassist Bob Brunning and percussionist Mick Fleetwood (the only member to survive every lineup change) at his side.
The newborn Fleetwood Mac played a well-crafted facsimile of Chicago blues, plus some faithful covers of its progenitors, mostly Elmore James and Howlin’ Wolf. The group’s lineup would famously turn over in the years ahead, with John McVie assuming bass duties and his then-wife, keyboardist Christine McVie, coming on board later. Once Buckingham and Nicks joined up in 1974, the California edition of Fleetwood Mac found overwhelming mainstream success with celebrated records like Rumours (1977), Tusk (1979) and Mirage (1982).
It’s too much to fit in one book, so Mick Fleetwood has essentially written Chapter 1 with Love That Burns: A Chronicle of Fleetwood Mac, which came out Wednesday via Genesis Publications. It chronicles the band’s blues era via essays and photos, and pays homage to Green, who left the band in 1970 and has struggled off and on with mental illness in the decades since.
Paste caught up with Fleetwood, who turned 70 in June, for a conversation about his role in the formation of Fleetwood Mac, what Green said to convince him to join, and what’s kept him invested in the band after half a century.
Paste: What inspired you to discuss the genesis of the band in this way, and why did you choose to do it with the visual aspects of this book?
Mick Fleetwood: More than 20 years ago, I saw one of the lovely presentations of George Harrison’s original book. George used to be my brother-in-law, so that’s how I blundered into seeing the book. Beautiful, it was like a piece of art. The book itself started the original fantasy of, “One day, I’ll do that,” type of thing. It went off the radar, but that’s how they’re connected to this book. I wanted to do “Part 1,” or whatever you want to call it. I was totally unaware of the fact that, apart from the original members, in August, it’s 50 years [since Fleetwood Mac formed]. Totally not a part of why we were doing this. Now it’s hugely relevant.
And you intend to put out a second volume, is that right?
It has to be. That’s what’s so cool about this. Whether that happens or it [doesn’t], Genesis were super, super focused and cool with saying it, and that has real value just in it—If we never did another thing, this existed. Most people would say, “I want the whole thing.”
Why do just the band’s earliest days?
It’s too much information [otherwise]. Fleetwood Mac’s had so many incarnations and have delineated lines that are so clear, you go, “it should be done like this.” That’s what we did, and it’s been revealing. The title itself is a song that Peter [Green] used to sing.
And why choose Love That Burns for a title?
None of this would’ve happened without Peter. At all.
When the band took off commercially in the mid-’70s, did it feel strange that somebody who was your reason for being in Fleetwood Mac was no longer involved?
Someone else framed the question in a way that was very similar, but in truth, I’ve never been asked that before. You have to understand that when we started the band, very shortly after it, unbelievably quickly, the first album we made was a No. 1 album. The funny blues album we made, all the Elmore James stuff, that was Peter. Then he started writing even more stuff.
Peter’s experience was from nothing, although he had a great reputation as a guitar player already with John Mayall. A little earlier on, we were totally unknown. I worked with Peter in a small instrumental band. Then he joined John Mayall, took over from Eric [Clapton], and he became “the dude,” the gunslinger. He saw and experienced huge success from that early band, so it’s all relative. Not on the level of what you’re talking about, I get, but it is all relative. In our world and his world, we went from nothing to the biggest band in our world, which was Europe. The band was huge, and there was some joke—which I still think is a joke, but it actually was true—that there was a period where we were outselling The Beatles—which you go, “Well, who cares?” It wasn’t true—well, it sort of actually is true, but probably for about five days or something. Whatever it was, Peter wasn’t devoid of his own realization of huge success. The reality is that he didn’t want that, and it became his nightmare, so he certainly wouldn’t have been comfortable with the journey that we were later to take. With the dynamic of his personality, and what happened emotionally to him, which is truly another book. It’s touched on, but Love That Burns, the title, is about that.
You collected the essays in the book from different people in your orbit at that time, as well as from Peter. What was the process like when you reached out to him?
We spoke on the phone over a couple of hours, and we taped it all. It was very hard to listen to it, really. I was not dreading it, but I was going, “Oh my God, he’s like my mentor.” It’s like an ex-lover; it’s sort of more major [than other interviews].
So I get on the phone, and it was powerful. Some of his memories were unbelievably accurate, and at some I was going, “Wow, I never thought that.” He was almost forced to form a band, he didn’t really want to do it. He probably had agents going, “You gotta do this, you gotta do that!” So he asked me to do it with him, and I don’t remember even being asked, it just sort of happened. But in this phone conversation, when I asked him [why he decided to start a band], I thought it would be more of a musical thing. I don’t know what I was thinking. I wanted to know, “What was it that you reckoned that we put this band together?” And it had nothing to do with music at all. He said, “You were so sad and unhappy.” I had just broken up with my girlfriend, who he knew, Jenny [Boyd], who I’d later marry. I burst into tears after the phone call. That’s Peter. He was concerned about that. The irony and the joke would be, if I hadn’t have been sad and ****ed up and unhappy, Fleetwood Mac would never have happened. [Laughs.] And that struck me as unbelievable. There wouldn’t have been a Fleetwood Mac if Jenny hadn’t [broken up with me]. So I phoned Jenny up, and I said, “Jenny, good job you left me, or none of this would’ve happened! Thank you!” It’s probably the truth. How about that? I found out all these years later [it] had nothing to do with, “Well you’re a pretty good drummer, and you’re my mate.” It was to do with pain.
The best art often comes out of the worst pain.
It’s certainly the inception of what we were doing. It was a bunch of guys led, certainly at that point, majorly by Peter. I was the last in line to be a real blues player. John was so conversant, having played with John Mayall, and his whole life was playing blues. Peter, no wonder, he was wired to be blue. And later on, it really manifested in a way that wasn’t great for him, and there’s nothing more we can do about it.
So many members rotated in and out of Fleetwood Mac through the years. What was it that kept you there year after year?
Fear of losing a job! [Laughs.] No, it was my nature I think, and also what I had to do. It [would’ve been] a pretty lonely entity; you can’t exactly drum on your own, you know. By nature of the rhythm section, me and John go like, “****, we’re still here!” After you put the humor into it and say, “Well, you know, we needed someone to play with,” there’s sort of some truth to that: We don’t do what we do without other people. I don’t sit in a room and sing and write songs, that’s just the way it turned out. But as a team player, I’m “it.” I was wired to keep that around me, because I love it, need it, want it. It became a part of my expression.
When Peter left, we were all frightened. Really, it was a form of fear. But John, Jeremy, Danny and myself made Kiln House, that funny little album. Christine [McVie], who was now married to John, she watched us all and suddenly, after we made the album, we were like, “Would you like to join?” She didn’t even play on the album—I think she played one bit of piano, didn’t sing—but it was about holding together. My version of that was: When you’re a little fearful that the structure is falling apart, it’s human nature. You’ll even make friends with some of your enemies quickly, if the overview is saying, “You’re in trouble, you better start rowing the boat, or we’re all going to die.”
Did you ever feel like you were keeping at it for someone else, or was it always for you?
No, I think it was just my instinct not to give up. I do think it was a combination of how I was wired anyhow, and being a drummer and part of something Peter predetermined. He gave the name of the band to the rhythm section. All these things came out, and I found out a lot later, in an interview, I never knew, he said, “Well, I always thought that I would leave, but I wanted Mick and John to have the band.” This is him. It was almost like he knew what was going to happen.
Do you think that you’ll keep in contact with Peter more going forward?
No, I don’t think Peter is interested in that. I know when I go to England—I saw him on the last [Fleetwood Mac] tour, and he was happy enough to come. He came to two shows which, for him, was a lot. You can tell he has no interest. Lindsey [Buckingham], who has total respect for who Peter is, doesn’t know Peter, but knows of him through me and through John, had more than a couple at certain shows in London. Lindsey said, “Did you see Peter?” I said, “Yeah, I said hello to him.” I [used to] be like, “God, I just want Peter to say that he really enjoyed it, something.” We had played a great show, and Lindsey just said, in good humor, “I don’t know whether [Peter] liked it or not, he just talked about something that had nothing to do with anything, really.” But that’s Peter. He’s sort of disconnected from ego. That part was only really revisited after that phone call. I was realizing that Peter truly is not coming back from his particular change of life. It’s selfish, but I don’t have what I used to have, and I was re-reminded of all the withdrawals that we had as a band. The good graces of that was that it led to an ability to keep going.
I think the tragedy of losing [Peter] enabled me and my connection to this band. It’s not him we’re [following] with that ****ing flag; who’s picking the flag up again and going, “C’mon, we can do this?” It’s like that Monty Python skit where you go, “You ain’t got no legs! You’ve got nothing! C’mon, c’mon, get me!” And in the end you say, “I got no teeth, but I’ll gum you!” I think that I suffered from a bit of that. But in the end, who cares really? We are where we are. A lot of those sensibilities come from these days and all the changes.
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