Alan Cosgrove, drummer with Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac talks to Kevin Cooper about his old friend Mick Fleetwood, playing in front of 6000 fans and their current UK Tour.

Alan Cosgrove, pictured here wearing a red bandana, is the drummer with Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac, who are widely regarded as the closest thing to Fleetwood Mac that you will ever be fortunate enough to see (and hear). The band are currently hard at work touring the UK.

Despite this gruelling schedule, Alan kindly stepped out from behind the drums to chat with Kevin Cooper, and this is what he had to say.


Hi Alan how are you?

I’m great thanks Kevin and thanks for taking the time to speak to me.

It’s my pleasure. So tell me a little about your role within Rumours of Fleetwood Mac?

Well Kevin I am the co-promoter of the band, the producer of the shows and also the drummer (laughter). I have now enlisted the services of Chas Cole who is a Global Promoter and who has worked with the Australian Pink Floyd, Brit Floyd, and who is responsible for many of the big arena shows. So Chas and I are just crafting that across the world.

I am there on stage playing drums, but when Mick (Fleetwood) turns up I am firmly on maracas (laughter). It’s a great gig to play but my playing career has included Cliff Richard, Chuck Berry and for many years The Merseybeats from Liverpool, because as you might tell I am from Liverpool. I was in The Merseybeats with Dave Goldberg who is the keyboard player in Rumours of Fleetwood Mac. We were both in The Merseybeats and then Liverpool Express, which was a band in the 70’s, so we have both had our own playing careers.

So who were you listening to whilst growing up? Coming from Liverpool I can probably guess the answer (laughter).

(Laughter) It wasn’t just The Beatles so we shall simply call it “Beat Music” Kevin ok. I was listening to The Beatles, The Hollies, a great Manchester band, and bands which I class as being the better element of the 60’s. I was also highly influenced by American artists too such as Bob Dylan through to Neil Young. In the 70’s we came out of the Beat era and moved into what we call Glam Rock. Whilst I was never really into Glam Rock there was some great stuff around towards the end of the 70’s like The Electric Light Orchestra and 10cc from the North and the Midlands. So they were my favourite type of bands, more orchestrated harmony bands, and of course Queen.

So I am firmly ensconced in the 60’s and Beat music; into rock music and then into what I call Straight Ahead FM Music; people like Steely Dan, anything American such as Toto. Toto’s Jeff Porcaro (drummer) was a very good friend of mine along the way as well. So as you can see I got heavily influenced by the big American rock bands and then of course Fleetwood Mac. From the Rumours album, Fleetwood Mac turned into something else and I was firmly a fan from that moment on.

How did you get started playing music?

I started playing the trumpet at the age of 16 in a classical orchestra (laughter). I could read music but there weren’t many gigs around for trumpet players within pop music back then (hysterical laughter). So I very quickly jumped onto the drums. I used to get a lot of my gigs in the 70’s because I could read music and there were a lot of artists coming over to the UK from America that needed backing bands. So Kevin that is how my playing career started.

What was the first record that you bought?

The first record that I went into the shop and purchased was Ride A White Swan by T. Rex.

Who did you first see play live in concert?

The first band that I saw in concert was either Focus or it would have been Robin Trower. To be honest I think that it was Robin Trower. By the way I’m not going to tell you how old I am, but what I will say is that I am not 65 (laughter) so I was ten years behind it all, but I was playing from the age of 16 in all of these bands. So Robin Trower was my first at the Liverpool Stadium. And after that I helped Focus to get their gear in with the roadies (laughter). I used to frequent that venue because it was a very famous Liverpool venue; the Liverpool Stadium was the equivalent to the Hacienda in Manchester. We had all of the major artists come from all over the world to play at the Liverpool Stadium.

I recently saw Focus at Butlins.

Isn’t it crazy Kevin? Focus were a massive entity and now you can see them playing in a pub in Newcastle. I just can’t work it out; I can’t get my head round it.

Thijs van Leer on the keyboards filled Butlins as if there were a thousand voices in there with him.  It was amazing.

Oh god yes, brilliant players, you can’t take that away from them. You just wish that they were back performing on main stages somewhere. Back in the day Focus laid down some legacy there.

Who has been your biggest musical inspiration?

Drumming wise, we would have to put Ringo (Starr) in there at number one believe it or not. I don’t care what people say about Ringo, you can knock him to death in 2014 but back in the 1960’s he was playing in a very different way back here in Liverpool. He was doing some great stuff. It was simple stuff but no one was playing it like Ringo. So number one would have to be Ringo, Mick Fleetwood of course, he’s not a massively technical player but Mick is a groove player, and then Jeff Porcaro from Toto.

Who do you listen to now?

I work with lots of young bands back here in Liverpool producing them, but I love anything that is new that has got a retro-vibe to it. Whenever we are on the road I always listen to Neil Young; I love Neil Young. If I have to look back to the 60’s it would have to be The Beatles. I still listen to McCartney a lot, and also John Lennon.

What has been your biggest musical highlight to date?

Good question Kevin. I would have to say that would be with Rumours of Fleetwood Mac playing the Belfast Odyssey five years ago now with an 80 piece orchestra, a 50 piece choir in front of 6000 people. We have all played for some big artists along the way but that was something which was really special because it was one of our first pinnacles as Rumours of Fleetwood Mac.

So tell me just how did Rumours of Fleetwood Mac materialise?

It all started fifteen years ago now, more by chance than design. The show “Rumours of Fleetwood Mac” was never planned. We were in the studio recording an advertisement for an American Root Beer called Rolling Rock as session musicians. We were told that we had to sound like a band from the 70’s called Heart and that was the sort of noise that they were looking for. So I assembled a bunch of musicians together in order to recreate that sort of sound for the American advertisement. We recorded it and on the playback the Producer said “crikey that sounds like Fleetwood Mac” which it did and I think that was the epiphany moment where I thought why don’t we get a catalogue of songs together and see if we could take it to theatre.

Because back then, fifteen years ago, you had bands like The Bootleg Beatles and Bjorn Again playing the main stages at festivals which was crazy. We couldn’t quite work out what all of these cover bands were doing playing other peoples material, but these shows were capturing the imagination of people back then. So it was all about me getting the music together and then getting it to Mick Fleetwood, who was a pal of mine from another life in the music industry, and asking Mick if it was a cool thing and what he thought of the noise that we were making. And at that point Kevin he could have sent us to the lion’s but he gave us the thumbs up which was amazing. It was never about taking the show forward unless we had that endorsement from Mick.

There were tribute bands starting way back then but people didn’t quite understand the concept of tributes, people were looking like the bands but not sounding like them. It was a bit of a jumble. We did a very emotive and respectful performance of the gig of Fleetwood Mac and Mick said “yes that’s fine” and he has actually played in the show three times now which is nuts but it’s true. So not only has he endorsed it but he has actually played in it as well. We came at this gig as fans and having the girls in the show (Louise and Amanda) who have the traits of Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks within their vocals, so it’s not a mimic. They have been influenced by, and they have the traits of the original artists. We thought that would be a cool thing to do, because we are not going out there in wigs and stick-on beards; we are going to play the music of Fleetwood Mac so we had better trade it out to the fan-base in the best possible way that we can.

So that was fifteen years ago, so spin forward to today and we are playing to 1500 people per night across the world which is crazy but again it’s a brilliant thing. When you think of the Fleetwood Mac catalogue we are now nearing five decades of Fleetwood Mac and there is a massive body of work there. We can never be more than what the poster says; we are simply “Rumours of Fleetwood Mac”, and if we are doing a Rumours album tour we are playing the Rumours album, and if it’s a Greatest Hits tour then we play Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits, it’s as simple as that Kevin.

Fleetwood Mac do not need Rumours of Fleetwood Mac to keep the music alive (laughter) that’s what I am saying. However it is very humbling to think that the Fleetwood Mac fan-base globally has taken our show to heart. We have all had playing careers behind people like Cliff Richard and Chuck Berry and so we have paid our dues as musicians but we fall together to celebrate this Fleetwood Mac catalogue which basically we all grew up with. We are 50-somethings here so it is music that we grew up with and because of that we are always respectful when we trade it out to an audience.

Take it from me Alan, I have photographed a few Fleetwood Mac tribute bands and they did fall into the category of stick-on beards. One even went to the lengths of lip-synching parts and not playing the instruments.

(Laughter) with us it’s not about that. There are eight of us on stage and it is totally live; there are no back-tracks or time-codes, you simply can’t do that with Fleetwood Mac. These songs are precious to us so we trade them out with love without being pretentious. We cannot get someone in a two thousand seat venue who is paying $50 per ticket and it not be a live show Kevin. There is no hiding place within the quiet of two hours of playing in big theatres.

We go on tour to enjoy ourselves and so it’s not toil to us. We all do other things in life and we fall together once a year to play around a hundred dates, which is three tours basically in different places around the world. It’s something that we all love doing, and the same people have been together, including the crew, the PA, the lighting people; there are twenty people on the road, who have all been together since we started fifteen years ago. We have got our own little family that go out on the road to do this.

Tell me a little about this year’s tour?

Well Kevin, this new show will showcase and celebrate all the classic hits from one of the most outstanding and enduring catalogues in the history of recorded music; a true legacy of blues, rock & pop classics that made Fleetwood Mac the icons of the music industry they are today. If you think of Fleetwood Mac they started back in the 60’s as Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac. So the beauty of the catalogue of music is that it reinvented itself every decade. Fleetwood Mac went through many reincarnations over the years but it certainly started with Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac so we play the whole catalogue. We play what we call a “bank raid” set of all the decades. So if you are a Fleetwood Mac fan but you didn’t know the 60’s stuff like Albatross, Oh Well, Man Of The World, Need Your Love So Bad, you will find all of those tracks in our show and possibly become a new fan.

The Green Manalishi?

Yes Kevin, The Green Manalishi is in the set too. We touch the spirit of each decade of Fleetwood Mac. The blues firmly belongs to the lads in the show (Ben and Dave) that’s when the guys come out and give you the blues set. We start the second half of the show with the blues set because basically the second half of the show gives you the opportunity to open up again and go back in time. In the first half we just settle everyone down with some massive hits, and then in the second half we go back in time for about thirty minutes to the Peter Green era and then we go out on all of the classics and finish with Tusk. It’s a great celebration of the music.

I caught Fleetwood Mac around nine years ago now on the first tour after Christine McVie had left so I have never seen the full group perform but it was still a fantastic night.

Well Kevin as we now all know, Christine McVie is back in the fold and the full band will be touring the UK next year. What fantastic news that is. So we all have that to look forward to, some new material and a tour with Christine McVie, it just doesn’t get any better than that, fantastic.

What does Mick think about your drumming?

Mick is always saying to me “I will show you how to play Fleetwood Mac music” and so I like to hook-up with him and go to see him for a refresher course before we tour (laughter). We always have a good time and it’s great to be able to catch-up with him.

I managed to catch Peter Green down at The Robin 2 in Bilston a couple of years ago now.

Peter is still around and at one point he was with The Splinter Group but he has left that behind now. He is now working with new young artists, which is great.

Peter seems to have regained his passion for music.

Yes he does Kevin, even more so now. I think that there was a point where everyone thought that The Splinter Group was simply a band fronted by Peter Green; it just had that vibe, and it wasn’t actually in the spirit of Fleetwood Mac. I think what you are finding now is that Peter has gone back to play with original artists and young bands.

Music is secular Kevin; it comes around every twenty years or so and young kids are still looking back to the 60’s for influences and firmly ensconced in any one stimulus is Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac. And so because of that Peter has become a big star to all of the youngsters, which is a lovely thing.

So are you enjoying the current tour?

Definitely yes Kevin we all are having a really great time.   I love getting back on stage and sitting behind the drum kit. We really do enjoy getting out on the road and playing these songs.

And after the tour what next for Alan Cosgrove?

Well Kevin I am actually going to try and have a little break as I haven’t had a proper break for well over two years now, so I am going to try to get away on holiday. Then we are going into Europe then over to America, so we have got another two tours after this one.

How do you keep it fresh?

What we keep doing is we keep reinventing this show, and because we have the breaks, it is always great to come back. For example, when we go over to America we will play the Fleetwood Mac Rumours Album Tour, which is different material again. Like I said earlier there is almost five decades of music together with hundreds of tracks, so there is enough material there to keep us going until forever (laughter).

Alan, let me just say thank you for taking the time to speak to me, it’s been great.

No problem Kevin.

Good luck with the tour and I will see you in Nottingham at The Royal Concert Hall on Thursday 27th November.

God bless mate, make sure that you get to Nottingham and we will hook up.