By Chris M. Junior
Superstardom did not happen overnight for Fleetwood Mac, and neither did the creation of drummer Mick Fleetwood’s latest book.
According to Fleetwood, the seeds for “Love That Burns — A Chronicle of Fleetwood Mac, Volume One: 1967-1974” were planted in 1980. That’s when he came across “I Me Mine,” a book that ex-Beatle (and his former brother-in-law) George Harrison did with England-based Genesis Publications.
“It was like opening a bible, with gorgeous paper,” a smiling Fleetwood recalls, elaborately fanning his hands for emphasis.
Then a few years ago, while at a store in Los Angeles with his nephew Kells, Fleetwood was impressed by another Genesis Publications book: “Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page,” which documented the guitarist’s career in Led Zeppelin and more. At his uncle’s request, Kells contacted Genesis about the publisher’s interest in a Fleetwood project. That was followed by a meeting in London and eventually led to Fleetwood’s new book, which he describes as “a piece of art.”
“I did always aspire to work with this lovely book company,” he adds. “They know how to research and (how to) work with photographers.”
Clocking in at 300-plus pages, the limited-edition “Love That Burns” (due in September) features hundreds of rare photos, illustrations and memorabilia, plus text from Fleetwood as well as present and former band members. Each numbered copy of “Love That Burns” will be signed by Fleetwood and come with a vinyl picture disc containing the book title’s namesake song, which originally appeared on the second Fleetwood Mac album. (To preorder, go to fleetwoodmacbook.com.)
While in Austin, Texas, during this year’s South by Southwest, Fleetwood sat down for a one-on-one conversation at the JW Marriott to discuss “Love That Burns.”
GOLDMINE: Your band has sold millions of albums, but your new book is a limited-edition release. Why was it important to you to not do a widespread pressing of this project for a mass audience?
MICK FLEETWOOD: It didn’t enter my mind. I’ve always known that this company, Genesis Publications, creates art. Their books are so beautiful, and it was just important to do this beautifully and differently. I’ve done a couple of autobiographies (“Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac” and “Play On: Now, Then, and Fleetwood Mac”). This is a band sort of version, a pictorial of this early journey of Fleetwood Mac.
GM: “Love That Burns” is autobiographical at its core and driven by the wealth of images. With this format, did you write first and find photos to match the text, or was it the other way around?
MF: It was the other way around — every picture tells a story (smiles). Some were nonspecific, and a lot very specific, where I really remember what was happening (at that time). There’s a whole mix and match of images. Some really demonstrate the time and the place and general ambiance that was going on in the band. It’s not all about Fleetwood Mac. It’s about the world that we were living in: London, Manchester and Liverpool. And then you get into fashion, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and (these things) spreading all over the world. Then it becomes a sociological connect with that spirit; which has been proven, time and time again, is very real and was very real. This was our little bit of something that was going on, but really, the bigger picture is a bigger picture.
GM: Was doing this type of book — as opposed to a straightforward autobiography with select photos — harder or easier than you initially expected it to be?
MF: Well, the only thing that I was personally surprised about was I thought I had more chronicled photographs. So this is another expression of being super-grateful (to Genesis Publications) for their expertise on how to find stuff. (In doing this type of book) you really can’t mess it up. The picture dictates what you talk about, and the nice thing is, it bleeds over into (related memories), as photos tend to do. A certain amount of storytelling is apropos and is featured in this book. For me, the whole trip of doing this has triggered a trip down memory lane and served as a reminder that it was worth a damn.
GM: How important was it to you personally and to the book itself to have the words of Peter Green, John McVie and others appear within the pages?
MF: Very important. I’m glad, for sure, that they are in there. There’s no doubt that the original inception and creation of Fleetwood Mac was triggered quite definitely by Peter Green. And with all due respect to everyone (who has been in the group), including myself, this book is a healthy reminder of that. There would be no band or Fleetwood Mac without him. I’m happy to troubadour that, and I feel equipped to do it.
GM: In what ways was creating this book like creating an album?
MF: Oh, very similar. Things resonate in a certain way, and sometimes the weak becomes the strong after (the project) starts dictating a certain rhythm — a template of what is appropriate and what has gotta go. And sometimes the ugly duckling becomes really useful in trying to balance it out, and that’s very much like an album. There’s still a little bit of that juggling going on before it goes to print. I think there will be some last-minute (book equivalents to) “That guitar’s out of tune!” or “We gotta remix it!” (laughs)
GM: What were the most difficult periods to write about, and how did you get through them?
MF: I don’t think anything was difficult. Some of it was revealing, which was only ultimately a good thing. They were all emotional triggers. (Pauses for a few seconds) None of it was daunting or difficult. It’s really been a moving experience — and I’m a sucker for that.
GM: Not to get ahead of ourselves here, but what’s the status of “Volume II”?
MF: The story is not complete, and the aspiring wish and desire is that there will be another volume at some point in the future. Then the story, in this representation or method of portraying a story, will be complete. And then we can all go home. (laughs)