"Richard's not a musician, per se, or really an engineer in the finer sense of the word," he says of the mystery man behind the scenes. "Neither one of us is that technically oriented. I'm just blessed with a fairly decent imagination, I guess, but that probably comes from years of listening to hits. It gives you a sensibility about how something could become that much more accessible, or at least that much more effective. Our philosophy has always been, turn the knobs until it sounds good.
"Stevie and I moved to Los Angeles in, probably 1973, and we met him almost immediately. He was at another studio, and then he moved over to Sound City in Van Nuys, where Stevie and I recorded the Buckingham Nicks album, and he second-engineered that album. By that time, the three of us were all sharing a big apartment, and he just continued to work with us. And when we were asked to join the band, I just said, 'Hey Rich, wanna come out on the road and mix sound?'"
“Fritz did OK in the Bay Area. We opened shows at the Fillmore maybe once or twice, but it was not a big thing. At some point, however, Stevie and I kinda got selected out of that group as the ones who were perceived as having the most potential. We had not gotten romantically involved until that time, though, and when Fritz broke up, we kind of got together on a lot of different levels. We met (producer) Keith Olsen who eventually brought us down here to LA to make the Buckingham Nicks album, and one thing led another. It was kind of a tough time, actually. After the album went down the toilet, we had managers who were trying to get us to play steakhouses and that sort of stuff...which we figured was a
"So, yeah, we had to deal with all that. To make money, I had to go out on the road with Don Everly's band, which was as heartbreaking as hell, watching Don trying to do something that wasn't being received very well. Stevie was working in LA as a waitress. And yet this whole cult thing was emerging out of the South, where we were able to headline in front of 5000 people. I mean, that was just a bizarre contrast to what we were dealing with in Los Angeles, where we were starving. We weren't much a part of the scene in LA during the early'70s. We played the Starwood and a few other clubs, but not in a situation of prestige at all. One time, I was right in the middle of a song, and the club manager walked up onstage and turned down my amp. We had to deal with all that sort of stuff. But we went down south and opened for Poco, and they absolutely loved us. We never really found out what would've happened with that scene, because right about that time, Mick Fleetwood stepped in and asked us to join. We thought about it for a week, and then we went, 'Oh, OK. Let's do it'
"And, of course, by that point, everybody in the band had their own manager." He laughs. "Which was pretty funny. It really got to be comical. Sometimes I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did with a group like that. Compare it to someone like the Buffalo Springfield, where you have just so many distinct forces going on that it can't last. And there are times I wonder what would have happened if, say Stevie and I had continued on whatever path we were on, with that little cult thing going on down south. Joining Fleetwood Mac wasn't really a clear-cut choice for me. I remember saying to
"There was a lot of dependence on what I was doing at the time, both in the studio and the touring. It got to be very repetitive, and of course, the whole lifestyle on the road just got to be more and more decadent in many ways. Not just in terms of habits or anything, but the huge jets and spending way more money than we needed to spend, and all that. It was the classic kind of rock thing. That went along with the whole Rumours vibe, though. It was the machine. It's geared up. This is what we are, so...' Unfortunately, it doesn't really reinforce the work ethic very much, or the sense that if you're any good, you can be better. Or that you should be working solely for the work, and trying to improve what you're doing, rather than for the perks and all that. So it was a very complex situation. But I have no complaints. I wouldn't have missed it. But you do find yourself in situations that maybe weren't that ideal. "I think that Stevie's selection by the masses as the focal point was the first thing that became known. I think slowly it became understood what my contribution was behind the scenes, and that seemed to manifest itself in the press, and even the way I was presenting myself onstage later on. But you have to remember, there was also a very unhealthy emotional situation going on between two couples who had broken up, and were trying to say, 'OK, we don't want to see each other, but we're going to have to do this anyway. You stay way over there, and I'll stay way over here.' So it was kind of a mess from the beginning, at least emotionally. I think that professional jealousies were probably actually less of a problem than just the inherent dynamics between two ex-couples. Which never really went away. I mean, Rumours truly was the musical soap opera on vinyl"
And then there was Mick Fleetwood's "tell-all" autobiography, which kind of transferred the band into something out of the pages of a national tabloid. "I skimmed Mick's book," he says. "I found there were a few things in there that weren't accurate. Everyone was very hurt by that. Not by any facts in particular, which I definitely was hurt by, but just the tone of it in general. Just the fact that it was so trashy. Fleetwood Mac may have wound down, but it's a shame to have things come out that sort of add a lack of dignity to it. It doesn't have to be that way. I was very unhappy with a couple of very specific incidents described in there, which were totally untrue. I never responded to it. I didn't think there was any reason to dignify it. But there was one story that had me slapping Stevie when I said I was leaving the band. The next time I saw Stevie after that, she came up to me, and said, 'God, I'm really sorry he wrote that.' She was apologizing to me for something he wrote... So, I don't know. I think that was the product of a lot of late nights Mick spent with a writer, and maybe not keeping as much control over what was said, or certainly what was edited, as should have been. I really don't know. I'm fairly sure that he's sorry he did that. It was unfortunate. But, once again...that's show biz!" He laughs.
"But they're going to put together a 25-year Fleetwood Mac retrospective, which will probably be out at Christmas. They want to put a couple of new tracks on it, so I'll probably do one and produce it for them. There's no reason not to. I don't really see anyone very much. But it's not like