Allan Cosgrove, (seen here second from the right), drummer and founder member of Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac, chats with Kevin Cooper about the passing of Christine McVie in November 2022, wanting to be a drummer in Slade, meeting Mick Fleetwood’s mum, Biddy, and their current 2024 tour of the UK.

Allan Cosgrove is the founder member and drummer with Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac, which is the world’s finest Fleetwood Mac tribute band who have performed to over one million fans across the world as well as having amassed over one hundred million views across YouTube.

Formed back in 1999 in Liverpool, by a group of musicians who hold Fleetwood Mac very close to their hearts and who have the blessing of Mick Fleetwood, endeavour to perform their music as authentically as possible.

The current line up includes drummer Allan Cosgrove, guitarist James Harrison, keyboardist Sophie Worsley, lead vocalist Jess Harwood, keyboardist and guitarist Dave Goldberg, bass guitarist Etienne Girard and guitarist Scott Poley.

Whilst embarking upon an extensive tour of the UK, Allan Cosgrove took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Allan, good morning, how are you today?

Hi Kevin, I’m fine thanks mate, how are you doing?

I’m very well thank you and before we move on let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

No problem it’s great that you are going to give us a bit of publicity (laughter).

And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?

Life has been really great. I am now 64 years old, but, having said that I feel as though I am still a puppy (laughter).

You formed Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac back in 1999. What was the catalyst behind that?

As you rightly point out, I am the founder member of the show, which I started back in 1999, some twenty-five years ago now. Up until that time I had been behind other artists playing their music, so I think that the epiphany moment for me was when we were playing a festival over in Chelmsford; a sixties festival and it was there that I saw The Bootleg Beatles perform. At the time I was backstage with John McNally of The Searchers, and I said to John, “listen to that, that’s bloody good isn’t it” (laughter). They sounded like the original Beatles; their detail to the sound was truly amazing, so they did have a Vox Ac30 and the reverb going, and it was like, ‘wow, listen to that, that really is authentic’(laughter).

So, I think that was the moment when I thought if I ever did that, what band would I cover, and I immediately thought of Fleetwood Mac. The reason why I chose Fleetwood Mac was because I was born in 1960 so by 1965 our house was full of The Beatles and The Merseybeats which was a great privilege for me because later on in life I actually got to play with all of those artists. I toured with them and played behind them. I just remember my brother bringing home John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers album, and when I heard it, it was like, ‘what the hell was that’ as I was only ten years old by then (laughter). By the time it was 1967 I was already thinking to myself, ‘well that’s a different sound to the usual yeah, yeah, yeah’ of The Merseybeats (laughter).

So, I was really hooked back then listening to the sound of the blues and from a drummer’s point of view the shuffle. From a drummer’s point of view, it was all shuffling and so much divorced from the sounds of The Merseybeats. It really was a different sound to the one that I had been listening to previously. Fleetwood Mac were formed back in 1967 way before the Rumours album and Fleetwood Mac were a massive blues entity under the guidance of the late Peter Green. As you know, Peter Green named the band Fleetwood Mac because he had John McVie and Mick Fleetwood in it who he thought were the best rhythm section at that time. So, the name was bestowed upon them by Peter.

Way before Rumours they had a hit with Albatross which is still played today. What I personally love about Fleetwood Mac is whenever you look at their back catalogue there are so many different genres within the one band. Back in 1977 the band moved to America after the blues movement had faded, and it was there that Mick Fleetwood found Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, who came as a package, and the sound of Fleetwood Mac changed once again. However, at that time, Christine McVie was still a member of the band. Christine McVie had been in the blues band with them, and people forget that. She was a huge part of the blues element of Fleetwood Mac. You only have to think of the track I’d Rather Go Blind and that really does show just how important a member of the band Christine McVie was.

You have spoken quite fondly of Christine McVie and her importance within the band but sadly, on the 30th November 2022 we lost her. How has that affected the dynamic within Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac? Does it bring with it any added responsibilities?

Yes, it does, it really does. The band and I had some fairly lengthy discussions because for us, the first gig has always got to be every bit as good as the last gig because this music is so very precious to every single one of us. It is not our duty to play you our versions of these songs; that legacy has already been laid down. So, as musicians, we come to it with a love of that music, and we play it as though you have just dropped the needle on the record. We feel duty bound to do that because the audiences have their own personal memories of this music as I am sure that you have too.

So, it is not our duty to rip you out of those dreams. Our slogan is that it is all ‘about their music’ and that is on the tour bus wall (laughter). It is something that we never forget, and we all feel that we are so very privileged to be in a position to do this. When we went out on this tour, there was a tinge of sadness because Fleetwood Mac themselves had lost their Songbird, which was Christine McVie. So this tour will be tinged with a lot of sadness, but we are going to be sending a load of love from the stage to Christine McVie and take the applause for her; in fact we always take the applause for Fleetwood Mac but especially this year.

But, in a way we are all really excited because we will always have to play Everywhere, Little Lies, You Make Loving Fun; we always have to play those. But we also have a few other tracks that we have never played before, which we are really excited to play. I feel that is also our duty, to keep those songs alive. Let’s make it perfectly clear, Fleetwood Mac do not need Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac to keep their catalogue alive, but what I’m saying is, if we ever get the opportunity to get a Fleetwood Mac fan in front of us, then we are going to trade them that song.

The last time that you and I spoke you put things into perspective by saying that there were five decades of music and hundreds of tracks to pick from. Bearing that in mind, choosing a set list for the tour must be an absolute nightmare?

(Laughter) it is, it always is. This year we have had a bit of a breather here because we need to say thank you to Christine as Fleetwood Mac fans. So, as you can imagine it has been a little simpler of late, and we have also moved onto Tango In The Night which we haven’t really touch upon as yet. Don’t get me wrong, we do the big numbers off Tango In The Night; but you have to agree that that particular album really does have an 80s esq vibe. It really is a very different Fleetwood Mac album. I have to say that we have worked extremely hard to emulate a few great tracks off Tango In The Night.

We will be doing the title track, and then a few singles which Christine had; we have always got to perform the songs that the audiences are waiting for. For example, Dreams, The Chain, Say You Love Me, Gold Dust Woman; we have always got to try and get them into the set. I think that we currently have six or seven new songs on the set list, but then it becomes a question of, ‘how do we trade the set list to you’ because at the end of the day we have still got to perform a show obviously. But that is the beauty of no one point of focus, you get a great Christine McVie song then you get a great Lyndsey Buckingham song, then you get a great Stevie Nicks song, and there are always places that you can go.

We always go back in time to the Peter Green era, so the first twenty minutes of part two of the show gives us the chance to reopen the show if you know what I mean. So, we will always take that opportunity to go back through the mist of time to the 60s and play you some Peter Green stuff. We always look forward to doing that, the lads always look forward to doing that. That gives us another type of sonic, another edge.

And some great tunes as well.

Yes, that’s right, it does. So, in answer to your original question, yes, it is always difficult putting a set list together, we have now done four tours of America and we have to put together a set list for the American audiences because their understanding of Fleetwood Mac is from Rumours and beyond. But we always think about where it is that we are going and who we are playing to.

I have now seen you and the band perform a number of times both here in Nottingham and over in Birmingham, and I have to say that, in my opinion, the show simply gets better with age.

Thank you for saying that and I agree, it does, it certainly does. We are all getting a deeper understanding of just what that music meant to me as a player, and I think that is the beauty of the Fleetwood Mac legacy. You and I have both grown up with their music and locked into that music are our memories. All these years later we are all pretty precious about it, whenever we perform it.

I must have listened to thousands of albums over the years, and I have to say that I personally feel that Rumours is one of the best albums ever recorded.

Sonically, yes, it is. Plus, it is emotional as well.

Despite all of the ups and downs, the tears and the anger all helped to make this fantastic album.

Yes, it has, and I think that it is the very first piece of vinyl with an outpouring on it. That is the way that I try to explain it whenever anybody asks me about it. Every single one of those songs is relevant and has a meaning. It’s relevant rock and relevant pop and it is one of the first albums to reflect the bands emotions at that moment in time. They managed to put all of their feeling and emotions down onto vinyl and they were doing that in real time. There was absolutely nothing planned, they simply went into the studio for ages, in an attempt to try to express themselves but that was tinged with anger, love, fall-outs, break ups, and just how was the future going to look for the band.

When it comes to personnel changes to the line-up of Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac, do the artists approach you or do you personally pick the right person for the job in hand?

(Laughter) we spend hours auditioning, but nowadays we have the beauty of YouTube to help us in our task (laughter). This line-up of Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac now has original artists in it. So, they have got their own careers, their own writing capabilities, and their own albums. They actually tour themselves whenever Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac have some time off from touring. They are original musicians. Whenever there is a personnel change, the producer and I are always looking at YouTube in order to find artists, should we need to do that. However, now we are at the level where we are at, we actually do have understudies, who we have identified.

Not only must they be great musicians, they must be on the edge of being influenced by Fleetwood Mac but not mimicking the sound. If you listen to a few of their own songs, you can clearly hear Fleetwood Mac in them, which really is a thing. We are not in the Yellow Pages anymore looking for anybody up there in Nottingham (laughter). Having said all of that we do get a lot of submissions saying ’if ever’ but this line-up, I would say that if there was a Fleetwood Mac cocktail that you could make, then this really is the one. Having the thumbs up from Mick (Fleetwood) was a proper plus really.

Having Mick Fleetwood give Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac his blessing really was, for you, like gold dust, wasn’t it?

It was; it really was. All of this started life in two small transit vans, and I was driving an MPV all over the country for years (laughter). Now we have two tour buses, and two forty-foot trucks. It is now a totally different animal to what it was back then. If you had asked me the John Lennon question back then, “how long is this going to last” I would honestly have replied “I don’t know” (laughter). And here we are in 2024 and we are playing all over the world (laughter). It’s crazy.

You have briefly mentioned touring; your tours are so long. How did you cope with not being able to do anything during lockdown?

I think that we handled it like everyone else tried to do. I think that when we first all heard that we were going to be in lockdown, it was a case of ‘lock the doors and let’s see just what is going on in the world’. At that time, we had just started a UK tour, and we were only six dates into it, and then the government made the announcement, ‘everyone go home, shut your doors and wait for further announcements’ and I have to say that I simply couldn’t get my head around it all.

I would never go to a palm reader because I don’t want to know what’s around the corner for me. But, in all honesty, if someone would have told us back then that we wouldn’t be allowed out of our own homes for eighteen months, I would have gone nuts. What was great for musicians and especially Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac being original musicians, they just locked themselves into their laptops in their own private studios and started writing. So, in a way, the whole world stopped but their creativity continued; they welcomed the fact that the world put the brakes on, and a lot of us, including me, actually worked out just what was really important to us.

It was that reset moment, wasn’t it?

Yes, it was, it really was a reset moment for everything. You may have sat there and said, “I love being a journalist, I love what I am doing, and I can’t let that go” and we all did things to try and move ourselves forward. But I think that time gave us all time to reflect but I have to say that I found myself thinking, ‘will I ever count Dreams in again’ and I thought ‘what would I do if I couldn’t play the drums ever again’. It would totally change the person who I am. But, like you if they said, “you will never do another interview again…”

I would say thank Christ for that (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) bring it on (laughter). As you said it really was a reset moment and it was difficult but I tell you what, we had to stop the tour and all of the technicians went home. It really was hard for them. Whilst the rest of us had the chance of, ‘well maybe we can pick up from where we left off’ but the technicians didn’t know if there would be an industry left for them. We didn’t know whether or not the theatres would go bust, leaving us with absolutely no where to go back to. They were bloody difficult times, but I kept the Zoom thing going; we all spoke to one another at least twice a month, just to check how everyone was, but it really was extremely difficult and scary. That’s what makes us all feel amazed at the fact that we can now still do this.

Now I currently have a theory that your tours are so long because you don’t have a home to go back to (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) it’s funny that you should say that because what do you call a drummer without a girlfriend?

I have absolutely no idea.

Homeless (laughter). Thankfully I got my act together many years ago now and I am okay on the home front.

The last time that we spoke, you told me that your biggest musical highlight was playing in front of six thousand people at the Belfast Odyssey. Has that been surpassed since we last spoke?

I have to say that was a good vibe, but I have to say that taking the show over to America really was a dream come true. Let’s be clear, I didn’t get the show to America, I got it to a certain stage and then our production company have taken the show under their wing and have taken it all around the world, so I could never have got the show to America. Our producer, Chas Cole, has actually taken the show all across the world. For me, it was like, every gig that we did on that first United States tour and let me tell you there were many of them. We went to Canada and we then went all the way down to New York State, all the way down to Florida, and then we finished in Los Angeles. Thinking about it, it was only a short tour of thirty-five dates (laughter).We finished the tour at the Grove of Anaheim where Fleetwood Mac used to play.

So, for me, things like that might not have surpassed our time at the Belfast Odyssey but it was my new vibe of playing the music to an American audience. Like I said earlier, the American audiences are well and truly rooted in Rumours and beyond fans. I was worried as to just how they would accept what we did, and I have to say that they were absolutely fantastic. They really did come out to see us in their droves; some of the places that we played on that tour were amazing. When we tour, we play three days on with one day off, so we do live on the buses, and we sleep whilst we travel through the night onto the next gig.

We now have twenty-five people in the production including the crew. There may only be seven on stage but there is a whole army of people behind us. So, we will do three nights on where we are sleeping in our bunks and then we have a day off in a hotel (laughter). On the day off which the crew have called Roadie Friday, even if it’s a Monday, to the crew it is still Roadie Friday (laughter). That is when it all happens, they go nuts and the disco starts on the bus which usually goes on until four o’clock in the morning (laughter).

I have now been coming over to Nottingham for years, through different shows, but when you are in America, you would get to see America so very quickly because thirty-five dates in America takes just over two months. I don’t mind because we are travelling and seeing all of these wonderful places. I think the way that we did it on the first tour was three days on and two days off, so that we were all able to have a good look around. That was like the next level of, ‘wow, this is amazing’ for us to be in a position to see all of these different places. I really do feel very privileged to be in a position to be able to do this and that is why it is so very precious to us.

Having spoken about your highlights, there must have been a few disappointments along the way?

Yes, that’s a great question, and I will give you my personal disappointment. I was recently in the Isle of Man. It is a place that I used to go to with my mum and dad, and I was in the Isle of Man when I was sixteen years old. An older friend took me over with him and we flew out of Liverpool on a Viscount aeroplane which actually looked like the plane that The Beatles flew out of Liverpool on (laughter). It was like Fred Scuttle Airways, but we managed to get there (laughter). I remember sitting on the top of the mountain next to the tower and I said to my best mate, “I want to be the drummer in Slade” and he said to me, “I want to be in government, and I want to run the country” (laughter) to which I replied, “oh alright, okay” (laughter).

He never got to run the country and I never got to be a drummer in Slade(laughter). All that I ever wanted to do back then was to play my bands music and hear the audience sing it back to me, but I never ever got there, I have always been behind somebody else. I have always been playing somebody else’s music. I played for many years with The Merseybeats. Back then there were loads of artists who came over from America in the 70s and 80s; people like The Drifters, The Platters, people like that, and I have always been behind people playing their music. So, that is my regret as a player. From 17 to 65 years of age how the hell was I not able to do that (laughter). To me, that really is a letdown.

But, if I can count Dreams, Don’t Stop, and all of these other songs then it is great for me to be able to go, ‘I love this because I really do hold Mick Fleetwood in high esteem’. I love Mick Fleetwood, Keith Moon, and Charlie Watts; those three really were my players. Those three really did and do live for the performance. Mick lives every performance whilst not playing it the same every night. He would insist on not doing that. He redefines his special place every time that he plays which is something that I can’t do. I wouldn’t even go there because that belongs to Mick Fleetwood. All that I can do is what he has already laid down. So, that is my personal disappointment. Forget all of these tour buses and everything that goes with them; I didn’t make Slade (laughter). Maybe the next time round (laughter).

That surprises me because I thought that you would have managed it with Liverpool Express?

It’s very nice of you to say that but again; I came into that band after that bands success (laughter). It wasn’t me playing the drums on the album; it was a very good friend of mine, Derek Cashin. Derek then decided to call it a day so again, they didn’t press play and record for me, I just missed it every time (laughter). I honestly think that I am jinxed in that department. Having said all of that, I have landed in a great place, playing the music that I love, and that is Fleetwood Mac.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

Again, we are coming back to Christine McVie, and the orchestrated version of Songbird. When I heard that she had left us, I just put that on and had a little sob. There is nothing in the world that makes you cry more than when you put words, music, and memories together. I defy anyone not to have a cry. That’s what I did and that was the last time that I cried, it was the orchestrated version of Songbird, which was produced by Sir George Martin, the very man who produced The Beatles. It’s Chrissie’s original vocals from the original recording set to an orchestration that meanders around it beautifully. I defy anyone to put that on and not drop a tear.

For me it’s (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay by the late Otis Redding.

That’s what I am saying, it all hooks back to whatever that song means to you. People can cry to Realin’ In The Years by Steely Dan. It all depends upon just what is behind it. This is what I am saying about just how precious this music is. The Fleetwood Mac music is so precious to people, that is why we have to deliver is in the best possible way that we can.

Whenever you play Liverpool that must be a little special for you personally?

Yes, it is, it’s great. I remember when I had the reins, many years ago now, and I was getting four or five hundred people in there (laughter). However, whenever you look now at the number of people who come along to see us in the Liverpool shows, it is testament, not just to me but the whole production team over the years. It really is great to see it like that.

I have to ask, just how did your friendship with Mick Fleetwood come about?

Through his mum Biddy Fleetwood. She really is a beautiful lady. We always used to play a gig in Salisbury, at The City Hall and that is where Biddy lived. She had a lovely house down near the river, and Fleetwood Mac had stayed there over the years. Biddy was like a mum to the band. She would look after the children on tour and things like that. Biddy walked in one day whilst I was getting ready to do a show in the afternoon, and I always iron my clothes before I go on stage. So, I was ironing, and there was a knock at the dressing room door, and the tour manager said, “I’ve got Biddy Fleetwood here and she would like to see you”. Biddy came in and she said, “hi darling, I’ve come to check you out, I’m Mick’s mum” and I looked at her and thought, ‘bloody hell it is’ I could see Mick in her face. She said, “I have seen the show advertised in the local paper so I thought that I would come along and see just what it is”.

She watched the show that night, and she came to see me after the show, hugged us all and said, “that was amazing, and I am going to ring him (Mick) and tell him what I have just seen.” She used to come to the shows every year and I used to go down to Salisbury to see her periodically and take her what the band used to call a food parcel (laughter). Over a period of time, we all became very friendly with Biddy for no other reason other than she really was a lovely lady. She would always say to me, “one day I am going to bring Mick with me” and I would think, ‘oh yes, I hope you don’t’ (laughter). Many years later, perhaps four years from that initial meeting, she rang me as she usually would saying, “I’m on my way round, he’s just putting his tie on” and I said, “who is putting his tie on” to which she replied. “Mick, he’s here in town doing a book thing so I’m bringing him round” (laughter). I said, “Biddy you really don’t need to do that” but sure enough, he came to the gig, but I didn’t tell the band that he was coming.

I knew that he was coming and me being the drummer I was bloody frightened to death (laughter). Biddy text me and said, ‘we are here’ and I could see Mick towering over people near the mixing desk. We played the first half of the show, and it was then that I told the band that he was there during the break, and they were all really made up. We went out and gave it our best shot for the second half and even then, there have been some great musicians and great people in the band all the way along, but we always have a bloody go at it.

It’s not what it is now but it was a bloody good go. With about three songs to go, I saw Mick at the mixing desk on the stage, and you must remember that at that stage I hadn’t met him, and I think that he said to the tour manager, “can you hold my watch” (laughter) and then he walked over and the people in the audience at first thought that it was a tribute to Mick Fleetwood (laughter). He looked down at me and said, “pass me the sticks Cos” (laughter). And I gave him the sticks (laughter). I simply stood to one side of the stage and watched him do his Mick Fleetwood thing for three songs. That was a great thing in life, just to see that.

That’s why we have a video of Mick whenever we open a show. For us to have his blessing it’s not an endorsement, it’s his blessing. For us to have his blessing and his thumbs-up really is great and that’s why we have, over the years, we have crafted it, built it, made it better and kept that slogan that is on the tour bus. It is all about their music.

What is currently on Alan Cosgrove’s tour rider?

(Laughter) oh God, well for a start Yorkshire Tea. Let me tell you, we would not function without Yorkshire Tea. Don’t forget we have twenty something’s, thirty something’s, forty something’s, and sixty something’s on this tour, and going back to Roadie Friday, they open a cupboard on the tour bus, and believe you me, I don’t want to know what the hell is stashed away in that cupboard (laughter). I just go to bed and read my iPad (laughter). However, a prerequisite again is that there has got to be milk and Yorkshire Tea on board the tour bus. There is no, ‘I want smarties but only the red ones,’ there is none of that rubbish (laughter).

In America we have catering with us, so we always have something from the place where we are. For example, if we are in Buffalo then we will have buffalo wings. So, if we are in Scunthorpe, (laughter). It all depends upon where we are at that moment in time. It is quite difficult to do here in England, but if we are down toward Cheddar then naturally, we will have some cheese. But in answer to your question, it has to be Yorkshire Tea for us (laughter).

On that note Allan, let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me, it’s been delightful.

Thanks very much for your time, Kev, God bless and make sure that you come and say hello when we get up there to Nottingham. We will have a drop of something together. Tarra for now.

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