LONDON — “If this case goes on any longer,” said Mick Fleetwood, “I’ll end up talking like a lawyer.” Fleetwood was referring to the action brought by members of Fleetwood Mac to prevent former manager Clifford Davis from using the group’s name for another set of musicians who recently toured America.
The holdup in legal proceedings stems from Davis’s apparent reticence to tell his account of what happened. “He’s had six weeks so far,” said Fleetwood, “and the judge may give him another week or so, but it seems he’s finding it hard to give an answer.” The group is confident about the eventual judgment. “He can’t stop us using the name,” said Fleetwood, “but we can certainly stop him.”
The band is anxious to settle quickly so that they can go to Los Angeles to work on a new LP and plan a U.S. tour. But Fleetwood will see the suit to its conclusion. “I think Davis thought we wouldn’t be bothered to fight his takeover,” said Mick, “particularly as I’d just been through a state of emotional trauma, but we’ll see it through to the end even if it makes us go broke. So many managers seem to forget who is employing who, and who makes the money. They forget it’s the people who bash the drums and twang the guitars.
“You see, it’s not just vindictiveness, it’s that he tried to take our livings away, smeared us as being fools for even letting this situation develop.”
During the recent tour of the Davis-hired “Fleetwood Mac,” audiences greeted the band with hostility, demands for refunds, and, in Boise, Idaho, with complaints filed with the attorney general’s office.
Davis, who was on the tour, maintained that he was Fleetwood Mac and could hire and fire as he pleased. He had not informed promoters that his band included none of the Fleetwood Mac from previous tours and recent albums. Of 39 scheduled concerts, four were known to have been canceled as promoters learned of what Davis called the “new” Fleetwood Mac.
Fleetwood’s explanation of Davis’s behavior is that, after being told by the band that they didn’t want to tour until they decided, he considered the possible loss of income and formed the “new” Fleetwood Mac.
“We have letters from him, stating he had the right to the name. He said that he sacked the band before Christmas and then offered me a job on a wage basis. He has no right. The band is a registered company which employed Davis. What an insult! John [McVie] and I were with the band when it started, way before he came on the scene.”
Meantime, said Mick Fleetwood, his group will work without a manager. “We’ll look after ourselves, with a good accountant and lawyer. If something is too complicated for us to arrange, then we just won’t do it. You can bet I’ll never sign anything that’s binding for longer than three months.”
This story is from the April 25th, 1974 issue of Rolling Stone.