Mick Fleetwood on the early days and why he's a terrible drummer

Vistalite Black

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From BBC.com
Mick Fleetwood is the backbone of the band that bears his name; the man who kept Fleetwood Mac rolling through the best and hardest of times.
In the early days he was their manager, hiring and firing musicians like a soft rock Alan Sugar.
By the late 70s, he was the bandage that stopped them falling apart amidst drug abuse, infidelity and betrayal.
And sitting behind his "back to front" drum kit, Fleetwood is the band's beating heart, constructing dozens of unforgettable rhythms - from the syncopated shuffle of Go Your Own Way, to the fidgety cowbell riff of Oh Well.
But surprisingly, the 70-year-old doesn't rate his own drumming.
"There's no discipline," he says. "I can't do the same thing every night."
Anyone who's listened to the deluxe edition of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk will know otherwise. There, you can hear multiple outtakes from the title track, with Fleetwood sitting doggedly on the song's distinctive groove for more than 25 minutes.
Still, he insists: "I am very not conformed, I change all the time."

The confession is prompted by a discussion about Fleetwood's lavish new picture book, Love That Burns, which chronicles his early career and the first incarnations of Fleetwood Mac.
It's being released 50 years after the band played their first show: A 20-minute set at the Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival alongside artists like Cream, Pink Floyd and Jeff Beck.
Back then, they were a hard-edged blues combo, working under the guidance of guitarist Peter Green - who, like Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, had previously played in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.
Green called the group Fleetwood Mac "because I knew I was probably going to leave," he later recalled, adding: "I always wanted Mick and John to have a job."

In the late 60s, the band enjoyed hits with Albatross, Oh Well and Black Magic Woman (later covered by Santana) before the ominous The Green Manilishipresaged Green's descent into drug-induced psychosis.
It's a period of the band's history that's frequently overshadowed by their wildly-successful 70s incarnation, the one that produced Rumours and Tusk, and that's what Fleetwood hopes to in the new book.
"The other thing is so big and so famous that this [story] could just get swallowed up," he says, "I'm happy that at least there's something that says, 'Hey, this is how it all started.'"

As the story begins, the young Fleetwood is a three-town runaway from boarding school, who's been cut loose by his parents and is barrelling around London in a second-hand taxi, dropping in and out of blue bands as he learns his craft.
"In those days, if you had a drum kit that was worth something it was almost more important than if you were a half-way decent drummer," he laughs.
"So if you had the drums and the taxi it was like, 'Yeah, let's give him the gig!'"

'Monumental scolding'
One of his first paid jobs was with The Cheynes, who were hired as the backing band for visiting blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson when he played London's Marquee Club.
Unprepared for the star's tendency to improvise, the band completely lost their way and got a "monumental scolding" in front of the audience.
After bouncing between bands for a couple of years, Fleetwood ended up in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, replacing their previous drummer, Aynsley Dunbar.
"Aynsley is a brilliant drummer," says Fleetwood. "Technically, he's in a whole different league than I am, but he was probably getting a bit too clever.
"The band didn't want any more drum solos, so he was out and I was in - and I'm just Simple Simon, a rock and roll blues drummer."
That didn't go down well with the audience, however, who started chanting "Where's Aynsley?" every night.
"And I always remember in the early days, John came to my rescue and basically came to the microphone and told them to shut up."

Story continues: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-41597857

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http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-41597857
 
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Treviso1

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I don't know why he insists on saying that he's a terrible drummer. Try playing his grooves convincingly...not an easy task. He's got a very unique style that's off the beaten path.
 

gwbasley

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I always liked Mick Fleetwood...simple as it may be, his groove is deep and his time is solid. A rare fill could end up becoming the "hook" to one of their songs.
 

gbow

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I really like a lot of the parts Mick has played over the years. One of the great bands of the era. But I totally understand his description of himself as being a terrible drummer and it's one of my pet peeves!

I too am a terrible drummer.. But from listening to our albums and to us play live, many people over the years have commented that I'm a great drummer, which is not true. Let me explain.

You see, I'm not a drummer who can go on youtube with great solos. Or go on youtube and show you how to play 16th notes on hihat open handed. Or do some of the elaborate double kick drills or complete limb independence or do many other things you see the "greats" do on youtube. I'm just not that good.

But in the context of playing songs, I can hold my own and have for many years. And my ability to write creative parts that fit the songs is good as well. If you listen to our songs like "Again" or "Reckless Abandon" or many other of our songs, the drum parts are good. And I've enjoyed steady studio work for years.

I see Mick as being in this same boat. I'm guessing he couldn't put together Marco Minnemann style youtube videos, but that's not required for his type of music and actually it's not required for most types of music.

This is why it's one of my pet peeves. If I were a young drummer starting out today, I'm not sure if youtube would be a help or drive me to just stop playing. If I thought that being able to do the things the "greats" do on youtube was a requirement for being a good drummer in a good band then I would probably just quit. I will never be like that!

But what needs to be communicated to young drummers is to keep a good groove and play within yourself. Most anyone can learn to do enough to be good if they work at it. It's the same with guitar, you hear all these shredder guys on youtube that are great. But in reality some of the greatest songs ever written had just a few basic chords that most people can learn.

If you're a young musician and you love music.. Stick with it, work at it, play within yourself, and find your own voice! Who knows you might be the next Mick Fleetwood!

gabo
 

Salem street drums

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One of my favorite drummers. So much fun to watch him play. Style for days. One of the few drummers who really "fits" with the musicians he is playing with.
 

Johnny D

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"Werewolves Of London"... one of the fattest grooves and some of the tastiest rock drumming of all time... Not to mention everything he's done with Fleetwood Mac. Great drummer and a very humble man.
 

BennyK

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Simple don't mean easy .

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Radio King

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I love Mick Fleetwood's playing. I've always thought his approach to songs was very creative. He has a very distinct style, and (like Salem Street said) he's also a lot of fun to watch.

I'm guessing he's dismissing his technique due to lack of formal education, but he delivers the goods in spades.

 
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Mongrel

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I take no small comfort when Mick says that he cannot "play the same thing twice"... A feat that I myself have never been able to master...lol.
 

Tmcfour

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Mongrel said:
I take no small comfort when Mick says that he cannot "play the same thing twice"... A feat that I myself have never been auhble to master...lol.
I find I settle into things after a while. But it takes a good loooong while. Haha. I may play something subtlety different the first 20 some times before the fills and changes become natural. Then it's set.
 
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jaymandude

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Johnny D said:
"Werewolves Of London"... one of the fattest grooves and some of the tastiest rock drumming of all time... Not to mention everything he's done with Fleetwood Mac. Great drummer and a very humble man.
Is he on that ? I always thought it was Russ Kunkel.
 

JOE COOL

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we, my wife and i, saw fleetwood mac live a couple of years back in madison square garden. i thought mick played rather well.
some dont think they are good enough, while others think they are better then they are.
the band put on a great show. we more then got our moneys worth.
 
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Yeah, he's not that good?
Methinks he's doing a "humble brag".
In 1969 Mick was playing 20+ minute versions of Rattlesnake Shake where he went from regular time to double time to half time back to double time and ending in regular time, without the tempo speeding up or slowing down.........
He's farging great !
 

Radio King

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jaymandude said:
"Werewolves Of London"... one of the fattest grooves and some of the tastiest rock drumming of all time... Not to mention everything he's done with Fleetwood Mac. Great drummer and a very humble man.
Is he on that ? I always thought it was Russ Kunkel.
Personnel:
Warren Zevon piano, vocals
Mick Fleetwood drums
John McVie bass guitar
Waddy Wachtel guitar
 

Alquit

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I toured with Fleetwood Mac back in the 70's for months all across the USA. MIck is one of the greatest groove drummers I have ever seen. He just lays it down and never shifts. He is a brilliant drummer and also a lovely cool funny man.
 

JazzDrumGuy

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I met him once in 1993 in college at a celebrity softball game in Santa Barbara. I was running the concessions booth so I broke the ice with free food and he loved it! He was a great guy. Very tall! He and I chit-chatted about the Mac for a while and he even signed my GH CD and my roommate's Box Set (I was able to run home and get them!). This was the days before selfies and cell phone cameras...

I asked why he didn't tour (as many bands of that era were doing).....he mentioned it was an issue between Stevie and Lindsey and it seemed like it was the same old BS drama, but they were trying to get something going.....lo and behold a few years later, I saw them on tour!

Not the greatest softball player, but that was very cool and he was very gracious to a college kid!
 

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