At the height of Fleetwood Mac's cocaine-taking madness, Mick Fleetwood would take advice from an imaginary friend, Fred

Mick Fleetwood
(Image credit: Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images)

Fleetwood Mac's appetite for over-indulgence is part of the band's mythology, but drummer and band co-founder Mick Fleetwood once revealed that when things were at their messiest for the Anglo-American soft rock legends, he would be steered back towards sensible decisions by his imaginary friend, named Fred.

This band's had a work ethic even in the craziest of times," the drummer explained in a 2015 interview with MOJO magazine. "I call him Fred. When I was a fucking nutcase, Fred would go, 'Mick, you'd better goto sleep now,' and I'd go, What the fuck do I want to go and sleep for? l'm 20 grams in and I'm up for 10 days, I could give a shit. Fred would say, 'Because you've got eight more shows to do and you're going to make a fool of yourself'."

In the same interview, Fleetwood attributed the band's work ethic to vital lessons he learned as a young musician.

"We've worked hard," he told writer Mark Blake. "I remember way back at the start, setting up my drums, I was in some little band in Notting Hill Gate. We were all underage and playing in a pub... I walked in with my drum kit, and said, Where do I setup? In my mind l'm going, There's a stage, this is a thing! The landlord didn't even look up. 'Oh over there.' Well, where's the stage? 'Over there, on the carpet.' Oh."

"But once you get on the carpet, you'd better fucking do something," the drummer continued. "You learn that very quickly, whether you're asked to turn up for a ham sandwich and beer, two and six, or just the privilege of playing. You better have a work ethic."

"You can be the greatest player on earth, but if you don't fucking turn up and unload the equipment with the boys, if you blow the gig, you're not the guy for the band. It doesn't matter when you're in your living room with your mates, listening to records and shaking a tambourine, but it matters as soon as the landlord says, 'Get over on the carpet'."

In a recent interview with Vulture, Stevie Nicks suggested that Fleetwood Mac would never tour again, following the death of Christine McVie last November.

"I felt like you can’t replace her," said Nicks. "You just can’t. Without her, what is it? You know what I mean? She was like my soul mate, my musical soul mate, and my best friend that I spent more time with than any of my other best friends outside of Fleetwood Mac. Christine was my best friend... When she died, I figured we really can’t go any further with this. There’s no reason to."

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.