|Birth name||Michael John Kells Fleetwood|
24 June 1947 |
Redruth, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom
|Genres||Blues, rock, blues rock|
|Labels||Blue Horizon, Warner Bros., RCA, Sanctuary|
|Associated acts||Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Mick Fleetwood's Zoo, The Zoo, Mick Fleetwood's Island Rumours Band|
Michael John Kells "Mick" Fleetwood (born 24 June 1947) is a British musician and actor, best known for his role as the drummer and co-founder of the rock band Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood, whose surname was merged with that of John McVie to form the name of the band, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Born in Cornwall, Fleetwood lived in Egypt and Norway for many of his childhood years as his father travelled with the Royal Air Force. Choosing to follow his musical interests, Fleetwood travelled to London at the age of fifteen, eventually combining with Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Bob Brunning who formed at Green's behest to become the first incarnation of Fleetwood Mac, of which Fleetwood would remain the only member to stay with the band through its ever-changing line-up.
After several album releases and line-up changes, the group moved to the United States in 1974 in an attempt to boost the band's success, where Fleetwood invited Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to join. Buckingham and Nicks contributed to much of Fleetwood Mac's later commercial success, including the celebrated album Rumours, while Fleetwood's own determination to keep the band together was essential to the group's longevity. He has also enjoyed a solo career, published written works, and flirted briefly with acting and vinification.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Discography
- 4 Filmography
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Fleetwood was born in Redruth, Cornwall, second child to John Joseph Kells Fleetwood and Bridget Maureen (née Brereton) Fleetwood. His elder sister Susan Fleetwood, who died of cancer in 1995, became an actress. In early childhood Fleetwood and his family followed his father, a Royal Air Force fighter pilot, to Egypt. After about six years, they moved to Norway where his father was posted on a NATO deployment. He attended school there and became fluent in Norwegian.
Biographer Cath Carroll describes the young Fleetwood as "a dreamer, an empathetic youth" who, though intelligent, did not excel academically. According to his own autobiography, Fleetwood had an extremely difficult and trying time academically at the English boarding schools he attended, including the Kings School, Sherborne, Gloucestershire. He performed poorly on exams, which he attributes to his persistent inability to commit facts to memory. He nevertheless enjoyed acting during school, often in drag, and was a competent fencer. At 6'6", he was an imposing figure, and sported a beard and long hair for much of his life. "Mick was very aristocratic," recalls Ken Caillat, a sound engineer on Rumours. "The way he formed sentences was impeccable. When he spoke, everyone stopped and listened. He was quiet and wise, and he had a great sense of humour. He loved to laugh, but he was also a straight shooter."
Diverting from academic pursuits, Fleetwood took up the drums at a young age, grateful to his parents for their recognition that it was in music that he may find a future and their purchasing for him of a small "Gigster" drum kit when he was thirteen. His family encouraged his artistic side, his father composed poetry and was an amateur drummer himself. Fleetwood's early drumming was inspired by Cliff Richards' drummer in The Shadows, Tony Meehan, as well as that of the Everly Brothers. With his parents' support, he dropped out of school aged 15; and, in 1963, moved to London to pursue a career as a drummer. At first he stayed with his sister in Notting Hill. After a brief stint working at Liberty in London, he found his first opportunity in music.
Early efforts in London
Keyboard player Peter Bardens lived only a few doors away from Fleetwood's first home in London, and upon hearing of the proximity of an available drummer, Bardens gave Fleetwood his first gig in Bardens' band 'The Cheynes' in July 1963, thus seeding the young drummer's musical career. It would take him from The Cheynes - with whom he supported early gigs by the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds - to stints in the 'Bo Street Runners', who had enjoyed brief television fame on Ready Steady Go!. However by April 1965, when Fleetwood joined the band, it was fading into obscurity. By February 1966 Bardens, who had left the group, called on Fleetwood to join his new band, the 'Peter Bs', which soon expanded to become 'Shotgun Express' (with Rod Stewart). Peter Green, who was a guitarist in the Peter Bs, left to join John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, followed by Fleetwood in April 1967. His new band already featured John McVie.
Green became a supportive band-mate who helped Fleetwood in his early experimentation with the drum kit. In his personal life meanwhile, Fleetwood soon became infatuated with model Jenny Boyd, the sister of whom, Pattie Boyd, would be wife to both George Harrison and Eric Clapton. He was, however, dismissed from the Bluesbreakers for repeated insobriety during gigs. Both Fleetwood and McVie were heavy drinkers, and their combined efforts were too much for Mayall and the band to cope with. Green, feeling trapped within the Bluesbreakers, also left in June 1967. Recalling "his favourite rhythm section, 'Fleetwood Mac'" - Mick Fleetwood and John McVie - Green elected to invite both to join him in his new band, Fleetwood Mac. Though McVie hesitated briefly due to financial reasons, both joined Green by the summer of 1967 with a record contract on the horizon.
Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac
The initial incarnation of Fleetwood Mac performed its first gig in August 1967 at the seventh annual Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival, playing a Chicago-style blues. McVie, initially hesitant to commit, was later prompted to leave the Bluesbreakers and join Fleetwood Mac full-time when the former adopted a horns section with which he disagreed. He replaced the initial bassist, Bob Brunning. McVie, Fleetwood, Green and guitarist Jeremy Spencer thus formed the first fixed line-up of Fleetwood Mac.
The band's first album, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, was released in 1968, and the band toured the United States for the first time, though Green was reluctant to do so for fear of gun crime. Upon their return, they recorded a second album, Mr. Wonderful under simply "Fleetwood Mac" with Green's name dropped. A guest musician on the album, Christine Perfect, became close with the group and she and McVie were married in 1968. A third guitarist, Danny Kirwan, was also added to the line-up. Despite the success of their third album, Then Play On, and a string of hit singles including "Albatross" and "Man of the World", Green himself drifted away from the band, struggling both creatively and with increasing use of LSD. He later joined a Christian religious group.
Fleetwood himself later remarked on the growing stature of Green's difficulties: "I think there is certainly some credence given to the idea that Peter's condition could in some way be blamed on a bad acid trip he had in Germany ... I don't think it did him much good." He also recalled in 1995 that "Peter basically ceased to see the light with Fleetwood Mac and had aspirations of playing for nothing in strange places--none of which really happened. He made several interesting albums after he left, then basically took a left turn in terms of his psyche. He pulled out of the mainstream and chose to stay at home. He doesn't play much anymore, which is certainly a shame, because he's my mentor, and he's the reason that Fleetwood Mac became what we became."
Fleetwood remained a consistent presence in the ever-changing line-up of the group following the departure of Green in May 1970, when Spencer and Kirwan assumed more central roles in the group's song-writing. In June 1970, Fleetwood and Boyd were married. In September 1970 the release of Kiln House saw a line-up of Spencer, Kirwan, John McVie and Fleetwood, with Christine McVie providing keyboards and backing vocals. Fleetwood, "a social creature who prized community and communication", was particularly taken with the group's new living arrangements: they moved into a large Victorian era mansion near Headley, Hampshire.
By early 1971, with Christine Perfect becoming an official member of the band, Fleetwood and the group boarded a plane to San Francisco. Spencer, fearful following the recent 1971 San Fernando earthquake, reluctantly boarded the plane. Having arrived in America, he grew more disillusioned with the group, and unsuccessfully pleaded with Fleetwood to cancel this leg of the tour. He left the hotel abruptly one evening, and was found later to have joined Family International, then known as Children of God, a religious group started in 1968 in Huntington Beach, California. Once more, Fleetwood attempted to mediate, however Spencer would not return. After Green was asked to return temporarily to help finish the tour, the band met with Bob Welch who would become their next member. Their next album, Future Games, was released later that year. Bare Trees came a year later, in 1972. During the subsequent tours to promote the latter, Fleetwood once more adopted the role of mediator: Kirwan's self-destructive personality and problems with alcohol culminated in a refusal to go on stage before one concert; Fleetwood himself made the decision to fire the band member. Furthermore, there were early signs of strife in the marriage of John and Christine McVie. Fleetwood again stepped in to mediate between the two members, talking Christine out of a decision to leave the group. The band added guitarist Bob Weston and vocalist Dave Walker, formerly of Savoy Brown and Idle Race. The resulting turmoil, however, negatively affected their next album, Penguin, released in 1973 to poor reviews. Walker was subsequently asked to leave the group, and the next album Mystery to Me was received more warmly.
During the group's next tour to the United States, Fleetwood discovered that his wife, Boyd, was having an affair with band member Weston. Boyd and Fleetwood had one daughter together at the time. Fleetwood, after wrestling with the idea of leaving the band, was later critical of his own role in "neglecting" his family," though Caillat described Fleetwood in 2012 as "a womaniser." In October 1973 Fleetwood instructed Weston to leave Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood and Boyd divorced in late 1975. Fleetwood travelled to Zambia to convalesce, with Christine McVie – who was also suffering marital problems – travelling with him for part of the journey. Meanwhile, manager Clifford Davis began to lead a separate group of musicians under the name 'Fleetwood Mac', and his increasing legal assault on the original group pushed Fleetwood and his fellow band members closer to idea of managing themselves. Fleetwood took on more managerial responsibility and leadership over the group. Davis meanwhile led a 'rebel' tour with a group under the name Fleetwood Mac, which was a failure. While the legal battle raged, Fleetwood applied his skills to a recording project being done in George Harrison's studio; Harrison also contributed to the project. On the Road to Freedom, a collaboration from Alvin Lee and Mylon LeFevre was released in 1973. Also on the project were Ron Wood, Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi.
Fleetwood Mac, Rumours
By November 1974, despite having survived legal challenges from Davis, Welch departed. His marriage was failing and he felt that he had hit the end of his creative road with the group. Fleetwood meanwhile was planning a follow-up album to Heroes Are Hard to Find - Welch's last with the group - which had charted at 34 in the United States. Fleetwood was shopping with his children when a chance encounter with an old friend led him to visit Sound City and producer Keith Olsen. While at the studio, Olsen played samples from an album entitled Buckingham Nicks. Fleetwood immediately "was in awe". Unbeknownst to him, both Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were working in the studio at the time, though the three did not meet until later. On New Year's Eve, 1974, Fleetwood contacted Olsen to advise him that their planned project was on hiatus after Welch's departure, however he then suggested that Nicks and Buckingham join Fleetwood Mac. The group ate together at a local restaurant before practising together for the first time in the new studio. The next year the new line-up released Fleetwood Mac.
The album proved to be a breakthrough for the band and became a huge hit, reaching No.1 in the US and selling over 5 million copies. Fleetwood and Olsen collaborated on a number of drumming innovations. "It was all about 'plastic puke.' First off, for the kick drum I had Mick use a real skin, not a plastic head. All the bass drum sounds had snap and rack and warmth, but the snare drum on the whole album was a plastic puke." The album had reached No. 1 come November 1976, and at this time Fleetwood Mac became self-managing, with Fleetwood himself arguing that an external manager would be less apt at holding together such a group of dynamic personalities. He put forward an idea of promising to reimburse any losses suffered by promoters should they occur, in an attempt to raise the group's profile and earn more contracts and gigs. "Self-management was the right decision," remembered freelance Rolling Stone writer John Grissim. "Mick [Fleetwood] had great leadership skills ... had a great deal of experience - nine years. They were business-like, they always delivered the product and had the right lawyers and accountants for the job. They didn't need what Van Morrison called 'pressure mongers,'... they just needed to get on and make a really good album." Ken Caillat, another writer on the making of Rumours, concurred that Fleetwood "had superb intuition and a flair for taking risks."
As with many musicians during the period in Los Angeles, the band began using copious amounts of cocaine. Fleetwood would go on to recollect in his autobiography that "Until then, Fleetwood Mac hadn't had much experience with this Andean rocket fuel. Now we discovered that a toot now and then relieved the boredom of long hours in the studio with little nourishment." The personal relationships between the band members were becoming frayed. After six months of non-stop touring, the McVies divorced in August 1975, ending nearly eight years of marriage. The couple stopped talking to each other socially and discussed only musical matters. Buckingham and Nicks also fought often, a fact that was revealed to fans by Rolling Stone in April 1976. The duo's arguments stopped only when they worked on songs together. At the same time, Christine McVie and Nicks became closer. Fleetwood, meanwhile, began searching for a new recording location, and landed on the Record Plant of Sausalito, California. Grissim, working for Rolling Stone, frequently met with the group and took a particular liking to Fleetwood, whom he described as "a real pro."
Fleetwood Mac convened at the Record Plant February 1976 with hired engineers Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut. Most band members complained about the studio and wanted to record at their homes, but Fleetwood did not allow any moves. Despite his talent at keeping the group together, the recording of Rumours was fraught with emotional turmoil due to the collapsing relationships within the line-up. Christine McVie and Nicks decided to live in two condominiums near the city's harbour, while the male contingent stayed at the studio's lodge in the adjacent hills. Chris Stone, one of the Record Plant's owners, When the band jammed, recalled that "The band would come in at 7 at night, have a big feast, party till 1 or 2 in the morning, and then when they were so whacked-out they couldn't do anything, they'd start recording". Fleetwood often played his drum kit outside the studio's partition screen to better gauge Caillat's and Dashut's reactions to the music's groove. After the final mastering stage and hearing the songs back-to-back, the band members sensed they had recorded something "pretty powerful".
Rumours was a huge commercial success and became Fleetwood Mac's second US number one record, It stayed at the top of the Billboard 200 for 31 non-consecutive weeks, while also reaching number one in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. The album was certified platinum in America and the UK within months of release after one million units and 300,000 units were shipped respectively. The band and co-producers Caillat and Dashut, would go on to win the 1978 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. By March, the album had sold over 10 million copies worldwide, including over eight million in the US alone.
In November 1977 Fleetwood and Nicks began having an affair. It would continue sporadically for the next two years during the fallout from the end of Fleetwood's relationship with Boyd, until the pair mutually decided to end the affair. "Never in a million years could you have told me that would happen," Nicks later stated. "Everybody was angry, because Mick was married to a wonderful girl and had two wonderful children. I was horrified. I loved these people. I loved his family. So it couldn't possibly work out. And it didn't. I just couldn't." Boyd and Fleetwood had in fact begun living together once more in 1976, and would remarry temporarily to assist their children with emigration to the United States. However they quickly divorced for the second time some months later. In November 1978 Fleetwood moved into a Bel Air home with Sara Recor, mutual friend of Fleetwood and Nicks who was at the time married to another music producer. Meanwhile, Fleetwood began working on a charity project to get Fleetwood Mac to tour the Soviet Union, however the Soviet War in Afghanistan later made the tour untenable.
Tusk, Fleetwood Mac's 12th studio album, was released in 1979. The work represented a more experimental direction taken by Buckingham. Fleetwood, recently diagnosed as having diabetes after suffering recurring bouts of hypoglycemia during several live shows, was again instrumental in maintaining the band's cohesion. He placated Buckingham over feelings of creative claustrophobia and discomfort playing alongside Nicks. On the issue of Buckingham taking creative control away from the other members of the group for the creation of Tusk, Fleetwood recounts that his three-day discussion with Buckingham culminated in him telling the latter that "if it's good, then go ahead." Though the nature of the album strained relationships again within the band - particularly John McVie, a long-established blues musician who disliked the experimental nature of the album - Fleetwood himself rates the album as his favourite by Fleetwood Mac, and cites the freedom of creative expression allotted to each band member as integral to the survival of the group. The album sold four million copies worldwide, a return noticeably poorer than Rumours. Though Buckingham was blamed by the record labels, Fleetwood linked the album's relative failure to the RKO radio chain playing the album in its entirety prior to release, thus allowing mass home taping.
Later that year, Fleetwood Mac embarked on a lengthy tour that brought them across America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK. The tour lasted from October 1979 to September 1980, consisting of 113 concerts.
Fleetwood also led a number of side projects. 1981's The Visitor produced by Richard Dashut, featured heavy African stylistics and a rerecording of "Rattlesnake Shake" with Peter Green. The song "You weren't in love" was a hit in Brazil because of the Soap-opera Brilliant. In 1983 he formed Mick Fleetwood's Zoo and recorded I'm Not Me. The album featured a minor hit, "I Want You Back", and a cover version of the Beach Boys' "Angel Come Home". A later version of the group featured Bekka Bramlett on vocals and recorded 1991's Shaking the Cage. Fleetwood released Something Big in 2004 with The Mick Fleetwood Band, and his most recent album is Blue Again!, appearing in October 2008 with the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band touring to support it, interspersed with the Unleashed tour of Fleetwood Mac.
He also contributed to other band member's solo albums by playing the drums on various tracks, including French Kiss, Law and Order, The Wild Heart, Christine McVie, and In Your Dreams. In 2007 he was featured on drums for the song "God" along with Jack's Mannequin in the Pop album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, a collection of covers of John Lennon songs.
In literature, Fleetwood co-authored Fleetwood – My Life and Adventures with Fleetwood Mac with writer Stephen Davis, published by William Morrow & Co. in 1990. In the book he candidly discussed his experiences with other musicians including Eric Clapton, members of The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, as well as the affair with Stevie Nicks and his addiction to cocaine and his personal bankruptcy. Reception was mixed. Robert Waddell of the New York Times described the piece as a "a blithe, slapdash memoir." The Los Angeles Times 's Steve Hochman noted that "Fleetwood tells the story as if he was sitting in your living room, which is good for the intimacy of the tale, but bad for the rambling, sometimes redundant telling." Hochman did acknowledge that Fleetwood was "one of rock's more colorful characters."
Fleetwood has a secondary career as a TV and film actor, usually in minor parts. His roles in this field have included a resistance leader in The Running Man and as a guest alien in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Manhunt". Fleetwood co-hosted the 1989 BRIT Awards, which contained numerous gaffes and flubbed lines. In the wake of this public mishap, the BRIT Awards were pre-recorded for the next 18 years until 2007; the awards are now again broadcast live to the British public. Fleetwood and his third wife, Lynn, had twin daughters (Ruby and Tessa) who were born in 2002 he also became a U.S. citizen on 22 November. Fleetwood filed for divorce from Lynn in 2013.
Fleetwood was a self-taught drummer from his early childhood, after moving from a lacklustre academic performance at school to a love of music encouraged by his family, who bought him his first drum kit. His first years were heavily influenced by Tony Meehan and the Everly Brothers, and during his formative years in London during the late 1960s, Green helped Fleetwood through bouts of "rhythmic dyslexia" during live performances when Fleetwood panicked and lost the beat. He often sang filled pauses along to songs to help keep the beat. Green also instilled in Fleetwood an ability to follow and predict the lead guitarist, enabling him to meet the guitar with the drum rhythm as well as allowing him to know a good guitarist when he saw one - which would in part lead him later in his career to select Lindsey Buckingham.
Bob Brunning recalled from his early involvement with Fleetwood Mac that Fleetwood was "very open to playing with different people as long as he didn't have to change his style. He was, and is, a completely straightforward drummer, and it works with a lot of different styles. I don't s'pose [sic] he's played a traditional drum solo in his life!" Biographer Carroll highlights this ability as integral to the success of Fleetwood Mac, arguing that Fleetwood was not a virtuoso, but his disciplined and in-distractable manner of play allowed him to hold together a band of strong leading personalities without impinging upon their expression.
Caillat, in contrast, cites Fleetwood as "still one of the most amazing drummers I've ever met. He had his rack of tom drums arranged back to front. Most drummers place them from high to low (in pitch) from their left to right, but Mick chose to place his mid, high, low. I think perhaps this helped him develop his unique style. He hit his drums very hard, except for his kick drum. For some reason, when he played his high hat, it distracted him. He would keep perfect beat with his kick, but he played it so softly that we could hear his mouth noises through his kick mic."
With Fleetwood Mac
|1968||Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac)||198||4||–|
|1968||Mr. Wonderful||–||10||Fleetwood featured on the cover art|
|1969||Then Play On||192||6||Fleetwood was credited with the instrumental "Fighting For Madge"|
|1970||Kiln House||69||39||Fleetwood co-wrote "Jewel Eyed Judy"|
|1971||Future Games||91||–||Fleetwood co-wrote "What A Shame"|
|1973||Mystery to Me||68||–||–|
|1974||Heroes Are Hard to Find||34||–||Fleetwood featured on the cover art|
|1975||Fleetwood Mac||1||23||Fleetwood featured (with McVie) on the cover art|
|1977||Rumours||1||1||Fleetwood co-wrote "The Chain"/featured (with Nicks) on the cover art / 8th Best-Selling album of all time|
|1987||Tango in the Night||7||1||–|
|1990||Behind the Mask||18||1||–|
|1995||Time||–||47||Fleetwood co-wrote "These Strange Times"|
|2003||Say You Will||3||6||–|
|1981||The Visitor||43||–||Featured two Fleetwood Mac remakes – "Rattlesnake Shake" & "Walk A Thin Line"|
|1983||I'm Not Me||–||–||Billed as "Mick Fleetwood's Zoo"|
|1992||Shakin' the Cage||–||–||Billed as "The Zoo"|
|2004||Something Big||–||–||Billed as "The Mick Fleetwood Band"|
|2008||Blue Again!||–||–||with "The Mick Fleetwood Blues Band feat. Rick Vito"|
|1987||The Running Man||Mic|
|1995||Zero Tolerance||Helmut Vitch|
|1997||Snide and Prejudice||Pablo Picasso|
|1997||Mr. Music||Simon Eckstal||TV Movie|
|1998||The Corrs: Live at the Royal Albert Hall||Himself||Special Guest|
|2001||Burning Down the House||Bartender|
|2011||Get a Job||Unemployed Band Member|
|1989||The BRIT Awards||Co-Presenter with Sam Fox|
|1989||Star Trek: The Next Generation||Antedean dignitary||Episode "Manhunt"|
|1989||Wiseguy||James Elliot||Episode "And It Comes Out Here"|
|2013||Top Gear||Himself||Series 19 Episode 2 "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car"|
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- "Stevie Nicks: 'Love is fleeting for me ... in my life as a travelling woman'". The Independent. June 26, 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
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- Blue Again press release San Francisco Business Times, 12 February 2009
- NPR interview of Mick Fleetwood 28 March 2009
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- Brackett, Donald (2007). Fleetwood Mac: 40 Years of Creative Chaos. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-99338-8.
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