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(Credit: Alamy)


Listen to the isolated drums on Fleetwood Mac song ‘Go Your Own Way’


Mick Fleetwood is a famously idiosyncratic drummer. His setup in Fleetwood Mac is atypical, with his left rack tom bigger and lower than his right one, the inverse of a normal setup. Rumours engineer Ken Caillat recalled that Fleetwood, “hit his drums very hard, except for his kick drum. For some reason, when he played his hi-hat, it distracted him. He would keep perfect beat with his kick, but he played it so softly that we could hear his mouth noises through his kick mic.”

This often led to incredibly unique drum patterns that rarely favoured the hi-hat, including the bass drum-heavy ‘Hypnotized‘, the cowbell-led ‘Gold Dust Woman’, and the tom-filled ‘Tusk’. Whatever he was going for in any particular recording, the only thing that you could count on from Fleetwood was that it wasn’t going to be a straightforward backbeat.

Even the band’s hits find Fleetwood in a unique rhythmic state of mind. ‘Never Going Back Again’ originally featured Fleetwood on brushes, which he would later replicate in live performances. ‘Go Your Own Way’ only features the traditional placement of the snare on the two and four during the choruses, with the verses left open for more abstract hits, and he did nearly the same pattern years earlier on ‘Rhiannon’.

Fleetwood’s signature mix of familiarity and versatility can best be heard on the isolated drums for ‘Go Your Own Way’, the band’s monster hit single from Rumours. Going tom-heavy on the song’s verses, Fleetwood pulls things back as the band heads to the chorus, making way for the vocal hooks that come screaming in during the refrain. Fleetwood rarely plays the same pattern twice in a row, and his increased reliance on the snare as the song enters its final two minutes is something that largely comes out of nowhere.

Through it all, Fleetwood is completely steady. It doesn’t matter how much louder or softer he elects to play: Fleetwood stays on the beat the entire way, never letting things lag or get ahead of themselves for even a millisecond. That was perhaps Fleetwood’s greatest power. He had such a natural feel and timing that most of his idiosyncracies barely registered. They just sound right, and he made the most of them in every Fleetwood Mac song.

Check out the isolated drums for ‘Go Your Own Way’ down below.