Mick Fleetwood once said that the first time he saw me walking back from school in Notting Hill Gate he knew I was the girl he was going to marry. We were both 16 and it was the summer of '64. The first time I saw him play at Brentwood Town Hall, I felt as though I'd been plugged into an electric socket. Listening to rhythm and blues, being part of the audience and feeling the exchange of energy between musicians and the crowd, was something that would inspire me for many years to come. But I didn't know I would write a book about it!
Twenty-three years later, while looking for a subject for a psychology dissertation, I remembered the impact of that first gig. I was living in Los Angeles, at that time, married to my second husband, Ian Wallace, drummer for such people as Bob Dylan, Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, and Crosby Stills and Nash.
"Write about what you know," was what I was told, and so I did. Most of my life had been spent with musicians. My sister Pattie had married Beatle George Harrison and then later guitarist Eric Clapton. I had been married to Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, (twice!) and knew what it meant to be the wife of a musician - going on endless tours, to different countries, different towns, on planes, on buses and cars. I had attended endless concerts, standing by the side of the stage and knowing every word of every song.
We were all one big 'rock and roll' family and I loved being part of it. Most of the time it was fun. The music rocked and it was exciting to see creativity at work. But deep down I was aware of a growing sense of emptiness, my identity being nothing more than the wife of a musician. It wasn't enough just to bask in their glory. For many years I tried to numb these feelings and to push down the frustration. But the need to be seen in my own right, to express myself and to search for a sense of purpose became stronger as the years went by. Finally, with much trepidation, I enrolled in a degree programme at a college in Los Angeles, which meant I was no longer available to go on tours or any other social events. I was finding out who I was.
So when the time came to find a subject for this dissertation I knew what I had to do. I bought a tape player and with the help of my psychology teacher, Dr Ron Alexander, I put together a list of questions and began my interviews. I started with the musicians I knew well, or who were part of my family, Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton and George Harrison. I used the skills I'd learned as a therapist mixed with my own fascination with the creative process. The combination worked as I witnessed one musician after another reveal their inner lives, their humility, their sense of destiny and their feelings of being a conduit while writing or performing. They openly discussed their thoughts on drugs and alcohol and their belief that everyone had the potential to be creative.
During the interviews, all the shyness and insecurity I had been plagued with all my life, and especially around many of these musicians, melted away as I listened to them speak. The answers they gave helped me with my own search for creativity, that by being true to our own being, we will automatically become more creative. Many of the artists said they felt closer to who they really were when they played their music. It was obvious that the dedication to their creativity was nothing less than a quest for ultimate meaning, to listen to the voice within and to speak out. They knew their purpose in life.
Once I had interviewed 75 musicians about their creative process my dissertation became a book, published in the United States and Japan. And now, 20 years later, it has been published in the UK and the message is still as powerful. 'It's Not Only Rock'n'Roll.'
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