Fleetwood Mac 'Rumours' producer on making an iconic album
While there is an exclusive club of artists who can boast about having a GRAMMY-winning album, only a handful, such as Fleetwood Mac, can claim their album became an actual phenomenon. And only a select few, including GRAMMY-winning producer Ken Caillat, can say they had a front-row seat for the birth of said phenomenon.
The soap opera accompanying the making of Fleetwood Mac's 1977 album, Rumours, is a music story for the ages. In the midst of recording, married band members John and Christine McVie broke up, as did Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Founder Mick Fleetwood was also going through the dissolution of his own marriage. Amid the chaos, the quintet channeled their raw emotion and musical energy to form 11 spectacular songs on Rumours.
Released in April, Making Rumours is Caillat's personal account of the making of the album. Given Caillat's work as the album's co-producer and co-engineer, readers not only get the ultimate behind-the-glass perspective but also an intimate glimpse of the creative process and the triumphs and challenges that ultimately defined Rumours.
"Reliving [Rumours] and writing about it and trying to describe it … was very invigorating," says Caillat, who is also the father of GRAMMY-winning artist Colbie Caillat. "I decided I really love writing. There's something to be said for taking what's in your head and putting it [into] words."
Though the book details events from more than 35 years ago, Caillat's book is marked by a crystal-clear attention to detail, ripe with delectable tales on how the songs on Rumours took shape, recording nuances and memorable anecdotes.
"The book took about four months of research and I believe it took me three months to write it," says Caillat. "From 7 [in the morning] to 6 at night, I was 29 years old again."
Though Rumours is ripe with splendid individual band member performances throughout, Fleetwood Mac's sterling effort was truly the sum of amazing parts. "Together they worked as this great team and they almost thought as one. … And I got to see it all," says Caillat.
Caillat describes Nicks, in particular, as being able to summon almost supernatural powers for her songs.
"The definitive magical Stevie Nicks vocal would have to be 'Gold Dust Woman,'" says Caillat, referring to the album's final track. "She was possibly possessed at the end of that song."
On the strength of songs such as "Dreams," "Go Your Own Your Way," "Don't Stop," and "You Make Loving Fun" all cracking the Top 10, Rumours would inhabit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 for a staggering 31 weeks. On Feb. 23, 1978, the album's legacy was further cemented at the 20th Annual GRAMMY Awards when it was awarded the coveted Album Of The Year honor. It was also inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2003.
"We had no idea what we had. We were so tired," says Caillat. "Most weeks, we worked seven days a week. … You never know when you're going to do something great."
Following Rumours, Caillat ultimately emerged as an integral part of the Fleetwood Mac inner circle. As the co-producer and co-engineer of albums such as 1979's Tusk, 1980's Fleetwood Mac Live and 1982's Mirage, he has hinted at the possibility of reprising his role as an author.
"I'd love to do another book," says Caillat. "What I liked about Rumours is that [it was] a really sweet journey with a bunch of naive people just trying to hold it together. It's really the great American story."
(Come back to GRAMMY.com later this month for another installment of video interviews with Ken Caillat in which he details specific songs and individual performances on Rumours.)