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Old 01-01-2024, 08:12 PM
WalkAThinLine. WalkAThinLine. is offline
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Default Lost Dave Mason interview with Bill DeYoung

The following is an excerpt from Bill DeYoung's I Need to Know: The Lost Music Interviews

Fleetwood was in the midst of auditioning guitarists and singers to replace Billy Burnette, Rick Vito and Stevie Nicks, all of whom had left Fleetwood Mac (Christine McVie left too, but eventually decided to become “the Brian Wilson of the band,” according to Fleetwood, and make records without going on the hated road).

“Dave was leaving Chicago, I think,” Fleetwood recalled. “There was a big party at his house in Chicago. It was a drag. And that moment is my catalyst, in the modern-day era, for when our friendship really struck up again. He came to stay with me, and lived in one of the cottages at my house in Malibu for about a year.” It was, Fleetwood said, a bonding thing.
Fleetwood and Mason tell this story slightly differently, but the ending is the same. In 1993 Dave Mason officially became a member of Fleetwood Mac.
“We had lunch, and he was telling me, ‘I’m trying to get the band back together’ and all this stuff,” Mason said. “He said, ‘I’m rehearsing all these young guitar players and they’re all notes and no content. I can’t stand this anymore.’ He said, ‘I’m almost tempted to ask you.’ I said, ‘Well, ask me.’ And that’s basically how it happened.”

Fleetwood: “All I did was sit ’round the pool, listening religiously to players who’d sent tapes in. There were a couple of people who got fairly close to joining Fleetwood Mac, but it didn’t happen for whatever reason. I said, ‘I’m getting a bit frustrated, Mason,’ and I jokingly said something along the lines of, ‘I’ll have to put you in the band if I don’t find anybody.’ And he said, ‘Mick, in all seriousness, I would love to do that.’”

At this point, Billy Burnette, who’d gone to Nashville to take another stab at a solo career, came back to L.A. and asked Fleetwood if he could re-join the band. Fleetwood says sure, Bill, we haven’t really been doing anything anyway. There was literally nothing to lose, and everything to win. Bekka Bramlett, Delaney and Bonnie’s 25 year-old daughter, was brought in to sing in Stevie Nicks’ place.
Mason, said, Fleetwood, fit right in with Bramlett, Burnette, Fleetwood and John McVie. “He’s a darn good guitar player, good sense of melody, and God knows he’s a good writer,” Fleetwood said. “So I thought, ‘Hmmm, this is adding up. And he looks like me, so that can’t be bad. You put me, John and Mason in a row, without stretching it too much we might be very possibly related. We’ve all got ponytails and beards, and we’re all going bald, you know. Although, I’m long since bald.”

The “new” Fleetwood Mac spent a year touring, to work out the bugs, before venturing into the studio for Time. “It’s not awkward at all,” Mason said. “There’s nothing about it that’s out of place. I’m very song-oriented and so are they; there’s a little bit of blues in both of us. It’s not an off mix at all. It works really well.”

He enjoys singing with Bekka Bramlett, too. “She was two years old when her parents did ‘Only You Know And I Know,’ which we do together now in the (live) Fleetwood Mac thing,” he explained.

Recording Time, Fleetwood said, was relatively painless after the lengthy road test (they did the same thing with Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham before cutting the landmark Fleetwood Mac album in 1975). According to Fleetwood, Mason had some “teething problems” at first, adjusting to a democratic system, but he’s “made the transition” to everyone’s satisfaction.

“We call him The Bull,” Fleetwood reported. “He has learned, I think to be in a band. He always used to fantasize when we were hanging together. He’d say, ‘I miss being in a band. On the other hand I like calling the shots, and I can control this and that.’ But eventually it gets lonely – talk about alone together – and he was ready for a change.”

“I don’t want to say anything bad about this project, because it’s an ongoing thing,” Mason explained before offering: “To spend a year and a half in a studio, making a record, to me is absurd.” He was excited about making the Fleetwood Mac record, but at the same time frustrated.

Mason is putting his all into it. He probably won’t be doing any more solo concerts for a while, because he’s committed. “That’s fine, that’s great,” he said. “I need this Fleetwood Mac thing to put my profile up. I wasn’t too happy with the laboriousness of the recording process, but the bottom line is that this is a great band. It feels great. It doesn’t have to be all on me anymore. I liked being in a band in the first place. I liked the whole Traffic idea, except they didn’t.”

And apparently, they still don’t. In the spring of 1994, Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi made an album under the name Traffic, Far From Home, and criss-crossed the country on a huge and well-publicized tour (the album and tour were, to be diplomatic, less than successful). Chris Wood, the other original member of the English quartet, had died in 1983.

Mason didn’t have that kind of excuse. He was, quite simply, not invited to participate.

“I always, for years, in an attempt to make it work again, tried and tried but it never went anywhere,” Mason recalled. “I’d spoken to Jim the year before, and he’d mentioned something about it. I would’ve thought that if they were going to attempt a Traffic tour in the U.S. that it would have been smart to have done it with as many original members as possible.”

Mason knows Winwood’s quote by heart: “When Billboard asked him about me, he said, ‘Well, Dave Mason was never anything more than an invited guest in Traffic.’ It wasn’t anything close to that.”
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