When Mick Fleetwood was growing up, the amount of music which was accessible was extremely limited compared to the infinite albums we all have at our fingertips today. His first musical love was Cliff Richard and The Shadows, who were also responsible for the first album he ever bought.
Fleetwood grew up in rural Gloucestershire, and, as one might expect, there was no vibrant music scene on his doorstep. Instead, he had to settle for the crumbs of pop songs which would somehow successfully squirm their way into his existence and brighten up his life.
At 13, he was bought his first drum kit by his parents, and for the first time, Fleetwood had a passion. He wasn’t the greatest academically and learning an instrument provided him with an escape from the monotony of life. His parents encouraged his interests, and his father played the instrument too.
Astonishingly, when he was 15, they allowed him to chase his ambitions and move down to London to try to become a professional musician. Here, he became aware of a much wider musical world beyond Cliff Richard and The Shadows, which was enthralling to his teenage self.
Speaking to NME, Fleetwood revealed the first album he ever bought was their 1960 release, Me and My Shadows. He said: “We lived just outside Gloucester and we used to buy singles, but the first album was Cliff Richard And The Shadows. They were the ultimate heroes.”
This interview isn’t the only occasion when Fleetwood has spoken about the importance of the group to him during his early life and how they were the first band he adored. In an interview with BBC Radio London, which looked back at his life through music, Fleetwood said: “Cliff Richard and The Shadows was huge for me, as with a lot of people. If you talk to the guitar heroes we all love, Jeff Beck, and all these fantastic players, they all had a reverence for Hank Marvin in The Shadows.”
Fleetwood then discussed how his music taste developed once he moved to London and surrounded himself in creative circles, which significantly expanded his horizons. He continued: “It was a weird mixture (his early music taste), but, it wasn’t until I came to London that I could get hold of the stuff, and records weren’t really around. There were a few places, and collectors.
“What we used to do in the old days, if someone had something like a little office dictaphone, you’d go round if someone had a ’78 or an album from the States. You weren’t leaving with it, but you could tape a bit of it. The whole energy of London was like that.”
While the bands he discovered in the capital would eventually lead to the formation of Fleetwood Mac, it was his early fascination with Cliff Richard and The Shadows that marked the first domino that fell, which made everything else possible.