Michael John Kells Fleetwood was born on June 24, 1947 in Redruth, England, to Mike and Brigid Fleetwood. Since his father was a Wing Commander in the Royal Air Force, Mick and his two older sisters, Sally and Susan, moved around quite a bit while growing up. Fleetwood was educated in boarding schools, but seemed to have more of an interest in drumming than in schoolwork. His father bought him his first drum kit when he was thirteen, and Mick taught himself to play to records by the Everly Brothers, Cliff Richard, and the Shadows.
As a young teen attending King’s School in Sherbourn - “the equivalent for underachievers like myself” - Fleetwood grew more “obsessed” with drumming; other interests included fencing and the theatre group (Fleetwood played Ophelia in the school’s production of Hamlet). Academically, though he continued to have serious problems, and by the time he was fifteen, it was decided that he would go and live with his sister, Sally, in London, to pursue his dream of being a drummer.
While living in Notting Hill Gate with his sister, brother-in-law, and nephew, Mick worked briefly at Liberty’s department store before being fired. One day while playing his drums in the garage, he caught the attention of a young neighborhood musician named Peter Bardens; he later got Fleetwood his first gig with a band called the Senders before inviting him to join his own band, the Cheynes, in 1963. While playing the club circuit with the Cheynes, Mick met and became friends with eighteen-year-old, John McVie, the bass player in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. At age sixteen, he also met Jenny Boyd, whom he would later marry. After the collapse of the Cheynes in 1965, Fleetwood drummed for a short while with a band called the Bo Street Runners. Next, Mick was recruited once again by Peter Bardens to play in his new band, Peter B's Looners (later known as just the Peter B's) where Mick got to know a talented young guitarist named Peter Green. By May, 1966, the band added two singers, Rod Stewart and Beryl Marsden, and changed their name to Shotgun Express. Green left the band in 1966 to join John Mayall, and Shotgun Express disbanded in early 1967.
Mick was out of work when Aynsley Dunbar, the Bluesbreakers’ drummer, quit in the spring of 1967, and Fleetwood was surprised when Mayall asked him to join: “It was never a serious long-term venture in my mind, which was just as well, because I was asked to leave after a month (for drunkenness)”. Although his stay in the band was brief, it was long enough for Fleetwood, Peter Green, and John McVie to realize they had a good working and social relationship. When Green decided to form his own band several months later, he immediately knew who should make up his rhythm section.
As a founding member of Fleetwood Mac, Mick has seen the group through its many incarnations, through struggles and successes. His devotion to the band put stresses through his own personal relationships - he often seemed to be “married to the band”. He did eventually marry Jenny Boyd in 1970 and had two daughters; Amy Rose was born in January, 1971 and Lucy was born in April, 1973. In October 1973, Mick found out that Jenny was having an affair with bandmate Bob Weston; the tour was cut short and Weston had to be fired. After the legal battle that ensued with manager Clifford Davis (over the rights of who owned the name “Fleetwood Mac”), Mick took over the role of band manager and continued to do so until 1979. When Bob Welch decided to leave the group in 1974, Mick was the one who happened to notice the talents of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks while out looking for a studio; Keith Olsen played him “Frozen Love” off the Buckingham Nicks album to demonstrate the acoustics of the room. The drummer admits that his initial inquiry was “Who’s that guitarist?” but he very quickly learned that Buckingham would not join without his partner: “I was aware of them coming as a package pretty early on, but there was a point where I was truly after Lindsey Buckingham, and the fact that Stevie was an afterthought is why she never forgave me”. In the end, the two ended up hitting it off so well with the others in the group that they were hired without an audition.
In 1977, he managed Bob Welch's solo career, and tried unsuccessfully to do the same for Peter Green, hoping to get him to sign a record deal: “The day he was supposed to sign it, he freaked out. I looked a bit stupid. After all, who would believe that he didn’t want to sign a contract because he thought it was with the Devil?” During the Rumours period, Fleetwood’s life was as wrought with problems as the other four members of the band. After divorcing, remarrying, and again divorcing his wife Jenny (who went on to become a psychologist, and has written a book entitled Musicians in Tune) by 1977, Fleetwood had an affair with Stevie Nicks. Stevie recalls: “. . . we did in fact keep it completely to ourselves . . . we didn’t even let the band know.” In 1979, Fleetwood took up with Sara Recor, who “was there to hold my hand and look after me” during a rough period in which his father passed away and Fleetwood was diagnosed with a mild case of diabetes: “I thought it was a brain tumor. I was afraid I was going to die. It was eighteen months of hell.” He and Sara were wed at his home in Malibu in 1988; the two have now split. Fleetwood married Lynn Frankel on July 26, 1995 in New York, while Fleetwood Mac was still on tour. Fleetwood credits Lynn with helping him to sober up - only two years ago, he says, “I was overweight and miserable, and wasn’t playing. . . I was also abusing myself with drugs, although not to the extent that I used to. Am I and was I an addict? Yes.” Although recently becoming a grandfather, Mick and Lynn are still planning a family of their own.
Over the years, Mick Fleetwood has made several solo albums - The Visitor (which included guitarists Todd Sharp and George Hawkins), I'm Not Me, and Shakin' the Cage (which included keyboardist Brett Tuggle). In fact, both current Mac guitarist Billy Burnette and vocalist Bekka Bramlett were in Fleetwood’s band, the Zoo, before being asked to join Fleetwood Mac. In 1990, Mick wrote his autobiography, and also helped to put together My Twenty-Five Years in Fleetwood Mac in 1992. In 1994, he opened a restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, called “Fleetwood’s” (the first “Fleetwood’s”, a restaurant and blues club, opened in West Hollywood in 1991, but folded soon after). The second “Fleetwood’s” also went bankrupt in the summer of 1996.
Mick completed a U.S. tour with the reunited Fleetwood Mac in 1997, and has said he hopes that there will be more music from the group in the future. He has also expressed a desire to work with former bandmate Peter Green (who is currently involved in music and doing shows in Europe) once again. Mick was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 12, 1998 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.