For years after Rumours, the private-jet lifestyle kept running into turbulence. Band members were papering over the cracks, which must surely have widened when Fleetwood and Nicks had a fling, although Buckingham, her ex, denies it caused a problem.
“It was a reflection of the times we were living in,” he tells me. “You can’t separate individual acts from the times. Stevie was prolific in that way, shall we say, and so was Mick – and so was I.
“So it never really bothered me at all. I had dealt with the hurt of losing Stevie long before that.”
But at least Fleetwood was gentleman enough to tell Buckingham about the affair in person before he heard any rumours. “He came over to my house and sat me down at my kitchen table and said, ‘Me and Stevie are an item’, ” Buckingham says. “And I said, ‘Oh, OK.’ Because, really, should I have been surprised?”
Buckingham, meanwhile, left Fleetwood Mac for nine years before returning in 1996. “We were Bonnie and Clyde, me and Stevie, and Lindsey got fed up with it,” Fleetwood says. “But he left out of fear – he didn’t want to be around
“Only recently, he admitted that he was really frightened that Stevie was going to die, and he didn’t want to be around it. That’s a really deep-rooted regard for someone.
“And that’s [his voice is suddenly trembling and his eyes are moist, but the British stiff upper lip fast reasserts itself]… that’s part of our whole thing.”
Predictably, this isn’t quite the way Buckingham recalls it. “Frightened may not be the right word,” he says evenly. “It was more frustrated. Or maybe I was frightened, but for myself.
“Everyone in that subculture thought that drugs were what you had to do; that turned out to be a load of crap. You can be just as creative when you’re sober.
“There was this idea that we were somehow rejecting values we didn’t believe in. And the irony was that we ended up becoming just as decadent as the things we were railing against.”
Nicks also revealed she and Buckingham had only recently made their peace, after falling out in 2003 over creative differences (neither will elaborate). Oh, the drama — when will it ever end? Anyway, Nicks had promised Fleetwood that she would try to repair the relationship before the tour.
“I said to Lindsey, ‘We have got to change this. We cannot be enemies for one more day,’ ” Nicks recalled. “Because you never know — things happen. You don’t know if you’ll ever tour again. So we have to walk on stage hand in hand, and we have to mean it.”
And, against all odds, that's what they appear to have done. So it seems peace has finally broken out among the ranks of Fleetwood Mac. God only knows whether it will last. There is
“This might sound corny,” Fleetwood had said to me just before we said goodbye, “but the biggest rumour about Fleetwood Mac is that we don’t really like each other. I understand why people would think that, after everything we’ve said and done. But the reality is, we love each other. We just push the wrong buttons.”