Mick Fleetwood would be one of the most self deprecating rock stars I have ever read about. He is extremely harsh on his abilities as a husband and father and astonishingly at his drumming ability. But his story is a most interesting one as he takes the band Fleetwood Mac from quintessential British Blues band to the sophisticated rock band that provided Bill Clinton with his election slogan “don’t stop thinking about tomorrow”.
Mick had a happy childhood and adored his Airforce father and his loving mother and two sisters. He loved family gatherings with their storytelling and laughter. Inflicted with dyslexia he did not like school from an early age but once he got going at a Rudolf Steiner school he learnt to be a drummer and this changed his life forever.
He played with some of the most revered musicians in the UK such as John Mayall a guy who didn’t suffer fools gladly. That is why I don’t take seriously his opinion of his drumming ability. Joined by his base playing partner for life John McVie and putting up with brilliance and craziness of lead guitarist Peter Green and the brilliant Jeremy Spencer, Fleetwood Mac were an outstanding blues band.
As things fell apart in his personal life and with the band a new Fleetwood Mac with Christine McVie nee Perfect and the Americans Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham evolved to become one the World’s most successful acts. Their internal squabbles and relationships were legendary, and recorded in song. They agonised over every song as their personal lives became common knowledge with the story of the hit album Rumours being of great interest.
I liked the way he talked about how the songs came about and of all the musos that he met. His own part in the cocaine fueled 70’s is insightful and the LSD input into the hippy culture and the demise of Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer, is enlightening.
I liked the man and Anthony Bozza should be congratulated on putting Fleetwood’s fascinating life experiences on paper.
I do not often read books that are adult directed but when I do, I head for Biographies and Autobiographies. This is neither really as the author Mick Wall was never allowed entry into the inner circle of AC/DC ie the Young brothers, to get their side of the story. He did however follow the band on their journey to the top and had access to the many in the rock world that worked in the band or with the band from their birth in the Australian rock scene of the 1960,s.
To understand AC/DC you have to know that the Young brothers were from the hardest part of Glasgow. They are hard men. In Australia they had a siege mentality and trusted no-one outside the family circle. George Young hit fame first with the Easybeats and later played base when he had to and directed the music of his younger brothers Malcolm and Angus.
The brothers are not tall in stature but they were driven by the goal of success. Malcolm and Angus are both brilliant guitar players but saw more mileage in Angus being the lead guitar and adopting his schoolboy personna. Anybody who did not share their drive or seemed to threaten it was dismissed from the band. AC/DC had more drummers and base guitarists than the whole of the Australian rock scene. If Angus and Malcolm couldn’t be in the same room as someone they were out.
The exception to this was front man Bon Scott. His antics are the star of this book. He wrote the lyrics to my favourite song It’s a Long way to the top if you want to Rock and Roll. And he was right. Bon Scott could have died 10 times over. Only Ozzy Osborne and Keith Richards could live with his drug and liquor excesses. His death is expertly told and while he was not in the inner sanctum of the Young boys he certainly had their support because he was as hard and driven as they were.
I liked the book but while the band’s life style should not be envied or replicated, their ambition and no holds barred drive to the top is not only spectacular it is admirable. A great change from the books I normally read.
Ronnie by Ronnie Wood. Pub. Pan Macmillan, 2007.
I wondered whether I should review this adult book by Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, but then I thought Why Not? The Stones along with The Beatles and the other 60’s bands, were one of the biggest influences in my life. So what did they get up to while I was Getting off of my Cloud?
This 358 page Autobiography tells you what you thought was going on and more. Ronnie Wood provides an insight into what it was like to be a Rolling Stone and the debauched world in which they so often performed.
While it is very candid about his own life as a musician, as a husband and father and as a friend to countless people to whom Ronnie could never say no Ronnie does not blow the gaff on the countless showbiz people he met. There is no “little todger” in this book.
He was generous to a fault and went through several fortunes until his recent antics with a Russian girl have left him in limbo again. This latest fiasco is not covered in the book which ends with Ronnie praising his wife Jo and family for persisting with him and standing by him when he was impossible. He does cover Keef falling out the coconut tree in Fiji.
The book covers his early family life with his dad and mum and brothers Ted and Art up to the end of the Bigger Bang Tour. Ronnie’s early musical career with The Birds, The Jeff Beck Group and the Faces is covered as is the history leading up to his induction into the Rolling Stones. It was Keith that wanted him in as he knew Ronnie could not only play well but could hack the life style, something his predecessor Mick Taylor couldn’t do. But he wasn’t first choice. Who was? There is plenty in this book for the music fans.
It is Ronnie’s relationship with Keith that is at the heart of the story but the real hero is his wife Jo. How did she do it? Ronnie had good intentions, loved his family but had appetites that few could tolerate. The fact that he is still here is remarkable.
I enjoyed this book, it is hardly for children and I Know it’s only Rock and Roll but I like it.