Most are merely regurgitations of well-known information, sometimes with snippets of interviews and articles that have appeared elsewhere. Edward Wincentsen’s absolutely dreadful Fleetwood Mac Through The Years would be an example of the worst of the worst.
Mike Evans is now joining the fray with his own look at the band: Fleetwood Mac The Definitive History. It’s a must-read for any FM fan and a solid retrospective for the casual and curious.
Based on sheer size, Evans stands alone.
This larger, oversized coffee table book doesn't waste a stitch of space. It's filled with excellent photos, some of them never before seen, including by the most rabid collectors.
The book starts with the usual look back, giving a glimpse into the early beginnings of the band and not the one that most people know today. This beginning starts with bassist John McVie joining legendary John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. The roster at one time included Eric Clapton and, very briefly, drummer Mick Fleetwood.
Fate would eventually bring Fleetwood and McVie together with Peter Greenbaum, better known as singer/songwriter/guitarist Peter Green. And thus, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac was born as a British blues band.
As the narrative retells some of the story, full-page photos of each album cover introduce every successive phase. Evans includes the track listening, songwriting credits, and personnel. These details make it an indispensable resource.
The revolving door that eventually led to rock greatness.
Fleetwood Mac’s revolving door through 1974 would include Christine McVie, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, Bob Weston, Dave Walker, and Bob Welch. In fact, it was stalwart Welch’s departure that opened the door for duo Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.
It's here that Evans does the story justice, telling how Fleetwood was scouting studios when he heard a tape of Buckingham Nicks. He liked Buckingham’s style, eventually inviting the pair to join (they famously came as a package deal).
While most of the lore surrounding Buckingham and Nicks is well known to fans, Evans dutifully lays it out. There are a few new tidbits here and there, but nothing earth shattering. It's been told. We all know it.
Once this famous lineup was solid, the 1975 self-titled Fleetwood Mac was released. All five members (the two McVies, Fleetwood, Buckingham, and Nicks) became multi-millionaires overnight. Maybe it was this early success that also ensured Fleetwood Mac would become well documented, along with the excesses that became part of Rumours, the band’s defining album.
Rumours is a once-in-a-lifetime romanticized anti-love story.
When the two couples in the band split during recording, and Fleetwood divorced (and later married and divorced yet again), most bands would have scrapped it all. Instead, in between the copious amounts of drink, drugs (especially cocaine), and infighting, they captured one of the greatest angst albums ever made.
Rumours, of course, went on to become one of the top-selling albums in history, with Fleetwood Mac justifiably the biggest rock band in the world in the late 1970s. Tusk, the follow up to Rumours, was musically controlled by Buckingham, with everyone else calling it in.
Amazingly, Tusk would be a triumph and a disappointment all at once. The music showcased three obviously different songwriters, with each person's songs strong, but collectively not cohesive. However it was likely the decision to make Tusk a double album (Fleetwood’s call) that ultimately led to disappointing sales, not really Buckingham's experimental tracks.
The retrospective takes the story up through Christine McVie’s eventual permanent departure (retirement) and the band’s current lineup of Nicks, Buckingham, Fleetwood, and John McVie.
Mike Evans’ Fleetwood Mac: The Definitive History Is 8.0 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Evans does an excellent job pulling decades of information together without getting off track. Fleetwood Mac The Definitive History is one of the best books written about the band. It’s an enjoyable read about an even more enjoyable ride through the years.
Barnes & Noble carries Fleetwood Mac: The Definitive History. You can also find Evans' Fleetwood Mac: The Definitive History on Amazon. There are electronic versions of the book available too. It's hard to recommend them. This is one book that deserves to be owned in print. For more Fleetwood Mac rarities, visit Wolfgang's Vault. Happy Thanksgiving.