As the backbone of rock legends Fleetwood Mac for more than 50 years, Mick Fleetwood has enjoyed more debauchery, hard living than just about anyone else.
Now 71, he became renowned as one of the wildest men in music, and in an exclusive interview during Fleetwood Mac’s world tour he even confirms a long-standing tale about a seven-mile line of cocaine.
Chatting in a dressing room, where his only indulgence is a glass of red wine, drummer Mick says: “We could sit here and I go into some war story about snorting seven miles of cocaine.
“I guess we figured we did X amount a day, and then some goofball got out a calculator and came up with that seven miles figure and said, ‘Isn’t that funny?’ And it sort of is. But not in the context of where I want to end up.
“There was never a conscious decision on my part to stop that lifestyle. I think it naturally just drifted away.
“I speak for myself, although Stevie (Nicks) has been outspoken about some of the choices she made too.
“It came to an end, thankfully. Because, God forbid, it could easily have ended the really bad way — for sure, that could have happened. In some ways I’m happy I got through it and didn’t bite the big bullet. But I just had a profound awareness and a realisation that enough is enough.”
Larger than life, both in personality and physically, 6ft 5in Mick laughs as he recalls the tale about coke — known as gak — that was first made by a former sound engineer. But he adds: “I’m conscious that I want to speak appropriately about this. Because the romance of those war stories can adulate something which is not a good idea.
“The truth is the truth. But in many ways we shared too much information. Looking back, I can see an element of responsibility which I now regret not seeing before.”
The band’s world tour arrived in London last night, as they performed to a capacity 90,000 crowd at Wembley Stadium, with a second date tomorrow before they head to Australia, having already crossed much of North America.
The gigs pack in decades of hits and have received rave reviews for a band that is renowned for its ability to reinvent itself after a string of line-up changes sparked by internal feuding.
But as Mick Fleetwood admits, the acrimonious exit of guitarist Lindsey Buckingham 18 months ago after he refused to go on tour could have marked the end of one of rock’s great names. Instead he was replaced by two newcomers — Neil Finn of Crowded House and guitar virtuoso Mike Campbell.
I don’t think there will be a point where the band’s former members all end up back in a good place together.
Mick says: “Lindsey’s departure was traumatic and a major change for the band, but we decided we wanted to carry on. We made the decision together. Of course, we could have just stopped and it probably would have been an easy point to stop, but we definitely didn’t want to.
“Lindsey left fairly acrimoniously and we weren’t getting on well any more, and yes, it is a happier ship to be on. We have two new people in the band who have been hugely accepted and welcomed, but in many ways it does amaze me that we are still here all these years later, after all of the ups and downs.
“Me and John (McVie) sometimes talk about it — we look around and say, ‘How did that all happen?’”
Mick confirms to me bluntly that he has not spoken to Lindsey since their bust-up, and adds: “I don’t think there will be a point where the band’s former members all end up back in a good place together.
“If you’d asked me that years ago I would have said so, being the old dreamer that I tend to be.
“But now I just accept things how they are, and try to be civil and open. All of these lovely people have put their hearts and souls into Fleetwood Mac, and the franchise should absolutely honour those people in every way, and it does.
“The music comes back to haunt everyone afterwards anyway — and usually that wins out in the end.”
He continues: “There’s no doubt those were hard-lived days. For a while within Fleetwood Mac there were romances and that lifestyle you mention and the other stuff got forgotten — and we really asked for that trouble.
“We were too open about who we were and what we were doing — probably very naïve.
“All anyone ever asked about was ‘Who is sleeping with who?’ or ‘Who is angry with who?’ And you start to feel it’s a shame.
“Now they intelligently talk about what we did musically. That’s import- ant to us. We never wanted to make fools of ourselves too many times.”
Today Mick accepts the band will not last for ever and says: “We’ve had a hell of a ride and we continue to, it’s amazing, really. We know that there’s an end in sight.
“People ask, ‘When are you going to hang it up?’ I’m asked, ‘Why are you still doing this? Need the money?’
“But imagine asking Paul McCartney or Elton John, the Rolling Stones — hugely iconic people, and you know they don’t need the money. It’s simply a case of that’s what they do.
“And this is simply what we do. It’s a huge privilege — and it isn’t really any more complicated than that.”
Simon Boyle / The Sun (UK) /June 16, 2019