When he’s not out drumming alongside Stevie Nicks and John McVie, Mick Fleetwood is paying homage to his favorite hobby: photography.
The 71-year-old rock drummer, who has been taking his own cameras out on the road with him since the early days of Fleetwood Mac, has always had an affinity for a great rock and roll shot. In order to share that with the public, he teamed up with the Morrison Hotel Gallery in 2016 to open a gallery space inside his Maui-based restaurant, Fleetwood’s General Store, which features a rotating array of fine art music photography.
On Saturday night (Aug. 4) in Los Angeles, Fleetwood — who is in town rehearsing for the upcoming Fleetwood Mac tour — popped by the Sunset Marquis Hotel in conjunction with the Morrison Hotel Gallery to showcase a selection of his favorite music shots, which included candid photos of the likes of Keith Richards, John Lee Hooker and bandmate Stevie Nicks.
Billboard caught up with Fleetwood on site to discuss his love of rock photography, his secret mission to infiltrate the stash of early Fleetwood Mac shots that McVie has been holding hostage and what he’s most looking forward to about his band’s upcoming tour.
What inspired your partnership with the Morrison Hotel Gallery?
We’re celebrating our sixth year with my Fleetwood’s, and in a restaurant that’s a lot. That’s another way to lose your hair but we’re part of the fabric there now, which is great. We opened up with the Morrison Hotel Gallery about two years ago and it’s been a huge success. Pattie Boyd, who was married to George Harrison and Eric [Clapton], did a little tour with Peter Blachley, one of the owners of the gallery. I met them in Australia years ago when Pattie was doing a show and I went to support. We were on the road and Christine, myself and John went to a gallery opening to support Stevie who was showing a Polaroid shot. She doesn’t really do that but Peter approached her and she said, “Okay. I’ll do it.” I met Peter again. We talked about one day doing something and then he came on holiday to our gallery. We had a regular gallery with open art at Fleetwood’s and I decided to go into partnership with Morrison Hotel Gallery. I said, “This is it.” For me, it’s a perfect fit. It makes a lot of sense because this is my world. We have a lot of fun. Whenever I’m at the restaurant, I pop down into the gallery and talk about some of the pieces that I know and introduce some of the people in the photographs that I was inspired by.
What is it about rock photography that speaks to you?
Photography-wise, I do bits and pieces on landscapes and stuff, which is what we used to have in the gallery. Am I a serious dude? No. I just have fun doing it. And then a guy who owned a gallery in Maui was like, “You should put some of these up. People would love to see them.” So that’s how it started, showing photos, and I have fun doing that. I have a reverence for great photography. But I don’t consider myself in that league.
John McVie, who is the bass player in Fleetwood Mac, is a really good photographer and he never did anything with it. It’s just like, “John, why don’t you show somewhere?” I don’t think he can be bartered. But I actually referenced him in terms of buying good cameras back in the day and learning a little bit about stuff. I was the annoying guy with the camera way back in the day when I first started touring with John. Everyone used to go “Ah! Here is the busy body with the camera. This joker. Get out of here.” But now they appreciate them. It’s like being in a family where you’re like, “Thank God dad forced us to take all those pictures.”
I have a lot of respect for these rock photographers. You realize that some of them were really led into the inner circles of some of these artists and bands. And you see how those photographs really capture the artist, the moment. You really have to give these people kudos. There is something about them as people that allowed this type of thing to happen and that doesn’t seemingly ever really get referenced.
Still sleeping off ‘An Evening with Mick Fleetwood’, here’s to a lazy Sunday spent cozying up on the couch with the news and some exceptional shots from last night’s celebration. Thank you to @mickfleetwoodofficial and everyone else that was able to join us. Event photos coming soon! In the meantime, we present this apropos, mile-high moment from the summer of 1975 lensed by MHG photographer Ken Regan somewhere between San Antonio and Kansas City during @therollingstones ‘Tour of the Americas.’ — Ph. Ken Regan, Bianca Jagger, Ron Wood, Charlie Watts, and Keith Richards, Tour of the Americas, 1975 #morrisonhotelgallery
Are the walls in your home covered with rock photography?
I have a very sweet and lovely home but my place hasn’t got much wall space — but I keep buying art. I go to my own gallery and I say, “Oh I want one of those.” I’ve got this whole load of photographs in storage. During this tour, I’m building a barn that is going to be a drum room and I have great aspirations for my overload of rock photography to be up on the wall there. And I will probably insist that John McVie gives me some of the s–t he’s got on Fleetwood Mac.
What are you most looking forward to about the upcoming Fleetwood Mac tour?
We’re very excited. Obviously this is a huge change with the advent of Lindsey Buckingham not being a part of Fleetwood Mac. We all wish him well and all the rest of it. In truthful language, we just weren’t happy. And I’ll leave it at that in terms of the dynamic. And he’s going out on the road more or less the same time I think — not in the same places, I hope (laughs). So we’re with Mike Campbell from Tom Petty and Neil Finn from Crowded House — both really credible gentleman and really talented. We are a week into rehearsals and it’s going really well and we’re looking forward, in true Fleetwood Mac style. If you know anything about the history of this band, it’s sort of peppered with this type of dramatic stuff. It’s a strange band really. It’s ironic that we have a 50-year package coming out with all the old blues stuff with Peter Green, all the incarnations of Fleetwood Mac, which was not of course planned. But that’s what we’re feeling, especially myself and John, having been in Fleetwood Mac for 55 years. So it’s exciting, totally challenging in the whole creative part of it, and we’re really loving it. We’re just looking at a whole 18 months on-and-off of trekking around the world like we normally do and having it be fun.