Rhino/Warner Bros. Records will be reissuing another deluxe edition of Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album Rumours to coincide with the band’s remaining 2019 North American tour dates. The latest 4CD package, out October 25, compiles tracks from the previously released 2004 and 2013 reissues of the album. The package is a slimmed-down version of the 6-disc set released in 2013, less The Rosebud Film DVD and Rumours LP.
Disc 1 – 2004 Remastered Album
1. Second Hand News
3. Never Going Back Again
4. Don’t Stop
5. Go Your Own Way
7. The Chain
8. You Make Loving Fun
9. I Don’t Want to Know
10. Oh Daddy
11. Gold Dust Woman
12. Silver Springs
Disc 2 – Live (2013 Remaster)
1. Intro (Live 1977)
2. Monday Morning (Live at The Fabulous Forum, Inglewood, CA 08/29/77)
3. Dreams (Live 1977)
4. Don’t Stop (Live 1977)
5. The Chain (Live 1977)
6. Oh Daddy (Live 1977)
7. Rhiannon (Live 1977)
8. Never Going Back Again (Live 1977)
9. Gold Dust Woman (Live 1977)
10. World Turning (Live at The Fabulous Forum, Inglewood, CA 08/29/77)
11. Go Your Own Way (Live 1977)
12. Songbird (Live 1977)
Disc 3 – Early Takes (2013 Remaster)
1. Second Hand News (Early Take)
2. Dreams (Take 2)
3. Never Going Back Again (Acoustic Duet)
4. Go Your Own Way (Early Take)
5. Songbird (Demo)
6. Songbird (Instrumental, Take 10)
7. I Don’t Want to Know (Early Take)
8. Keep Me There (Instrumental) [2013 Remaster]
9. The Chain (Demo)
10. Keep Me There (2013 Remaster)
11. Gold Dust Woman (Early Take) [2013 Remaster]
12. Oh Daddy (Early Take)
13. Silver Springs (Early Take)
14. Planets of the Universe (Demo) [2013 Remaster]
15. Doesn’t Anything Last (Acoustic Duet) [2013 Remaster]
16. Never Going Back Again (Instrumental)
Disc 4 – Sessions, Roughs & Outtakes (2004 Remaster)
1. Second Hand News
3. Brushes (Never Going Back Again)
4. Don’t Stop
5. Go Your Own Way
7. Silver Springs
8. You Make Loving Fun
9. Gold Dust Woman #1
10. Oh Daddy
11. Think About It
12. Never Going Back Again (Early Demo)
13. Planets of the Universe (Early Demo)
14. Butter Cookie (Keep Me There)
15. Gold Dust Woman (Early Demo)
16. Doesn’t Anything Last (Early Demo)
17. Mic the Screecher (Jam Sessions)
18. For Duster (The Blues) (Jam Sessions)
The Highwomen have covered “The Chain” from Fleetwood Mac‘s 1977 album Rumours. The song is included in the upcoming motion picture soundtrack for The Kitchen, a crime comedy out in theaters on Friday, August 9.
The Highwomen (who are Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires) deliver a surprisingly good cover, considering how iconic — and sacred — “The Chain” is in Fleetwood Mac’s catalog.
“Dreams,” the Number One single from Fleetwood Mac’s iconic 1977 album Rumours, returns to the charts this week, according to Billboard Magazine — thanks to a meme showing The Golden Girls color guard dancing to the song. The tweet posted by i m m i g r ❀ n t @bottledfleet has received thousands of likes and retweets since March 22. In the original video, which was taken last year, The Golden Girls are dancing to the beat of the Alcorn State University Marching Band.
“Dreams” re-emerges at Number 14 on the Hot Rock Songs chart for the weekending April 7, 2018. The reaction to the Twitter post also bumps up Rumours on the Top Rock Albums chart, from 21-13 with 7,000 equivalent album units, up 12 percent, according to Billboard.
Rumours — the band’s infamous breakup album — includes some of pop music’s most recognizable tunes of all time, including “Dreams,” “Go Your Own Way,” and “You Make Loving Fun.” The album continues to sell well after all these years, with upwards of 40 million in total sales.
Here’s the full list of the 2017 inductees.
Alice’s Restaurant—Arlo Guthrie (1967) (single)
New Sounds in Electronic Music—Steve Reich, Richard Maxfield, Pauline Oliveros (1967)
Calypso—Harry Belafonte (1956) (album) (RCA)
Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas—Artur Schnabel (1932-1935)
Dream Melody Intermezzo: Naughty Marietta–Victor Herbert and His Orchestra (1913)
Standing Rock Preservation Recordings—George Herzog and Yanktoni Indians (1928)
Evening with Groucho, An—Groucho Marx (1972)
Folk Songs of the Hills—Merle Travis (1946)
Footloose—Kenny Loggins (1984) (single)
Raising Hell—Run-DMC (1986)
Gambler, The—Kenny Rogers (1978) (single)
How I Got Over—Clara Ward and the Ward Singers (1950) (single)
I Left My Heart in San Francisco—Tony Bennett (1962) (single)
If I Didn’t Care—The Ink Spots (1939) (single)
King Biscuit Time (only extant episode with Sonny Boy Williamson) (1965)
Lamento Borincano–Canario y Su Grupo (1929)
Le Freak—Chic (1978) (single)
My Girl—The Temptations (1965) (single)
Proceedings of the UN Conference on International Organization (4/25/45-6/26/45/45)
Rhythm is Gonna Get You–Gloria Estefan (1987) (single)
Rock Around the Clock–Bill Haley and His Comets (1954) (single)
Rumours—Fleetwood Mac (1977)
Sitting on Top of the World—Mississippi Sheiks (1930)
Sound of Music, The (1965) (soundtrack)
Yo Yo Ma Premieres—Yo Yo Ma and the Philadelphia Orchestra (1996)
Sex and Drugs and Lighting Guys: The Fleetwood Mac Story
The 4th of February marked the fortieth anniversary of something great. This month in 1977, the album Rumours was released by Fleetwood Mac. Filled with memorable tracks, acerbic jabs and drug-fueled romantic angst, there is plenty for listeners of all ages and backgrounds to sink their auditory teeth into.
The Album’s Background
Rumours was designed first and foremost as an album that would contain no “filler” tracks; every track must be up to the standard of a single. Indeed, while this factor raised the bar and probably put an already high-pressure situation in a quality-analysis vice, it is undoubtedly instrumental to the album’s success. Every track is at a standard that it could be released and stand on its own two feet independently. Beyond this, the band retains its signature sound throughout, yet the trio of singers give each song a distinct and unique twist, preventing the album from stagnating or losing any magic upon repeated plays. However, beyond the acoustics and the standard of the tracks themselves is the story of the band’s turmoil, imprinted on the lyrics. The band consisted of five members, the on-again-off-again American couple Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham, who were finally heading towards calling it off for good; and the Brits, the divorcing John and Christine McVie, and lastly Mick Fleetwood, who had just discovered his wife had been having an affair with his best friend.
The Creation Process
The emotional confusion and acrimony is incredibly prevalent in the lyrics of the album. ‘You Make Loving Fun’ is a feel-good song about finding the joy of being in a relationship with someone new, penned by Christine about the group’s lighting guy and with a bass line played by her ex-lover. She also claims her song ‘Oh Daddy’ is dedicated to drummer, Mick Fleetwood, but some members of the band believe this is actually a love song dedicated to someone else. Buckingham and Nicks, in turn, use the album as a cathartic method of digesting their own views on the breakdown of their relationship. ‘Go Your Own Way’, written by Buckingham, claims “shacking up’s all you want to do”, much to Nick’s chagrin, whilst her song ‘Dreams’ analyses the ephemeral nature of love through a series of metaphors, and a quiet awareness of the relationship’s end. The McVies didn’t talk between takes, and conversely recordings were the only time Nicks and Buckingham stopped screaming at each other. In addition, friction between the Brits and Americans in the group distanced all the members further. The recording sessions are a rumour-mill in and of themselves, with it being alleged the group didn’t see daylight for days; that John McVie was descending into serious alcoholism; Nicks tried to take cocaine anally and wrapped her head in a black scarf to record ‘Gold Dust Woman’, as well as the alleged affair between Fleetwood and Nicks.
The Album Title
The group has retrospectively confirmed, as well as all the Rumours surrounding the recording, that the album was named Rumours because the tracks were the only way the band knew what was happening with the other members. This disjointed and, at times, abusive exchange of monologues was the only stream of communication between the members at such a dysfunctional time.
Where You May Have Heard The Tracks
The gravitas of these tracks is evident as they permeate day-to-day popular culture. Bill Clinton used ‘Don’t Stop’s distinctive hook “don’t stop thinking about tomorrow”, as his campaign song in his successful 1993 run for office, with the band even re-uniting to play it live. Though this perhaps overlooks the message of the song that heartbreak is eventually a memory. ‘The Chain’ and its distinctive bassline riff, the sole song that all five members have writing credits for, can be heard on the BBC’s coverage of Formula One. Several songs have been covered by the likes of Eva Cassidy (‘Songbird’) and The Corrs (‘Dreams’), and have featured in soundtracks of high profile media such as The Simpsons, Forrest Gump, Skins, Cuckoo and Guitar Hero World Tour. The album was also voted 25th out of the 500 greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.
The Hidden Gem
Even if you are familiar with the album, you may not know of the unreleased track that Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks had a copyright tug of war over, ‘Silver Spring’. Replaced on the album by the marginally peppier ‘I Don’t Want To Know’, Nicks’ lyrical and musical genius is sorely overlooked. The song was recently added to the line-up in album re-releases and focuses on the breakdown of her relationship with Buckingham, with the eponymous ‘Silver Spring’ being an idealised and romantic sense of perfection. It was named after the band drove through Colorado and Nicks commented to Fleetwood that it seemed like a perfect place. For those who appreciate discovering new tracks, iTunes has many demos you probably haven’t heard before from the super-deluxe version of the album. ‘Planets of the Universe’ is particularly haunting, with poignant piano and vocals and a very raw, stripped back power behind it.
Rumours still hits a raw nerve with a lot of people; beyond the catchy tunes, familiar riffs and powerful vocals, the group is exploring the very real pain of being unable to hold a relationship together in a time of emotional turmoil. The album receives a lot of praise, and is almost seen as pejoratively mainstream since it has sold so many copies. So, is it overhyped? To quote Murray from Flight of the Conchords; “Rumours? No, it’s all true.”
40 years after Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Stevie Nicks is still one of rock’s biggest icons
The iconic 1977 Fleetwood Mac album Rumours turned 40 last week. This album has meant a whole lot to me over the course of my life, and this anniversary has forced me to reflect on that more than ever.
As a female writing about music, I have a special appreciation for women in music, and Stevie Nicks is one of the best the world has seen. As she approaches 70, she remains one of the most incredible women in rock, releasing album 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault, in 2013. She is currently touring and recently added 20 tour dates for 2017, kicking off on Feb. 23, in Reno, Nevada, and wrapping up on April 6 in Uniondale, New York.
In the music industry as a whole, women are typically confined to the roles of solo performers or singer-songwriters. This is what makes Fleetwood Mac stand out — it’s a mixed-gendered rock band, and by far the most successful one to ever grace the industry. Of course, there was drama that came along with it, but from that drama emerged some of the greatest music of the 70s, specifically the album Rumours.
Nicks was involved in a tumultuous relationship with her bandmate Lindsey Buckingham, and their relationship came to an end while the band remained whole. Instead of conforming to the heartbroken damsel in distress stereotype that people may have expected, Nicks continued working with Buckingham and the rest of the band, and went on to write the song “Dreams,” which is the only Fleetwood Mac single to reach number one on the United States charts. The drama and heartbreak being felt by almost every member of the band produced their most successful era because of the fact both the male and female perspectives were on display. There is dialogue within and between the tracks of the album, and this is what makes it stand out among most albums in rock history.
Nicks is also notable in the sense that she chose her career over settling down and starting a family. Women are often expected to be tame and take their so-called “biological duty” more seriously than their career or passions. Nicks never conformed to that. From the age of 16, she has been a songwriter and musician, and has let nothing get in the way — whether it was her affairs and relationships, or the societal pressure of settling down to have a family. Nothing could stop her passion for her craft, and as a result she has led an incredibly successful career both with Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist.
At the age of 68, it is expected that her career as a rock star may be approaching its end, but that doesn’t signal the end of her relevance. She is more than just a rock star — she is an incredibly wise and knowledgeable woman who uses her art to convey her experiences to the world and offer solace to those that have had similar experiences. All the while, she has paved the way for women in rock, and has simultaneously been exemplary to women in general, with her good-naturedness and her ability to overcome all sorts of obstacles — while still finding incredible success. She uses this success as a platform to share what she has learned as a woman in the rock genre, and simply as a student of the universe.
In a 2015 issue of Mojo magazine, Nicks said, “I think every band should have a girl in it, because it’s always going to make for cooler stuff going on than if it’s just a bunch of guys.” The world, and music in general, can learn a lot from the success of Fleetwood Mac, and of Stevie Nicks in particular.
Jenny Bourque is a freshman English and textual studies major. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. You can email her at email@example.com.
Jenny Bourque / Syracuse University Daily Orange / February 7, 2017
Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is 40 – here are 10 reasons why it’s their best album.
It’s safe to say everyone has heard of Fleetwood Mac.
Whether you’re 50 or 15, chances are there’s at least one track you know and love – and it’s pretty likely it comes from their most successful album, Rumours.
The record turns 40 this month, so what better way to mark the occasion than to provide 10 reasons why it’s their best album ever?
Dig out the tunes, get listening and read on.
Mick Fleetwood called Rumours ‘the most important album we ever made’, because it was this record’s success that allowed Fleetwood Mac to continue making music for years afterwards.
VH1 placed the album at number 16 during its 100 Greatest Albums countdown in 2003, and Rolling Stone ranked it at number 25 in its ‘The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time’ issue.
Rumours was Fleetwood Mac’s 11th studio album, and was released almost a decade after their first record – to achieve multi-platinum, record-breaking success so long after starting out is incredibly rare.
The album has received diamond certification in several countries, such as the U.S., Canada and Australia. What is diamond certification? In 1999, the diamond certification was introduced to signify that a recording had sold 10 million copies.
All five band mates worked through painful breakups while they created the record – The McVies were going through a divorce, Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were reaching a bitter end to their long term relationship, and Fleetwood’s wife was about to leave him for his best friend.
Each track on the album provides a tale of love and loss that everyone can identify with.
“Second Hand News” is a classic ode to rebound relationships, inspired by Buckingham’s experiences in finding new women after Stevie.
“Go Your Own Way” managed to be upbeat with a ‘f*** you’ vibe – quite the achievement.
What’s more, the line “Shackin’ up is all you wanna do” accuses an ex-lover of being a slut – then has Buckingham’s ex-lover harmonise on the hook.
Nicks wrote “Dreams” in a few minutes, recorded it onto a cassette, then went back to the studio and demanded the band listen to it. This simple ballad soon became part of the masterpiece – and was a number one hit.
One of the best ads during Sunday’s Super Bowl LI was — of course — the new Guardians of the Galaxy 2 trailer, featuring Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.” The clip starts off with John McVie’s signature bassline riff (apparently remixed to sound future-y) and escalates to Stevie, Lindsey, and Christine’s blood-curdling cries of “Chain…keep us together!” It could be just the rush of hearing The Mac’s rock anthem “The Chain” represent the plight of Marvel Comics superheroes protecting and defending the universe, but it still sends chills up the spine. Not bad for a 40-year-old song.
In case you missed it (because you couldn’t care less about football), here’s the clip of the trailer.
This weekend (the 4th February, to be exact) marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Fleetwood Mac’s bestselling album, Rumours. The Grammy Award-winning album was released in 1977, and marked a turning point in Fleetwood Mac’s musical career. Fuelled by immense hedonism and heavy drug-use, Rumours is an album about relationships, and trying to move on after their failure. Now the ninth best-selling album of all time, Rumours has, in the words of AllMusic editor Stephen Erlewine, “transcended its era to be one of the greatest, most compelling pop albums of all time.”
“Fleetwood himself has noted the “tremendous emotional sacrifices” made by the band simply to attend the studio to record”
The production of Rumours came after a tumultuous period in the band’s history. Following the success of Fleetwood Mac’s eponymous tenth album, released in 1975, and six month of non-stop touring, Christine and John McVie (keyboard/vocals and bass guitar respectively) divorced. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks had been in an on-off relationship during the tour as well, but their relationship began to suffer, and they fought often.
Mick Fleetwood was also struggling with family matters, after discovering that his wife had been having an affair with his best friend. Despite these problems, the band line-up remained the same for the recording of Rumours, though Fleetwood himself has noted the “tremendous emotional sacrifices” made by the band simply to attend the studio to record.
Rumours was recorded at the Record Plant in Sausalito, California, with the band living in (separate) accommodation nearby, and originally went by the working title of Yesterday’s Gone. Though the band worked well together during the recording of the album, they did little together outside the studio, and often indulged in the prevalent San Francisco drug culture.
Chris Stone, one of the owners of Record Plant, reminisced in 1997 that the band “would come in at 7 at night, have a big feast, party till 1 or 2 in the morning, and then when they were so whacked-out they couldn’t do anything, they’d start recording.” Despite their heavy drug use and intense emotional conflicts, Nicks has suggested that Fleetwood Mac produced their best music when they were in the worst shape.
“The impact and legacy of Rumours shows no signs of stopping…”
The songs on the album are not without their significance. “The Chain” (the only song written by the whole band in collaboration) and “Oh, Daddy” (written by the McVies about Fleetwood and his wife, who had reconciled their differences and got back together) are about reluctance to leave a lover, even after they have treated you wrong.
“Dreams,” “Second Hand News” and “Go Your Own Way” are clearly about break-ups and an attempt to move on, while songs like “Songbird” (the only song on the album not recorded at Record Plant) and “Don’t Stop” are a little more optimistic; they seem hopeful of a better future that will come as a result of the breakup that has just occurred. “Gold Dust Woman” is a testament to Los Angeles and the hard life that such a metropolis provided; Nicks herself became addicted to cocaine after her time there, and the song references this several times.
Rumours has continued to be a classic in and of itself since its release 40 years ago. Production fraught with emotional tension and difficulty is replicated in the music itself, which is full of “raw, immediate emotional power” (Stephen Erelwine).
Now having reached 2x Diamond certification in the US and 11x Platinum in the UK, the impact and legacy of Rumours shows no signs of stopping, and will be remembered as Fleetwood Mac’s greatest contribution to music.
Ellen Smithies / Impact Magazine (University of Nottingham) / February 5, 2017
As Rumours turns 40, tributes to Fleetwood Mac’s pinnacle work pour in from music critics.
Fleetwood Mac‘s classic 1977 album Rumours turns 40 today! Featuring some of the most recognizable tunes in rock music, Rumours has influenced generations of music listeners, providing the melodic soundtrack to their lives.
One of the album’s most popular tracks is the optimistic “Don’t Stop,” which Bill Clinton famously used as his 1992 presidential campaign song. But it’s the all-too-relatable relationship turmoil — expressed in songs like “Dreams,” “Go Your Own Way,” and “The Chain” — that still connects with audiences 40 years later.
“It was not awful at all, it was fantastic! We were rich, we were young, we were falling out of love with each other, but, hey … there was a lot of other men and women in the world, and we were all moving on. … So as bad as it was, it was still great.” —Stevie Nicks
The tributes to Rumours have poured in all week from music journalists, who dissect the album’s enduring appeal.
“It’s an album that has eerie soothing powers when you hear it in the midst of a crisis, which might be why it hits home right now, with our minute-by-minute deluge of apocalyptic news, the rottenest month to be an American since FDR died.” —Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone
“Rumours is a brutal examination of the politics of relationships, personalities, and ambition.” —Jules LeFevre, Faster Louder
“To simply call Rumours a breakup album doesn’t do it justice. Most breakup albums have an end point — some triumph, a reward or promise about how some supposed emotional resilience might pay off. Rumours is an album of continual, slow breaking.” —Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, MTV
“Was it the drama, musicality, character or celebrity culture which made Rumours so iconic? Likely, all of the above.” —Tom Cameron, Happy
Many albums lay claim to being the best of all time. But Rumours was designed not to have an inch of filler and achieved its goal with room to spare. Perhaps only the Beatles’ Revolver could muster that defence so convincingly. —Graeme Marsh, Stereoboard
Co-producer of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours sparks effort to buy Sausalito’s historic Record Plant Studio
Forty-one years ago, record producer Ken Caillat loaded his dog in his car and drove from Los Angeles to the Record Plant in Sausalito to work on an album by an up-and-coming band named Fleetwood Mac. The album that came out of four months of intense recording sessions was Rumours, a blockbuster that would go on to sell more than 45 million copies worldwide and earn critical acclaim as one of the greatest pop records of all time.
In recent days and months, Caillat has made that same trip with his dog (not the same one) many times. This time his purpose has been to help form the Marin Music Project, a three-member group that’s on a mission to save the long-shuttered Record Plant as a piece of Marin’s storied rock ’n’ roll history.
“It was dirty, the wood was flaking off and I thought, ‘I’m gonna wake up one morning and read that it burned down,’” he said. “I’ve seen so many great studios that either burned down or were turned into computer places or real estate offices or coffee shops. I said, ‘I’m going to do everything I can to try and save this place.’”
So he hooked up with Novato marketing consultant Kevin Bartram and Frank Pollifrone, a sports and entertainment marketer from Los Gatos, to launch the Marin Music Project.
39 years ago today, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours began a long run at the top of the Billboard 200 chart, where it would stay for a (nonconsecutive) 31 weeks. The only brief interruptions in the number one spot were from The Eagles Hotel California and a live Barry Manilow album. No thanks. Since its release, Rumours has sold over 40 million copies worldwide—behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller (makes sense), and, for some reason, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell.
Anyway, Rumours is flawless—don’t listen to this guy. And not only is it flawless in and of itself (Robert Christgau wrote that it “it jumps right out of the speakers at you”) but the tales of its recording are notoriously batshit crazy, too.
Up-and-coming recording artist Ryan Beatty has covered Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 #1 single “Dreams.” Beatty’s offers a stripped down, soulful rendition of the Stevie Nicks-penned classic. Have a listen below:
“It really was the beginning of the dream…” says the band’s Stevie Nicks.
The arrival of Lindsey Buckingham and his then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks to Fleetwood Mac in 1974 kicked the band’s commercial fortunes into serious high gear. Although the group was founded in 1967 and had already released nine studio albums, they had never visited the top 20 of the Billboard 200 chart. In contrast, the Mac’s first album with Buckingham and Nicks, the 1975 self-titled set, shot to No. 1 and sold five million in the U.S., according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
But even bigger success was on the horizon with 1977’s blockbuster Rumours, which spent 31 weeks atop the list and has shifted 20 million.
Its second single, the Nicks-penned “Dreams,” became the band’s first (and so far only) No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (on the list dated June 18, 1977) and was their first gold-certified single by the RIAA.
“My small pink 45 gold record of ‘Dreams’ hangs in my ocean apartment [in Santa Monica, Calif.] as we speak,” Nicks recalls to Billboard. “It has hung in every house I have lived in since the day I first received it. When I pass by it, I reach out and touch it. It really was the beginning of the dream …”
“Dreams” is one of 25 entries on the Hot 100 for the band, who also visited the top 10 eight other times with such hits as “Little Lies” and “Don’t Stop.”
The dreamy Rumours-era lineup of the band (Buckingham, Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie and John McVie) released three more top 10 studio albums before fracturing in 1987 after the departure of Buckingham. The quintet reconvened in 1997 for that year’s No. 1 live album The Dance and once more in 2014 for the On With the Show world tour. That trek continues through Europe, Australia and New Zealand this year. A new studio album is also in the works – and would be the first from the Mac’s fab five since 1987’s Tango in the Night.
Keith Caulfield / Billboard / Thursday, June 18, 2015
Winner: Fleetwood Mac, Rumours
Eagles, Hotel California
Steely Dan, Aja
James Taylor, JT
John Williams, Star Wars — Motion Picture Soundtrack
In a race between five albums that climbed the top of the Billboard 200 in 1977, Fleetwood Mac took home Album Of The Year gold as the Grammys turned 20. Rumours soared to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and garnered the group two additional nominations in 1977, including Best Arrangement For Voices for “Go Your Own Way.” Fellow West Coasters the Eagles and Steely Dan also gained nods — the latter would win for Album Of The Year for Two Against Nature in 2001. Taylor didn’t leave empty-handed that year as his cover of Jimmy Jones’ 1959 “Handy Man,” from JT, won for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. The force was with Williams, who garnered his first award two years prior for the soundtrack to Jaws and has won an impressive 21 Grammys to date.
Late last year, a packed audience at London’s O2 Arena went wild as Fleetwood Mac welcomed Christine McVie on stage – completing the line-up of the band that produced one of the biggest selling albums of all times, Rumours.
The success of Fleetwood Mac is without precedent considering the varying line ups. However, the constants include their remarkable drummer and ‘big daddy’ of the group, Mick Fleetwood, and the ‘quiet man’, bassist John McVie. Which is fortunate as that’s how the band’s name came about, combining their two surnames way back in 1967.
Across two hours, Johnnie speaks to Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and features a rare interview with pianist and singer-songwriter Christine McVie. Listeners will get to hear how they all had their part to play in the jigsaw puzzle of Fleetwood Mac’s enduring success. Despite the sometimes hedonistic lifestyle, divorces and ego clashes they couldn’t have produced decades of hit records without love and friendship.
Presenter/ Johnnie Walker, Producer/ Julie Newman for the BBC
Johnnie Walker celebrates the decade of Open All Hours, The Good Life and Last of the Summer Wine. This week he’s joined in conversation by the members of Fleetwood Mac, ahead of his in-depth special to be broadcast on Radio 2 in the new year. The program was made to mark the thirty-fifth anniversary of Rumours, the album propelled them to super stardom along with legendary excess and in-fighting. The band recently toured the world with sell-out dates in the UK, Johnnie will scratch the surface of the band with some sneak previews of his full-length special.
Listen to a preview of the interview below. The full program airs on Wednesday, January 1, on the BBC Radio 2 Network.
I remember reading an issue of Rolling Stone a few years ago about the ‘100 Greatest Albums of All Time’, and thinking about how these countdowns might differ in different magazines – NME’s top 10 will almost certainly not be the same as Kerrang’s.
Getting down to the top 10, all the usual candidates I would expect in modern music magazines were there (The Beatles, Stones, Dylan etc.), but the number 4 on the list was an album I’d never really heard of: Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. I wondered how an album considered canonical by one of the world’s biggest music magazines could have passed me by; why all the ‘Top 100…’ articles I’d read in British magazines could have ignored Rumours in the top bracket. The album itself was popular and critically acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic, unsurprising given the Anglo-American core of the band, and yet an avid reader of British music magazines in the 21st-century might never consider Fleetwood Mac’s seminal LP in the same bracket as many of the well-trodden ‘classic’ albums.
This has the chance to change with the impending re-release of Rumours, more than 25 years after its original release. Whether milking a cash-cow or hoping to disseminate their work to a new, younger audience, there is a sense that such an album is coming at the right time. The musicianship of the songs forms an interesting juxtaposition to the works of many of today’s new breed of guitar bands (From The Vaccines to Palma Violets), and, despite the recordings having inevitably aged, the songs themselves remain just as potent as they did in the 1970s.
When looking back upon the process of its recording, it is hard to fathom that such cohesive, well-written pop songs coincided with a time when the relationships in the band were falling apart; songs like the Nicks-penned ‘Dreams’ and Buckingham’s ‘Go Your Own Way’ even seem a direct discourse, the ‘unfurled back and forth’ Buckingham would later recall in ‘Eyes of the World’. Yet in such a capable group of musicians and songwriters, the talent will always out, and a real ear for melody and intelligently crafted lyrics interact in such a way that can seldom be accidental.
Despite a deceptive amount of experimentation, there is always a sense, simply, that each addition works; the driving rhythm of ‘Second Hand News’, made by McVie hitting his drum stool, the explosive coda of ‘The Chain’, the only song written by all five bandmates, and the now iconic ‘Go Your Own Way’, a song that was nearly scrapped as a single for having ‘no real beat’. Each song knows what it is doing and does it well- every addition stands alone as much as forms part of the album’s overall dynamic.
One could argue that such a mode of song-writing has been lost in recent guitar bands, and the next generation of NME bands could do worse than get themselves a copy of Fleetwood Mac’s best LP. The creative harmonic interchange in songs like ‘Second Hand News’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Know’ shows that a use of familiar modular chords can still avoid sounding dull and derivative (something that bands like Tribes and The Vaccines have yet to learn). There can be many discussions about what makes a classic album, but for sheer song-writing talent, Rumours deserves its place amongst the greats.
Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is out on reissue from 29th January published by Rhino Records.
Fleetwood Mac are back and bigger than ever, but is it finally time guitar fans dropped their pretensions and embraced one of the greatest “uncool” acts of the 1970s?
Rampaging commercial success will not earn an artist the acceptance of the wider rock fraternity. Music fans can be more than a little sniffy. The second a band breaks through the glass ceiling and becomes a pop culture staple, eyebrows arch and skepticism takes hold. It’s a bizarre phenomenon but one that every music fan can recognize. There is no magic formula to earn credibility and kudos. Every critic in the land can fall in line and exalt an artist’s latest work, but it won’t stop the second-guessing and it won’t make you cool.
Fleetwood Mac represent the ultimate contradiction. When they ditched the trappings of blues-rock and embraced folk-pop they became the biggest band in the world. The critics adore Rumours and the public grabbed copies in their millions — but the Mac were never cool. Indulgent, genteel, and contrived, to their adversaries Fleetwood Mac were regressive and safe when music was at its madcap revolutionary best. Lindsey Buckingham was never on trend as far as guitarists were concerned — he chose to askew his considerable technical talents in favour of chart friendly sheen.
Fleetwood Mac’s guilty pleasure status has only grown with age. Chatting with young rock fans at Sonisphere Festival 2010 about the best live bands they’d seen in the last year, it was amusing to witness a fan try and couch his enjoyment at seeing Fleetwood Mac live. After a minute of mumbling hedges (“Well they’re not my kind of thing,” “Of course I didn’t expect to enjoy it”) he meekly came to the conclusion, in hushed tones, that “you know, when they played “The Chain” and really got going, they’re pretty good…if you like that sort of thing.”
It was truly astounding, not the length this one rock fan went to hide his clear admiration for the Mac, but the fact that he had to hide it in the first place. This was a Festival that featured prominent performances by the likes of Europe and Motley Crue, and the gent in question was wearing a Whitesnake tee! Surely if hair metal has been redeemed to the point where hardened rock fans will proudly don the garb of their poodle haired icons, it should be socially acceptable to admit that “you know, Fleetwood Mac are kind of alright.”
Perhaps the time is now. Fleetwood Mac have reformed with more fanfare than either their 2004 or 2009 sojourns and Rumours has been reissued to ravenous reviews. Even Pitchfork, the hipster bible which historically avoids dolling out top marks to even the most highly regarded middle of the road releases (see The Joshua Tree), took the plunge and gave Rumours a perfect 10. The fans are certainly excited, selling out a mammoth arena tour and forcing the band to add two extra dates in London. It’s self-evident: Fleetwood Mac are still relevant.
But if the band has always been this beloved, it begs the question…
Why Were Fleetwood Mac So Uncool In The First Place?
Victims of circumstance: the injection of pop songsmiths Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in 1975 happened to coincide with one of the most revolutionary periods in pop music history. New genres and new sounds were being invented on a monthly basis and if the 70s could be distilled down into one succinct musical motto it would read: never look back.
David Bowie encapsulated this sense of experimentation as he ditched twee mod-pop, rushed through psychedelic isolation, mastered glam, went crazy on cocaine and released two Krautrock masterpieces in the space of seven short years.
Consider the breadth of innovation in the years when Fleetwood Mac released their best work – look at how dramatically music was evolving with each passing year:
1975 (Fleetwood Mac): Blood On The Tracks (Bob Dylan), Psychical Graffiti (Led Zeppelin), Blow By Blow (Jeff Beck), Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd), Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen), A Night At The Opera (Queen), Horses (Patti Smith), Another Green World (Brian Eno), Captain Fantastic… (Elton John), Neu ’75 (Neu!), Mothership Connection (Parliament), Ted Nugent (Ted Nugent)
1977 (Rumours): Marquee Moon (Television), Never Mind The Bollocks (The Sex Pistols), Low & Heroes (David Bowie), Animals (Pink Floyd), The Clash (The Clash), Exodus (Bob Marley), My Aim Is True (Elvis Costello), Bat Out Of Hell (Meatloaf), Trans-Europe Express (Kraftwerk), Rocket To Russia (The Ramones), Pink Flag (Wire), Talking Heads 77 (Talking Heads), The Idiot (Iggy Pop), The Heart Of The Congos (The Congos), Saturday Night Fever (The Beegees)
1979 (Tusk): London Calling (The Clash), Unknown Pleasures (Joy Division), Highway To Hell (AC/DC), The Wall (Pink Floyd), Entertainment (Gang Of Four), Off The Wall (Michael Jackson), Specials (The Specials), Metal Box (PIL), Singles Going Steady (The Buzzocks), Y (The Pop Group), Three Imaginary Boys (The Cure), 20 Jazz Funk Greats (Throbbing Gristle)
In four years the music world went from the height of excess back to its barest punk bones and came out the other side with a desire to rip it up and start again. By comparison the latter-day Fleetwood Mac feel cosy. When the rock world was living life on the edge, they occupied the middle ground, recreating the easy life aesthetic of the Californian pop maestros (albeit with the help of a boat load of cocaine).
But it’s 2013! Kraftwerk and The Clash are classic rock, and all that progression is ancient history…it’s time to ask the immortal question:
Is It Okay To Like Fleetwood Mac?
Revisiting the three classic albums of the Nicks/Buckingham era with fresh ears is next to impossible. The bizzarest aspect of listening to Fleetwood Mac, Rumours and Tusk is how unnervingly familiar the first two records sound. The hits are unavoidable of course, “Dreams” remains seductive and “Go Your Own Way” is an eternal toe tapper, but the albums (particularly Rumours) have been absorbed so thoroughly into the popular consciousness that every hook, harmony and sly riff is already buried in the deepest recesses of your mind.
Listening to Rumours is simply the trigger device. A signal is unleashed; a little microchip goes off in the back of your brain instantly alerting you to the Mac’s entire oeuvre. The sound of this album (which was already steeped in pop culture familiarity) has gone on to inform three further generations of radio rock and pristine pop.
This certainly doesn’t help “Don’t Stop”, or “Second Hand News” (with its nauseating bow-bow-bow adlibs), sound exhilarating in 2013. The thrill of discovery is rendered null and void by decades of pre-conditioning, but thankfully the highly touted tension remains in tact.
To the unconverted the endless discussion of the fraught Nicks/Buckingham relationship adds little depth to the music. Hearing “Go Your Own Way” on the radio is like sitting in on an episode of a soap opera that you’re not remotely invested in. Rumours brings the outsider up to speed in an instant as heart-breaking scorn, revengeful lyrics, and biting personal critiques are stacked curtly atop one another. It’s a bruising emotional affair. Neither party manages to land the knock out punch and both Buckingham and Nicks emerge the worse for wear.
Tusk, the much-derided flop of a follow up to Rumours, holds the most excitement for the intrigued newcomer. It’s still entirely off its rocker and thankfully it hasn’t been watered down by years of radio play. Tusk retains the capacity to astonish and had it been a commercial success, it would have been a daring triumph of weird progressive pop. Buckingham’s million pound pet project holds some of the band’s most austere ballads (“Never Make Me Cry”) and delicately crafted gems (“Storms”), but also their barmiest inventions and loosest playing.
Tusk is full of detours; mad country marches, explorations of new wave, and strange predictions of what pop might (and ultimately would) sound like in the next decade. It’s Fleetwood Mac’s cocaine record. It lurches from moments of despair and paranoid lethargy into explosive bursts of unfettered energy. Where Rumours sounded effortless, Tusk sounds on edge; it could careen off the rails at any point (and arguably does, repeatedly). If “Strawberry Fields Forever” nailed the mind altering allure of LSD then “Tusk” captures the skittish, near psychopathic, blend of paranoia and frustration that only cocaine and heartache can induce. Hardly easy listening.
Ultimately, Tusk represents a chance for the modern guitar rock fan to hear those mellifluous harmonies and slick riffs in a new context. Allowing a younger audience to understand the band’s brilliance without being burdened by the sheer familiarity of Rumours.
Will Fleetwood Mac ever be as cool or as socially acceptable as Jimi Hendrix? Probably not (just look at them), but in 2013 it’s time rock fans dropped their pretentions, fell in love with the precision-engineered arrangements of Rumours and embraced the insanity of Tusk.
Stevie Nicks, that five-foot-one-inch rock goddess in a floppy hat, one-time lover of cocaine, tranquilizers, Lindsey Buckingham, Don Henley and Mick Fleetwood, a woman who doesn’t just live in California but embodies that state with every fibre of her tiny, glittering, ragged-voiced, flat-ironed blond being, once said that “to be in Fleetwood Mac is to live in a soap opera.” And so it proved to be.
She went on to add, in a much more recent interview, that 2013 would be “the Year of Fleetwood Mac.” Here, again she was correct.
While classic-rock reunions come and go—a tedious conveyor belt of pot-bellied boomers in pleather pants desperately cashing in on youthful glory—this year’s much-anticipated reunion of Fleetwood Mac could not have been better timed. It’s been three and a half decades since the band members overcame their toxic web of mutual heartbreak, divorce and addiction, crammed themselves into a sweaty studio, and emerged with Rumours, quite possibly the most uplifting collection of breakup songs ever written. Just rereleased as a digitally remastered box set, the album, which produced four Top 10 U.S. singles, is the eighth-highest-selling album of all time.
In addition to the new release, the band is preparing for its most ambitious North American tour since the eighties. It won’t be a full reunion—Christine McVie, ex-wife of bassist John McVie (whose name accounts for the “Mac” in Fleetwood Mac) and one of the band’s best songwriters, will not be taking part, having long ago scooped up her royalties and permanently retired to the English countryside.
But that isn’t stopping the waves of adulation pouring forth from both sides of the pond for what is arguably the greatest British-American rock ’n’ roll fusion of all time—and the most drama-prone. In the band’s most famous incarnation, it was composed of two established couples: Stevie Nicks and her long-time partner, guitarist Buckingham; and the McVies; plus Mick Fleetwood on drums. By the time the Rumours tour was finished, Nicks had thrown over Buckingham, first for Henley (of the Eagles), and later for Buckingham’s best friend, Mick Fleetwood. The McVies divorced after Christine’s torrid affair with the band’s lighting director. Add soap, coruscating harmonies and guitar flourishes, and lather vigorously.
But Rumours is more than a big ol’ melodrama. It’s also the record that defined the baby-boomer generation. More than anything by the Beatles. More than anything by the Rolling Stones. It is that rarest of pop-cultural artifacts: a work of art in conversation with itself—a shifting dialogue of angry kiss-offs (“Go Your Own Way,” “The Chain”), sexual boasts (“You Make Loving Fun”) and earnest laments (“Songbird”) that sum up the emotional condition of a generation learning to live according to an individualistic ethic.
To put the album in context: The cultural shift we’ve come to call the generation gap was actually the popular emergence of the Freudian notion that self-discovery was the key to personal fulfillment. Fleetwood Mac’s original audience was the first generation to believe and act, en masse, as though it was their job to live not according to the circumscribed roles bestowed upon them at birth, but in keeping with Shakespeare’s maxim: “To thine own self be true.” Rumours, which came out in 1977, long after the dust from the sixties had settled, was essentially a pop paean to this new way of life.
The album was (and still is) the unofficial soundtrack of the culture of divorce—a string of easy-listening theme songs for a generation unchained from social expectation. Back in the seventies, the invention of the Pill, combined with the rise of feminism, dovetailed neatly with this new ethos, and a generation of women and men who once might have stayed in stifling marriages suddenly saw a practical way out. Fleetwood Mac, along with Erica Jong, Marilyn French, Sonny & Cher and ABBA, provided the common pop wisdom at the time. And the wisdom was simple: If you’re not happy, get the hell out.
For better or for worse, it’s a relationship mantra most of us live by today. Since the release of Rumours, we have come to see divorce as a disruptive but necessary liberation—something to be endured, overcome and succeeded at in the all-consuming quest to live a fully self-actualized life.
While the ideas in Rumours remain culturally pertinent, it’s the catchy tunes, breezy rhythms, genius guitar lines and lush harmonies that truly explain its ability to endure the test of time. Go into any hipster dive bar in Brooklyn, Parkdale or Hackney, and you are likely to hear it being played, alongside such contemporary inheritors of its sound as Haim, Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes.
The irony, of course, is that when Rumours was released, it was roundly rejected by the counterculture hipsters of the time—punk-rock fans—who saw it for the earnest collection of accessible soft-rock hits that it is. Could anyone have foreseen its eventual success as a generation-defining work of pop art? Certainly not the five baby boomers who made it—they were too busy getting wasted, having affairs and getting divorced. How nice, then, to know that people do sometimes get back together, even if it is only to cash in on their youthful glory.
It has happened over and over again in the past few years. Someone in their 20s tells me how much they love Fleetwood Mac, and in particular its monster-selling album Rumours. My reaction is always the same. Their reaction is invariably deep surprise. I could never stand that record.
In 1977, when Fleetwood Mac’s 11th studio album came out, I was working in a record store in Rockville, Maryland. Needless to say, I heard Rumours a lot. I know the songs all too well. In fact, 35 years later I can still tell you the label and number on the spine of the record: Warner BSK 3010. (To keep track of inventory back before bar codes, we’d write down — on paper with an actual pen that went through carbon paper — the label and number of everything we sold.)
But it wasn’t the constant in store listening that turned me off to Rumours. To understand my indifference — verging on disdain — toward this record, you have to think about the state of rock music in 1977. Here’s what was selling well back then: the Bee Gees, The Eagles, Abba, KC and the Sunshine Band, Wings, Barry Manilow. In this era, of course, Rumours was number one for 31 weeks. It was the ultimate easy listening album, a mere refinement on what felt like an old L.A. rock formula. But for a music geek looking for new adventures in music, what was great about 1977 were the brash fresh faces and sounds coming out of New York and London. Toward the end of 1976, Patti Smith had led the way for me, and then ’77 gave us the debut albums by Talking Heads, Television, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Richard Hell, Wire, Elvis Costello, The Clash and on and on and on.
Having come from a generation that saw huge changes to the musical landscape (The Beatles released “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in 1964 and “A Day in the Life” just 3 years later), I always expected music to mine new territory. And in the early ’70s — with Pink Floyd and Genesis, Bowie and Eno, even Elton John and Electric Light Orchestra — rock was taking chances. But at some point, it got comfy and really bloated and we wound up with Kansas, The Doobie Brothers and the Captain and Tennille.
So 1977 felt like one generation giving the big finger to the the previous one, and it felt good. Rock was shedding its skin, it was a constant amazing rush of wonder and surprise. Attitudes changed. My musical heroes were more likely to be DIY kids than superstars in supergroups. The shows I went to moved from soulless stadiums and arenas to clubs and found spaces. Small labels with tightly defined sounds were popping up everywhere, another middle finger to the corporate bloat that shaped and controlled the music we heard. We think of the Internet as redefining the music industry, but it had a precursor here.
We’re a lot more territorial about music we share and hear in our teens and twenties. Back in 1977, my world had zero room or tolerance for a middle-of-the-road, though pretty, rock band like Fleetwood Mac. The shiny production on Rumours felt planned and orderly, which made it suitable for moms and dads in their 30s and up but not for unsettled 20-year-olds and teens. Which makes me wonder why so many in this generation are latching on to that sound.
This morning, 35 years after its release, I thought I’d give Rumours another chance and wirelessly streamed it to my home stereo. For the most part that perfect shine didn’t sound as shiny. The pop charts these days are filled with clinical perfection, beats locked to clocks and sequencers that makes Rumours feel more like a casual home recording. Once I got past some of the goofy lyrics (“Lay me down in tall grass and let me do my stuff” made me laugh out loud), I found it to be a fine record, one whose influence is all over many of the records I hear now. Fleet Foxes really aren’t that far from Fleetwood Mac in name or in sound … a bit darker, perhaps. And where Fleetwood Mac, in 1977, was on the extreme pop side of the musical scale, Fleet Foxes feels somewhere in the middle, given the much more extreme landscape today, with, let’s say, Carly Rae Jepsen on one side and, say, Godspeed You! Black Emperor on the extreme side.
It’s all relative. In 2013, the lockstep dance beats — the heart of electronic dance music — and the drummers playing to click tracks — the heart of pop — make Rumours feel organic. And look at the cover art, with its wistful and graceful image of the soon-to-be-couple Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks. Back then they seemed like hippies dressed too well. These days it seems like a painting from a long ago past, almost renaissance.
I understand how art can be seen in such different light, that it’s never as simple as just the music, that it’s always wrapped up in the cultural zeitgeist. And most importantly, there’s no right or wrong to loving what you love. But it’s wise to keep an open mind, and that’s easier to do as you get older. That said, I won’t be putting Rumours back on the stereo anytime soon. Though there’s strong songwriting on the record and the drums and harmonies stand out, there are plenty of bands these days making music equally wonderful and — for me — without the taint of the past.
Bob Boilen / NPR (All Songs Considered) / Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Fleetwood Mac’s classic album Rumours is on course to re-enter the UK Top 10 this Sunday (February 3). The band’s 1977 collection debuted at number 77 on February 27 of that year, meaning the record will re-enter almost 36 years after its initial outing.
However, it wasn’t until the following year (January 1978) that Rumours finally hit number one on the UK chart, reports The Official Charts Company. To date, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours has spent a total of 493 weeks on the Official Albums Chart, making it the most charting collection in British music history. It is trailed by Queen’s Greatest Hits at 484 charting weeks and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell with 474 weeks.
Meanwhile, Mick Fleetwood has confirmed that the band will headline some UK shows later this year, and teased the possibility of a new album.
The classic 1977 album has just been re-released in several deluxe packages
Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is set to re-enter the UK Top Ten this weekend — 35 years after it first reached Number One.
Several deluxe reissue packages were released yesterday (January 28) to mark the 35th anniversary of Rumours hitting the top spot on the UK’s Official Albums Chart. The album originally came out in February 1977, but did not climb to Number One until January 1978, nearly a year later. After spawning the classic hits “Don’t Stop,” “Dreams,” and “Go On Your Way,” it would go on to sell over 40m copies worldwide, placing it in the all-time Top Ten.
Responding to the success of the reissue packages so far, Official Charts Company bigwig Martin Talbot said: “As someone who grew up with Rumours on the family stereo, it is great to see it back in the Official Albums Chart again.”
Meanwhile, Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks has recently spoken about the undimmed popularity of Rumours. “When I listen to it, I think if I was 20 years old, I would definitely want to be in that band,” she told Rolling Stone. “There is something strangely timeless about it that makes you feel like it was just recorded last year.”
Continuing, Nicks insisted she still finds the classic tracks from Rumours exciting to perform. She explained: “The songs morph a little bit every time we do them. Instrumentally, they morph. ‘Gold Dust Woman’ is sometimes Indian. Sometimes it’s just rock & roll. It travels, and all these songs do that. To me, they are always exciting. I never feel bored when we burst into one of our big hit songs, because what they were all written about was so heavy that they could never be boring.”
Fleetwood Mac are now gearing up for a massive North American tour, which kicks off in April and runs all the way into July. UK dates have yet to be announced, but Mick Fleetwood has recently hinted that the band could hit Britain in September or October.
A song-writing soprano with fragile vocal cords casts her sexy spell on rock
Rock doesn’t need a Farrah Fawcett. It has Stevie Nicks. So what if Stevie insists “turning men on has never been my design.” As Little Richard once sang, the girl can’t help it. Swirling sinuously in her black capes and clingy gowns, Nicks is the onstage focus and seductive soprano of this year’s powerhouse band, Fleetwood Mac. Unlike fellow Arizonan Linda Ronstadt, Nicks is also a successful songwriter whose tunes about a Welsh witch (“Rhiannon”) and lost love (“Dreams”) were no sooner composed than they were Top Ten. In short, Stevie Nicks at 29 can have it all ways: ethereal, funky, pouty and very commercial.
It is little more than two years since ex-waitress Nicks and her guitarist boyfriend, Lindsey Buckingham, joined the Anglo-American cult group. Today big Mac is the world’s best-selling rock band. Their quadruple-platinum Fleetwood Mac LP only softened up the market for this year’s astounding Rumours. Its six-month lock on No. 1 set an all-time pop-chart record, and by the end of 1977 it may sell an incredible eight million—octaplatinum.
Yet for Stevie, her career could have ended. Frighteningly, she is afflicted with tiny nodules on her overworked vocal cords. Earlier this year she canceled several performances and doctors ordered her to bed. Though risky surgery has not been necessary, she sings no more than three concerts a week, does not smoke and limits herself to two glasses of red wine a night. Nicks also has a speech therapist on tour with her, retraining her conversational voice and helping the band’s sound men adjust the mikes when Stevie’s vocal strain becomes apparent.
Throughout the year Stevie (“Stephanie” to her father, a retired Greyhound-Armour corporation executive) has kept a tenacious hold on reality. The trauma of Mac’s romantic roundelays has passed. Stevie and Lindsey have split, Christine and John McVie are divorcing. Mick Fleetwood and his civilian wife, Jenny, are back together again. Stevie, determined to have “no half-assed careers and no harassed relationships,” is making night moves with New Yorker Paul Fishkin, head of Bearsville Records. “It’s not easy to be involved with a lady singer who’s always gone,” Nicks says. “Paul is sweet and wonderful and understands as well as anyone. I’m not interested in playing around, but I do get terribly lonely on the road.” After Mac’s tour of Australia and Japan ends this month, Stevie will head for her retreat in the Hollywood Hills, where she’s “housemother” for her younger brother and three friends. “They let me know I’m not a queen and have no expectations of seeing me go up the front stairway on a broom,” Stevie says thankfully. “Rock is flash—the rest of my life I want to be normal.”
PHOTO (COLOR):”The two hours onstage are magic,” says Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. “The other 22 are long and hard.”
It is a sad irony when someone with a special talent has the very medium of that talent endangered. A singer who struggles to keep her voice brings to mind the athlete with the trick knee, the musician with hearing trouble.
Stevie Nicks is not only an outstanding singer and songwriter for Fleetwood Mac, but she is a beautiful, elegant lady besides. Yet, a cloud will movie through her expression when she talks about her voice.
“The doctor has told me that my speaking voice is destroying my singing voice,” she says. She has pinpoint nodules on her vocal chords that are aggravated when she speaks in her natural low pitch.
“I can’t ’til the cows come home as long as I keep my pitch up, but it sounds ridiculous to me inside my head,” she told Weekend in a recent interview. Before a concert, she will spend all day inside, not speaking, taking face saunas and gargling. “I just have to do the best I can do,” she says.
Fleetwood Mac is talking a break from its world-wide tour to allow Nicks to rest her voice and also to prepare to the American Heart Association benefit concert Aug. 27, at the University of Arizona stadium.
The concert came about through Nicks’ father, Jess, former chairman of the board of the Maricopa County Heart Association. It will start at 5 p.m. to allow four bands to present a full set: The Marshall Tucker Band, Kenny Loggins and Arizona will join Fleetwood Mac to bring in a possible $350,000, the largest contribution for charity by rock entertainment.
Doing the benefit is not like doing just another concert, according to Nicks. “It takes months and months of work. A crew of 30 people from all over the country have to come together for just one night. If we always did it this way, we’d go into the red.”
But that is about all Nicks had to say about the money. “I never ask about money. I don’t want to know.” She has no idea how much the band is actually giving up to do the concert, but she knows it is a lot.
“That is the amazing thing about rock and roll. You can jig around and have a good time and make all that money — just having a good time.”
In a sad situation, anything can happen, but also it can be cleansing, like rain. — On the ‘Dreams’ lyrics ‘Thunder only happens when it’s raining’
As much as she loves the band and performing, she doesn’t like touring. “It’s grueling. I can’t do it again for a long time, ” she says. it is “the crazy Englishmen,” the band’s namesakes Michael Fleetwood and John “Mac” McVie, who love to tour. “Christine (McVie) and I just sort of hobble along with them,” says Nicks.
The real joy for Nicks comes from writing songs, and she has written several outstanding ones on the group’s two albums, “Fleetwood Mac,” and the more recent, Rumours.
“The fantasy of performing is infectious and it is hard not to be swept away by it all, but the song is real. I have to live, too, by searching for reality,” she says.
Her songs, “haunty and floaty” as she describes them, come from real experiences in her life. “Most are introspective, a running chronology of my life,” she says. Some have come about quickly, on the spur of the moment, like “Rhiannon,” inspired by the sound of the name. “It sounded so free — with personality traits of my own — about a woman who is into her own trip.” Nicks went to her piano and wrote the song in 20 minutes, a more “classical-sounding” version than the one that appears on the album.
Other songs have come about over many years, like “Dreams,” her favorite song their two albums. It is about her relationship with Lindsey Buckingham, also of the group, which lasted until a year and a half ago. “I wrote the first verse, about our break up, over a year before it happened. Then the rest of the song came much later,” she says.
“Thunder only happens when it’s raining” is the song’s chorus. “In a sad situation, anything can happen,” she says. “But also it can be cleansing, like rain.”
She writes whenever she can, even getting in an hour here and there during a tour, but her best writing, she says, is when she is alone and at home in Los Angeles or at her parents’ home in Paradise valley. “When I’m into a song I’m elated. It’s the very best thing for me.”
“My songs are a matter of circumstances, but there also is a natural progression. My earlier songs were bitter. ‘Frozen Love’ is very nonchalant and indifferent. Now, I am less cold. I was upset, and now, like in ‘Dreams,’ it’s okay.”
She cherishes times of quietude in her home and in Phoenix. “At home I try very hard to be ‘normal,” but it takes a couple of days to settle down, to get used to the idea that there won’t be a wake-up call, that we don’t have to get moving,” she says.
“I come to Phoenix often, always to relax, so I have very nice feelings about it here. There are friends here who were into our music before we became popular, so they’re very special.”
Yet, her ideal life still would include a couple of months performing each year.
“Don’t get me wrong — I really love to perform. I love to be up on that stage.”
Onstage, the sedate, poised lady puts on a show. “I’m a completely different person,” she says, and attributes it to the fact that she is a Gemini. Costumes she and her “little space cookie” dressmaker design are long and flowing, her most notable one a black chiffon affair, designed especially to create the fantasy atmosphere of the performance. But because of it, she says, she has been associated in the media with black magic and witchcraft.
“We work at making the show both musically and visually interesting,” she says. “I don’t like being associated with anything evil. We do all that for entertainment. I love to wear long, flowy things and the people love it. But that has nothing to do with the real me.”
The band will complete its tour Dec. 10 and then members will ive in Maui, Hawaii, where McVie has a house, for a few weeks. Out of that time of freedom and rest will develop the makings of their next album, which Nicks predicts for March, 1978.
On that album will be the song she says is the best she has ever written, “Beautiful Child.”
“It is from an experience that sent me in tears — it’s real sad.”
Producing a new album will not be easy. “There is horrendous pressure to be as good as the last album. You can never go back. You have to be as good or better,” she says.
The group faced this especially when it was producing Rumours, to follow up the platinum first album. “We worked 12 months on Rumours and we had our doubts. you start ripping yourself apart. Because it was taking so long, Lindsey was afraid it wouldn’t have the spontaneity, but I was sure that the songwriting was far superior.”
The band was held together despite the turmoil of Nicks’ and Buckingham’s separation as well as that of Christine and John McVie. “We just couldn’t let the emotional thing blow us apart,” says Nicks. “We are not kids, all of us are between 29 and 32, and we just had to handle things in an adult manner. The band stayed together because no one would leave.
“It’s a very integral band. There is strong chemistry among the five people.”
Yet, in their future, she sees them going their separate ways. “I see Lindsey going into producing, Christine to her hosue — she loves to cook and she is an artist and a sculptress.
“Michael and John always will be on the road. They’ll play ’til they can’t play anymore.”
Mick Fleetwood’s back home, but the rest of the Mac band are broken-household words.
The Who locked up eternal life in Tin Pan Valhalla by creating the rock opera, with Tommy. The latest inductees, Fleetwood Mac, have earned their immortality by living rock’s first soap opera. If the heart is a wheel, then success is a centrifuge, and just as their LP Fleetwood Mac was becoming last year’s hottest seller this side of Frampton (four million), domestic disaster struck all five of them. Singer/keyboardist Chris McVie and husband/co-founder/bassist John McVie were legally separated after seven years of marriage; singer Stevie Nicks and lead guitarist/singer Lindsey Buckingham, the Californians who had recently joined the three veteran English stars, saw their eight-year relationship sink into the west; and drummer Mick Fleetwood, the other co-founder and the only Mac mated with a civilian, got divorced from wife Jenny Boyd after six years.
Rather than allow the fourth and finest incarnation of the 10-year-old outfit to go asunder, the Macs forced themselves to become a sort of inadvertent recording T-group, putting their 24-track trauma into the inventive LP Rumours. Delicately autobiographical (but not maudlin) with tunes like “Second Hand News” and single hits “Go Your Own Way” and “Dreams,” Rumours has already inspired nearly three million big Mac attacks in record stores. The album crested at No. 1 on all charts last week.
Not only did the band withstand all that psychic heat for 11 months in the crock-pot of the taping studio, it is also currently weathering a massive city tour of America’s largest indoor and outdoor arenas. The experience has been maturing and mellowing.
No Mac flinches any longer when an ex brings a companion aboard—Chris’s boyfriend is the tour lighting director, Curry Grant. Indeed, they can even come together for inspired closely woven harmonies, especially when Stevie’s overworked voice is in form. What holds the music in place is Mick Fleetwood’s uncomplicated, crunching drumwork. And at 29 he is the band’s underpinning offstage as well. Its “Mother Hen,” by his own term, though Big Daddy might be more apt—he’s the 6½-footer they look up to for stability and counsel, particularly now, he says wryly, “because my divorce failed.” After four months he remarried wife Jenny last fall. “But I’ve always been the most protective of Fleetwood Mac,” he says, justifiably, considering the personnel shifts every few albums. “It is,” he says, curling half a smile over his euphemism, “an invigorating situation.”
“When we started Rumours in early 1976,” he recalls, “we were all in an emotional ditch. Everybody knew everything about everybody. But I was the piggy in the middle because I had less trauma than the others.” Meaning that he alone didn’t have to work with his ex-spouse. Recording, says Fleetwood, who is more reflective than most rockers, “is like an expedition—you learn fast who you can and can’t stand. But remarkably,” he adds, perhaps idealizing a bit, “there is no competition in our writing. All material is chosen by consensus, and everyone seems to take criticism without putting up walls”—which is to say they’ve somehow sublimated romantic discord into artistic harmony. (Rumours‘ eleven tunes were written by Buckingham, Nicks and Chris McVie.)
Fleetwood, who with John McVie heads the group’s Seedy Management Inc. office in L.A., acts as the band’s manager. He reads all their official mail—from promo men gloating over a single turning gold in Holland to attorneys suing into submission the imposter “Fleetwood Mac” touring group. Along the way Mick has also had to cope with difficulties like the loss of earlier Macs. Of the two original lead guitarists, Jeremy Spencer wound up in a Jesus-freak movement, Peter Green in a psychiatric hospital. To keep things in order this time around—though it’s soiled their Cinderella image—the band has surrounded itself with officious, oppressive roadies and crew members who insulate the rock heroes from fans and press.
Fleetwood is that rarity among rock stars, a glutton for busywork and responsibility. “I need it, I cling to it,” he says, raising his eyebrows for emphasis. “Something hidden in me attracts a weight to keep me preoccupied. I have never faced living without that. If someone put me on a couch for therapy, it would probably come out that I feel I don’t have a chance to admit any weaknesses. But I’m not a superman,” he pauses. “I too might need a little help when I’m vaguely off the rails.”
Indeed, of all the Mac matchups, it was Mick’s that derailed first, and he concedes the possibility that “my split-up catalyzed the others in the band.” At the time of the separation, he crashed with friends when not touring, and Jenny took daughters Lucy, now 6, and Amy, 4, to an L.A. apartment. “Jenny knows now that being with me equals being with the Blob. I was never really aware of leaving her out of the scene, and I was not about to change to make it work. It was selfish of me.” (Rock tours and other pilgrimages should be nothing new to Jenny, however. Her sister Patti married George Harrison in 1966 but is now getting divorced after living with Eric Clapton for several years.)
“Mick and I saw each other throughout,” says Jenny, 29. After a brief involvement with another man, she went to the U.K.—a trip which “cleared the cupboard out,” according to Fleetwood. “I went home to England to be by myself,” she says. “I’m very close to Mick’s sister and I stayed with her. I realized what was happening. That brought me back to reality.” She continues: “The love was always there. I joined him on the road last summer again, and it’s been wonderful ever since. We’re much closer, more understanding.”
“Now,” Mick admits, “I am more aware that there is someone at home.” So, rather unromantically, are painters, carpenters and other overalled—if not overawed (“I’m being royally taken—they all think I have an endless stream of money”)—workers remodeling Mick’s new $110,000 home. It sits high over the rolling rocks of Topanga, at the top of a paved slalom winding down to Pacific Coast Highway.
The son of a now retired British Air Force wing commander, Fleetwood was born in Cornwall but spent three years in Cairo and later lived in Norway when his dad was with NATO. “I shot up at 9” (height, not heroin), he says, and in boarding schools he used his wingspan to clear advantage as a fencer and soccer goalie nicknamed Spider Man. When he decided to drum in blues-rock bands in England at 15, his parents were totally supportive: his father bought the drums. “It was always ‘Go off and see it through,’ and for that my parents today have complete respect for what I’ve done.” (Just possibly there is a master’s thesis to be written explaining the fact that Elton John and John Denver were also air force brats.)
Fleetwood is still a U.K. citizen but pays the majority of his taxes here as a permanent U.S. resident. “When we first came here, we didn’t make enough money to become exiles,” he explains. Like the other Macs, they’ve settled in California. Fleetwood says their last LP did not, as reported, earn them $400,000 apiece. But a quarter of a million, in his own estimate, isn’t just fish and chips. “I know this business bloody well. It’s up and down, up and down. Eleven years of sloggin’ away and now,” Mick pauses, almost too weary to fully connect with the size of it all, “incredibly successful. It has, as they say, paid off.” Yet can the Macs keep it together? As they wrote sardonically in the one cut co-composed by all five in Rumours: “I can still hear you saying / You would never break the chain.”
PHOTO (COLOR):Mick Fleetwood, wife Jenny. Lucy and Amy live in Topanga Canyon, very MOR-style—Middle of the Renovations, that is, not Road.
PHOTO (COLOR):”I’m not a technical wizard,” Mick concedes correctly. “I just vibe out the situation, because a greedy drummer can ruin a band.”
PHOTO (COLOR):At 29, the Phoenix-born Stevie Nicks, says Fleetwood, “is intense, brittle, vulnerable—she takes life and herself too seriously. Her words are very important to her, and without her sense of humor she would be a heavy little lady to be around.” Daughter of a retired executive (Greyhound, Armour Meats), she has bought herself a house in Hollywood Hills and has been dating several music industry men, including Don Henley of the Eagles, when schedules mesh.
PHOTO (COLOR):Ex-spouses Christine McVie, 33, and John, 30, have reconciled, professionally anyway. Mick says John “can be a monster after a few drinks too many,” but is now less “abrasive” with fellow Macs. Chris’s main man the past year has been the group’s lighting director. She owns a house over Sunset Boulevard which she once shared with a longtime friend who was John’s lady after the breakup. John’s still afloat, bunking on his boat at Marina del Rey.
PHOTO (COLOR):Lindsey Buckingham, 27, the group’s stinging guitar picker, Mick reports, “is really involved with and opinionated about his music—more than all of us. He has changed the most with the group and is now a much broader person in handling other people. He is into being free, though he has recently been pretty happy with a new young lady.” A high school jock from Palo Alto, Lindsey rents a West L.A. home but is looking to buy.
PHOTO (COLOR):”Kids are so intuitive, they can floor you. Amy came up to me during the divorce and asked, ‘Daddy, are you happy?’ “
Jim Jerome / People (Vol. 7, Issue 22, p. 60)/ June 6, 1977
Peter Green didn’t want his 30,000 [pounds] a year. The money was royalties from his work with his old blues band, Fleetwood Mac. He’d quit the band in 1970, saying he wanted to live a Christian life. He gave his money away and eventually took various menial jobs, including one as a gravedigger.
But now, as more and more people acquaint themselves with Fleetwood Mac and dig back to old reissues, this money keeps arriving. He tries to get rid of it, but it’s all just a bother. “I want to lead a new life,” he would say. “I don’t want to be followed around by the past”.
When Green could tolerate it no longer, he paid his accountant a visit, brandishing a pump-action 22 shotgun. He wanted the money stopped. Soon Green was standing in Marlebone Court in London, listening calmly as the judge read this verdict. Peter Green, blues-guitar-star-turned-ascetic, was ordered committed to a mental institution.
After ten years and a particularly lean time just before the group’s 1975 smash, Fleetwood Mac, broke loose, everybody loves this quiet little British-American band that could. Fleetwood Mac’s music has evolved into a sophisticated pop and rock sound that’s just right for the Seventies, thanks primarily to two women, old-timer Christine McVie and newcomer Stevie Nicks. The group’s latest album is being shipped out in greater quantities than any other record in the history of Warner Bros. There are, of course, reasons for Warner’s optimism: Fleetwood Mac produced three hit singles (“Over my head” and “Say you love me” by McVie; “Rhiannon” by Nicks), sold 4 million units, has danced around the top half of the album charts for over 80 weeks and is Warner’s all-time best seller.
And adding to everyone’s enthusiasm were shows like the one at LA’s Universal Amphitheater last fall. There, in front of an adorning crowd that included Elton John and two princesses of Iran, FM looked like they were feeling good. New energy was being supplied by Stevie Nicks and the other most recent addition Lindsey Buckingham. What with Buckingham prowling around the stage, dropping feisty lead runs into all the right places, and singer Nicks playing the whirling dervish Welsh witch Rhiannon, the group’s dignified reserve was clearly a thing of the past.
Even drummer Mick Fleetwood finally ventured out from behind his drum kit to play the African talking drum on “World Turning”. And Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac’s brandy-voiced keyboardist of six years, recently overcoming a phobia against talking to the audience. Only John McVie, perhaps in the grand tradition of bassists, remains impassive and faultlessly proficient.
But one would soon learn that their minds were elsewhere – namely, in the tiny studio across town from the Amphitheater, where they were still struggling to finish their very latefollow LP, a trouble child, called Rumours.
Work on the album began in February ’76, immediately after the group had introduced their new lineup on a marathon six-month cross-country tour. Traveling to the Record Plant Studios in Sausalito, just north of San Francisco, FM had walked straight into an emotional holocaust. Christine and John McVie, married for almost 8 years, had recently split up and weren’t talking to each other. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were about to do likewise. And Mick Fleetwood certainly wasn’t talking to anybody. The father of two children, he and his wife Jenny were in the midst of divorce proceedings.
“Everybody was pretty weirded out”, Christine McVie explained. “Somehow Mick was there, the figurehead: “We must carry on… let’s be mature about this, sort it out. – Somehow we waded through it.”
They returned to LA, but the tapes from their nine weeks in the Sausalito studio – many of them mangled by a “recording machine” that earned the nickname “Jaws” – sounded strange wherever they played them. They were almost resigned to starting all over when one of their crew found a cramped dubbing room in the porno district of Hollywood Boulevard, a studio that perfectly accommodated what they had recorded. A fully booked fall tour was canceled, and there, while films like Squirm and Dick City played next door, Fleetwood Mac started the mixing process. As the songs took shape, the album began to sound like True Confessions: the band’s three writers – Christine McVie, Nicks, and Buckingham – were all writing about their crumbled relationships.
As they added finishing touches to an album more intimate than they had ever anticipated, the band firmly closed their studio doors. “It was clumsy sometimes,” said John McVie. “I’m sitting there in the studio and I get a little lump in my throat especially when you turn around and the writer’s sitting right there.” So they asked that interviews be done separately.
I always did have a kind of candle shining for Peter Green. I mean, he was my god. I thought, “Give me one chance at him…” Christine McVie, who looks considerably younger than her 33 years, grew up alongside Fleetwood Mac on the British blues circuit. Mick Fleetwood and John McVie are loath to dwell on FM’s many past lives, but sitting in this cluttered office adjoining the studio where she has just finished mixing Rumours, Christine is happy to play the keeper of the FM legacy.
She pours a tall glass of white wine and surprises even herself with a fan’s diary that is by turns, melancholy and passionate. “I dearly remember the old days… FM had this one-of-a-kind charm. They were gregarious, charming and cheeky on-stage. Very cheeky. They’d have a good time. Peter Green just made the audience laugh at this funny little cocky Jewboy. Jeremy Spencer was really dirty on-stage. At the Marquee one night he put a dildo in his trousers, came out and did an impersonation of Cliff Richard. Half the women left, escorted by their boyfriends.” Green had also created a dark, mystical aura about the band. “He had this tremendous, subtle power,” says Christine.
By the time she made friends with the group, Christine Perfect was already a journeywoman blues-circuit rocker herself. As a “real tubby” teenager – she weighed 160 pounds at 16 – Christine and a girlfriend/singing partner snuck away from their strict parents in Birmingham and visited every talent agency they could find in London. Their act consisted of strumming guitars and warbling Everly Brothers hits. Their career, which was highlighted by a obe-song pub appearance backed by the Shadows, was cut short when their parents found them out. Christine was sent to art college in Birmingham where she joined a folk club. “We’d meet every Tuesday night, above a pub somewhere, and drink cheap beer. Whoever could, would play a folk song or violin, whatever they could do. Anyway, one night in strolls this devastatingly handsome man, who was from Birmingham University. It was Spencer Davis. I just fell in love with Spence. I swore I would get thin and go out with him.
“And I did.”
Christine and Spencer began singing together, fronting the university’s jazz band, but, she says, their relationship proved more musical than illicit. “Stevie Winwood was about 14, still in school and playing at a jazz club called the ChappelPub at lunchtime,” Christine says. “He met Spencer Davis Group.”
“I used to trail around religiously. Boy, they were so hot. Nothing was like that. Stevie Winwood played like I’d never heard anybody play before. It just gave me goose bumps. They were just a blues band, but a really, really great blues band. He [Winwood] could yell the blues. A 15-year-old boy. No one could believe it. The 19-20-year-old girls would have the hots for him.”
Christine joined another blues band called Chicken Shack. The gruesome cover photo, showing severed fingers in a can, won as art award for their first album. Forty Blue Fingers Packed and Ready to Serve. “We had an underground following,” Christine deadpans.
Chicken Shack did occasional gigs with Fleetwood Mac, and Christine, now, playing piano, was invited to guest on some of Fleetwood Mac’s early sessions because she “played the blues the way Peter liked.” She never had designs on any of the band, she says. Besides, both Green and McVie already had girlfriends.
Christine stops and slaps her forehead. “I’m forgetting a whole two-year episode with a Swedish guy I was engaged to. Ended up totally traumatizing my kitten who hated me evermore ’cause I just ran around the house screaming when he left me. I scared the shit out of it.”
Caught up in her story-telling, Christine in not the same woman Stevie Nicks has characterized as “very private, very much to herself.” She shakes her head, as if she’s been talking too much. “I can’t believe I’m remembering all these things.” But, she continues, “I went to see Fleetwood Mac one night. John didn’t have his girlfriend… He asked me if I wanted to have a drink and we sat down, had a few laughs, then they had to go on-stage. All the time I was kind of eyeballing ol’ Greenie. After the concert was over, John came over and said, ‘Shall I take you out to dinner sometime? I went, ‘Whoa… I thought you were engaged or something.’ He said, ‘Nah, ‘sall over.’ I thought he was devastatingly attractive but it never occurred to me to look at him.”
They went out for a time, then John McVie disappeared overseas for Fleetwood Mac’s first American tour. “By this time I was really crazy about him,” Christine recalls, “but I didn’t know what was happening with him. Chicken Shack did a ten-day stint at the Blow-Up Club in Munich and I had this strange relationship with a crazy German DJ who wanted to whisk me off and marry me. I turned him down… and wrote John a big letter.”
Fleetwood Mac returned from America and McVie proposed. They were married ten days later, mostly to please Christine’s dying mother. But John and Christine didn’t see much of each other. Both bands toured often and when she left Chicken Shack, she tried a disastrously unprepared solo tour and LP. Christine gladly retired to be John McVie’s old lady.
“I thought it was extremely romantic,” she says. “Obviously a little bit of the glamour of what Fleetwood Mac was in those days rubbed off. It was almost like someone marrying a Beatle. You married one of the locks in the chain and you were part of them.
“We were very very happy. Very happy for probably three years and then the strain of me being in the same band as him started to take its toll. When you’re in the same band as somebody, you’re seeing them almost more than 24 hours a day. you start to see an awful lot of the bad side ’cause touring is no easy thing. There’s a lot of drinking… John is not the most pleasant of people when he’s drunk. Very belligerent. I was seeing more Hyde than Jekyll.”
Peter Green, in a sudden plea for Christ, left the band in late ’70, and Christine McVie came out of her retirement, adding keyboards to the band. Green’s departure, says Christine, “was an out-of-the-blue shock to everybody. Peter had been quite happy and was starting to write this really incredible music like “Green Manalishi.” It was like he was being lifted. He’d wrung the blues dry and already played 50 times better than most of the black guitarists.”
In the midst of a German tour the group’s first peak of popularity, Green fell in with some people Christine remembers as “jet-setters.” The band had recorded a Green composition, “Black Magic Woman,” and, ironically, the group he ran into were reportedly into black magic and the occult. They turned him on to acid. He left Fleetwood Mac on that same tour.
“Something snapped in him,” Christine says, looking saddened. “He dropped this fatal tab of acid and withdrew. He still has this amazing power, but it’s negative. You don’t want him around. We’ve all cried a lot of tears over Peter. We’ve all spent so much energy talking him into more positive channels. He’ll just sit there and laugh. “Fuck it…”
Not long ago, exasperated at being asked the perennial reunion question, Mick Fleetwood told an interviewer that sure, someday, maybe on an English tour, the original Fleetwood Mac might get on-stage one night.
Later, when the band arrived in London, Peter Green was waiting for them in the lobby of their hotel. Unannounced, Christine didn’t recognize the flabby, slept-in figure carrying a disco-droning cassette machine. “I heard this voice say, Hello Chris, I turned around and see this rotund little guy with a big beer gut and pint in his hand. I couldn’t believe it. I said, Aren’t you embarrassed?, Nah, he says, fuck it, what the hell.” We gave him a room at the hotel for a few nights. He’d knock on your door, come in and just sit there on your bed. He wouldn’t volunteer anything.”
Jeremy Spencer left Fleetwood Mac a year after Peter Green, under vaguely similar circumstances. He stepped onto a Children of God bus in Hollywood and never returned. The writer met Spencer recently on a London Street, blank-eyed and selling Children of God books. His pitch: “I used to be in a group called Fleetwood Mac until I found…”
Christine meticulously recollects the details of all the ensuing clock-in/clock-out personnel changes during Fleetwood Mac’s lean years between their Future Games and Fleetwood Mac LPs. But she places particular emphasis only on Bob Welch. “I have so much love for Bob,” she says, “He is such a big part of the band. I don’t really get off on what he’s doing in Paris [Welch’s current band]. When he quit, he was getting into a real feel of the kind of guitar playing that Peter used to have and Lindsey definitely has got a lot of. It’s very nebulous quality, very difficult to explain. It’s a question of what note not to play.”
Welch’s last LP with the groups was Heroes are Hard to Find, their first as a transplanted LA band. After breaking up with their manager they had moved to LA to start all over. The McVies lived in a small three-room in Malibu. It was there, on a portable Hohner piano in the bedroom that she wrote “Over my Head” and “Say you Love me.”
“I don’t struggle over my songs,” she offers. “I write them quickly and I’ve never written a lot. I write what is required of me. For me, people like Joni Mitchell are making too much of a statement. I don’t really write about myself, which puts me in a safe little cocoon… I’m a pretty basic love song writer.”
Christine shrugs off the suddenly massive acceptance of Fleetwood Mac as “a lot of rewards for a lot of hard work.” And it wasn’t the flush of super-stardom, she stresses, that caused her to split with John McVie. She explains compassionately: “I broke up with John in the middle of a tour. I was aware of it being irresponsible. I had to do it for my sanity. It was either that or me ending up in a lunatic asylum. I still worry for him more than I would ever dare tell him. I still have a lot of love for John. Let’s face it, as far as I’m concerned, it was him that stopped me loving him. He constantly tested what limits of endurance I would go to. He just went one step too far. If he knew that I cared and worried so much about him, I think he’d play on it.”
“There’s no doubt about the fact that he hasn’t really been a happy man since I left him. I know that. Sure, I could make him happy tomorrow and say, yeah John, I’ll come back to you. Then I would be miserable. I’m not that unselfish.”
Then there were the Sausalito sessions. “Trauma,” Christine groans. “Trau-ma.” The sessions were like a cocktail party every night – people everywhere. We ended up staying in these weird hospital rooms… and of course John and me were not exactly the best of friends. Stevie and I spent a lot of time together. She was going through a bit of a hard time too because she was the one that axed it. Lindsey was pretty down about it for a while, then he just woke up one morning and said, Fuck this, I don’t want to be unhappy, and started getting some girlfriends together.
Then Stevie couldn’t handle it…
Almost immediately Christine McVie entered into a romance with Curry Grant, FM’s strapping lighting director. They lived together for a year in Christine’s home, above Sunset Strip. “I haven’t been without a man in my life for… God, it must be 12 years. I can’t imagine what it’s like not to have an old man… but I have no intention of getting married. I don’t think I’m in love…” She considers that for a few seconds. “I don’t really know what the hell love is.” Then, she suddenly adds, “I’m proud of having been John’s wife.” She still wears McVie’s ring, but on another finger. Maybe we don’t feel the same about each other anymore, but I wouldn’t like to wipe that off board. John can’t handle Curry too well, even though he’s much more at ease with other women around me than I am with men in front of him. He’s making an effort. But if I was the kind of girl who wandered in with a new boyfriend every week, enjoying my newfound freedom, I don’t know how he could handle that.”
Isn’t she tempted to play the field?
“It would be a new experience,” she says shyly, growing amused at the thought. “Sure, you know.” She leans toward a telephone. “Kenny Loggins! Call me up. I’d love to have a load of dates. I haven’t done that since I was at college. But it’s really out of the question. I mean I hardly meet anybody. I’m so involved in the band.”
Christine McVie’s eyes light up with a revelation. “Seven more years until I’m forty. Then I’ll start all over again…”
John McVie stares silently out across a windy Marina del Rey, a half-hour away from Hollywood. “Two choppy today,” he mumbles. “We shouldn’t take the boat out.” Having had this 41-foot schooner a year now, he is brisk and expert at tidying it up, taking down the sail and draining out side compartments before we find seats outside, on the stern, to talk.
For years, McVie dreamt about buying a boat. With the success of Fleetwood Mac, he was able to get one of the best. And when Christine asked for a separation, he moved on board, storing away everything, but some sailing books, a radio, a television set and numerous statuettes of penguins.
McVie, who is 30, claims that he’s “much more comfortable here than in a house anyway.” But he seems oddly unhappy. He is a solemn man. If he is pleased with realizing one of his fantasies, his poker face doesn’t show it.
One wonders what success has meant to him.
“This,” he says quietly, knocking the stern of the boat, “the freedom to be here, rather than slogging your heart out in Hollywood. But this isn’t… would you say this is a luxury? If there was a house with it, I’d say so. But this is half the price of a house.”
John McVie, the Mac in Fleetwood Mac, started the band with Mick Fleetwood, Jeremy Spencer and Peter Green in ’67. Before that he was a four-year charter member of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. He has seen Fleetwood Mac through the complete musical spectrum – 6 guitarists, 3 label changes, innumerable tours, every album and many, many, times more bad than good.
If Fleetwood Mac had been a mediocre-selling album for the band, there would have been no desperation or breakup. If Buckingham or Nicks hadn’t worked out, McVie would have dutifully helped find replacements. He’s a strange creature to rock and roll: a patient man.
“Fleetwood Mac was doing fine before that album,” he figures. “People are always asking me how does it feel to have made it. If that’s the case, what do I do now? Now that I’ve made it. I hate that phrase.” For once, his voice is audible above the din of the marina. “I didn’t anticipate all the commotion around the last album,” he says. “Not as much as 4 million sales. There’s a lot of good albums we’ve done. It’s just one of those things – the right album the right time. But that’s the criteria of making it in this business: a big album. Then you get your own TV show, you go make a movie. It’s not important. Being seen wearing a Gucci suit… that syndrome is so sad.”
So what’s the motivation to be around it for more than 14 years?
“Playing bass,” comes the ready reply. “I’m not a dedicated musician particularly, but it’s the one thing I enjoy doing.”
Would he soon consider retiring?
What would I do? Sit on the boat, but that would get as boring as sitting around the studio…”
One cautiously broaches the subject of his split with Christine. It must have been a major turning point…
“Yeah,” McVie agrees. “It still affects me. I’m still adjusting to the fact that it’s not John and Chris anymore. It goes up and down.”
Feeling suddenly awkward, McVie stops and assembles a statement explaining himself. “Its difficult to tell someone, yeah, I’m this kind of person… the quiet thing is fine,” he says softly. “If I had anything that I thought was world shaking or profound, I’d say something. I really can come up with anything on politics, state of society, the relation of music to society… it’s just horseshit. I play bass.”
McVie sounds like his soft-spoken fellow member from the Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton, in both philosophy and personality. (Christine McVie: “those two? They’re like two peas out of the same pod”).
Clapton has said he finds his personality by drinking…
“I drink too much, period,” McVie bristles, “but when I’ve drunk too much, a personality comes out. It’s not very pleasant to be around.”
In the end, John McVie is a droll, likable gentleman with a sullen aura. Used to touring and recording with his wife and band, he is suddenly alone on his boat.
“He’ll cheer up,” an associate of the band says with a laugh. “He always does. Everyone’s attitude is just leave him to himself. They know there’s only one thing that could bring him around instantly: an affair with Linda Rondstandt.”
McVie wistfully admits to this crush. Last year, suspiciously soon after learning that Fleetwood Mac would be on the Rock Music Awards show with Rondstandt as a fellow nominee, he bought an exquisitely tailored burgundy velvet, three-piece outfit. He wore it that night, and Fleetwood Mac won Rock Group of the Year, among other honors.
Rondstandt never showed up.
Mick Fleetwood’s the tall menacing-looking one who is, for all purposes, the manager of the band. When former manager Clifford Davis burned his bridges by sending out a bogus band with the same name and owners of the name, Fleetwood Mac was too broke to find another. Decisions fell directly to Fleetwood and McVie, the original members and owners of the name. McVie held no ambitions as a businessman, but Fleetwood became obsessed with the music business. He grew to love the new responsibility of managing himself. Fleetwood retained a lawyer, Michael “Mickey” Shapiro, and together they guided the band’s career.
Fleetwood is surely in his element this morning. We’re sitting in the executive conference room at the tip of a private Warner’s jet returning to LA from a last minute Fleetwood Mac benefit in Indiana for Birch Bayh.
“Everything has taken a very natural course,” he reflects pleasantly. “We’ve never made records with the attitude of making hits. With us, it’s potluck. The fact that they are is great. That’s not just from the present lineup of the band, that’s going back years and years. Like when Peter Green wrote “Albatross” [FM’s first successful single in England]. Everyone thought it was a concerted effort. It was a complete accident that it was a hit. The BBC used it for some wildlife program and then someone put it on Top of The Tops and it was a hit. If Rumours was a radical failure, I’m sure we’d all be disturbed, but we wouldn’t feel disillusioned.”
Mick Fleetwood, like John McVie, cannot think of a time when he was ever frustrated with the band’s stalled sales figures. After ten years, they value Fleetwood Mac more as a way of life than as a business investment. Success was a pleasant surprise. “You go to the office every day and you don’t think about it in the end, you just go,” Fleetwood explains. “That’s what we were doing. Being part of Fleetwood Mac, playing through the ups and downs.”
Fleetwood is resolute: “I could have never planned any of this. I don’t even believe in making plans. They only create an atmosphere of disappointment. So, it’s not a day-to-day situation with us, but there’s always full potential of either great things happening. That is very important to me personally… Fleetwood Mac, from point one, has been like that. We’ll always be able to move without breaking a leg… I definitely want to have a baby in the next four years. For sure, I want to have one or two children and I don’t want to wait any further than, say, 34. This is all part of my plan. By that time I hope that I’ll be living up in the mountains somewhere with a very pretty house and a piano and a tape recorder, just writing, and then going to New York every once in a while to shop. I love that too, but I mostly like to be in a really warm place with a bunch of animals, dogs and cats.”
It’s a long way from Peter Green.
Twenty-eight-year-old Stephanie “Stevie” Nicks is an endearing blend of beatnik poet and sassy rock and roller. One thing is for sure: success does not faze her. She has, in fact, lived around it much of her life. Until heart surgery forced him into early retirement two years ago, her father, Jess Nicks, was simultaneously executive vice-president of Greyhound and president of Armour Meats. Stevie, the only girl, was “the star in my family’s sky.”
Born in Phoenix and raised along her father’s corporate climb in LA, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and finally San Francisco, she nearly graduated from San Jose State with a degree in speech communication. Instead, she quit a few months early to go on the road in 1968 with an acid-rock band called Fritz.
“That did not amuse my parents too much,” Stevie notes wryly. Just out of the shower and toweling off her mousy-brown-flecked-with green-tint hair on an antique couch in her Hollywood Hills duplex, she makes easy conversation. “They wanted me to do what I wanted to do. They were just worried I was going to get down to 80 pounds and be a miserable, burnt out 27-year-old.”
Despite a senior citizen’s penchant for detailing her various aches and pains – she’s always got a sore throat or a cold – the one thing Stevie Nicks does not exude is weakness.
Through the three and a half year existence of Fritz, her all-male band members made a private agreement: hands off Stevie. That included Lindsey Buckingham, the slender, curly-haired bass player with whom she shared lead vocals.
“I think there was always something between me and Lindsey, but nobody in that band really wanted me as their girlfriend because I was just too ambitious for them. But they didn’t want anybody else to have me either. If anybody in the band started spending any time with me, the other three would literally pick that person apart. To the death. They all thought I was in it for the attention. These guys didn’t take me seriously at all. I was just a girl singer, and they hated the fact that I got a lot of credit.”
Nicks flouts the memory, laughing with defiance, “They would kill themselves practicing for ten hours, and people would call up and say: ‘We want to book that band with the little brownish-blondish-haired girl.’ There was always just really weird things going on between us.” Now she is charged up and scoots to the edge of her sofa to make her point: “I could never figure out why I stayed in that band. Now I know that was the preparation for Fleetwood Mac.”
But it would be another two years between the inevitable breakup of Fritz and an invitation to join Fleetwood Mac. Stevie and Lindsey chose to stay together as a duo, calling themselves Buckingham Nicks. “We started spending a lot of time together working out songs. Pretty soon we started spending all our time together and… it just happened.”
They moved down to LA, started knocking on doors, and eventually signed a contract with Polydor Records. They released an album and toured to good audience reaction. The band even developed a cult following in Birmingham, Alabama.
In New York, however, Polydor was not impressed and dropped them before they could finish a second album. Lindsey resorted to a phone-soliciting job. Stevie became a $1.50-an-hour waitress in a Beverly Hills singles restaurant.
Waiting on tables? What about mom and dad?
“I’d get money from them here and there,” says Stevie, “but if I wanted to go back to school, if I wanted to move back home, then they would support me… If I was gonna be here in LA, doing my trip, I was gonna have to do it on my own.”
They auditioned for Russ Regan, head of 20th Century records, who, Buckingham recalls, “thought we were a smash act but couldn’t sign us” and Ode records president and artist’s manager Lou Adler, who listened to half of one song and thanked them very much. Another manager recommended they learn the Top 40 and play steak and lobster houses.
When she visited home just seven months before joining Fleetwood Mac, her father was also discouraging. “He saw me getting skinnier and I wasn’t very happy. He said, ‘I think you better start setting some time limits here,’ they saw, I really think, shades of my grandfather A.J. (Aaron Jeff Nicks). He was a country and western singer and he drank way too much. He was unhappy, trying to make it. He wanted to make it very badly. He turned into a very embittered person and he died that way.”
In late 1974, Keith Olsen, engineer on the Buckingham Nicks LP, met with Mick Fleetwood. Olsen, pitching himself and his studio for the Fleetwood Mac account, presented Stevie and Lindsey’s demo and his studio portfolio. Fleetwood listened to the album and made a mental note. When Bob Welch left Fleetwood Mac six weeks later, he looked up Stevie and Lindsey.
They went up to Mick Fleetwood’s house in Laurel Canyon to talk. Buckingham offered to do an audition, but Fleetwood declined. Instead, he simply asked: ‘Want to join?’ The two looked at each other and said, ‘Yes.’
“John and Mick,” Buckingham says, “have always been open to having a lot of different people in the band – which is odd. I would never be able to do that. I would think it was real important to keep an identity. I remember being a kid – if a new member joined a group, I just didn’t like that at all. But that openness is what’s kept them going for so long.”
But he and Nicks had one more commitment: a headlining concert in Birmingham. The show drew a screaming sellout crowd of more than 6000 fans who knew all the words to their songs. “We went out in style,” says Buckingham.
Fleetwood went directly into the studio, reworking such Buckingham Nicks material as “Monday Morning,” “Landslide,” and a new song written originally on acoustic piano about a Welsh witch Stevie had read about named “Rhiannon.” “Everything was already worked out,” says Buckingham. He plucked up a belly-backed acoustic guitar and played the introduction to “Rhiannon.”
The newest members of the band were happy with the album, but Stevie Nicks went through an anxious period of self-doubt. She can quote entire passages from a review in Rolling Stone that, she says, almost caused her to quit. “They said my singing was ‘callow’ and that really hurt my feelings.” She began to think that maybe she wasn’t that good, and that she had been asked into the band only because she was with Buckingham. “Time after time I would read: ‘…the raucous voice of Stevie Nicks and the golden-throated voice of Christine McVie, who’s the only saving grace of the band.’ When it comes to competition, I won’t compete for a man and I won’t compete for a place on that stage either. If I’m not wanted, I’ll get out. I was bummed.”
But the bum didn’t last long: Fleetwood Mac immediately became a gold album and Christine’s ethereal song, “Over my head,” broke big in both pop and easy-listening radio. Nicks, who’d done harmonies on the track, felt better. And when “Rhiannon” found an even bigger audience, with its mainstream rock and roll getting both AM and FM airplay, she forgot all about quitting.
She also became Rhiannon, a witch in Welsh mythology. “I see her as a good witch,” Stevie says. “Very positive. I sink into that whole trip when I’m on stage.” With her diaphanous black outfits, her chiffon and lace, and a graceful way around the stage, she just as quickly became the band’s first willing star/focal point.
There was, of course, a price for all this. Last year, during the ill-fated stretch in Sausalito, she separated from Buckingham after over six years.
“The best explanation is: try working with your secretary… in a raucous office… and then come home with her at night. See how long you could stand her. I could be no comfort to Lindsey when he needed comfort.”
She cites an example from Sausalito. Lindsey was feeling depressed because he couldn’t quite get some guitar parts down right. “So we’d go back to where we were staying and he would really need comfort from me, for me to say, ‘it’s all right, who cares about them?’, you know, be an old lady.”
One problem, “I was also pissed off because he hadn’t gotten the guitar part on. So I’m trying to defend their point of view at the same time trying to make him feel better. It doesn’t work. I couldn’t be all those things.”
Stevie has kept mostly to herself since the breakup with Lindsey. Outside of a short romance with drummer/singer Don Henley of The Eagles, she’s spent her days either in the studio or at home writing and taping her songs. She icily denies talk of an affair with Paul Kantner.
“It’s strange for me,” she says in confidential tones, “I’ve never been a dater. I don’t really like parties. I’m very alone now. I’m not one of those women who are just willing to go out and sit at the rainbow. In my position I could meet a lot of people just because of the band I’m in. Well, I don’t want to meet anybody because of the band I’m in.”
Stevie doesn’t mind airing her personal life like this at all. “I don’t care that everybody knows me and Chris and John and Lindsey and Mick all broke up,” she declares. “Because we did. So that’s fact. I just don’t want people to pick up a magazine and go, ‘oh, another interview from Fleetwood Mac,’ if it’s interesting, I’m not opposed to giving out information”.
“On this album, all the songs that I wrote except maybe ‘Gold Dust Woman’ – and even that comes into it – are definitely about the people in the band… Chris’ relationships, John’s relationship, Mick’s, Lindsey’s and mine. They’re all there and they’re very honest and people will know exactly what I’m talking about… people will really enjoy listening to what happened since the last album”.
The sun sets in Hollywood and Stevie lets her house darken along with it. “I’ll tell you an interesting thing that hit me after the Rock Awards,” she says. “We won the Best Group and the Best Album awards – that was very far out and everybody was really blessed out over that and we went to some party at the Hilton or something afterward and just stayed about 30 minutes. My brother Chris and I got in our limousine and came home. And it really struck me, driving home in the back seat of a black limousine. I was so lonely.”
“I thought, ‘Here I am, we just won these fantastic awards, we’ve just been on TV, everybody is singing our praises and here I am driving home in my black limousine,’ terribly alone. Sort of knowing how it would feel to be Marilyn Monroe or something. It was a very strange feeling and I didn’t like it at all.”
Stevie Nicks opens her eyes very wide. “It scared me.”
Lindsey Buckingham is no doubt the first member of Fleetwood Mac to list Brian Wilson as a major inspiration. Lindsey’s California influence on the band is legitimate too. Born and raised in Palo Alto, Buckingham was “another jock in a family of swimming jocks.” His brother Greg won a silver medal in the ’68 Olympics. Late in high school Lindsey drifted into a rock and roll band and was sufficiently smitten to spoil family tradition. He quit the water polo team. “My coach went insane,” Lindsey says. “He started screaming, ‘you’re nothing, you’ll always be a nothing.'”
And he was nothing for a while, when that band went psychedelic and became Fritz. Buckingham couldn’t master mind-blowing lead guitar and was put on bass for the next three and a half years. “I was just a young kid who thought it was really neat that we were in a band,” he says. Then he teamed up with Nicks, and finally they joined Fleetwood Mac.
Now, Buckingham lopes into the house of a mutual friend, looking a little dazed. Listening to the radio on the way over he’d finally heard himself singing the just released single, “Go your own way.” “It sounded real weird,” he shrugs. “I just want it to be so good that I got paranoid. I have to relax, get this whole time behind us…”
Ten months devoted to Fleetwood Mac’s album has left Buckingham spindly and studio wan. He gives a rundown of how a group can spend so long taping 45 minutes of music: “there’s one track on the album that started out as a one song in Sausalito. We decided it needed a bridge, so we cut a bridge and edited it into the rest of the song. We didn’t get a vocal and left it for a long time in a bunch of pieces. It almost went off the album. Then we listened back and decided we liked the bridge, but didn’t like the rest of the song. So I wrote verses for that bridge, which was originally not in the song and edited those in. We saved the ending. The ending was the only thing left from the original track. We ended up calling it “The Chain,” because it was a bunch of pieces.”
His face lights up as he realizes that it’s all behind him now. “I feel really lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to go through some of the heartaches and shit we’ve been through the past year. it’s had a profound effect on me. I feel a lot older. I feel like I’ve learned a whole lot by taking on a large responsibility slightly unaided.” Buckingham laughs to himself. “Being in this band really fucks up relationships with chicks. Since Stevie, I have found that to be true. I could meet someone that I really like, have maybe a few days to get it together and that’s about it. The rest of the time I’m too into Fleetwood Mac”.
Buckingham has overcome the breakup with Nicks. “It was a little lonely there for a while,” he admits. “The thought of being on my own really terrified me. But then I realized being alone is a really cleansing thing… as I began to feel myself again. I’m surprised we lasted as long as we did.”
Buckingham doesn’t object to the confessional tone of Rumours either. “I’m not ashamed of my personal life,” he proclaims. “Just ’cause you’re in the public eye doesn’t mean you don’t go through the same bullshit.”
Lindsey Buckingham sets down the guitar. “Tonight I just want to get drunk,” he announces. “I know the exact place too. They let me throw the foos…”
The two doormen at Kowloon’s Chines restaurant greet Buckingham and his party warmly. They know him as the young gentleman who leaves a big mess and a bigger tip.
“Do you know who he is?” one doorman asks the other.
The other doorman nods casually. “He’s an actor or something. I think he plays in a soap opera…”