Listen To This Eddie is a weekly column that examines the important people and events in the classic rock canon and how they continue to impact the world of popular music.
You know that old saying, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it?” Yeah, maybe someone should let the members of Fleetwood Mac in on that bit of sage wisdom. This year, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, and John McVie will hit the road once again to delight basketball arenas full of fans around the country with a bevy of the biggest hits that FM radio has ever spawned. Not included among the lineup is the band’s longtime musical director, singer-guitarist extraordinaire Lindsey Buckingham, who was given his walking paper by the rest of Fleetwood Mac a few months back for reportedly wanting to delay the run by half a year. If that seems petty, you certainly aren’t attuned to the drama-filled history of this legendary band.
“We were supposed to go into rehearsal in June and he wanted to put it off until November ,” Nicks told Rolling Stone. “We arrived at the impasse of hitting a brick wall,” Fleetwood added. “This was not a happy situation for us in terms of the logistics of a functioning band. To that purpose, we made a decision that we could not go on with him. Majority rules in term of what we need to do as a band and go forward.”
The interesting thing is that Fleetwood Mac’s Buckingham-less run in 2018 draws an extraordinary amount of parallels between the last time the group chose to soldier on and hit the road without him 30 years ago for their Shake The Cage tour. By the spring of 1987, the guitarist was bone-tired having spent the last 18 months of his life re-working what was supposed to have been his next solo record into a full-on, Fleetwood Mac album titled Tango In The Night. It was a massive struggle just to get the thing put to bed, thanks in large part to the non-interest of his one-time paramour Stevie Nicks, who only showed up on rare occasions, seemingly far more concerned with promoting her own solo album at the time Rock A Little. Even when she as available, the results were not encouraging.
“They were recording at Lindsey’s house up on Mulholland somewhere,” Nicks remembered. “He lived there with his girlfriend Cheri and this record was being recorded at his house and I didn’t find that to be a great situation for me. Especially coming out of rehab. I guess I didn’t go very often and when I did go I would get like, ‘Give me a shot of brandy and let me sing on four or five songs off the top of my head.’”
“It was a very difficult record to make,” Buckingham told Uncut. “Half the time Mick was falling asleep. We spent a year on the record but we only saw Stevie for a few weeks. I had to pull performances out of words and lines and make parts that sounded like her that weren’t her.” It’s true, for the song “When I See You Again,” for example, Buckingham had to finish out the vocal himself after the bridge when Nicks wasn’t able.