New York Post (05/23/2003), Mac On Track
New York Post, May 23, 2003
MAC ON TRACK
By Dan Aquilante
Mick Fleetwood has settled down, but he still won't go on stage without his wooden balls.
May 23, 2003 -- THEY started as a blues band in 1967, but after a dozen personnel changes and almost as many stylistic switch-ups, only the band's namesakes - Mick Fleetwood and John McVie - have stayed to see it all.
"Fleetwood Mac had murky days and failed albums, but me and John decided long ago not to break this band up," Fleetwood tells The Post.
"That's our history. We never f - - - ing gave up. We survived."
Bandmates came and went, but the very English Fleetwood Mac didn't find its pop voice until Californians Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham came aboard.
It was a winning combination.
Their album, "Rumours" - recorded 26 years ago, a loose musical autobiography that chronicles the band's soap opera-like experiments with sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll - secured Fleetwood Mac's place in rock history.
"It was all about party time, playing and having fun," Fleetwood, who turns 56 next month, says of those days. "And we had fun, but it also took us out of life's process. Nowadays, we all know that there's life outside of Fleetwood Mac."
For the older, wiser and sober Fleetwood, that means being happily married to his wife, Lynn, and being around for their 1-year-old twins, Ruby and Tessa, at homes in L.A. and Maui. Fleetwood also has two adult daughters.
"I'm surrounded by women, and I love it," he says happily.
Fleetwood brings his band to the Nassau Coliseum tonight and to the Meadowlands on Sunday, supporting the group's latest disc, "Say You Will."
Although bandmate Christine McVie (John's ex-wife) has since gone her own way, Fleetwood, Nicks, Buckingham and John McVie continue to follow the advice of one of their biggest hits: "Don't Stop."
Post: What's the most pronounced change to the band over the years?
Fleetwood: Back in the day, everything was about Fleetwood Mac. I was the ringleader, saying, "We've gotta keep this thing going." There's still some of that in me, but it's tempered. I was totally obsessive; everything took second place to the band; sadly, even my family.
Post: How did you change?
Fleetwood: I straightened up, for starters. I realized my life was in total disarray.
Post: About that time, you also went bankrupt. What happened?
Fleetwood: I was out of control emotionally and with my drinking. My life was a mess, and that was a byproduct. But I picked myself up, said enough of that, I have to change. That's the truth of how I stopped drinking. I said, "That's that." It all seems so long ago now, I never even think of it until someone asks.
Post: Is it really that foreign to you?
Fleetwood: I can tell my war stories and relate, but now I put it into perspective.
Post: How so?
Fleetwood: A couple of years ago, I was with a friend who was with me in the really crazy, crazy drug-induced period of my life. We got together and were going to watch "Boogie Nights." We couldn't watch it all the way through. I had an anxiety attack because it reminded me of how close we all got to losing the plot of life. This movie was us - in sordid houses doing drugs. It was funny, how it wasn't funny at all.
Post: Not everybody can get out.
Fleetwood: It helped that I never lost who Mick was even in all that.
Post: It must be easy to get lost in stardom.
Fleetwood: My father passed on, but he saw my successes and my abuses. He helped me know who I was.
Post: Did you remember his advice?
Fleetwood: It's probably not very enlightening, but he'd say, "Remember, Mick, you, like the rest of us, get up and go to the toilet in the morning."
Post: How have Fleetwood Mac fans received the changes in the band?
Fleetwood: We've had an incredibly varied musical journey. It seems unbelievable that a band could survive and change as much as we have, but the changes are part of the fabric of the band.
Post: Christine McVie, one of the band's principals since the early '70s, recently chose to leave. If Stevie or Lindsey wanted out, would Fleetwood Mac continue?
Fleetwood: No, no. Stevie and Lindsey are creative and they are the front line. I say this with total respect - Christine was never a front-line person.
Post: She wasn't integral?
Fleetwood: She was, but she'd tell you not to put her near a microphone in concert. Chris was a band member who is an incredibly strong songwriter and she has a beautiful voice, but in terms of performance, she'd be the first to tell you she wasn't front line.
Post: Was her departure friendly?
Post: Would you have her back if she called you?
Fleetwood: Yes, but I have great confidence that will never happen. I know that, because I know Chris.
Post: Did you urge her to come out for one more tour?
Fleetwood: Someone who has been such a stalwart member of this band and has never created any problems, in any way, deserved the right to say no. We did pressure her to go on the "Dance" tour. This time, she asked that we not do that, and we respected her.
Post: At the risk of getting too personal, what gives with the wooden balls?
Fleetwood: I never play without them. You can see them on the "Rumours" cover.
Post: How did it start?
Fleetwood: I was a rude young man. Even though we were a blues band, in the old days we had a rather graphic show and we were a filthy bunch. So one night, we were playing in a pub and I pulled two lavatory-chain balls off and hung them from my belt. I walked onstage with a pint in my hand and the wood balls between my legs.
I used to do a ball solo where I'd grab them, stand on my tiptoes and whack them together rat-a-tat-a-tat.
Post: Still wear them?
Fleetwood: I put them on every night. If they were ever lost, I couldn't go onstage.
Thanks to Les for posting this to the Ledge.
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