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San Diego Union Tribune (8/10/1997), They've gone their own ways; now, the Mac reunion < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

San Diego Union Tribune (8/10/1997), They've gone their own ways; now, the Mac reunion

San Diego Union Tribune

Sunday, August 10, 1997

They've gone their own ways; now, the Mac reunion

by George Varga, Pop Music Critic

Mick Fleetwood

The rumours are true -- Fleetwood Mac is back.

Back, against considerable odds, with its classic mid-'70s lineup of singer-guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, singer Stevie Nicks, singer-keyboardist Christine McVie, bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood. (Buckingham acrimoniously quit in 1987, after refusing to tour to promote the band's "Tango in the Night" album. Nicks and Christine McVie left the band three years later.)

Back with a warmly nostalgic live album, the greatest-hits dominated "The Dance," due out Aug. 19 on Reprise Records.

Back with a 90-minute MTV special, "Fleetwood Mac: The Dance," which debuts Tuesday at 10 p.m. and repeats Saturday and next Sunday. It marks the quintet's first full-length concert performance in 15 years. A home video version will be released Aug. 26, with laser disc and DVD versions set to follow Sept. 23 and Oct. 14, respectively.

And back with a 40-city tour, which begins Sept. 14 in Boston. The cross-country concert trek is expected to hit the West Coast (and, perhaps, San Diego) in October.

It's an unexpected turn for Fleetwood Mac, which had gamely soldiered on with different lineups until 1995. It was then that Fleetwood and John McVie quietly disbanded the group after a failed album, the aptly named "Time," with new members Dave Mason and Bekka Bramlett.

The decision to reunite brings together a quintet whose best music in the '70s was rivaled by its drug-fueled exploits -- the band wanted to thank its cocaine dealer in the liner notes for "Rumours" -- and numerous romantic upheavals.

Specifically, former husband and wife John and Christine McVie's divorce coincided with the release of "Rumours," while then-lovers Buckingham and Nicks' relationship began to unravel about the same time. Nicks also had an affair with Fleetwood, whose now-former wife had an earlier affair with then-Mac guitarist Bob Weston. Weston was quickly fired from the band by Fleetwood.

Now, as then, "Rumours" is one of the best-selling rock albums of all time. The four Top 10 hits it yielded -- "You Make Loving Fun," "Go Your Own Way," "Don't Stop" and "Dreams" -- have been staples on "classic-rock" radio stations. And each of the quintet's follow-up albums also sold in the millions, though none as well as "Rumours."

That is why the spate of new activity by the reunited Fleetwood Mac is being scrutinized by the profit-hungry music industry, which lusts for big name attractions with proven drawing power. In this "Beatles Anthology"-fueled era of rock 'n' retro domination, Fleetwood Mac could fit the bill perfectly. And with public appetite for 1970s-bred musical nostalgia now peaking, the return of the original Mac daddy has made record company executives and concert promoters sweaty with anticipation.

They are not alone.

"I'm nervous as shit," drummer Fleetwood, one of the band's namesakes, said from his Los Angeles home.

"Because the album isn't out and the tickets haven't gone on sale yet. This is the acid test. I've been confident we'll do fine. Now we're about to find out."

White House roll

The five Fleetwood Mac members had last reunited in January, 1993, for an enthusiastic but ragged performance of "Don't Stop" at an inaugural celebration concert for President Clinton. The newly elected First Fan had used the Christine McVie-penned anthem about persevering in the face of adversity as the theme song for his 1992 campaign.

"It was a very brief, almost flustered moment," Fleetwood recalled of the band's command performance.

"It was like an Andy Warhol experience and sort of bizarre. But the one thing that was very real was when they introduced us, and Stevie was grabbing Lindsey's hand, Chris was grabbing John's hand, and I was leading us all on stage.

"It was like the old days, and it was very moving. It was a good feeling."

Added Christine McVie, in a separate interview from her Los Angeles home: "The reaction we got was quite staggering; even the president stood up when we came on stage. We realized that, at one time, we'd been something bigger than we thought. And we certainly did enjoy playing then."

But neither McVie, Fleetwood nor any of the other three Mac alums thought their one-song performance was anything more than just that. When the evening was over, they again opted to go their own ways.

"I don't think we thought seriously about reforming at that time," McVie said. "Lindsey and Stevie were doing solo projects. And I'd just bought a house in England and was busy restoring it."

There was also another, more pertinent, reason the band didn't reunite four years ago, despite the lucrative offers that poured in. Buckingham, a notorious perfectionist who launched his solo career in 1981 while still a member of Fleetwood Mac, was not yet prepared to re-team with the band that made him a star 20 years ago.

"Ten years ago, we had a band meeting at my house," McVie recalled. "Lindsey told us he was not going to tour to support our `Tango in the Night' album, and there were very bad feelings; you could feel the electricity in the air. When Lindsey walked out of my living room door 10 years ago, no one expected this could happen again, let alone with so much joy."

The seeds for Fleetwood Mac's reunion were planted last year, when Buckingham began working on his next solo album.

Dissatisfied with the drum parts he had played and recorded on his own, he invited Fleetwood to redo them all. Pleased with the results, Buckingham then asked his former bandmate who he should get to play bass on the album.

The drummer immediately suggested John McVie, with whom he co-founded Fleetwood Mac 30 years ago in London following stints by both in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Buckingham agreed, and the bearded bassist came on board. A few weeks later, Christine McVie was brought in to add a few keyboard and harmony vocal parts. She ended up performing on five songs, including "Bleed to Love Her," a moody, mid-tempo number featured on Fleetwood Mac's new live album.

Up from ground zero

Phoenix-based singer Nicks, the only band member not living in Southern California, wasn't involved in the sessions for Buckingham's album. But Buckingham subsequently produced a song for a Nicks solo project, for which he used Fleetwood on drums. The beat, and heat, was on.

"It sounded fucking great," Fleetwood said. "We realized there was something magical happening, and there was no doubt. It was on tape. By happenstance, and a fair amount of reaching out by Lindsey, we started playing together and it was great. We started from ground zero as people, and I now know Lindsey in a way I never got close to before.

"It's no small wonder, since we were in the studio for over a year together, and it was like 'Wow.' It wasn't just music; we talked and hugged and it was a whole major deal. We're all very aware this is a happy time, and we want it to be. It needs to be a happy time for us."

More than anything else, McVie and Fleetwood agree, it is the new bond between the drummer and Buckingham that made this reunion possible.

"Those guys are inseparable now," McVie noted happily. "Mick wasn't very communicative years ago; he was quite a bad boy. And Lindsey was very insular. He didn't communicate at all with anyone, really. Over the years he's become softer, much more accessible, highly amusing, a sweetheart.

"And Stevie used to have a drug problem, which I'm sure everyone knows, and she's completely changed. She's wonderful now, and her old sense of humor is back. She can laugh at herself; she used to take herself so seriously. The underlying element between the five of us is we can all have a good old chuckle at the end of the day."

Another factor, Fleetwood acknowledged, is his own clear-eyed, drug-free lifestyle.

"I sobered up six years ago, and realized there was another part of my life I hadn't looked at," the lanky, bearded drummer said. "It's quite astounding, and I'm still reflective. I still find myself looking at whole periods of my life in slow motion, and going, 'Oh my god, did that really happen?' And it did.

"Some of it is scary, some humorous, but all of it is somewhere I don't want to go again. I have no regrets, but I'm very lucky to have my health and vitality, and to still enjoy playing. All of that helped me get away from this total obsession with Fleetwood Mac that I used to have."

But did Fleetwood really want to get over his obsession with the band he has drummed in and guided for most of the past 30 years?

"I never wanted to," he admitted. "None of us will ever have anything that will mean as much as Fleetwood Mac, musically. It's a fact. We've all accepted that. Lindsey has a real strength now, whereas when he left the band he was consumed by his solo projects and (the band) was a threat.

"He's not threatened now. He's had 10 years to do and explore things in a private way, without making compromises that didn't fit Fleetwood Mac, musically or emotionally. All those years ago, it became an unhealthy compromise. Because the basic nature of a band is that it's a compromise. And Lindsey decided it was unhealthy, and that it had become divorce time. He had lost himself within the structure that is Fleetwood Mac, and it is a powerful structure."

McVie credits Buckingham for letting bygones be bygones. And she credits Fleetwood's unflagging devotion and enthusiasm for cementing Fleetwood Mac's reunion.

"Mick's always wanted to get this happening again," McVie said. "He has been whispering in Lindsey's ear ever since he started cutting the (drum) tracks for Lindsey's album: `Come on, let's get the old five (members) together.' Mick is the heart of Fleetwood Mac, and he loves this particular lineup a great deal. And I think it was from him holding it all together (that the reunion happened).

"We had so much fun being together on Lindsey's record. Then a lot of negotiating went on, as we all have different managers and lawyers. The next thing was rehearsals had been organized, and we all drifted over and it was like putting on an old sweater. It was very comfortable. One of my prerequisites was that I had no interest in doing it if it wouldn't be fun."

Older and wiser, Fleetwood is delighted the band he loves so much is back together. And, for once, he is happy to enjoy the moment, rather than worrying about what might or might not come next.

"Let's use the big 5-0 as a framework," he said. "We're all around 50, some a little under, some a little over. I've heard Stevie say that she's been unhappy, and she's blamed Fleetwood Mac for a lot of it, sometimes fairly, sometimes not. And she said, 'I don't want to feel that way anymore. There's not time for that shit anymore.'

"We're realizing, all of us, that we were amazingly lucky for our success. It was hard earned, but we were blessed. Sometimes I think we forgot that. There's a fantastic thing about how human beings can get through things and have a real human relationship; it's not just a business relationship. And that transcends things.

"There's a whole mythology around this band that makes me know that people will celebrate this with us. And it's a good feeling."

Thanks to Les for posting this to the Ledge and to Anusha for formatting and sending it to us.

Date: 1997-08-10         Number of views: 849

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