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Chicago Tribune Band Interview < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

Chicago Tribune Band Interview

Section: TEMPO \


Steve Morse, Boston Globe.

Fleetwood Mac endured a shakeup over the summer. Veteran singer and songwriter Lindsay Buckingham dropped out because he no longer wished to tour. He had urged the band to make another album before hitting the road but was rebuffed.

``Certainly, talking for myself, I don`t want to wait around another five years to make an album. I really don`t,`` said drummer Mick Fleetwood. ``I want to go on the road. It`s what I love to do best-and I want to do it.``

The new Mac, which will play the Rosemont Horizon Nov. 19, is touring with not one but two replacements for Buckingham: Billy Burnette, the son of rock legend and Elvis Presley peer Dorsey Burnette; and Rick Vito, a steady sessions player who toured last year with Bob Seger. The new group will be ``meatier,`` said Fleetwood, adding that they`ll even dig out some blues from the `60s beginnings of the band.

``Originally, Lindsay was going to do this tour, then he changed his
mind,`` Fleetwood said. ``But I`m glad he changed his mind, because he was
obviously not happy and didn`t want to be doing it. We all understood, but at the same time we also understood what we wanted to do, which was to carry on
and be part of a band and re-establish that affirmation.``

There is an irony here. Buckingham, who had been with the Mac for 12
years and was closely involved with the 11-million-selling ``Rumours`` album
in 1977, played an even more dominant role as producer, arranger and chief
songwriter for the group`s latest album, ``Tango in the Night,`` which came
out earlier this year. One would assume from his active role that he would
have wished to back the album with a tour, as a tour always sells records.

``I know, professionally you would think so,`` Fleetwood said. ``But
that`s what really made us realize he didn`t want to be in this band. It would have happened sooner or later; it just so happened it was sooner. But I`m glad it came out when it did. It was much better than having to go through
purgatory on the road. And I mean that really properly and with absolute
respect to Lindsay.``

``What can I say? There`s always a sad side to seeing someone go who has
put a tremendous amount of energy and talent into something, which is what
Lindsay did with Fleetwood Mac. But the world still continues. It was getting to be a situation where the band wasn`t able to do as a collective what it
wanted to do and when it wanted to do it.``

Enter the two new faces, Burnette and Vito.

``It`s a tough gig to pass by,`` Burnette said. ``I didn`t think about my decision too much-about two seconds.``

Burnette was a logical choice because he had been working with Mick
Fleetwood`s side project, the Zoo, which plays frequently in the Los Angeles
area and released an album for RCA Records five years ago. Burnette also has
worked with Mac pianist Christine McVie on her solo projects and cowrote a
song for Mac singer Stevie Nicks` last solo album, though the song was left
out at the last minute.

``Stevie has also worked with the Zoo for the last year, coming out and
doing a lot of gigs with us. So it was really something where they were my
friends. It was real easy that way,`` Burnette said. ``But still, when they
asked me to join, I almost went through the roof.``

Burnette also had been a devoted Fleetwood Mac fan. When the group
released their ``Tusk`` album in 1979, the follow-up to ``Rumours,`` Burnette taped it from a radio. ``I had never done anything like that before, but I did it just because I was such a big fan.``

Burnette now has the task of singing Buckingham`s songs. ``There have
been a couple I felt just wouldn`t be right for the set. But we`re doing `Go
Your Own Way,` `Blue Letter` and `Don`t Stop,` so I`m singing Lindsay`s part
in all those; and all the backgrounds he did, which was just about on every
song. ``

``You just go in and try to do your best. As far as singing the songs,
I`m sticking pretty close to the melodies. That`s pretty easy, because I knew most of them. I had also worked with Lindsay on several occasions myself. I
did `Saturday Night Live` with him. In fact, that`s how I also first joined up with Mick.``

As for Rick Vito, he and Burnette have been friends a long time. ``He
played with Jackson Browne and Seger. Rick`s a hot guitar player,`` Burnette
said. ``So we`re pretty excited about the band. We think it`s going to be
better than ever.

``You know, right before this happened, about a month before, I had
written a song for Roy Orbison. Roy wanted the guitarist on the demo, and it
turned out to be Rick. So Rick and I cut that. And then the next time I talked to him, we were on our way to play with the Mac.``

Their guitar styles differ radically from Buckingham`s, but Burnette
isn`t worried.

``Lindsay mostly uses a finger-picking style and doesn`t use a pick,
which Rick Vito and myself do. But Rick will be playing all the leads which
Lindsay does on the records, so we`re covering that pretty well. Some of
those, with two guitar players, we can cover pretty easily.``

Although Burnette has his own solo career, he won`t do any of his songs
on the Mac tour. ``We decided this will be a Fleetwood Mac greatest-hits
tour,`` he said. ``And some they`ve never done before, although I know we`re
doing all my favorites. The only outside songs are a couple off Stevie`s solo albums.``

As for songwriting duties after the tour ends? ``I hope to chip in my
share,`` he added. ``Again, we`re just seeing how this whole tour goes. I`m
pretty excited just to find that out.``

Excited, likewise, to see what it will be like to play regularly at the
arena level. ``With the Zoo, we opened up for the Beach Boys. So we`ve done
some big gigs opening up for people. And I opened up for the Pretenders on
their West Coast tour. But by far this will be the biggest tour I`ve ever
done. ``

``I`m real lucky,`` he said. ``It`s like Christmastime.``

So who took the lead in hiring the two new additions?

``It was democratic, but in terms of initiating, I`d have to say I was at the reins,`` Mick Fleetwood said. ``When this all came down the tubes with
Lindsay, I said, `Well, rather than rolling over and dying, let`s at least try what I think will work really well.` Everything was set to rehearse anyhow.
And you know, Lindsay at one point had ideas of having three other guitar
players-having a little orchestra of guitars.``

Guitar players are nothing new to Fleetwood Mac, which has had some of
the best, including in the `60s the guitar-blues lineup of Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan, and later, in the `70s, Bob Welch.

For the record, here is Fleetwood`s update on these folks:

Peter Green: ``I spoke to him about a year ago. The last time I played
with him was on my album `The Visitor` over five years ago. I don`t think he`s playing at the moment, but he`s had a band and had several records out. He`s a really talented guy. He`s sort of an odd fellow. I don`t really know Peter
anymore. We`ve drifted away. He became a gravedigger at one point. He had some psychological twists in his life that I don`t think it`s appropriate for me to talk about. But when he was on, he was the best. To this day, no one can touch him when he was on.``

Bob Welch: ``He lives in Phoenix. He writes and does some movie stuff and scoring. He`s doing fine. He`s got a real nice house and is married and real
happy. I think he needed to get out of L.A. It all got too crazy for him. But I think he`s recentering himself.``

Danny Kirwan: ``I completely lost contact with Danny. He had a couple of
albums that I don`t think were him. He was a really great guitar player. He
had a great sense of melody. Words were not his forte, but melody and harmony were. Danny was really instrumental in bringing harmony into Fleetwood Mac.`` Jeremy Spencer: ``Jeremy has disappeared. I used to keep fairly in touch and get letters from him. He ended up in Sri Lanka, of all places. They had some riots there and he nearly got killed, but he managed to get out and he`s now in some island in the Indian Ocean.``


``It`s the endless story about Fleetwood Mac guitar players,`` Fleetwood
said, laughing.

Date: 1987-11-05         Number of views: 1188

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