June 24, 2002
Fleetwood changing diapers, still rocking at 55
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Drummer Mick Fleetwood, who turned 55 Monday, finds himself in the odd position of changing diapers at middle age even as he toils in the studio with members of the veteran rock band he co-founded in the late 1960s. The tall, lanky, British-born musician divides his time these days between working on a new Fleetwood Mac album, dabbling in various entrepreneurial activities and raising twin baby girls with his wife of about 10 years, Lynn.
During a telephone interview, Fleetwood told Reuters that both his creative and parenting skills had improved with age.
He also said he and his fellow bandmates are more at peace with themselves and each other, in stark contrast to the old days when Fleetwood Mac endured bitter internal rivalries and turmoil as the group churned out hit after hit.
"Our last outing was better than ever," he said, referring to Fleetwood Mac's 1997 reunion album, "The Dance," which sold more than 4 million copies in the United States and paved the way for a successful U.S. tour.
"It has to be happy. We don't want to go back into the dark ages of Fleetwood Mac, when it was way too crazy, not all that happy. We're so much over that. We came out on the other side, survivors and incredibly intact, and it's very conducive to the creative process," he said.
The new album reunites Fleetwood with three members of the band's most popular incarnation -- bass player and British co-founder John McVie, along with American songwriters and former lovers Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Sitting this one out is McVie's ex-wife, singer-keyboardist Christine McVie, who has retired and is living in England.
The band, which shot to fame in the 1970s at the peak of its progression from British blues combo to California rock institution, has already produced enough material in the past 18 months to fill a double CD, Fleetwood said. The material was recorded in a Los Angeles house leased by the band.
Fleetwood expects the band to have the album out by early next year and to follow up with a tour in April 2003. The band also is releasing a greatest hits package around Christmas 2002, he said.
Fleetwood said there are "mumblings" from time to time of contributions by Christine McVie, but that the remaining four members have been moving ahead at full steam. In some ways, he said, the Buckingham/Nicks creative connection has been rekindled in the absence of Christine McVie.
"It's a major thing for Stevie and Lindsey. They came in as a couple, and in a strange way it's come full circle. Now that Christine is not in the mix, the Buckingham/Nicks chemistry is back, and they're having the chance to live out some of the things and energies that couldn't exist in the past 27 years," he said.
The band has changed its lineup many times through the years, with the best-known formula occurring in 1975 when Buckingham and Nicks joined Fleetwood and the McVies. They powered the band to mega-success with the 1977 album "Rumours," which sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.
"Rumours" chronicled the band's dramas at the time, with both the McVies and Buckingham and Nicks splitting up.
Fleetwood's own wife at the time was sleeping with his best friend, and the whole band struggled with drug and alcohol abuse problems.
Fleetwood, who has two grown daughters as well as a grandson, is now back to putting diapers on his 4-month-old twins, Tessa and Ruby.
He said that being an older dad has definite advantages.
"It's way more interesting the second time around and when you're older. You're more focused," he said. "I was on the road when the others were younger. I am from memory a lot more hands on than I was. And it's a great benefit that I'm not on the road."
Of course, next year could be different when he plans to take the band back on the road, with the families in tow.
"With all the children, it will be like a band of gypsies," he said, joking that he expected everyone will want the babies and nannies "way in the back of the plane."