Past 60, Mick Fleetwood Plays On Drummer Mick Fleetwood explores the resurgence of blues in America, thanks to an ongoing interest in British blues-rock bands like The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac — which is touring again after a five-year hiatus. Fleetwood says he hopes to bring the group back to its blues roots.
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Past 60, Mick Fleetwood Plays On

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Past 60, Mick Fleetwood Plays On

Past 60, Mick Fleetwood Plays On

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This WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

(Soundbite of song)

SIMON: Like, I don't know about you, but despite the lyrics to this song, I was astonished to hear the name of this band.

(Soundbite of song)

Mr. MICK FLEETWOOD (Musician): (Singing) The Fleetwood boogie. The Fleetwood boogie. The Fleetwood boogie. The Fleetwood boogie. Oh, and the Fleetwood boogie rocking all night long. Rock it now.

SIMON: The song is called "Fleetwood Boogie," as in Mick Fleetwood. And the band is called the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band. Mick Fleetwood, of course, is the drummer for the legendary band Fleetwood Mac. They're on tour right now, the first time in five years. Mick Fleetwood's Blues Band is Mr. Fleetwood's new band, sort of - new, old, sort of. We'll get him to sort that out. We'll have him explain that later. He joins us from the studios of our esteemed member station WBEZ in Chicago.

Mr. Fleetwood, so nice to have you with us.

Mr. FLEETWOOD: I've never heard so many Fleetwoods in one announcement.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: And you grew up in that family, so you would have heard a lot.

Mr. FLEETWOOD: Oh, yeah. And anyhow, hello.

SIMON: Well, very nice to talk to you. And now, look, Fleetwood Mac does not have a new album out. The tour is called Unleashed.


SIMON: What's that mean?

Mr. FLEETWOOD: Well, it's actually a title that Stevie laid on the table. You know…

SIMON: Stevie Nicks.

Mr. FLEETWOOD: Stevie Nicks, yes.

SIMON: As opposed to Stevie Wonder, yeah.

Mr. FLEETWOOD: That's right. We always need a title for a tour, and Stevie…

SIMON: That's so you can sell T-shirts with the title?

Mr. FLEETWOOD: Well, you just need something for tickets. You need something for T-shirts. And this was - just sounded and felt like sort of what we're doing. We're unleashing the band again and we're going out and actually doing something without an album, like you mentioned, for the first time ever. So there are - we don't have to have the audience sit through five or six or seven new songs. So Unleashed it is. Unleash the hounds.

SIMON: Okay, and now to the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band. It's simultaneously new and old, I gather.

Mr. FLEETWOOD: Well, the band itself is a band that I formed with a dear friend of mine, Rick Vito, who played in the '80s with Fleetwood Mac for a few years. And Rick happened, back in the day, when Fleetwood Mac was formed in '67, was a great fan of the band and, indeed, a great fan of a fantastic guitar player called Peter Green, who formed Fleetwood Mac with me so many years ago in 1967.

The early Fleetwood Mac was very much a blues band. We all came out of having played with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, the same sorts of histories as Eric Clapton and Mick Taylor from the Rolling Stones, et cetera, et cetera. So there was a whole movement, blues movement, in Europe. And out of that we put an album out, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, and it went straight to the top of the English charts.

And you know, the average English listener thought that it was some new musical form that they'd never heard before, which they hadn't. So this band is all about a real passion for blues, the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band. It's a lot of fun and we're able to go back and address the Fleetwood Mac material from the early days. And we also have fun crafting some new material, which is part of our onward-going history, hopefully.

SIMON: Let me ask you about one of the vintage songs, if you please, on this, by Peter Green.

Mr. FLEETWOOD: Uh-huh.

SIMON: Let's listen to a little bit of "Love That Burns."

Mr. FLEETWOOD: Oh, beautiful.

(Soundbite of song, "Love That Burns")

Mr. FLEETWOOD: (Singing) Yeah, you used me like a fool. Baby, my heart can't stand another lie. Don't you use me as a fool. Baby, my heart can't stand another lie. If you can't love me tomorrow, please me leave me now in my lonely pride. In my lonely pride.

(Speaking) Are you crying yet?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Yes, I'm barely holding myself together. And so let me ask you a question I suspect…


SIMON: …Fleetwood Mac fans all over the world ask each other: Where were you the first time you heard this song? Let's change it for you. Where were you the first time you can recall performing this song?

Mr. FLEETWOOD: I do know that we played this song before we recorded it in a pub called The Nag's Head in Brixton. And The Nag's Head could maybe get officially sort of 60 people in it and there used to be like 250, 300 people in there. And those were the sorts of places that this music came out of, and that was our beginnings of Fleetwood Mac.

SIMON: Let's contrast that, a real vintage song, with what, as I understand it, a contemporary song inspired by vintage material, one of Rick Vito's songs, this one - why not - "I Got a Hole in My Shoe."

(Soundbite of song, "I Got a Hole in My Shoe")

Mr. FLEETWOOD: (Singing) I got a hole in my shoe, I got a hole in my shoe, I got a hole in my shoe (unintelligible). I've got a tear in my eyes, a tear in my eye, I've got tear in my eye, ever since you said goodbye, ever since that you said goodbye…

SIMON: I've heard the argument made over the years - I wonder what you think of this, Mr. Fleetwood - that the blues might not be even barely alive today if all these English rockers hadn't discovered it.

Mr. FLEETWOOD: I think there's some truth. In fact, I believe quite strongly that there is a lot of truth in that. This is what us young dudes were doing in London just - and other places in England. I remember the Stones back in the day when they first started touring in the States, and the Stones were basically a blues band, you know, to all intents and purposes.

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. FLEETWOOD: They, they were horrified that no one had heard of their heroes - you know, Muddy Waters and Otis Span, and etcetera, and Shakey Horton - you know, just endless amounts of people, Bo Diddley, etcetera. And they made some inroads back in the day by putting some of these guys on their, their sort of pop shows in here in the States.

And you're right. I think that whole genre of music was all but dead, and all of these guys used to come over to Europe and be treated like royalty, and the likes of Freddie King and certainly B.B. King. There is no doubt that they, they acclaim these strange little white kids coming over really made a point that that art form is part of a wonderful heritage of the United States of America. And it's nice to know that in some way we were a part of that.

SIMON: You know Twitter?

Mr. FLEETWOOD: No, I don't.

SIMON: Twitter is a, it's a social network. It's - you become a member of Twitter and you send up to 240 characters, short messages to people who are on your network.


SIMON: And I send out a tweet, as it's called…


SIMON: …asking people who follow us and our show for questions for you. May I run some questions for you?

Mr. FLEETWOOD: Of course.

SIMON: Okay. A man who identifies himself as Freeman Forth(ph) - and I think this is probably directed towards the Fleetwood Mac part of your career…


SIMON: …it says, he asks: Working that close for so long, did they take time-outs or just throw things at each other? And thanks for the music, always.

Mr. FLEETWOOD: To literally throw things. Well, I think those moments…

SIMON: It might have been metaphorical too.

Mr. FLEETWOOD: No, I think in truth, what one would deem to be the sort of "Rumors" era with Stevie, Lindsay and Christine and John and myself, I think it's well documented and it's certainly public knowledge that we have been fairly dysfunctional at certain points in our history, and I'm sure one or two things were thrown across the room.

SIMON: Piano?

Mr. FLEETWOOD: Maybe a piano, yes, or two. The lovely thing is, we are very aware that we make and enjoy playing music together. It sort of harkens to the Shakespearean phrase - if music be the food of love, play on. And we are playing on.

SIMON: In a different tenor, Thor Spangler(ph) is his moniker, says: Mick has seen a lot of backsides from his perch on the drum riser. Who's is his the most interesting?

Mr. FLEETWOOD: Oh my goodness. Well, the one that's gorgeous and been there, because Chris was always stuck behind the piano. I'd have to say Stevie Nicks. John sometimes wanders in front of the drum riser. Lindsey is running around on stage way too much for me to even get a look.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: I admire you so for not ducking that question. Thank you.

Mr. FLEETWOOD: Ah, no problem.

SIMON: Is there a song we should go out on?

Mr. FLEETWOOD: I would love you to play, actually, "Albatross," which is, again, it's a Peter Green instrumental and this was our first number one hit all over Europe. And this is my first taste of, of - oh my god, we're becoming famous, I suppose, and look what happened.

SIMON: Mr. Fleetwood, thanks so much.

Mr. FLEETWOOD: You're very welcome.

SIMON: Mick Fleetwood speaking with us from Chicago. He's currently on tour with his old band, Fleetwood Mac, and he has a new album with the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, which is called "Blue Again."

(Soundbite of music)

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