Still rock and roll but pills and joints now about arthritis
Mick Fleetwood snorted seven MILES of cocaine while Stevie Nicks has a hole bigger than a 5p piece in her septum – but those hellraising days are behind them.
Multi-million dollars of cocaine ordered in bulk, 14 black limousines on tours where pink-painted dressing rooms had to have a white piano installed, and, of course, alcohol. Lots of it.
For years Fleetwood Mac rode a wave of drug-fuelled excess.
Drummer Mick Fleetwood last year revealed how he’d worked out that all the cocaine he’d snorted would make a line seven miles long.
And singer Stevie Nicks took so much she has a hole bigger than a 5p piece in her septum.
They once hired Hitler’s private railway car to travel across Europe, allegedly to avoid drug searches. It even came with the same elderly attendant who served the Fuhrer.
But as we meet it’s clear their days of hell-raising are well and truly over. They’ve swapped cocaine and champagne for, er, ice baths and physio.
Cornwall-born Mick says he has ice wraps in his dressing room to help combat arthritis.
“I’m like an old race horse – it’s not like I’m ancient ancient, but these things are sort of worn out a bit,” says Mick, rubbing his shoulders. He’s has wristbands for his tendonitis too.
“I’ve got a deep-freeze in my room in order to do what I’m doing… you take care of yourself.”
He’s 70 this month but insists: “I’m not letting up any – I’m playing harder than I ever played, apparently.”
Fleetwood Mac descend on the Isle Of Wight Festival next week for 91st performance in current On With The Show tour.
It’s been an epic journey for Mick, Stevie, 67, bassist John McVie, 69, his ex-wife Chrissie, 71, who sings and plays keyboards, and singer-guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, 65. And not without its battle wounds.
“I have a bone spur in my toe from wearing my ballerina platform shoes on stage every night,” explains Arizona-born Stevie.
“And I had a fall in 2013 where I really hurt my left knee. Somehow a couple of weeks ago I reinjured it. I think I stepped down a little too hard on it on stage.
“I have to find new boots. Steel-toe capped boots that do not touch the toe. If anything is lying on that bone spur it’s going to make it bigger and I’m going to have surgery.
“And I am not having somebody cut my toe open. There’s just no way!”
Bandmate Chrissie, meanwhile, is getting used to being back on board. Born in Cumbria and once a solo singer called Christine Perfect, she quit in 1997, quoting exhaustion and fear of flying.
She sold her house in LA and spent 16 years living a reclusive life in a village near Canterbury.
Although she’s loves being back, she has her own medical issues.
As a blues player, she has to spread her fingers for keyboard octaves, which means she now needs a wrist cuff for her tendons and she clutches a squidgy bag in her right hand.
“You have to mobilise your fingers. I’ve had this since before Christmas,” she says of a lump on her hand.
“It takes a long time to heal. If I was 16 it would be better by now.”
She and Stevie go through half an hour of vocal training every night. Does she drink soothing stuff like honey tinctures?
“Spritzers,” she says with a wink. “Wine and soda water.”
Her ex John, meanwhile, was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 during rehearsals for their mammoth tour.
Mick says: “He’s 100% better. It’s super cool. It wasn’t allowed to be devastating ’cause John’s so strong.
“With me it would be more of a drama. With him it was like, ‘Let me get this put right. This is what I’ve got to do. Gonna do it. Done.’ ”
Was Londoner John’s illness why Chrissie decided to return?
“I’ve always loved John. And I always will. But that was not part of why I came back,” she says. “And I always knew he’d beat it.”
Things aren’t too awkward on stage for Chrissie and John. They married in 1969, split in 1976, and John has a daughter in her 20s with his second wife.
For Stevie and Lindsey it’s more complicated.
They were a couple when they joined the band in 1975, split just before 1977’s mega-selling Rumours, album, then Stevie had a secret affair with Mick.
So is having Chrissie back good for Stevie?
“Oh absolutely,” chuckles Mick. “She’s there on stage with two of her ex-boyfriends. One really more than a boyfriend. One really half of her life. So it’s all been a positive thing.”
The “half her life” man is Californian Lindsey. They have what you might call a love-hate relationship.
Asked whether things are now “chill”, Lindsey laughs: “Chill or chilly?” No, things are great.
“It’s odd to think on that on some strange level Stevie and I could still possibly be a work in progress. In a way it’s sort of touching, isn’t it?”
Stevie is less convinced. “He is who he is,” she says. He and I have our rifts. We don’t agree on anything. And that’s just the way it is.
“Has he changed and become this really graciously, charmingly loving guy all of sudden? No. He never will. He’s always gonna be Lindsey.”
But they’ve clearly found a way to make it work. An 18th world tour is an accomplishment only rivalled by the likes of the Rolling Stones.
Mick says: “Mick Jagger literally doing somersaults and running around the stage at 72 is truly astonishing. We’re much more consistent. We’re in good shape. And all the voices are really very, very intact. Which is not always the case.”
One unlikely friend of the band is One Direction’s Harry Styles, who gave Stevie a handmade birthday cake in London last week.
Mick says: “We’re penpals! I took my two 13-year-old daughters and their mates to see One Direction. And that point, the girls are going, ‘Dad, just don’t embarrass us! No dad-dancing!’
“But had the meet-and-greet thing… and what happened in front of my daughters was Dad became a superstar!
“They all wanted to meet me! My ante got upped! All their songwriting team wanted to meet me. That’s when I met Harry and he’s come to three of our shows. He writes to me from weird places.”
Mick is hoping for a new Fleetwood Mac album because they have “a s***load of new songs”.
But Stevie says: “Honestly, I just don’t know about it. This tour has been so hard and so breathtakingly overwhelming.”
She adds: “I have to look great, I have to feel great, I have to sound great. And I cannot be thinking about future albums or poetry or songs right now.
“Now we have Europe to conquer. It’s really important that we are spectacular. And that’s all that I can worry about right now.”
With that we leave the band to their spritzers and deep freeze…
Halina Watts / The Mirror / Friday, 5th June 2015