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Grand Rapids Press (06/08/2003), It turns out Fleetwood Mac has been here < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

Grand Rapids Press (06/08/2003), It turns out Fleetwood Mac has been here

Grand Rapids Press, Sunday, June 8, 2003

It turns out Fleetwood Mac has been here
It was the early '70s, after all, which made it easy to overlook.
by John Sinkevics

Just about anytime I mention in passing that it's the "first time" a superstar band has played Grand Rapids, some former flower child (hey, I'm old enough and long-haired enough to get away with that term) invariably will point out that an early lineup of the aforementioned act once opened for Iron Butterfly or Procol Harum at Welsh Auditorium (now being torn down) or Grand Valley State Colleges Fieldhouse (former school name, former structure), years before they produced a hit single or became an underground cult favorite.

So it is with Fleetwood Mac, which plays Van Andel Arena on Saturday.

West Michigan's venerable rock radio voice (and ex-flower child/hippie) Aris Hampers chimed in recently when I mentioned in a roundup of upcoming summer concerts that the rock group -- Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham -- was making its first Grand Rapids appearance.

No so, Hampers proclaimed. Back in the winter of 1971, he insisted, Fleetwood Mac unexpectedly performed at, of all places, the Grand Valley Armory on 44th Street SW. Unexpected because Deep Purple actually was booked to play the event, said Hampers, who served as that night's master of ceremonies.

"Only a few minutes before the doors were to open, we were told that Deep Purple wasn't coming," he recalled. "Can you believe that? That's how things were done back then, when concerts were somewhat rare. In their place was Fleetwood Mac. I remember that part clearly, because I was the guy who had to tell the crowd that was already inside the venue. About half of the crowd left and got their refunds, but a good amount of them stayed.

"The other part I remember is that we thought they were absolutely terrific," he continued. "They premiered the 'Future Games' LP that came out a few weeks later."

Fine, I stand corrected, even if there are many other events from the '70s that Hampers' hazy memory can't seem to recollect for reasons that we can't get into right now.

But it's vital to mention here that while Fleetwood and McVie were part of that early '70s lineup, Nicks and Buckingham were not. And it's safe to say this duo's entry into the band in late 1974 turned Fleetwood Mac into a much different outfit: an unparalleled, multiplatinum-selling phenomenon.

Even Hampers, who had been blown away by the duo's 1973 "Buckingham Nicks" album, conceded the pair changed the direction and dynamics of Fleetwood Mac, which actually began as a blues band in 1967. "I said, 'This is going to be huge,' " he recalled of the day he spotted their names on the band roster in 1975. "I had a feeling it would take off for them."

That's quite an understatement, considering 1977's "Rumours" remains one of the best-selling albums of all time.

Take a gander at the contrasts between that 1971 show and the upcoming Van Andel Arena concert:

-Tickets for the 1971 gig cost $3 or $4, Hampers recalled; the best seats for Saturday's show cost $127;

-About 150 people stuck around for the armory performance; 10,000-plus are expected for the arena show;

-Since that 1971 concert, Fleetwood Mac has sold more than 46 million albums in the United States alone -- including "Rumours" (18 million), "Greatest Hits" (8 million) "Fleetwood Mac" (5 million) and "The Dance" (5 million) -- and this is a conservative estimate;

-In that time, according to the All Music Guide, the band has released more than two dozen studio and live albums;

-Since 1971, the band has performed or recorded with at least eight different lineups, with various members quitting or joining at different junctures. Longtime member Christine McVie, for instance, isn't performing on the current tour, having retired to England. Such noted musicians as Bob Welch, Dave Mason, Billy Burnette and Rick Vito have been in, and out of, the band.

No question, plenty has changed in three decades, but Fleetwood Mac has survived. "I kept finding people, and for better or worse, that became the legacy of this band," founding member Mick Fleetwood told me in a recent interview.

As for Hampers, he's not sure he'll even attend Saturday's arena show (the first Grand Rapids appearance for this band lineup). Maybe he just doesn't want to erase a great rock memory.

"All I remember was lying behind the amps, just loving the way these guys sounded," Hampers said about the show. "It was such an odd night."

It was the early '70s, after all.

Thanks to Les for posting this to the Ledge.

Date: 2003-06-08         Number of views: 1552

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