Right, we were chatting about Stevie Nicks.
Well, Fleetwood Mac’s shiniest star just happened to also be the group’s biggest addict. With the band’s fame, came money. And with a wildly successful solo career, came even more fame and even more money. And with more fame and more money, well, you know what follows.
In a group of wild boys and girls, Stevie was the wildest.
As per The Independent, “When Fleetwood Mac released Rumours in 1977, the album was a portrait of a group in crisis. Christine and John McVie were divorcing, McVie was having an affair with the band’s sound engineer, and Nicks and Buckingham were breaking up too. All but one of the album’s tracks were written by individual members, taking lyrical swipes at one another in song, and then expecting the subject of their vitriol to help play it. Go Your Own Way was written by Buckingham as a thinly veiled attack on Nicks. She later said: “Every time those words would come onstage, I wanted to go over and kill him.” Instead, she sang harmonies — and then wrote her own counterattack in the form of Dreams (“But listen carefully to the sound of your loneliness…remembering what you had and what you lost”). John McVie played bass on You Make Loving Fun, a song his wife, Christine, had written about her affair. The process was an unmitigated mess – but the album was a masterpiece.
Stymied by both their success and their failures, the band spiraled further into drug addiction. They took to stashing velvet bags of cocaine under their mixing desk to allow immediate access to the drug while they recorded. All of us were drug addicts,” said Nicks, “but there was a point where I was the worst drug addict. I was a girl, I was fragile, and I was doing a lot of coke. And I had that hole in my nose. So it was dangerous.” While they recorded 1987’s Tango in the Night, Nicks would do shots, and record her vocal takes paralytic. At many points during this drug-addled, characteristically fractious period, Fleetwood Mac told themselves that they were done. And then they kept making records.”
And lest we forget, the internal strife is far from over to this very day. You didn’t expect any less, did you?
In an article from a month ago, Andy Greene from Rolling Stone writes, “Lindsey Buckingham has filed a lawsuit against Fleetwood Mac for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of oral contract and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, among other charges, according to legal documents obtained by Rolling Stone. The group parted ways with Buckingham in January and replaced him with Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and Neil Finn of Crowded House. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, states that he asked the group to postpone their tour three months so he could play shows with his solo band. He says plans were in place for the Rumours-era lineup to play 60 shows across North America when he was let go without warning.” And in another Rolling Stone article from the same week, David Fricke from Rolling Stone writes, “Lindsey Buckingham and his wife, Kristen, were at home in Los Angeles on January 28th, watching the Grammy Awards ceremony on television, when the phone rang. Fleetwood Mac’s manager Irving Azoff was calling with a message for Buckingham from Stevie Nicks. The gist of it, Buckingham says, quoting Azoff: “Stevie never wants to be on a stage with you again.”
Two nights earlier, the most popular and enduring lineup of Fleetwood Mac — Nicks, Buckingham, singer-keyboard player Christine McVie, bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood — performed in New York at a MusiCares benefit show honoring the group. “We rehearsed for two days, and everything was great,” Buckingham claims. “We were getting along great.” But on the phone, Azoff had a list of things that, as Buckingham puts it, “Stevie took issue with” that evening, including the guitarist’s outburst just before the band’s set over the intro music — the studio recording of Nicks’ Rhiannon — and the way he “smirked” during Nicks’ thank you speech. Buckingham concedes the first point. “It wasn’t about it being Rhiannon, ” he says. “It just undermined the impact of our entrance. That’s me being very specific about the right and wrong way to do something.”
Did you catch all of that? This band is endlessly fascinating. You couldn’t script a crazier timeline. One thing bears mention — the idea that somehow drugs magically give you talent is absurd, but it may be fair to say it enhanced the genius and wild ride that is the Fleetwood Mac experience. Christine Mcvie has said as much.
By the way, I would be remiss if i didn’t mention how breathtakingly gorgeous Stevie Nicks was in the ’70s. I mean, my lord.
I’ll end with this — time and time again, we see see how pain, torment, and absolute chaos produces some of the most beautiful art. Fleetwood Mac is no different. We’re just lucky we get to go along for the ride.