January 15, 2016
If you're a massive fan of Fleetwood Mac then you've no doubt heard this story before but that doesn't make it any less interesting. If you were a fan way back in 1973, that's pre-Rumours by four years folks, then you might have bought tickets to their Mystery to Me tour and naturally been excited to hear their hit song Hypnotized in person. Alas, as would become a pattern with the band, things weren't going well amongst the five members...
Back then, the members were Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie (all members in their current incarnation), Bob Welch and Bob Weston. Due to living and working together, the McVies marriage was strained whilst John McVie was in the midst of a battle with alcohol. To make matters worse, Weston then went and had an affair with Fleetwood's wife, got himself fired and the tour was cancelled. Or so they thought.
You see, the band's manager Clifford Davis had the rights to the name 'Fleetwood Mac' and didn't want to let a little thing like having no original band members in the lineup prevent Fleetwood Mac from touring. As a result, he recruited members of a band called Legs (with whom he'd released one single) and got them touring in 1974 as Fleetwood Mac. So that's a fake Fleetwood Mac touring under the banner of the real Fleetwood Mac. Genius.
Fans were told that Welch and John McVie had left the band whilst Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood would join along at a later date. For what it's worth, even Legs thought that Mick would be turning up at some point. So off they went... But they didn't really get very far as the band's regular road manager John Courage realised that the line up was a complete lie. Rather than go to the press, he decided he'd do the best thing he could and hid Fleetwood Mac's equipment so it couldn't be used, thus shortening the tour considerably.
Once the real band members found out, all hell broke loose, principally over who owned the rights to the name 'Fleetwood Mac', which left the band unable to tour for a further year. Although the band was named after Mick 'Fleetwood' and John 'Mac'Vie, they'd signed over the rights to the name when they'd signed the contract with Davis. As the band fought for the rights in the courts, in a legal case that lasted several months, the real members of Fleetwood Mac moved from England to L.A. after deciding that Warner Bros. were neglecting them as a band.
Due to the legal case, Warner Bros. weren't allowing Fleetwood Mac to work but after rock promoter Bill Graham wrote a letter stressing that Mick 'Fleetwood', John 'Mac'Vie, Christine McVie and Bob Welch were in fact the real band members, they were allowed to record again, even if they weren't allowed to tour. The band eventually won the case with Davis and quickly decided to continue without a manager, which you can probably understand all things considered.
But that's not quite the end of the story. What of the fake Fleetwood Mac? Well they finally realised that Legs wasn't a great name and became Stretch (still not great either). Incredibly, their first single was called Why Did You Do It?, was about Mick Fleetwood's perceived knowledge of the fake Fleetwood Mac and charted at number 16 in the charts in November 1975.
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By Henry Fosdike