Fleetwood Mac





While most bands undergo a number of changes over the course of their career, few groups experienced such radical stylistic changes as Fleetwood Mac. Initially conceived as a hard-edged British Blues combo in the late '60s, the band gradually evolved into a polished Pop/Rock act over the course of a decade. Throughout all of their incarnations, the only consistent members of Fleetwood Mac were drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, the rhythm section who provided the band with its name.

The roots of Fleetwood Mac lie in John Mayall's legendary British Blues outfit, The Bluesbreakers. John McVie (bass) was one of the charter members of The Bluesbreakers, joining the group in 1963. In 1966 Peter Green replaced Eric Clapton and a year later, Mick Fleetwood (drums) joined. Inspired by the success of Cream, The Yardbirds and Jimi Hendrix, the trio decided to break away from Mayall in 1967. At their debut at the British Jazz And Blues Festival that August, Bob Brunning was playing bass in the group, since McVie was still under contract to Mayall. He joined the band a few weeks after their debut. By that time, slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer had joined the band. Fleetwood Mac soon signed with Blue Horizon, releasing their eponymous debut the following year. "Fleetwood Mac" was an enormous hit in the UK, spending over a year in the Top 10. Despite its British success, the album was virtually ignored in America. During 1968, the band added guitarist Danny Kirwan. The following year, they recorded in Chicago with a variety of bluesmen, including Willie Dixon and Otis Spann. The set was released later that year, after the band had left Blue Horizon for a one-album deal with Immediate Records. In the US, they signed with Reprise/Warner Brothers and by 1970, Warner began releasing the band's British records as well.

Fleetwood Mac released "English Rose" and "Then Play On" during 1969, which both indicated that the band members were expanding their music, moving away from their Blues-purists roots. That year, Green's "Man of the World" and "Oh Well" were number two hits. Though his music was providing the backbone of the group, Peter Green was growing increasingly disturbed due to his alleged large ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs. After announcing that he was planning to give all of his earnings away, Green suddenly left the band in the Spring of 1970. He released two solo albums over the course of the '70s, but he rarely performed after leaving Fleetwood Mac. The band replaced him with Christine Perfect, a vocalist/pianist who had earned a small but loyal following in the UK by singing with Spencer Davis and the Chicken Shack. She had already performed unaccredited on "Then Play On". Contractual difficulties prevented her from becoming a full-fledged member of Fleetwood Mac until 1971. By that time she had married John McVie.

Christine McVie didn't appear on 1970's "Kiln House", the first album the band recorded without Peter Green. For that LP Jeremy Spencer dominated the band's musical direction, but he had also been having problems due to alleged drug use. During the band's American tour in early 1971, Spencer disappeared. It was later discovered that he left the band to join the religious cult, the Children of God. Fleetwood Mac had already been trying to determine the direction of their music, but Spencer's departure sent the band into disarray. Christine McVie and Danny Kirwan began to move the band towards Mainstream Rock on 1971's "Future Games", but new guitarist Bob Welch exerted a heavy influence on 1972's "Bare Trees". Kirwan was fired after "Bare Trees" and was replaced by guitarists Bob Weston and Dave Walker, who appeared on 1973's "Penguin". Walker left after that album, and Weston departed after making its follow-up, "Mystery to Me" (1973).

In 1974, the group's manager Clifford Davis formed a bogus Fleetwood Mac, and had the band tour the US. The real Fleetwood Mac filed and won a lawsuit against the impostors, who, after losing, began performing under the name Stretch, but the lawsuit kept the real band off the road for most of the year. In the interim, they released "Heroes Are Hard To Find". Late in 1974, Fleetwood Mac moved to California with hopes of re-starting their career. Welch left the band shortly after the move to form a group called Paris and later enjoyed solo hits with "Sentimental Lady" (#8 in 1988), "Ebony Eyes" (#14 in 1978), "Hot Love, Cold World" (#31 in 1978) and "Precious Love" (#18 in 1979).

Early in 1975, Fleetwood and McVie were auditioning engineers for the band's new album when they heard "Buckingham-Nicks", an album recorded by the Soft-Rock duo Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. The two were asked to join the group and their addition revived the band's musical and commercial fortunes. Not only did the pair write songs, but they brought the distinctive talents the band had been lacking. Buckingham was skilled Pop craftsman, capable of arranging a commercial song while keeping it musically adventurous. Nicks had a husky voice and a sexy, hippie gypsy stage persona which gave the band a charismatic front woman. The new line-up of Fleetwood Mac released their eponymous debut in 1975 and it slowly became a huge hit, reaching number one in 1976 on the strength of the singles "Over My Head" (#20 in 1975), "Rhiannon" (#11 in 1976) and "Say You Love Me" (#11 in 1976). The album would eventually sell over five million copies in the US alone.

While Fleetwood Mac had finally attained their long-desired commercial success, the band was fraying apart behind the scenes. The McVies divorced in 1976, and Buckingham and Nicks' romance ended shortly afterward. The internal tensions formed the basis for the songs on their next album, "Rumours. Released in the Spring of 1977, "Rumours" became a blockbuster success, topping the American and British charts and generating the hit singles "Go Your Own Way" (#10) "Dreams" (#1), "Don't Stop" (#3) and "You Make Loving Fun" (#9), all in 1977. It would eventually sell over 17 million copies in the US alone, making it the second biggest-selling album of all-time. Fleetwood Mac supported the album with an exhaustive, lucrative tour and then retired to the studio to record their follow-up to "Rumours". A wildly experimental double-album conceived largely by Buckingham, "Tusk" (1979) didn't duplicate the enormous success of "Rumours", yet it did go multi-Platinum and featured the singles "Tusk" (#8) and "Sara" (#7).

In 1980, they released the double-album, "Live". Following the Tusk tour, Fleetwood, Buckingham and Nicks all recorded solo albums. Of the solo projects, Stevie Nicks' "Bella Donna" (1981) was the most successful, peaking at number one and featuring the hit singles "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" (#3 in 1981) "Leather and Lace" (#6 in 1981), with The Eagles' Don Henley) and "Edge of Seventeen" (#11 in 1982). Buckingham's "Law and Order" (1981) was a moderate success, spawning the #9 hit, "Trouble". Fleetwood, for his part, made a world music album called "The Visitor". Fleetwood Mac reconvened in 1982 for "Mirage". More conventional and accessible than "Tusk", "Mirage" reached number one and featured the 1982 hit singles "Hold Me" (#4) and "Gypsy" (#12).

After "Mirage", Buckingham, Nicks and Christine McVie all worked on solo albums. The hiatus was due to a variety of reasons. Each member had their own manager, Nicks was becoming the group's breakaway star, Buckingham was obsessive in the studio and each member was allegedly suffering from various substance addictions. Nicks was able to maintain her popularity with the albums "The Wild Heart" (1983) and "Rock A Little" (1985), both of which reached the Top 15. Christine McVie also had a Top 10 hit with "Got A Hold On Me" in 1984. Buckingham received the strongest reviews of all, but his 1984 album "Go Insane" failed to generate a hit single. Fleetwood Mac reunited to record a new album in 1985. Buckingham, who had grown increasingly frustrated with the musical limitations of the band, decided to make it his last project with the band. When the resulting album, "Tango In The Night", was finally released in 1987, it was greeted with mixed reviews but strong sales, reaching the Top 10 and generating the Top 20 hits "Little Lies" (#4) and "Everywhere" (#14).

Buckingham decided to leave Fleetwood Mac after completing "Tango In The Night" and the group replaced him with guitarists Billy Burnette and Rick Vito. The new line-up of the band recorded their first album, "Behind the Mask", in 1990. It became the band's first album since 1975 to not go Gold. Following a supporting tour, Nicks and Christine McVie announced they would continue to record with the group, but not tour. Vito left the band in 1991, and the group released the box set "25 Years -- The Chain" the following year.

The classic Fleetwood Mac line-up of Fleetwood, the McVies, Buckingham and Nicks reunited to play President Bill Clinton's inauguration in early 1993, but the concert did not lead to a full-fledged reunion. Later that year, Nicks left the band and was replaced by Bekka Bramlett and Dave Mason. Christine McVie left the group shortly afterward. The new line-up of Fleetwood Mac began touring in 1994, releasing "Time" the following year to little attention.

While the new version of Fleetwood Mac wasn't commercially successful, neither were the solo careers of Buckingham, Nicks and McVie, prompting speculation of a full-fledged reunion in 1997. The live album "Shrine 69" was released in 1999, but no reunion took place. The Fleetwood Mac saga continued with the Reprise Records release of "The Dance", a new Fleetwood Mac album that gave fresh meaning to the term "long-awaited." Recorded live for an MTV special, "The Dance" highlights new renditions of thirteen Mac classics, from "Dreams" to "Rhiannon", "Don't Stop" to "Tusk", as well as the such key tracks as "The Chain" and "Silver Springs". Proving the Mac magic was as potent as ever, "The Dance", produced by Lindsey Buckingham and Elliot Schiener, also featured four new songs, including the Christine McVie composition "Temporary One", "Sweet Girl" by Stevie Nicks and two new Buckingham tracks, "Bleed To Love Her" and "My Little Demon". Catapulting straight from the studio to the stage, Fleetwood Mac embarked on an extensive U.S. tour that Fall, bringing the Mac magic to audiences coast to coast. "My only condition for coming back together was that we could have some fun," said Christine. "The rehearsals proved that we could, and that we were tighter and better than we'd ever been. It was tremendously gratifying." "I think a lot of the creativity we were feeling had come from the healing we'd all experienced," said Stevie Nicks. "We were friends who had been away for a long time and this reunion was not just musical, it was personal." Questions of repertoire were resolved almost before they came up. "Naturally we did the material we were familiar with," explained John. "It was like our fingers were just flying to the notes. We worked up some new arrangements, but we also wanted to try out some fresh stuff. Luckily, we had no shortage of new material to try." Christine added, "Each one of us brought in a new song and hearing them played by this particular combination of musicians is like no other experience I know. We understand each other, where to go, and how to get there even before it's spoken." What was also left almost unspoken was the fact that, from various paths both personal and professional, Fleetwood Mac had at last found themselves together again. "Of course there's a business aspect to all this," says Mick, "but anyone who's been around this process can tell you that it really is the music that's brought us back." "I care about these people," is how Lindsey puts it. "And I enjoy being around them, now more than ever. Fleetwood Mac is a complicated scheme, a careful balancing act and when we get it right, there's nothing quite like it." "Even after we decided to formalize what we'd been doing as 'a reunion,'" added John, "there was still an attitude of taking things one day at a time. Today is wonderful. Tomorrow will take care of itself."

The band, (minus Christine McVie) played at a farewell party for President Clinton on the south lawn of the White House, on January 6, 2001. The group played "Don't Stop" (Thinking About Tomorrow), the theme of Clinton's campaigns. Said Lindsey Buckingham, "We were there to usher in his administration, and it was an emotional experience to help see it off". Buckingham said that McVie had moved back to her native England and therefore did not attend. "This is all very exciting, but at the same time very familiar," mused Stevie Nicks. "When we get together something amazing happens. It takes on a life of its own." McVie's departure left Nicks and Buckingham to sing lead vocals for the band's 2003 album, "Say You Will", although Christine did contribute some background vocals and keyboards. The LP debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart and produced the singles, "Peacekeeper" and the title track. The recording was supported by a world tour which lasted through 2004. In September, 2004, Christine McVie released her first solo album in nearly twenty years. "In The Meantime" was recorded at a studio at her home in Kent, England, along with her nephew Dan Perfect, former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Billy Burnette and drummer Steve Ferrone of The Average White Band.

Solo projects kept Fleetwood Mac apart for the next five years. Rumors that Sheryl Crow would take Christine's place were proven untrue and the band reformed without either of them on March 1st, 2009 for a brief U.S. tour. In October of that year, the band began a series of shows in Europe which lasted into early November, followed by a tour of Australia and New Zealand in December. That same Autumn, "The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac" was re-released in an extended two-disc format, premiering at #6 on the UK album chart. The band appeared infrequently in 2010, but in May, 2011, an episode of the TV show Glee featured six songs from the "Rumours" album, sparking new interest in Fleetwood Mac's music. Amazingly, that 1977 LP re-entered the Billboard 200 chart at #11, the same week that Stevie Nicks' new solo album "In Your Dreams" debuted at #6.

Original Fleetwood Mac bassist Bob Brunning died on October 18th, 2011, at the age of 68. On May 13th, 2011, Stevie Nicks announced that Fleetwood Mac would go out on tour again in 2012, but there was no mention of a new album. Former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Weston was found dead on January 3rd, 2012, at the age of 64. Former guitarist Bob Welch committed suicide on June 7th, 2012. He was 66.

The news that fans had been hoping for finally came in early December of 2012 when Stevie Nicks told Billboard that the band had recorded three new songs that would be released before they hit the road again on April 4, 2013. The songs, which would be issued as digital downloads, were recorded in November at Lindsay Buckingham's home studio while the group was gathered to discuss its tour plans. In September of that year, more exciting news came when Nicks announced that Christine McVie was slated to re-join the group for one song only at two shows on their forthcoming European tour, scheduled to kick off on September 20th. Sadly, after completing the Euopean leg of the tour, bassist John McVie was diagnosed with cancer and fourteen dates in Australia and New Zealand were canceled so that he could undergo treatment. The bassist was well enough to appear with his Fleetwood Mac band mates for their New Year's shows in Las Vegas. Billboard Boxscore reported that the group's 2013 tour was the 17th most profitable of the year, grossing $62 million from forty-five shows.

In mid-January, 2014, the band's publicist confirmed that Christine McVie had rejoined the band after departing the group in 1998. She wrote some of the act's biggest Billboard Hot 100 chart hits, including "Say You Love Me" (#11 in 1976), "Don't Stop" (#3 in 1977), "You Make Loving Fun" (#9 in 1977), "Hold Me" (#4 in 1982), "Little Lies" (#4 1987) and "Everywhere" (#14 1988). McVie was slated to be with the band for their thirty-four show Fall 2014 tour, which kicked off in Minneapolis on September 30th and wound up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on December 19th. In July, Stevie Nicks revealed that she would be joining the TV talent show The Voice as an advisor for the upcoming season. She also announced her new CD, "24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault", would be released on October 7th.

In June, 2015, Mick Fleetwood told the UK newspaper The Mirror that he'd love to make another album because the band has a "shit load of new songs." Stevie Nicks on the other hand said that the group's current tour is so exhausting that she just couldn't think about new material at the moment. For 2016, the only show on the band's schedule was a July 28th appearance at the Los Angeles Dodgers second annual Blue Diamond Gala, where the band's classic lineup of Christine McVie , Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie were slated to appear. In January, 2017, Christine McVie told Rolling Stone magazine that the band was planning on releasing a new album later in the year that would include songs already in the bank and some that they planned to record next October. She also confirmed that she and Lindsey Buckingham were working on a duet album together that they'll release under the moniker Buckingham / McVie.

CLASSIC TRIVIA:
Lindsey Buckingham's brother Greg won a gold metal in the 1968 Olympics