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'New' Fleetwood Mac Meets Cancellations

Promoters begin catching wise, pulling the plug

March 14, 1974
Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood,  John McVie, Bob Weston and Bob Welch
Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Bob Weston and Bob Welch
Michael Putland/Getty Images

NEW YORK — Lawyers and courts may soon be deciding who is the real Fleetwood Mac. While the "new" Fleetwood remains on a US tour, scheduled through March 30th, the "old" Fleetwood – that is, the one that recorded for Warner Bros., and did the last tour – is in England meeting with lawyers.

Central figure in the brouhaha is manager Clifford Davis, who claims that he is Fleetwood Mac and that he has every right to fire the "old" band and hire a new one (Rolling Stone, February 28th, 1974).

Meanwhile, the "new" Fleetwood continued to encounter hostile audiences.

In San Jose, California, January 31st, hundreds of people in the audience of about 3000 reacted immediately when they saw who was on stage.

"Who the fuck are you?" the crowd shouted at the lead singer, who reportedly replied:

"We're Fleetwood Mac; who the fuck are you? If you don't like us, go get your money back and piss off."

Many in the audience attempted to get refunds. However, none were being offered at the ticket windows, where each buyer had paid $6 (plus a 50¢ service charge). For those that stayed the 40-minute show consisted primarily of early numbers: "Goin' Down," "Showbiz Blues," "Green Manalishi," "Rattlesnake Shake" and three tunes from Then Play On.

The band was scheduled to play at California State University at Arcata the next night, February 1st. During the afternoon, the band's equipment and light crew was overheard talking about the San Jose incident. Word reached the university's program board office, and a phone call to San Jose confirmed the incident of the night before, and the show was canceled.

Three reporters from the university newspaper, The Lumberjack, caught up with the band at the Eureka Inn. The band members reportedly seemed ignorant of the fact that they were being advertised as the Fleetwood Mac of old.

In Boise, Idaho, about 3000 persons paid $5 a seat for a concert February 7th. Again, the discrepancy in personnel was noticed by the audience, and complaints were filed with the Consumer Protection Division of the Idaho Attorney General's office.

The US tour, booked by American Talent International, began January 16th, with 39 dates scheduled in 38 cities. At least four of the dates have been dropped by promoters.

Bill Graham's FM Productions had planned to present Fleetwood February 15th and 16th in San Francisco. "We got calls from people in San Jose complaining about the group," said Jerry Pompili of FM Production. "Then we got a call from England, from Mick Fleetwood. He said he had nothing to do with this band.

"I called Bill (out on the Bob Dylan tour) and we found out about the fight over ownership of the name, and Bill called the agent and dropped the show. They re-supplied us with Savoy Brown."

ATI has reportedly instructed other promoters along the tour to introduce the band as "the new Fleetwood Mac" or "Fleetwood Mac's new band."

As the incidents and cancellations began to mount up, ATI agent Bruce Payne, who had originally backed manager Davis' claim that he had fired everyone except Mick Fleetwood, and that Mick had been taken ill and couldn't make the trip, began to have doubts.

"I'll be honest with you," he said. "I don't know what's happening with Fleetwood. I'm getting a lot of conflicting stories... I'm more or less playing it by ear waiting for someone to give me official notice of what did happen or what's going to happen."

On the phone from London, "old" Fleetwood guitarist Bob Welch said Payne had called him and Mick Fleetwood to find out what was going on. "We told him that we're taking action against Clifford," said Welch. "The fact that he has booked the band that's out on the road means it's possible that he might get implicated in something. Who we're trying to get after is Clifford and, basically, to get that band off the road."

Payne now says: "We had anticipated canceling the whole tour as soon as it began to smell a little funny, but most of the promoters involved would sooner do it just this way and play it by ear. If we cancel, they stand to lose as much money as if it doesn't go on. Everybody's willing to take a chance and just wait and find out if there's a real group."

This story is from the March 14th, 1974 issue of Rolling Stone.


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