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Mick Fleetwood’s Surprising Local Connection

What do Birmingham and rock legend Mick Fleetwood have in common? Well, the answer is pretty simple and may even surprise you. Gerard Marti, owner of the Robert Kidd Gallery, started a friendship with the co-founder of Fleetwood Mac more than 20 years ago in Hawaii that endures to this day.

Gerard was born and raised in Marseille, France. After attending art school in Paris, he took a job as a recording engineer in 1975 with EMI Records. He married in 1991 and moved to Hawaii, where he opened an art gallery. At the time, Mick Fleetwood was also a huge fan of Maui and spending a lot of time there, and the two quickly became dear friends.

Years ago, Fleetwood Mac bass player John McVie studied photography and introduced the artform to Mick, for whom the passion certainly stuck. Gerard became fundamental in inspiring Mick to show his work at the gallery in Maui. Mick notes that he would not have done this had it not been for the trust he had in Gerard’s eye for fine art. Today, Birmingham’s Robert Kidd Gallery houses many of Fleetwood’s photographs. 

But as it turns out, the relationship between the gallery owner and rock and roller was about to take yet another turn, this time outside of art. Now the two have launched the Mick Fleetwood Coffee Company, which began with Mick’s love for coffee. Gerard asked Mick to develop that love into coffee blends that would be sold worldwide. The beans are imported from Africa and Hawaii and the coffee will be available online in December and at local grocery stores including our very own Kroger, Papa Joe’s and Plum Market.  

I got the amazing chance to interview Mick Fleetwood on his recent endeavors. We started off talking about Nathan Apocada, the social media star who hit it big with his TikTok video in which he lip-syncs Fleetwood Mac’s song “Dreams.” The video inspired countless imitators, made Apocada a fortune and made sales of the 1977 song soar as it was discovered by a whole new generation. 

Birmingham Life:  How do you feel about sales of “Dreams” increasing by 184% after Nathan Apocada’s TikTok?  

Mick Fleetwood: It was such a surprise, such a joyous and fun celebration. I met virtually with Nathan through a BBC newscast and my first words were, "We owe you." It was such a great story, and so needed in days that are so challenging. It made people smile and I was happy to be part of it.

BL:  Which of the band’s songs meant the most to you and moves you to this day?  

MF: Actually “Dreams” is one of them. This track remains Fleetwood Mac’s only song to top the Billboard chart in the States, and it embodies everything great about our album “Rumours.” This song played a pivotal role in the band becoming a household name. I think it’s the most famous song that [vocalist] Stevie [Nicks] ever wrote. It's one of the greatest songs about a relationship in turmoil.

BL: What lead you to start both photography and your new coffee line?

MF: Well, regarding my photography and artwork, Gerard Marti is the one who started everything. At the time, we both lived in Maui and were already dear friends. Maui is a beautiful place and I used to walk around the island taking pictures for my own pleasure. After seeing some of my shots, Gerald is the one who pushed me to make these public. Being an artist himself, Gerard selected the best images and curated a collection. 

Regarding the coffee line, you need to know that I'm a coffee freak. A couple of years ago when the pandemic started and all bands were grounded, not being able to tour, Gerard came up with the idea of creating my own coffee company. Since I own a couple of restaurants in Maui it made sense. I live in Hawaii but have toured the world several times with my band. I spent time in Ghana and Kenya and discovered the coffee beans from these areas of the world. So it was fun to experiment with different blends and create something really unique. Blending coffee is a fine art that marries coffee beans from different origins to enhance the best qualities of each and to create unique, signature-style coffees. It is a lot like mixing music. 

BL: What advice would you at age 74 give to yourself at 30?

MF: It would be the advice that came from my father. He was a pilot officer in the Royal Air Force. When I started to be what could be construed as famous-ish, he said, “Never forget you get up and go to the toilet in the morning, Michael.” Which means, just keep it in perspective, have a good sense of humor and remember that you are a human being. 

BL: How did you start your friendship with Gerard and come to be selling coffee and art in Birmingham, Michigan?

MF: Gerard is a former member of the recording industry, a musician and an artist, so the chemistry was already there to form a strong and long friendship that started more than 25 years ago. We both like challenges and adventures, so the art, the photography, the coffee, the scarves are just part of these exciting ideas that he came up with. I can't wait for the next one!

About Mick Fleetwood’s Photography 

For many years, Mick has traveled the world with his band, Fleetwood Mac. From one world tour to another, Mick has observed our planet from the very unique point of view of a nearly six-and-a-half-foot-tall rock star. With a pair of drumsticks in one hand and a camera in the other, Mick has managed to keep both arts alive. As he puts it, “Photography, just like music, is a powerful tool of expression and communication. Both mediums open the door to boundless individual interpretations.” Through his series of photographs, he hopes to capture what is sometimes beneath nature’s surface and what may not always be visible at first glance. 

Mick has been known, now and then, to observe his subject for days. “Often there is a magic moment for me that can sometimes take hours, even days, to reveal itself. But when it does, it’s spectacular. Capturing that moment in time is one of the aspects of photography that I will forever find fascinating.”

As for me, I find Mick Fleetwood to be the fascinating one. It was an incredible honor to interview him and get some insight into this incredible icon.

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