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USA Today (06/20/1990) , Rock Of The Ageless Fleetwood Mac Keeps Going Their Own Way < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

USA Today (06/20/1990) , Rock Of The Ageless Fleetwood Mac Keeps Going Their Own Way

USA Today (USA)

June 20, 1990
Section: LIFE
Edna Gundersen

PORTLAND, Ore. No rock band has had more excuses to break up. Or fewer inclinations to do so.

Fleetwood Mac has weathered soured romances, commercial slumps, drug addiction, alcoholism, bankruptcy and abrupt membership shuffles any might have splintered a less resilient menage.

The 23-year-old band not only survives. It thrives. Current proof is Mac's 16th album, Behind the Mask, No. 31 in Billboard with almost 1 million copies sold. A follow-up is planned, plus two box sets, one of early unreleased blues.

During an early stop on their current U.S. tour, members uneasily reflect on the band's remarkable longevity. "There's a strange chemistry," says singer/keyboardist Christine McVie. "We try not to analyze it too much."

Her ex-husband, bass player John McVie, offers a simple explanation: "We're friends."

A deeper examination may emerge in drummer Mick Fleetwood's frank autobiography, Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac (Morrow, $19.95), due in November. He's mum on contents, including details of his '70s affair with singer Stevie Nicks. Even his bandmates are in the dark. Not that Fleetwood Mac has much to hide.

"Obviously, this band has gone through a lot of tragedy and everyone knows it," Nicks says. "We don't have to go outside ourselves much to find things to write songs about."

A nutshell history: Only two current members, namesakes Fleetwood and John McVie, were on board for the band's eponymous album debut in 1968. Christine joined in 1970, and lovers Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham completed the band's 10th lineup in 1975. The breakups of Mac's two couples is achingly documented on 1977's Rumours, the second-best-selling album (13 million copies in the USA) ever.

In recent years, Fleetwood filed for bankruptcy, John McVie battled alcoholism and Nicks checked herself into a drug treatment center. Three years ago, Buckingham left to pursue a solo career, opening slots for Billy Burnette and Rick Vito.

"We're really like brothers and sisters," says Christine, clad in a sheer black blouse and jeans and curled in front of a fire in her hotel suite. It's the day before a show at Memorial Coliseum, and Fleetwood and Burnette are nervously heading for the venue to sing The Star-Spangled Banner at a Trail Blazers game.

"We love each other, but we fight," she continues. "That's inherently what families do. But there's a lot of love between us and a tremendous sense of humor."

And room for individuality. Behind the Mask evinces the band's ability to function sans Buckingham, long perceived as the studio genius - a title Christine calls "self-appointed" - behind Mac's luscious pop.

Christine in particular flourished under the new flexibility. She and husband Eddy Quintela co-wrote Mask's first two singles, Save Me and the sunny Skies the Limit, "an anthem of the band's new era."

The individuality extends beyond music. "Our personalities are wildly different," says Christine, a homebody who loves to cook, garden, swim and watch tennis.

"I'm very domesticated," she says. Her band role "has been described as the down-to-earth maternal type. It might be true to a degree, but I hate to have that kind of responsibility. I guess I probably am the sane one. The rest are bloody crazy."

She can't envision the demise of Fleetwood Mac. "One thing's for sure, we'll all be friends no matter what. I do know I don't want to be in the band when I'm 50."

Told of that remark the next afternoon, Fleetwood bellows in mock horror, "Chris is retiring?"

Even with six viewpoints, decisions are smoothly reached because "there seems to be enough bottom-line agreement," Fleetwood starts. Vito, pacing the dressing room, interrupts, "I disagree with that!"

On stage and off, Vito and Burnette have become full Macs, bringing the band's singer/songwriter total to four. They're no longer daunted by the band's status.

"You can't dwell on that or you invite paranoia to step in," Vito says. "And that's already looming around every corner in show business."

The coziness may be attributable to parenthood (Mac's four men are fathers) and mellowing with age. "We're not the party animals we once were," Fleetwood says.

His tone turns grave on the subject of Buckingham's flight, clearly a troubling memory. "It was a highly traumatic moment, and we were not amused at that time. But it was all for the best. And I feel Stevie was relieved. She and Lindsey never resolved what needed to be resolved."

When Lindsey left, "he couldn't see why the rest of us decided to go on," Fleetwood says. "But the schedule wasn't put back one day."
His prediction of Mac's future: "I see it lasting at least five minutes."

John McVie is less precise: "Obviously, it's going to stop sometime, but not in the foreseeable future."

Limping slightly from a groin injury, he arrives backstage an hour before showtime. "Don't expect any dancing bass players tonight."

He's content with Mac's current configuration, especially since his '76 split from Christine is a distant hurt.

"Divorce is tough, and it's even tougher when you have to work with the person the day after you've been told, 'I don't want to be married to you anymore.' I think we're better friends now than we ever were."

Adversity still visits Fleetwood Mac - a recovering alcoholic, McVie briefly fell off the wagon recently - but the band offers therapeutic sanctuary. "It's the ideal situation," he says. "We're doing what we love with people we love and we get paid to do it. We don't, and in some cases can't, do anything else."

That night's 21-song concert is packed with familiar pop/rock hits like The Chain, Rhiannon, Gold Dust Woman, Little Lies and the sole Buckingham composition, Go Your Own Way. Nicks, the band's most successful solo artist, is the showstopper, swirling in shawls and impossibly steep platform heels.

Afterward, the elated singer oozes superlatives for her cohorts. Their spats have never tempted her to resign. "I've always told the others that I would not be the one to leave. No matter how angry you get, breaking off ties with your brothers and sisters would be too painful."

Consider her rancorous mid-'70s break with Buckingham. "I tried to call him two weeks ago because I wanted him to work with me on a song, and he wouldn't come to the phone. That really hurt. But I accept that behavior from him. Sometimes it's just hard for him to deal with me.

"We did not easily separate. The fact that he and I can't seem to be friends now makes me very sad."

Like the others in Fleetwood Mac, Nicks carried on without hesitation, professionally and personally. She is determined never to return to the Betty Ford Center. "One particular chemical substance is no longer in my life, and I don't miss it," is all she says about her past addiction. "I am not willing to die for rock 'n' roll."

She hopes for marriage and children or "at least a wonderful boyfriend." For now, she finds domestic bliss in the band. "I can't see stopping," she says. "This is home."


Contributed by Mary Anne


Date: 1990-06-20         Number of views: 1359

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