Still going their own way
Despite forming back in the ’ 60s, Fleetwood Mac are stronger than ever, writes Nui Te Koha
‘WE know how lucky we are,” drummer Mick Fleetwood said. “But we’re very serious about what we do. That’s why we’re still here.”
The back story of break- ups, make- ups and their insatiable drink and drug habits are as famous as the band – even Fleetwood admitted it’s a blessing they’re touring stronger than ever.
But as Fleetwood revealed a list of rituals he follows when the band tours, it’s a miracle anybody made it to the stage.
“We are all creatures of habit,” Fleetwood said. “I still do this thing where, if I’m in the toilet, I’ll open the door a certain way and flush it three times … if I haven’t done it, I’ll go back and do it.
“It used to be really bad, though. I would have, on my way to the stage, little things I’d left there. There was a penny which I’d pick up in the spot where I’d left it and put in my pocket as I walked to the stage. But if any of that was upset or the coin disappeared, I would think I’m cursed. We were very superstitious.”
Fleetwood said the rituals sometimes included backstage drug use.
“In the old days, there was a definite routine of how we juggled our substances,” he said.
“Did we [ take drugs before performing]? Yes. But not often – during the show and after the show, is when the trouble started.”
However, Fleetwood’s most powerful ritual while on the road is deeply personal.
“I won’t get on a plane unless I have this,” he said, reaching into a supple leather bag, “my father’s flying scarf.” His dad was a Royal Air Force fighter pilot. “I never get on a flight without it. The band wouldn’t like to get on the plane if I didn’t have dad’s flying scarf. It keeps us safe.”
But the band clearly have another good luck charm: each other.
Stevie Nicks’ voice is in career- best shape, particularly for Dreams and Landslide, while freakish guitarist Lindsey Buckingham sings intensely on the standout Big Love.
The engine room of Fleetwood and bassist John McVie keeps the Mac hits steady, powering up on Tusk and The Chain.
Buckingham said the strong personalities in the band made for a unique group.
“I’m not saying we don’t belong in a band together,” he said. “I am saying we are an unlikely group of people to have come together.
“You see it on paper and ask: ‘ Well, how’s that going to work?’ Our tastes are quite disparate and yet it is that cast of characters, that very push- pull dynamic that creates parts larger than the sum of it.”
Last month, Buckingham said he wished Fleetwood Mac would follow The Eagles’ model of doing business. Asked to explain his comments, Buckingham said: “[ The Eagles’] reputation is such that they don’t get along.
“But somehow they’re able to cut through that, do the business they’re able to do, get done what they need to do as a group, and see their way clear to the common objective.”
Meanwhile, there are plans to release a 40th anniversary special of Buckingham Nicks, the 1973 album Stevie and Lindsey made before joining Fleetwood Mac.
The pair’s past love affair plays out in their new show, during a soft embrace in Sara, and touching fingertips in Landslide. The audience is still enchanted by their long- faded romance.
“By the time we got to Rumours, Stevie had both feet out the door,” Buckingham said.
“She left me. It was difficult to be the guy who had to go back to the studio, produce her songs, and make the choice to do the right thing for her professionally, even though it was painful to be around her personally.
“But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”