Mick Fleetwood’s love for the Hawaiian island of Maui began when the co-founder of Fleetwood Mac was looking for some respite during the band’s intensive touring days of the 1970s.
A frequent visitor ever since, he moved to the island about 15 years ago. He feels very much a part of the community whose music and cultural traditions he admires. Since moving to Maui, Mick has lived in Napili, in a house that he used to visit regularly when it was owned by the band’s bassist John McVie. “This is a house with a lot of rock ’n roll history,” he says. Not as a muse for songwriters, but for its ability to give some peace to the weary and wired. “It was a real Shangri-La,” he continues.
Mick actually found the property for McVie in the first instance. He and his extended family had a running invitation and stayed there many times over the years. He then bought it from McVie sometime around 2003; he’s uncertain of the year because he was so often living there.
After Mick bought the property, he fixed up the house, but made sure not to transform it. He is happy that his grownup children can walk in and recall parts of their childhood. His mother Bridget Fleetwood, who died last year aged 98, lived on the property for most of her final decade. Mick began renting the house earlier this year through Luxury Retreats and will still stay in it from time to time between rentals, and stay at his other home in Kula, just over an hour away, the rest of the time.
He spoke to Luxury Retreats Magazine from New Zealand, where he was sitting in as drummer on a recording session with Crowded House. “My motto is ‘Have drumsticks will travel,’” says the 68 year-old. He’s also doing a few dates in New Zealand with the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, which often plays around Maui. Mick also regularly sits in on live sessions at his Maui restaurant, Fleetwood’s on Front St (pictured right), which is attached to a gift shop and art gallery that he also owns. The gallery, its art curated by Maui dealer Brian Connolly, features local artists and has been, among other things, raising money for elephant conservation.
He came to New Zealand with his cymbal collection, his favorite bass pedal and the guys he regularly gigs with. And he’s staying at a rented home that, like his, offers some clues of the owner’s life. He’s feeling very much at home and says he’s practicing what he preaches, sharing his philosophies on the feelings that a place like his can give to those who wants to feel a sense of home even when they’re traveling.
Luxury Retreats: Do you ever make the connection between the culture and climate of Hawaii and your approach to writing and playing music?
Mick Fleetwood: I was drawn to Maui because of its incredibly strong musical cultural community that goes deep into the culture of Hawaiian people. I met someone who is still a very dear friend, a chap called Willy K., a premier musician and singer who to this day is like a national state hero. He is very well known. He was one of the original Hawaiian pioneers who entered the world in which I was in. He didn’t just stay with the folk music of Hawaii but was aggressively reaching out to get a sense of his interpretation of rock and roll, which I found incredibly interesting.
LR: Is there something in the climate that agrees with you? This is certainly not UK weather.
MF: I had a very peaceful feeling when I landed in Hawaii. In England we’re used to really lousy weather. This was like landing on heaven for me. The tempo of life is slowed down and there is a sense of relief, where they just don’t give in to the hustle and bustle of pushing life’s boundaries.
LR: I imagine that was the tempo for you back in the days of Rumours.
MF: We lived a very high energy life. For musicians and people who travel a great deal, one of the things you become really good at is knowing when you feel at home away from home. “Home away from home” is a powerful little sentence because it means you’re feeling safe, feeling loved and you’re not lonely.
LR: What made you decide to buy this house from your friend and bassist John McVie?
MF: He always knew how much I adored this house. When John owned the house, my best friends, my family – my mother, my father, both of my sisters, my now grownup children, my whole extended family – used the house more than John did. My mother would come from England and spend most of the winter in John’s house in Napili. I always said to him whenever you think of selling the house, let me know and I’ll just buy it from you. In truth, the house was more my house than John’s. I have so much family history [there], memories of my parents being with their grandchildren.
LR: And what about the other band members’ memories of the place?
MF: The house resonated with members of Fleetwood Mac and extended friends of ours. “Oh god, remember when we went to Maui, hanging out at John’s house?” There’s a whole litany of personal memories. It’s a huge touchstone. I’m very happy that I didn’t turn around and sell the house and am also happy to share the house and keep it in the family and have [other] people use it. I’m hopeful that when people visit that they feel they’re in a home.
LR: It’s certainly a comfortable looking place, surrounded by all that greenery. That living room feels very cozy, nothing sterile about it.
MF: Apart from taking a couple of photographs off my bedroom cupboard, it’s a home that we live in.
LR: I noticed the memorabilia in the living room. Is that the only room where we’ll recognize the Fleetwood Mac connection to the villa?
MF: Don’t think you’re walking into a Fleetwood Mac museum. There is a little room upstairs where there a few things where you would know quietly that this house happens to belong to Mick Fleetwood and he’s in a band called Fleetwood Mac.
LR: Can you talk to me about your friend Vene Chun? I understand he’s a local story teller.
MF: Vene (pictured right) is Hawaiian cultural priest and a full-blooded Hawaiian. He traveled 2,000 miles on a traditional Hawaiian sailing canoe and tells this lovely story that when you’re on a canoe that’s 30 feet long and 10 feet wide, that not every day is going to be a good day. But one thing you learn is the spirit of Aloha, which is to get along with your fellow man. That’s the aloha spirit, and he reminds me all the time that aloha is to welcome. And my wish is that people will feel welcome in this house.
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