Mick Fleetwood should be relaxing. He just wrapped up a 13-month world tour — Fleetwood Mac’s first since parting ways with Lindsey Buckingham and replacing him with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and Crowded House frontman Neil Finn — but the 72-year-old drummer is already deep into planning his next project: a tribute concert to Peter Green, who co-founded Fleetwood Mac and wrote many of the group’s early classics before being sidelined by mental illness and addiction issues. The show is set for February 25th in London, with special guests David Gilmour, Christine McVie, John Mayall, and Steven Tyler. “I wanted people to know that I did not form this band — Peter Green did,” Fleetwood says. “And I wanted to celebrate those early years of Fleetwood Mac, which started this massive ball that went down the road over the last 50 years.”
Peter Green hasn’t been seen much in public over the past decade. When is the last time that you and he spoke?
It was about a year and a half ago. I went out with my girlfriend, and spent the day with him. He’s not the Peter that I knew, clearly. But he plays acoustic guitar. He loves painting, and fishing is his hobby. It’s no secret that he took a left turn and never came back, but he’s OK. He also has really little or no ego at all, which is unbelievable. You want to go, “Do you realize what you did?” “No, no. Yeah, I suppose so.” He has no ego about what he did.
Might he perform at the show?
No. But it seems he’s going to come. He wants to keep a very, very low profile, and that’s fine. This is about the journey Peter took into the music, and that music is still alive. Everyone that’s on this show has their own poignant story about being connected to that early band.
Will John McVie be there?
Not as of the moment. He’s in the middle of one of his sailing trips. But Christine [McVie] will be there.
I loved hearing you guys play “Man of the World” on this past tour.
Neil Finn did a really good job on that. It’s a very prophetic song. It wasn’t exactly the last song [Peter] made with us. That was “The Green Manalishi.” When he made those songs, we had no idea that he was suffering internally as much as he was. But if you listen to the words, it’s crucifyingly obvious what was going on. But a beautiful song. A poignant song.
Peter was one of about 10 guitarists who have left the band over the years. Why can’t you and John ever hold onto guitarists?
We don’t really know. It’s daunting when you look at all the great guitarists that have come through our ranks. But John and I have always just kept the band going. We can’t do this on our own. Every time [someone leaves] we go, “Well, what the fuck are we going to do now? Find another guitar player!”
I’ve heard there’s talk of a Fleetwood Mac Broadway musical.
There’s always been talk about doing something like that. I hope it can happen at some point. A lot of people, understandably, would say, “Wow, that would make a really good musical.” It is an incredibly interesting story, especially the period around Rumours. But it’s not formed.
How do you feel physically, after wrapping up that recent marathon tour?
It’s actually coming off the road that’s the downer. You find yourself wondering why you start to get antsy around 8 p.m. It’s this military-type of stress where you just keep going and going, so you have to be careful with how you work your re-entry so you don’t beat yourself up too much.
What are the future plans for the group? I’ve read that Stevie Nicks is preparing a long solo tour.
We had a lovely get-together in L.A. about two weeks ago after the tour. We are all very open to that continuing in the band. There’s no breaking up of the band. We were like, “Give us a break. Give us a few weeks before we start wondering what to do.” In the New Year, we’ll touch on what the vision is.
What is your vision for what that might be?
We’re not going to do a [long] tour, I would say, ever again. But there’s loads of alternatives. People like Peter Gabriel have a lovely way of working where they go and just do four or five major festivals during the summer. That’s the sort of vision that I see for Fleetwood Mac. We’re able to cherry-pick things that have dignity, and are fun to do, and they’re historically interesting.
A lot of bands are doing farewell tours now. Can you ever see Fleetwood Mac doing one of those?
I suppose. It would be the right thing to do, to let people know you’re not wanting to play again. We are not at that point, but if we get there, it’s a pretty good, gracious thing to let people know they’ll never see the band play again.
Do you see any scenario where you’d ever play with Lindsey Buckingham again?
No. Fleetwood Mac is a strange creature. We’re very, very committed to Neil and Mike, and that passed away a time ago, when Lindsey left. And it’s not a point of conversation, so I have to say no. It’s a full drama of Fleetwood Mac, no doubt. His legacy is alive and well, and as it should be. A major, major part that will never be taken away, and never be down-spoken by any of us. Neil and Mike have tremendous respect for Lindsey. The situation was no secret. We were not happy. It was not working, and we parted company. And that really is the all of it.
Have you spoken to Lindsey since his heart attack?
I have not.