I must be an exceedingly lucky guy (sure I am…I work for Vintage Rock, right?) but I have just read another incredible book about rock and roll, like so many I have read and reviewed here. This is different though because Ken Calliat's (with Steve Stiefel) Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album might just be the best rock and roll biography I have ever read; perhaps one of the best books period I have gotten into in a very long time.
It might be Callait's easy manner, his perfect recall, the way he completely opens up about the mid 70s in California and brings the reader right along for the journey. It might be his attention to detail and how he relates the nuts and bolts of big business rock and roll recording, explaining technical details without ever leaving you scratching your head over the jargon. And it might also be that he is relating the story of recording one of the best-selling albums of all time.
We have all heard about the unprecedented time it took to make Rumours. We have all heard about the turmoil between the couples in Fleetwood Mac (Christine and John McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham), and we have all heard about the drug use. Calliat pulls no punches in his book - the dangerous behavior is part of the Mac story as it would be for any hard working rock band.
But Making Rumours is also about creating the music and here is where Calliat shines as he lovingly illustrates in detail how the songs of this seminal Grammy-winning album were birthed, sweated over and sometimes thrown baby-out-with-the-bathwater style for new versions reworked over with a dogged perfectionism few bands courted.
Calliat also touches on about how he mixed the sound for some of the band's gigs and at the end of the day, he co-produced and engineered an album we all know and love. To that end, Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album is a insightful and thorough read about a pivotal time in rock and roll…in one man's life.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.
I have just finished reading your book and all I can say is a big thank you for taking me on a journey behind the making of my all-time favourite album. I have so many music books and the recording side of the record business has always fascinated me. Of all the books I have read over the years this stands out in my top five music books of all time. I just hope you can follow this up with similar books on Tusk, Mirage and Fleetwood Mac Live.
Having written a book on Fleetwood Mac's recording sessions I only wish I had managed to interview you when researching the project. I received so much help on the early years from people like Mike Vernon, Bob Brunning etc but was unable to contact anybody for the later years. Maybe I need to update the book!
I spoke to the publishers here in the UK and it seems the book is not being published here. I cannot understand why. I downloaded it for my Kindle but am hoping to pick up a printed copy for the library.
I intend to review the book and add it to my blog in due course. I will send you the link once it is finished.
Thanks again and I am off to play the album one more time :)
editor: Johnny Cash-The Man in Black
"When Ken Caillat said you couldn't make an album like this today he was spot on. I'm familiar with the "atmosphere" of pain, egos, excesses, and being in a studio environment for hours on end. The pressures, the elation, the lows, and all the factors that transform ideas, create new ones, and facilitate situations where no matter what shape your in, you create your most original, and hopefully, best work. The book certainly bears this out by giving you a view of what the band and producers endured to create this incredible album. It could only have happened that way and at that time. Simply because that's what was going on in their lives and in that time period.
All facets of today's music business wouldn't support this type of "painful exploration" in our present musical environment. That's why this album and these songs are still played all over the world today and will be for years to come. They "say" something deep and rich in texture,color, and feel."
Tom Johnston (Doobie Brothers)
"It's hard to imagine the tensions and freak out's that go on behind studio doors when a band is making a follow up to a Number One album but throw in broken relationships between band members and an endless supply of cocaine , for me as a producer the next step would be to light the fuse and walk away but Ken Caillat ran the course and you get to read how he survived, well almost "
"Producer-engineer Ken Calliat tells the story behind "Rumours" like a taut Hollywood screenplay, rich with crisis, conflict and confrontation in possibly the best book yet about the recording studio. One of the best-selling albums of all time is now one of the greatest rock stories of all time."
San Francisco Chronicle, Senior Pop Music Correspondent
"Rumours by Fleetwood Mac - the album absolutely changed my life, and yours, too. Containing brilliant songs byLindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie, it's a classic among classics. Producer Ken Caillat has a brilliant book coming out on the making of Rumours, but ahead of its release, he spoke to me about how he tracked the mega disc cut-by-cut."
US Editor, MusicRadar
Sincerely the best book I've read :) ...I was a little sad to finish it. It seems that making that album was everything I hoped it would have been, plus some. You obviously had a tremendous amount to do with the magic of it, but it is definitely the telling of that story from your point of view that is the true magic of the book. I found myself "helping" you fine tune and press down the 2 buttons of the 24 track several times. I chose to have Rumours on lightly in the background while I read much of the book. The album sounds just a bit different now...and somehow even better than before. Thanks Ken :) ...hopefully "Making Tusk" and "Making Mirage" are in store? ...and "Making Rumours" should, no doubt, be a movie....just sayin'! That would be an audition I would NOT miss! Cheers sir :)
How can I help you: Just wanted to congratulate Ken on a great book - I just
finished reading it and it made me listen very carefully to "Rumours" again.
Since I'm hearing impaired, the descriptions from the book and the nuance of
sound I was supposed to be listening for, actually went a very long way in
I don't think I've ever read anyone quite as descriptive about sound as Ken is.
His infectious enthusiasm about sound and its engineering made me interested
enough to push my own hearing to the limit. Damn well worth it!
How can I help you: I've just spent the first week of my summer vacation reading
your book. The only reason I had to put it down every morning was to spend time
with my family. I woke up an hour early to read each day. I absolutely loved
it, one of the best rock & roll books I've ever read. Thank you for shedding
light on the technical aspects of making this album and not focusing on the
gossip/tabloid side of it. In fact, you created the perfect balance with your
matter-of-fact retelling of the stories. I will be pre-ordering the Tusk &
Mirage books as soon as they are announced. Excellent work.
Ken, your book is great (and much like the album it chronicles and describes) for several key reasons: The prose is so friendly and genuine, but not pandering or simple-minded. There's a real flow to the language, like a running river. It's infused with sunlight and nature, much like the music of The Mighty Mac. You take the voice of an old friend, and you're telling me the story directly. It's agreat approach. Then there's the vivid descriptions of the time and place, which make it all the more endearing. Why wouldn't such a masterpiece be able to be created during such a magical time? The insights into the five members and Richard Dashut are fascinatingly real and candid, but more importantly delivered with a great deal of love and empathy. There is a generosity and positivity to the telling of the story, even though at times it was a very sad and difficult one, that draws the reader in and doesn't let you go. Just fascinating, and most importantly, like Rumours itself, completely life-affirming.
Thank you, Ken, for such a wonderful account of one of the most marvelous pieces of music ever offered to the world.
Like Neil said, long may you run.
I Just finished reading Making Rumours- I literally couldn't put it down! I hope you don't mind, but I left reviews for the book on Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Here is my review, I meant every word!
Ken's insider perspective on the making of the greatest rock album of all time is both engrossing and stunning, beautiful and dangerous. Ken's honesty and genius are clear, and Making Rumours provides a fascinating insider's view on the world that was Mick, John, Chris, Lindsey, and of course, Stevie Nicks, during the making of one of the most tumultuous albums of all time.
The love, the lies, the fights, and the heartbreak- Ken lays it all bare for the reader, and even the most well versed Fleetwood Mac fan will find the stories Ken shares to be refreshing and enthralling. The reader feels as if they have been transported back to 1976, and are sitting behind the console, watching John McVie lay down legendary beats, and Stevie Nicks ripping her vocal chords to shreds hammering out the lyrics to Gold Dust Woman and The Chain.
For the music aficionado, Ken provides an incredible background on the way he works, and the true genius that has made him one of the greatest producers of all time.
Ken has a style all his own, whether he is behind the console, or the typewriter, dealing with rock legends or publishers, his pure talent shines through. Just as he has captured our minds for the past 30+ years with his music artistry on Rumours and Tusk, Ken will capture your soul with the legend, and the masterpiece, that is the Making of Rumours.
Thank you for writing such a fantastic book, and allowing us all to have a view into your world! I cannot wait to read Tusk!
All the best on the success of your book!
Just finished and I loved it. I will be more than happy to write a review. I love your passion for music and the hours and blood you poured into making Rumours. I actually re-listened to it and get such joy at how the album punches you in the face through my speakers. IDWK was a great replacement for SS. SS got to stand on it's own much later anyway.
Fantastic read from start to finish I felt like I was actually in the studio witnessing the intimate details of the band and the blood sweat and many tears that was poured into the brilliant album that is Rumours. My sincere congratulations and gratitude to Ken for writing such an intimate at times confronting but very respectfully written account of that time, I read cover to cover and didn't put it down! I am with great anticipation awaiting Kens next journey down memory lane.
We are REALLY enjoying your book. Wow! What an incredible accomplishment. The blend of technical info and artistry is fascinating. I'll bet iIt makes the book interesting to a wide range of people. This is such a necessary book for rock and roll history. It's really a triumph.
Thanks again, Ken. ~Chari
Just finished it today. Stayed up all night reading. Loved putting on headphones and listening to the tracks as you described them. I'll be doing a lot more of that! Thank you, Cutlass!
Nice! I really loved reading this book. It made me feel like a fly on the wall and would make a good movie. The personal anecdotes mixed in with technical and of course the band stuff was an excellent formula. Easy, entertaining and "note"worthy. You'll have everyone digging out their Rumours albums again! So very happy to know there's a follow-up Tusk in the works. Yippee! See you in Portland Ken.
Just got through Go you Own Way chapter...this is an excellant read Ken ! Bravo :) Love the stories of Scooter and how awesome Richard is :)
The Making of Rumours takes you on a year-long journey in the life of Ken Caillat, co-producer of the multi-platinum award winning album by Fleetwood Mac. Mr. Caillat does a fabulous job of making you feel like you were there, reliving it all and saddened to reach the end of his journey as he drives off into the California sunset with his dog in his convertible Mercedes, which he bought with his first paycheck from The Record Plant in Sausalito. From the intimate accounts of pranks and drama in and around the various recording studios, from Sausalito to Miami and back to Hollywood, to the detailed intracacies and techniques used to achieve the monumental sounds of the songs on the album (and the songs that didn't make it), this book was definitely a page turner. You'll read stories about everything from the local restaurants and citizens to Nyquil, crabs, the first answering machine and the hex Stevie put on Ken's dog Scooter (who appeared on the cover of Tusk,) in addition to wild outbursts, women, cocaine, pot and booze. There's quite a few really cool, rarely-if-ever-seen, photos, too. Time to give the album another spin and listen for that naughayde chair and the clav with the Jet Phaser. (Open letter to Mr. Caillat if you ever read this; Please seriously consider a follow up book, "The Making of Tusk," if at all possible. Thank you for this wonderful read, I hope it does really well!)
I like how you focused mainly on the music. I was expecting to read a lot of band drama (which would have been fun) but I was also pleasantly surprised to see how professional you were. You really made it about the music, and I had no idea so much went into making an album. I thought you basically did a few vocals and had the band playing the music at the same time or whatever. Not too wise about all that. Great job. Sad that it's over.
Erica Nicole Chastain
Ken...You did an amazing job taking us on your journey through the "Plant" in Saulsalito, to Wally Heiders studio to being on the road and in concert to sharing Scooters antics with us! What this book is...is a journey a fabulous journey through the good times and the bad..... on the journey to "Making Rumours."
Ken Caillat is a friend, mentor, and former boss. Having had the distinct pleasure of working with Fleetwood Mac in my youth, I believe I am qualified to say that in his book Making Rumours: The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album, Ken has perfectly conveyed the joy, anxiety, fear, exhaustion, paranoia, delight and agony of what it was like to work with one of the worlds greatest rock & roll bands. I felt as if I were in the studio either cheering them on, or cowering behind the multi-track waiting for the tension to subside. If you want to know what not only went on behind the scenes, but how they got that amazing acoustic guitar sound on NEVER GOING BACK AGAIN... or if you are a fan of Fleetwood Mac, 70's analog recording, sex, drugs, rock & roll, and dysfunction in general, this book is sure to please. Bravo, Ken.
I just finished the book and all I am waiting for is Tusk then Mirage!! Couldn't put it down well written and great insights to the hard work behind the genius of the best album of all time (in my world) thank you Ken!!
Interesting reading and understanding the whole "layering" concept. Now, upon listening to certain songs, hearing glass being broken, plus different, unusual sound effects filled in...I'm impressed at the amount of WORK! No wonder!!!!!!!!
Leslie Ann Hynson-Spencer
Loving the book so far. A bit sordid, but fun. and the technical recording stuff is making me listen to the songs in a whole new way.