Tag Archives: Fleetwood Mac

On New Year’s Day

On January 1, 1959, Johnny Cash performed at San Quentin State prison; what is interesting is that he’d released “Folsom Prison Blues” in December 1955, and didn’t play at Folsom Prison until 1968, when he recorded a live album there. He followed that up in 1969 with Johnny Cash at San Quentin. When he played the show on New Year’s Day in ’59 Merle Haggard was in the audience; Haggard had been convicted of trying to rob a roadhouse in Bakersfield in ‘57; failed at an escape from Bakersfield Jail, so was transferred to San Quentin. While Cash had never been a convict, Haggard had spent time in several prisons; that New Year’s Day performance by Cash was, Haggard later said, instrumental in his becoming a musician, something that he’d tried to do prior to the Bakersfield job, obviously unsuccessfully at that time.

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On January 1, 1953, Hank Williams—whose given name is Hiram—was being driven to Canton, Ohio, for a concert. Williams—who’d had a long bout of problems with alcohol, amphetamines, etc. (his drunkenness lead to his dismissal from the Grand Ole Opry in 1952; he became part of the show in 1949), although it should be pointed out that he was plagued by severe back problems and later a heart condition, so odds are the substance abuse was meant to relieve the pain—was found dead in the back seat of the Cadillac he was riding in. He was 29. One thing that Williams had pulled off that few others have managed as well as he did was to record as “Luke the Drifter.” Apparently, Luke the Drifter performed religious recitations, which Williams figured would not exactly be helpful vis-a-vis his public career. Somehow songs like “My Son Calls Another Man Daddy” and “Moanin’ the Blues” wouldn’t be Luke the Drifter-approved.

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On January 1, 1962, one of the great fails of all time took place: The Beatles auditioned for Decca Records. And Decca decided that Brian Poole and the Tremeloes would be a better pick. In July 1963 that band made its way to the charts for the first time in the UK with a cover of an Isley Brothers hit, “Twist and Shout.” The Beatles had beaten the band to that song, having released their version in March of the same year. The Tremeloes evidently knew a good thing when they heard it: in a post-Poole lineup, they covered “Good Day Sunshine” in 1966. It didn’t make the charts. Back to the Beatles for a moment: although January 1, 1962 was a Monday, did people really work that day in the UK?

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On January 1, 2007, BBC Radio 2 (According to the company: “The remit of Radio 2 is to be a distinctive mixed music and speech service, targeted at a broad audience, appealing to all age groups over 35”) announced the results of a poll that had been taken of approximately 20,000 of its listeners. It indicated that the greatest British band of all time was not the Beatles. It was Queen. This makes one question the vaunted “wisdom of crowds.”

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On January 1, 1890, the first Rose Parade was conducted by the Pasadena Valley Hunt Club. The association with a football game didn’t occur until January 1, 1902. There is a notable university in Pasadena, California Institute of Technology, better known as “CalTech.” It was established in 1891. It had a football team. The Beavers never played in the Rose Bowl. CalTech did have an “appearance” at the Rose Bowl in 1961. Some clever Sheldons managed to switch flip cards used by the cheerleaders for the Washington Huskies so that people in the stands would be directed to unknowingly spell “CALTECH” during halftime, which was picked up by the national NBC broadcast. (The CalTech football team ceased to exist in 1993.) On January 1, 1972, the first rock band rode on a float during the Tournament of Roses: Three Dog Night. Which makes one question the wisdom of the organizers in Pasadena back then. On January 1, 2021 there was no Rose Parade, having been canceled due to the pandemic. It was the first time the parade had been canceled since 1945, due to a world war.

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On January 1, 1975, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham officially joined Fleetwood Mac. In April 2018 Buckingham was “fired” from the band, ostensibly because of Stevie Nicks. He sued the band in October for dismissal. He had a heart attack in February 2019 and underwent open heart surgery. Due to the intubation, his vocal cords were affected. He recovered and was to have made his first return to a stage at the Beale Street Music Festival, which was to have taken place May 2020, was pushed back to October 2020, and was cancelled. In December 2020 Stevie Nicks sold 80% ownership of her song catalog—including “Dreams,” which had a massive boost in 2020 due to a TikTok video—for a reported $100-million.

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On January 1, 2021, I thought I’d wish you all a good one for the year. The pandemic isn’t over yet. It is not likely to be for several more months. It will. But still: be careful. Because while we are all ready to get out there, know that on February 27, 2020, someone who shall go unnamed said, “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” We’re still waiting.

The Road

One of the aspects of rock and roll that gets little general attention is the Sisyphusian life on the road. Ideally the band gets a tour. The tour commences. If things go really well, then (a) the tour gets extended or (b) another tour is established hard on the heels of the first. There is no visible end. Until the end. Then it isn’t pretty.

While touring is certainly a good thing vis-à-vis “making it” (and, presumably, making money), there is a price to be paid for this by the participants. When starting out, travel is fairly primitive and grim. Beat-up vans that have a tendency to break down or buses with a toilet that is dysfunctional on better days. Maybe a motel where the carpet is such that shoes stay on.

If it is a band that has made it, then, certainly, the level of accoutrements is elevated. And while it may seem, initially, exceedingly wonderful to be staying in hotels that had only otherwise been seen while thumbing through a lifestyle magazine in a dentist’s waiting room, that sense of wonder soon dissipates.

Just consider a simple aspect of this. Life on the road means life not spent at home. Not with family. Possibly with friends (but this is no lock, even if a bandmate is family). No possibility of doing “ordinary” things, like going to a favorite restaurant or taking out the trash.

But it is the job. The life.

Somehow the rock musician is elevated in the minds of many who would consider the life of a traveling salesman to be sad, possibly tragic. And how is that different from playing in a band?

A band that has been touring for what could be the definition of “forever” is the Rolling Stones. The extent to which the band is on the road would make the road normalcy and home something unusual.

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The Chain, Broken

Two of the things that have long fascinated me are (1) what makes a band a band and (2) why performers continue to perform long after ordinary people move on to something else in their lives besides that which created their livelihoods.

As for the first point, the issue is that of membership and then lack thereof: if there is a “critical mass” that makes a band what it becomes known to be, does the absence of one or more individuals change the chemistry, as it were, of the band? Does the band contain an individual or individuals such that with out them the band would be something other than it had been? For example, consider The Beatles. If Lennon or McCartney had left the band while it still existed, would it have still been The Beatles? What about Harrison or Starr?

The existing members of a band (or perhaps their manager and/or promoters) typically, when losing a key member, find someone who seamlessly integrates so that there is little difference: Consider Journey post-Steve Perry and Yes sans Jon Anderson: their replacements are cover band material extraordinaire.

Lindsey Buckingham was, in effect, recently fired by his band mates in Fleetwood Mac. And he was, in effect, orally and audibly replaced by two people, Mike Campbell, formerly of the Heartbreakers, and Neil Finn, he of Crowded House.

Presumably, Campbell and Finn got their positions (jobs?) because they would be resonate with what can be considered the “sound” of “Fleetwood Mac,” a band that Buckingham was part of for 33 years: 1975 to 1987; 1997 to 2018. After all, Buckingham was instrumental, literally and figuratively, when it put out Fleetwood Mac, which solidly established the band in a way that resonates today (“Say You Love Me,” “Landslide,” “Rhiannon”) and Rumours (“Go Your Own Way,” “The Chain”).

With the departure of Buckingham, the five-person group has become six.

Continue reading The Chain, Broken

Buckingham Out; Ringo Pissed

Fleetwood Mac has apparently given Lindsey Buckingham his walking papers, which is only metaphorically true as Buckingham has reportedly recently sold one of his homes in Brentwood for about $20-million and anyone who has that kind of money doesn’t walk anywhere unless (1) a red carpet is involved or (2) it has something to do with the latest cardio program and it requires a personal trainer.

And realize that while McDonalds’ may have trouble selling Big Macs (which accounts for its recent size-variant offerings of that saucy delicacy), Fleetwood Mac evidentially is sufficiently fungible to get a list of venues as long as your arm for its upcoming tour. Oddly enough, the Big Mac and Fleetwood Mac were both formed in 1967.

It seems that the other members of the band have hired Mike Campbell late of the late Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Neil Finn of the best band that will unfairly be remembered as a one-hit wonder, Crowded House.

This has to make Buckingham feel fairly good, as it takes two to replace him. (One assumes, however, that if Campbell and Finn were “hired,” they’re going to be getting a salary, not cubic feet of cash, so the rest of the band members will make out very well, thank you.)

But here is when Ringo gets pissed.

For the past too-many years, Ringo has been touring with the All-Starr Band. (Another good reason why he changed his surname, as “All-Starkey Band” sounds like something Stormy Daniels would be in.)

Ringo’s M.O. has been to hire musicians who have had “hits” but are past their prime, such that he can use them to play their hits so as to minimize the need for an entire set to be based on his meagre catalog. People like Gary Brooker (Procol Harum), Simon Kirke (Bad Company), Colin Hay (Men at Work), Graham Gouldman (10cc). Actually, this is the proverbial double-win because Ringo gets talent and they get to play at venues where corndogs aren’t (necessarily) being sold.

But now there’s Fleetwood Mac vying for talent, hiring musicians like Campbell and Finn.

One can only imagine Ringo dropping one digit from his peace sign when talking with Fleetwood and McVie.

Continue reading Buckingham Out; Ringo Pissed