Stevie - Mojo Magazine (December 2013)

The big Fleetwood Mac news is that Christine McVie is back. How involved has she been?

She’s just re-emerged to do one song. It could have been a few songs, but Lindsey’s very funny about that. Chris left in 1998 and we didn’t start Say You Will until 2002. It took us that long to figure out what the hell we were going to do without her — or even if we could do without her.

Lindsey seems almost cross about Christine’s return. He said she’d “burned her bridges,” and asked MOJO not to use a line-up shot including Christine on the cover of our issue about the making of Rumours…

I think his words to us were, “She can’t just come and go.” That’s important to him, but it’s not so important to me. Chris is coming to Dublin when we go into production rehearsal, and she’s going to come on and do Don’t Stop the second two nights in London. Much as Lindsey adores her — and he does; she’s the only one in Fleetwood Mac he was ever really willing to listen to — he doesn’t want the first night reviews to be all about Christine’s one song, rather than the set we rehearsed for two months. But it will be wonderful to have her back up there, and from there, who knows?

Lindsey also told MOJO: “There are still parts of mine and Stevie’s relationship that are unresolved and it will be interesting to visit that on this next tour…”

He’s probably referring to what I call ‘The Talk.’ About a year and a half ago I told him everything I had wanted to say to him since 1968. I said, “Do you remember how cute we were? How we could walk into the room together and people would be mesmerized because we were so funny and smart?” I said, “Lindsey, if we can’t go back to being those people, I’m going to quit. I have other people I can work with that treat me with warmth and utter respect, and in my world there’s never a harsh word spoken.”

And his reaction?

He was very quiet. I said, “The ball’s in your park, Lindsey — 2013 better be great.”

So has it been great? When the pair of you hold hands on-stage now what’s going on there exactly? The hand-holding on the 2009 tour seemed a bit hammy…

That’s interesting. My cousin John has known Lindsey and I since 1968. He told me, “When I saw you and Lindsey play with Fleetwood Mac in 2009, there was nothing between you. It was as if you were thinking, ‘What shall I get from room service tonight? Grilled cheese? Tomato soup?’” Hammy wasn’t the word for Lindsey and I in 2009 — it was totally fake. It is loving, and it is as close to those two people who met as teenagers as you could hope for. Every night I tell the story of “Without You,” the poem that I wrote in 1972 before we made the Buckingham Nicks album. The story has become longer than the song, and I told Lindsey, “I’m sorry, I’m trying to shorten it.” He goes, “Don’t worry, Stevie — it’s charming.” Three years ago he would have been like, “Are you kidding? We could do “The Green Manalishi” in that time…”

You first met Lindsey at a party in San Francisco in 1966 when you sang “California Dreamin’” together…

Yeah, he was 16 and I was 17. It was just a one-off, three-minute moment. After that I never saw him for two years until Lindsey’s drummer called me and asked me to join their band Fritz.

What did they sound like?

They were a hard rock band. We were in San Francisco, and it was the Age of Aquarius. If they’d been like Sly and the Family Stone, that would have been fine by me, too.

Fritz opened for Janis Joplin a few times…

The time I remember most was at Stanford Frost Amphitheatre. The band that were on directly before her had ran into her time and she screamed, “Get off my fucking stage right now or I’ll kill you!” Boy, they wound it up quick! (laughs). Then Janis gets up there. She’s all red-and-purple feathers, big hair and silky bell-bottoms, but she’s tiny as a peanut. I learned that, small or not, you could walk on-stage with a big attitude. Flamboyance with humility I got from Jimi Hendrix when Fritz opened for him around 1969 and then from Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane I took slinky and floaty. I liked her look a lot.

What are your memories of shooting the cover for 1973’s Buckingham Nicks?

I’m actually quite prudish. So when they suggested they shoot Lindsey and I nude, I could not have been more terrified if you’d asked me to jump off a speeding train. Lindsey was like, “Oh, come on — this is art. Don’t be a child!” I thought, “Who are you? Don’t you know me?” I went out and spent my last $100 on a beautiful, hand-painted chiffony blouse that wrapped around and tied, and Jimmy Wachtel, my long-term guitarist Waddy’s brother, took a bunch of photos of us with me wearing it. But then it was, “OK — now without the blouse.” I couldn’t breathe. But I did because I felt like a rat in a trap.

And when your folks saw the picture…

Well, I’d taken it home to show them, because I didn’t want them taken by surprise. But then I got sidetracked by an ovarian cyst operation, and I kept the picture under my bed for five weeks while I was back home recovering. When the record came out and I saw my father, it was, “Why didn’t you just say no, Stevie?” I said, “Daddy, I don’t know. I didn’t feel like I had a choice — I’m so sorry.” He said, “OK — move on. Bu you always have a choice.” I learned a big lesson that day.

Buckingham and Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac on New Year’s Eve, 1974, but you kept waitressing for a bit, right?

About three more days. Most I was thinking, “What if this doesn’t’ work?” because I’d been supporting me, Lindsey, and Richard Dashut [later co-producer on Rumours and Tusk] for several years. I didn’t mind. It got me out of the cave. I could leave the guys working, earn enough to pay the rent and keep our Toyota running. I just wanted to make sure that, when we joined Fleetwood Mac, we didn’t burn our bridges.

Will the current Fleetwood Mac tour be the last one?

That won’t happen until it’s super age-inappropriate. Right now we’re doing shows that last two hours, 40 minutes and it is kick-ass. I’ve got pains in my fingers from playing tambourine, so I don’t know how Mick does it. The first 20 shows of the current tour we’d be going on-stage and I’d whisper to Lindsey, “This is too much for me!” But then the lights go up and…bang!