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Rumours: The Fleetwood Mac Masterpiece Forged In Chaos

Uncategorized | June 17, 2021

Source: (Classic Rockers).

In 1967, Fleetwood Mac was formed in London by guitarist Peter Green, drummer Mick Fleetwood, and guitarist Jeremy Spencer. After bassist John McVie joined the group, they released their self-titled debut album. In 1968, Danny Kirwan became the group’s third guitarist. McVie then married keyboardist Christine Perfect, who joined Fleetwood Mac in 1970. They started ast a British blues band, and had a UK number one with “Albatross,” as well as other hits. The three guitarists all either left of were dismissed, and Fleetwood Mac lacked a male lead vocalist and a guitarist. Then, in 1974, they were introduced to Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks while they were checking out Los Angeles studios. They invited Buckingham to join, and he agreed on one condition: Nicks had to join as well. Their arrival changed the sound of the band and their 1975 self-titled album hit No. 1 in the U.S. 

McVie and Fleetwood. Source: (Pinterest).

Trouble In Paradise

Then the drama began. Just after a six-month American tour, they were back in the studio in 1976 to record their follow-up album, Rumours, which had the working title of Yesterday’s Gone. While they were working on the album, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, who had been both musical and romantic partners split up, and when they weren’t recording, they were screaming at each other. Christine was the in midst of a divorce from John McVie and they weren’t speaking to each other unless they were working on the album. And Mick Fleetwood’s marriage was falling apart as he had discovered his wife was having an affair. Later, Fleetwood and Nicks would have a brief affair. The turmoil was compounded by excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs. They were divided in terms of their intoxicant of choice, with Buckingham and Nicks smoking pot and the rest of them drinking. However, cocaine entered the scene and the drug use was so extreme that Mick Fleetwood claimed that if all of the cocaine he had ever snorted were laid out in a line, it would stretch for seven miles. According to Stevie Nicks, the coke was a necessity to deal with the multi-hour sessions. As she told Mojo in 2012, “You felt so bad about what was happening that you did a line to cheer yourself up.” 

Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham. Source: (Ultimate Classic Rock).

Turning Trauma Into Art

All of the turmoil became an album of hit songs. As Stevie Nicks told Rolling Stone, most of the songs “are definitely about people in the band …. Chris’ relationships, John’s relationship, Mick’s relationship, Lindsey’s and mine. They’re all there and very honest and people will know exactly what I am talking about … people will really enjoy listening to what happened since the last album.” For example, “Go Your Own Way,” was Buckingham’s response to the end of his relationship with Nicks, essentially suggesting she date other men. To escape boredom and get away from Buckingham, Nicks sometimes went to an unused studio which had been built for Sly Stone, where she wrote “Dreams”; it was about allowing the rain to wash you clean and became a sort of companion to “Go Your Own Way.” Christine McVie’s “Don’t Stop” focused on looking ahead and “You Make Lovin’ Fun” celebrated her romance with the band’s lighting director after her divorce from her ex-husband. “The Chain” is credited to the entire band and focuses on betrayal. 

Christine and John McVie. Source: (Pinterest.fr).

Even The Recordings Had Trauma

To add to the drama, the original recordings in Sausalito were damaged because of overuse during recording. The release date of September 1976 had to be pushed back so that a specialist could be brought in to fix the damaged recordings. He had to listen to the damaged tapes in his left ear and the safety master recordings in his right to converge the speeds of the two.

Source: (Pinterest).

A Huge Hit

When the album was finally released, it stayed at the top of the Billboard 200 for 31 non-consecutive weeks and reached number one in the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In 2011, it reentered the chart at number 11 and in 2020, it reentered once again in the top ten. By 2017, over 40 million copies had been sold and it received a Diamond Award from the Recording Industry Association of America because it had a 20x platinum certification. It is the fifth best-selling album in US history. It was selected in 2018 for preservation in the National Recording Registry and Rolling Stone listed it as number 26 on their list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. As Christine McVie told Rolling Stone, the album is “powerful because it’s so ruthlessly clear-eyed about the crisis, instead of smoothing it over." 

Tags: 1970s Music | Fleetwood Mac | Lindsey Buckingham | Stevie Nicks

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Linda Speckhals

Writer

When she’s not out walking her dog, or taking in a baseball game, Linda loves learning about history, science, and philosophy. She will travel wherever the wind may blow, and happily loses herself in a book, whenever she can. At heart, she is a music loving tree-hugger.