Mick Fleetwood’s role as the stalwart figure in Fleetwood Mac for over half a century immediately makes him one of the most celebrated British musicians of all time. Although even Fleetwood would never describe himself as nearing the upper echelons of percussion, it’s impossible to ignore the vital role he has played in one of the most enticing and exciting groups of all time. Fleetwood Mac has made millions fall in love with music, but who was it that played a lifechanging role in Fleetwood’s life?
The origin story of Fleetwood Mac began back in July 1967, following the late Peter Green wanting to start a new chapter of his career after he stopped playing with John Mayall. Eric Clapton was previously the guitarist in Mayall’s band The Bluesbreakers and Green felt inclined to try to emulate Slowhand’s success with Cream. However, he needed to form a group first. Green then managed to convince his Bluesbreakers bandmates Mick Fleetwood and John McVie to start a new adventure with him— Fleetwood Mac was born.
“Peter could have been the stereotypical superstar guitar player and control freak, but that wasn’t his style. He named the band after the bass player and drummer, for Christ’s sake. He was also always willing to give as much space and creative freedom to other members, like guitarist Jeremy Spencer, and songwriter Danny Kirwan, at the expense of his own creativity,” Mick Fleetwood told the Irish Times in 2017.
The drummer’s love of music roots back to his childhood, and he vividly remembers the first time that he became aware of how sounds could alter his mood as a child. Little did he know back then, that one day there would be a whole generation who fell in love with music thanks to him, that he would have passed that same feeling of adoration on.
The first song that he remembers hearing does manage to evoke a warm memory from Fleetwood; however, his inability to name the artist who sang the track proves the little impact it had on his life. “I must have been really small. It was called ‘Little Red Monkey’. I don’t know how I’m channelling this information,” he honestly told NME in 2017.
“I’ve no idea who sang it. It was out of some horror flick that was on the BBC,” Fleetwood recalled before delivering a rendition of the song, which proves why Stevie Nicks is the singer in the band, and he has stayed firmly behind the drumkit.
The song that was the first track that Fleetwood actually fell in love with was less obscure, “In truth, you could go with another one. When I was at boarding school, I started listening to music on a crystal radio — which is interesting in itself because they don’t have batteries and is crystal energy, you make them. I mean it’s totally illegal at boarding school,” Fleetwood said as his mind wandered further and further away from his initial point.
“It would have been ‘Peggy Sue’, Buddy Holly,” Fleetwood revealed. “I thought the whole imaging of who he was, of course, in those days you didn’t know how young he was and in truth, the tragedy of losing him. Then, later on, you realised how important he was, and if you mentioned Buddy Holly to Paul McCartney, he’ll go (makes bowing action). He started a lot of creative sensibilities, very modern, very connected — Buddy Holly, in the way he approached his music and unique,” he concluded in his transatlantic twang.
The story of Buddy Holly is a tragedy, as Fleetwood quite appropriately states. The fact that Holly lost his life at just 22, was robbed of the best years of his career and is still devotedly remembered as one of the greatest says everything you need to know about him. The fact he is an idol for Paul McCartney and Mick Fleetwood maybe just adds a little cherry on top.