Mick Fleetwood – A Mac Book – at last!
Working with boutique publishers Genesis, a book project has now been completed, delivering a truly delicious and brilliantly-illustrated tome on the early days of Fleetwood Mac and named Love That Burns.
Formed after some members’ stints with John Mayall’s BluesBreakers, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac hit the ground running with their favourite blues and boogie numbers – and plenty of Elmore from Jeremy Spencer – but soon coming up with durable own compositions that stand proud alongside the stellar runs of original songs produced by Ray Davies and Pete Townshend in the mid-late Sixties. A trawl through the past for author Mick Fleetwood, with Pete fuelling even more reminiscences…
JLTT: Hi Mick, it’s a wet ol’ day over here but I’ve been working through your book so we can chat – where are you at present?
MF: Nice to speak, Pete – I am in Maui…
The pictures illustrating the book are breathtaking, are they not?
(Sighs) Well I soon found out that I didn’t have quite enough pictures in my reserves to complete the story and THEN we were finding photographers’ whole sets of which we had only seen one or two – if that. So this immediately becomes for me a visual adventure which just sparks the text as I recall those events, those shows, those recordings. It was quite staggering what we located and most of the material has found its way into the finished version. Now it was important to me to include everyone who had any kind of role in the group’s history..Jeremy, Jenny. All those characters without whom events would have been very different, I think. When I went through the pictures for the book, it came home to me that only some of them had made it into print, here were all these..out-takes, I suppose, pictorially. Only really known to the photographer who took them
And there’s the difference between then and now, print had – and has now – limited space and features vying for inclusion whereas if you run a website nowadays, you have no constraints running a gallery
What matters with this book is bringing the saga to life as best we can manage it
I guess it’s Mayall-related, but you guys got a big reputation or presence on the scene around here pretty quickly, didn’t you?
I have I guess to be thankful for the Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival as that put us on the map, musically. Gigs came easily, after that, it was the buzz!
OK, I sound like a copper now, but what were you doing on the night of 13th March 1968 then, Mick?
(Laughs) I think you’re going to tell me!
Playing at The Toby Jug in Tolworth. To me and my school pals, we saw every act we could there. This was the original four of you. But at the end, Peter leaned forward and croaked “ ‘Ere ‘ow about seven, for the price of four? “ And on walk Christine Perfect – as was – and Stan Webb both of Chicken Shack AND harpist Duster Bennett! So two more long songs are played and we staggered out of there with our own futures set, to sing and play!
(Shocked) Really?? That is incredible! And so good to hear, too…this is coming back to me, as we speak..I do indeed recall the venue, off the A3
We all still sing and play, though we have lost a couple to cancer over the years
(Recalls) Duster Bennett! Peter really loved his style and his singing and the harp, y’know…t one point I thought he might ask Duster to join Fleetwood Mac but in the end and later, Dany Kirwan came aboard. Duster was a very straight character, a keen and solid church-goer
Yes and he looked a bit like Liquorice Locking, the religious (then) one of The Shadows. Died very young
A very talented man and I am glad we got to play with him
Do you remember playing in Hyde Park? With Fairport Convention. This would be August 1968. I was there and Danny was in the Mac
(Thinks) Yes, I do remember that, I lived quite near then, in Notting Hill so it was local and free. But I think it helped our record sales, at the time! It was a nice day, right?
Yes and the sound was pretty good, especially on the backline. If you play festivals the wind can just rob you and there is nothing you can do about it
(Ponders) One thing that – looking back – I’m not particularly proud of was what was in essence an error, a mistake. Once when we were considering band members long before BluesBreakers and Fleetwood Mac I was talking to a guy I was very close friends with, my friend Peter Bardens
The Shotgun Express and Camel keyboard man?
Camel, yes! Much later..he died not long ago, dear Peter ..but anyway before l that I said to Bardens talking about musicians we knew that in some ways I wasn’t quite sure whether Peter Green was right for the material we were doing or planning. It was quite wide-ranging. And to be frank I wasn’t sure Green could really stretch to that, he seemed to play very little, sometimes. Now remember we were all very young back then!! So that was my concern. Would Peter’s reticence to blaze away all the time be any kind of a hindrance? And I know that does sound all very daft now! But Peter Bardens was adamant that Peter Green was a great choice and that the tastefulness and .the…
Yes! That skill Peter Green had, Bardens could see how authentic and musical and exciting it all was. So with that potential championed by Bardens it became more and more obvious that this was a player we should all be working with..exploring, enjoying it
And with say The Green Manalishi or Oh Well, Green could be as full-on as any of his contemporaries
Precisely! But there was so much more to him
The Bath Festival was great and you and we got to see the U S bands like Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna, Zappa, Steppenwolf, Dr John….along with Donovan, Pink Floyd, you, Mayall..
Well you were there, it was just incredible to have all these great acts on one weekend. Not too long after that we were ourselves playing in The States
In New Orleans in 1970, with The Grateful Dead
Yes! Strange times…so much was so new to us, of course. Young English lads on a sort of adventure. But this was the land of our heroes..
The guys I know like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Warren Haynes will still play Green Manalishi or Oh Well at the drop of a hat. I gave each of them Peter’s acoustic versions by Splinter Group when we last met up. A huge influence, Fleetwood Mac
Seems so. On America, John Lennon I believe was planning to do a show over in New York with a band called Elephant something…
That’s it! And we kind of knew that Lennon was a great fan of Peter Green. It seems that he wanted Peter to play in the band as lead guitarist. But eventually that did not come about and Eric Clapton played the show. I do know Lennon loved Peter’s playing…
It always seemed to me that on lyrics, those two were similar. I know Peter liked I’m A Loser, because one time at his the two of us played a bit of it on some ancient acoustics Green had bought in San Francisco when out with Carlos. They were stuffed behind Peter’s sofa! I tuned two up while he got the tea and Penguins…but Man Of The World and Working Class Hero – both could have written either..
(Ponders) Well just thinking of the words and the two men…yes, that is about right, I think. They connected, anyhow
Do you realise that The Beatles channelled Albatross on Sun King on Abbey Road?
Ah yes!! And I can tell you exactly why..we were coming back from a gig somewhere far in The North early hours and just getting closer to London. We were all a bit whacked and – as you did, I am sure you know ! – we had the radio on in the van. Would have been a crackly transistor radio but it kept us all awake and aware unless we had crashed out. Anyway they were running a chat with The Beatles about songs and Abbey Road and I think it was John Lennon who said of Sun King “ Oh yeah – now that’s our copycat version of Fleetwood Mac, that is..”. And we were just stunned, how had The Beatles of all acts become aware of us? We were hardly competition..but yes they owned up on that. Quite amazing and a moment of pride I suppose for us, as a group
It’s a compliment, whatever way you look at it!
If I had to pick a proudest moment for us as a bunch of musicians in those times and looking at the great pictures that have been found of the sessions, it was that Blues Jam At Chess that would take the prize, Pete. We arrived at the studios and soon we were meeting the people we so admired so much, as players and singers and writers. They taught us to play, for Heaven’s sake! And here we were now, accepted by them, treated nicely by them and making music that you can hear today that just sounds so driven!
I am pretty sure that Mac album was in Johnny Winter’s head when he got Muddy To record after a lull, on Hard Again. That invigorating sound..
Indeed – for them and for us. It was an ace event for Fleetwood Mac, in every sense.
Wasn’t J T Brown the sax man around?
Oh yes! From Elmore James band – which really got to Jeremy (Spencer) as you can imagine from seeing us around London back then, playing his numbers
Dave Ruffy of Ruts DC asked me who taught you the various shuffle patterns that early Mac used
(Laughs) Lessons ?? Dave, thanks and truth is I never had a lesson in my life.!
Me neither, I played along to records, mostly jazz to try different tempo’s
Same here, put the record on and play along, that will learn ya! But you’d be in someone’s flat and they might have something they wanted you to hear and it was “ I’ll play this for you, but you’re not taking it away!” And maybe the one I recall best as an education, as it were, was Peter’s vinyl copy of Live At The Regal. From B B King. That drummer Sonny Freeman was so very good, that helped me master or at least improve on playing those patterns, staggers, emphases…
All these characters…
As I said, In the book I really wanted to credit and thank and record all those people who were part of the band’s story, in whatever way. People like Bob Welch, a great musician. Dave Walker..
I know Dave! He was one of Kim’s Savoy Brown crew..I liked Road Runner on Penguin, with the harp doing the Jnr Walker runs
A lot of good stuff on Penguin
As you get older, you appreciate the avoidance of overkill, of overdoing the sounds in a recording. Well it’s the same with painters, when young they are often using every colour and texture and every bit of blank space BUT in later times they might feel a minimal setting and detail suffice. Think of The Flight Of Icarus, he is only a small part of the picture, about to meet his fate but in an expansive backdrop which makes you think “ Oh blimey..”
Yes ! that is a very good way of putting it – a painting might be mostly plain white or whatever BUT the line or the circle that the artist might add conveys their message. When you look at some Modern Art – not all! – your immediate thought might often be “ Well I could do that ! “ but of course that is simplistic and will miss the point. So yes you DO have to arrive at a place where what you create is using enough but not too much. Not as easily place to get to when very young. And a track like Double Trouble makes you savour the guitar lines, they don’t try to blitz you! When I went through the pictures for the book, it came home to me that only some of them had made it into print, here were all these..out-takes, I suppose, pictorially. Only really known to the photographer who took them. For all this time, too!! So I am on a journey of rediscovery, as the book comes together..and I am writing it!
That does explain the excitement conveyed in some of the text of the book. It is there, believe me
The music we play now is very different and when we do Volume Two we can maybe talk about all that, Pete – but now on stage, in medium and sometimes very large venues in the US, I get set up and I look over and there’s John McVie as ever was and so immediately I can be ready to perform to my best. I am not in new territory, in any sense. Then I play what that song needs, to make it work and frame the vocal. That is the mission.
How’s your timing now, on this book project?
I am going to be around in England towards the end of September, I believe, in relation to the book coming out.I think there is a an event in London to do with it so let’s catch up again then?
Photos of Mick Fleetwood including Feature Image Credit: Daniel Sullivan
Black & White Fleetwood Mac Band Photo: Courtesy of Sony Music Archives
(Thanks Republic Media, thanks Mick)
Mick Fleetwood’s new book ‘Love That Burns: A Chronicle of Fleetwood Mac Volume One 1967-1974’ is out now and published by Genesis Publications.
For more information and to purchase the book you can visit the official book website here: http://bit.ly/2iuBs5c