Old Grey Whistle Test (28th Sept. 2011)

Subject: Fleetwood Mac
When did it air? 28th September, 2011


Bob Harris: It was the summer that also saw the first hit of the phenomenal success that was to come for Fleetwood Mac. Following the arrival of their new members Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham and the release of their Fleetwood Mac album earlier that year, ‘Rhiannon’ was already in the American charts and Whistle Test joined the band in the middle of rehearsals for a forthcoming tour on a film set in the lot of Warner Bros in Burbank, California. In a moment, I’ll be talking to Stevie Nicks about her memories of that moment, but first, this is part of a conversation we recorded with Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham during a break from those rehearsals.


Whistle Test: We’ve caught you really in the middle of a busy schedule right now, haven’t we, Mick, haven’t we? How’s the new album doing?

Mick Fleetwood: We spent probably about getting on for three months working on it, and we’d done two, one long tour in between. We’ve had to because we didn’t finish it. And now, after these gigs we’re actually doing now, they just cut into our schedule of trying to finish it up. 

Whistle Test: You just did one of the new numbers onstage on Friday when I saw you, Lindsey. Is it roughly the same, really, in the same kind of mould as things before?

Lindsey Buckingham: The album as a whole? Um, well, it’s hard to say. I’d say it’s got more of a general vibe to it than the last one did. The last one was more like just a selection of songs that were all written really, like, Stevie’s and mine and Chris’s were all written before we even met each other, and this group of songs were all written while we were on the road and they’re all more interrelated to each other. And so I think the whole thing comes across more as a, as a, well, how can I say? Just as a unit of songs that’s presenting a whole idea, you know. Um, all the songs are about life on the road and about things that were going down within the band, you know, within relationships and things like that.

Whistle Test: Tell me how you and Stevie linked up with the band, Lindsey.

Lindsey Buckingham: Well, um, [laughs] Mick was looking for a studio in which to record. And this was last, uh, well, about a year and eight months ago, I guess now, and, um, he ended up in a place called Sound City out in the San Fernando valley, talking to an engineer called Keith Olsen. Just to check out the studio. So Keith put on a song of Stevie’s and mine off an album that we’d had out about a year earlier called Buckingham Nicks, just to show Mick what the monitors sounded like and what the whole studio’s sound was like. And so, um, Mick heard a song called ‘Frozen Love’ and I guess liked it, and about a week or so later, Bob Welch decided he was going to leave the group. And I guess Mick had been sensing Bob’s unrest for awhile anyway and had kind of, you know, filed the song that he had heard of ours away for future reference. And he just called us up and said, “Hey, would you like to join?” 


Stevie Nicks: Even though we were already famous then - We were just famous, and so there was a certain demeanour that both Lindsey and Mick had that, um, was very kind of precious. And that’s, I guess, just youth, you know. Very easygoing and just kind of explaining the situation, and I think, you know, when you get really famous year after year after year, you get a little arrogant and a little conceited. And we all do. That’s not there then. And that’s really kind of lovely to see. 

Bob Harris: Yeah. There’s an innocence.

Stevie Nicks: There’s an innocence that’s very - Yeah. And that innocence is great, you know. I mean, that’s the guy that I loved, that’s the, you know. In fact, that, both of those men. I loved both of those men at different times. And, uh, THOSE are the guys that I loved, the more sweeter, younger versions of who they are now. Because of that innocence. I mean, I think that maybe, you know, when I watch Lindsey in that video and I know exactly why I fell in love with Lindsey and exactly why I spent, gosh, almost eight years with Lindsey, you know. It’s, I see it. And I remember it. And I really hadn’t seen anything like that in a long time. I mean, you see pictures of us at that age, you know, and they’re beautiful photographs, but you don’t hear them talking. So that is a, that’s a mind-blower. 

Bob Harris: So your recollection then of the filming of ‘Rhiannon’, Stevie. Because ‘Rhiannon’ became one of - That film of you performing ‘Rhiannon’ on that day became one of -

Stevie Nicks: Very famous.

Bob Harris: - most important and one of the most popular pieces of film performance that we ever showed on Whistle Test. And the thing, I think, that people respond to so much about it is the amazing spontaneity, the way that as the song gets going, you all seem to find the zone somehow. Because basically, it was only two cameras, I think, wasn’t it? I think you set cameras up just to film the rehearsals, to give you some idea of what it was all going to look like when it eventually went up onstage. So it wasn’t like it was, like you were standing in front of an audience and you were performing. It just was such a natural and spontaneous moment.

Stevie Nicks: You know what? I do think that the spirits of Rhiannon come in on that song. If you listen to the record, that whole end thing isn’t there. It just goes, [sings] “Dreams unwind, love’s a state of mine”, and then it just sort of quietly and coolly goes out. That was obviously at the very beginning of the invention of it, probably like six or seven minutes of an invention on top of the three and a half minute song. And it’s spectacular, I have to say. 

Bob Harris: It is.

Stevie Nicks: We did a good job. And the energy from everybody is the same, you know. I mean, Christine is just rocking on the piano and Lindsey’s completely insane on the guitar and Mick doesn’t even look like he’s winded.

Bob Harris: Yes. [laughs]

Stevie Nicks: Mick just looks like he’s sitting in his living room; he’s just tapping away on the drums all the way through that incredible end. And it really is spectacular. I’m so glad you guys got it on film because, you know, those are the kind of things that I’m really glad exist in the world for the young men and women artists of today, that are coming up behind us, that can watch that. Hopefully. And go like, “Oh, wow, okay. This is Fleetwood Mac THEN. When they were our age.”

[plays ending of Rhiannon from Old Grey Whistle Test]