|Fleetwood Mac recorded some of the biggest-selling albums of all time -- and created enough emotional turmoil to tear itself apart. Now the group is re-forming, and its members say the magic is still there. JOHN BEVERIDGE reports from Los Angeles|
But that was decades ago and the band -- Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie and Christine McVie -- are now aged in their 40s and 50s. So would a reunion be another accountant-inspired tour with pricey tickets, audiences of nostalgic baby-boomers and a group just going through the motions? The answer, according to the band members, is that their motives are pure and the magic still exists. That the chemistry has endured is surprising, especially considering the members' relationships have gone through very rocky patches. But now the marriage break-up of Christine and John McVie and lovers Buckingham and Nicks are distant memories. So too is the bitterness and sometimes inaccurate revelations in Mick Fleetwood's ghost-written 1990 auto- biography. The members' emotional baggage grew at a similar rate to their phenomenal success in the mid-'70s. Ultimately it left Fleetwood Mac as a shadow of its former self. At that time, Christine McVie advised Fleetwood to end the band. "I told him: 'I don't know what you're doing, Mick -- you can only mend a broken vase so many times and then you've got to chuck it out." He didn't take her advice and soldiered on for a few more years with John McVie and some hired hands. Christine McVie knows why Fleetwood was so persistent. "Mick likes to play," she said. "That's his only sort of outlet. "You can't exactly jam with just a drum kit in your room."
Mac's current US tour came about not because of a carrot dangled by a record company -- although there have been many over the years -- but an impromptu reunion. It started when Buckingham invited Fleetwood to play drums on his still-unreleased fourth solo album. "Then we needed a bass player --we tried somebody but it didn't work, and so John [McVie] became the obvious choice," Buckingham said. Christine McVie dropped in to visit and offered to help. "The next thing I knew, there were the four of us together in one room for the first time in years," Buckingham said. "The old chemistry seemed there, and it only seemed appropriate to invite Stevie.' That was not too hard as Buckingham and Nicks had reunited last year for a two-day session to record a song for the Twister movie sound- track. The informal sessions at Buckingham's California home studio evolved into three small filmed reunion concerts in May and the seeds of a good idea were planted. "There's something about the 20th anniversary of Rumours that made us all a little nostalgic," Nicks said. "It's a fabulous opportunity. Who would we rather be than us right now?" Who indeed, if there was any chance of repeating the incredible success of Rumours, which sold 25 million copies. Now, the band members say they can relax and enjoy playing together for the first time in more than 20 years. "It feels really good this time," Christine McVie said. "It would have been a waste of time to have gone through the last 20 years and not be able to come out of it with some kind of positive attitude towards each other." McVie said the group was aware that the tour, MTV special, video and live album, The Dance, could be misconstrued as a grab for cash. I'm sure there'll be the odd cynic who will suggest that," she said. "And, of course, we'd be stupid to say we'll do free concerts everywhere -- but the money honestly wasn't the driving force behind it at all." Buckingham agrees but is preparing himself for sniping. "I was cynical myself about the reunion of groups like the Eagles," he said. "So I think we're going to take some shots for doing this." Christine McVie said playing together again was quite simply a lot more fun this time around. "We're doing this because we want to and because we look at each other with fresh eyes and realise that what we had was really good," she said. "Now we can do it and enjoy it instead of growling at each other on stage every night. "The crisis is gone now -- we are just left with what we regard as the beauty of the music. We enjoy playing these songs again with a different mental attitude."
Working without the emotional baggage may be less stressful, but Christine McVie reallees that Fleetwood Mac's music would not have been as popular if the group hadn't gone through so much turmoil. Nicks agrees that as unhgppy as the conflict made them all, "there would never have been a Rumours if everything had been fabulous". Aside from the sheer enjoyment of performing together, there is also a realisation that this could well be the last chance for a group whose mem- bers are not getting any younger.
Although, they all feel in better physical shape today than they were in the '70s. Now they are more likely to be walking on treadmills and drinking carrot juice and bottled water. Life on the road and in the recording studio was very different back then. "We won't be ripping our bodies to shreds like we were 20 years ago," Christine McVie said. She said there were some terrible times and lots of arguments before the band broke up. What were they arguing about? "Usually really stupid things," McVie said. "No one was real back then -- it had a nightmare quality. "We were all drinking pretty heavily and Mick was getting high on drugs. It was a constant battle with the hangover. "But we would always agree on basic things like the music and the set and what we should sing." Buckingham agrees, saying the group's disagreements were more personal than musical. "We're appreciating each other as musicians and as a fivesome that is greater than the sum of its parts," Buckingham said. If the five are getting on so well, what are the chances they will stay together after the concert tour and perhaps write a new album? "We're taking it one step at a time," Buckingham said "If nothing else happens, this is a nice closure." Christine McVie is more blunt: "If we can still stand to look at each other after 40 concerts and have a good time, anything's possible- "We are like family now, for better or for worse."
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