posted on January 22, 2012 14:59
Review Snapshot: Complicated relationships, disappearing band members and some of the best music of the 1970s - a thrilling tale well told in one of the most entertaining rock biographies of recent years.
The CLUAS Verdict? 9.5 out of 10
When Lindsey Buckingham stood on stage at Dublin's O2 in 2009 and proclaimed that Fleetwood Mac has had a complicated history, he wasn’t lying. Now, in 'The Definitive History of Fleetwood Mac', author Mike Evans covers it all superbly in every detail, including their many tangled love affairs and romances that even Hollywood wouldn’t dare to make a movie about.
So let’s get this straight. Buckingham and Nicks were lovers and Christine married John. Mick married Jenny (Patti Boyd’s sister) and Christine had an affair with band member Bob Weston (who passed away in 2012). Mick divorced and remarried Jenny within four months, and Christine dated their lighting director. Jenny slept with Mick’s former room-mate while John dated Peter Green’s ex Sandra. Buckingham had a fling with Christine, before Nicks dated Don Henley, and Mick, at the same time as he was seeing her best friend Sara. John and Christine divorced, Mick married Sara, and then John married his secretary, in Christine’s house. Nicks married her late friend’s husband for 3 months before dating her producer, while Christine dated Dennis Wilson before marrying and divorcing Eddy. Got all that?
Their musical career was just as complicated, with various incarnations of the group before they would reach mega stardom. From the early blues days when Peter Green called his band Fleetwood Mac (before McVie was even a member) author Evans takes us through the drug-filled days of the '60s and into the '70s when Green would eventually get sick of fame and fortune and leave the group. Jeremy Spencer would do the same in extraordinary circumstances - nipping out of his hotel to buy a magazine and never returning, thanks to the intrusion of the Children of God.
From cancelled tour dates to a fake group using the name (while the real Fleetwood Mac sorted themselves out) it’s all here and it’s evident that Mick was the man who kept the band together at all times even when it looked like they would break up for good. It’s history now how Mick stumbled across a song called ‘Frozen Love’ in an L.A. studio and insisted straight away that he wanted that guitarist; enter Buckingham and his partner Stevie Nicks.
From that 10th different line-up of the group, producing their 10th album in 1975, this was the start of superstardom when their self-titled album would hit no. 1 in the U.S. and sell over 5 million copies, while 'Rumours' would make FM radio in 1977 stand for ‘Fleetwood Mac radio’.
As the band moved into the '80s they all tried new things including several solo albums, which is covered in great detail here, with complete track listings and credits. There’s even a fascinating story of a fight between Nicks and Buckingham where the latter slapped her and pushed her against his car, but somehow they always resolved their issues for the sake of the band, and Bill Clinton’s inauguration had the 'Rumours' line-up back together again, leading to a live DVD in the '90s and the album ‘Say You Will' in 2003.
There’s so much more in here besides it being a hardcover coffee table book. What 'Rumours' was originally going to be called, how Buckingham was left 10k by an aunt he didn’t know and Peter Green demanding (courtesy of a rifle) that his manager stop sending him royalties. This really is a movie script waiting to be produced and I wouldn’t be surprised if Fleetwood played himself in it.
Evans makes this story interesting all the way through. He never lets up with interesting fact after fact, and will have you absorbed from the beginning. I've heard the term "couldn't put the book down" and that certainly applies here. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt with his proof reading as there are a couple of mistakes, where Buckingham is credited with writing 'Dreams' and Nicks credited to writing 'Songbird, but that's small fry in a book of this magnitude.
What comes out of this book is that music comes first for every band member, and that’s why their 'Unleashed' tour in 2009 was without an album as they felt maybe they should get to know each other again before going back into the studio. So, I’m sure there’s a new album in there somewhere, and perhaps a 50th anniversary tour planned for 2017. Just like this book, that’s something we’ve all got to witness.
Read Mick's reviews of Fleetwood Mac's Dublin shows in 2003 and 2009, a veritable CLUAS archive of the Mac's recent Irish visits.