Stevie Nicks, meanwhile, though a highly successful solo artist, was beset by "lifestyle problems" that limited her attendance on the 11-month Tango sessions to just 10 days, according to her former boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham (she had also had an affair with Fleetwood). Her modest contribution had to be puffed up in the studio with elaborate overdubbing "to make her appear like she was on more songs than she was."


"Then I sat around for a few more weeks, and talked to a lot of people about it - even a psychologist, that's how torn up I was - and I finally said I could not do it. It wasn't just the touring. I had to jump this bridge and take a little responsibility for my own happiness and creativity, because it's a little bit overdue.

"It was tough telling them; not a happy day."

Not a happy day indeed, as Mick Fleetwood recounts the events of August 7, '87 in his memoirs Fleetwood: My Life And Adventures With Fleetwood Mac (written with Stephen Davis, author of the sensationalist Led Zeppelin book, Hammer Of The Gods). As the lofty drummer tells it, when, during the band meeting called to discuss Buckingham's decision to quit the tour, Stevie Nicks remonstrated with her former boyfriend, he yelled "Get this bitch out of my way. And fuck the lot of you!" Further robust exchanges followed, Fleetwood writes, culminating in Buckingham slapping Nicks and bending her "backwards over the hood of his car," before being restrained by two of the band's several managers and finally storming off with the words, "You're a bunch of selfish bastards."

Five years later, Lindsey Buckingham proffers his own version.

"That never happened! Three months after the book was out they were on the road, and I sat in for the last two West Coast shows on Go Your Own Way. I hadn't seen Stevie for a long time and she came up to me and apologised to me for Mick having written that. I didn't address it at the time, I didn't think there was a need to dignify anything in the book - I haven't read it, but I did skim it. I had a difficult time with what I saw. Although there were some nice things, Mick's slant on some of what happened was pretty tough. If you were to ask any of the members in the band, I think you'll find they were all a little hurt by things like that that never happened, a lot of inaccuracies, the general trashy level. What I saw of it, anyway.

"I think you've got to realise that Mick was little bit bitter about me leaving anyway," the nervily laid-back musician continues. "But if Mick and I see each other, there's nothing wrong. The chemistry is there - that's what the band was all about in the first place. In Mick's defence, part of it might be him not taking enough responsibility for the editing. Probably the general way that Mick told the story to the writer was a lot of late nights free-associating.

"What can you say?" Lindsey Buckingham sighs. "That's showbiz .…"


At first, things looked good. Inspired by the early multi-tracking experiments of guitarist Les Paul, Buckingham bought an Ampex four-track tape recorder, and worked on his songs for a year, preparing "to reconnect with LA." In '73, the Buckingham Nicks album came out, but flopped. "We were quite poor. We used to bounce cheques to buy breakfast. Our record company thought we should be writing novelty songs like Jim Stafford's Spiders And Snakes, the hit du jour, and our managers were trying to get us to play the steakhouse circuit, the ticket to oblivion." But Buckingham Nicks suddenly found pockets of popularity in college towns in the East and South, and though unarrestable in LA, they could headline to 6,000 fans in Birmingham, Alabama. "Right then Mick Fleetwood happened to hear the Buckingham Nicks album, and asked us to join Fleetwood Mac. It wasn't a real obvious decision. It was maybe a light at the end of the tunnel. There was as much or more at stake for them."

If Buckingham Nicks had hardly set America alight, then the unstable former British blues-rock band called Fleetwood Mac were selling just enough records, reckons Mick Fleetwood, "to pay Warner Bros' light bill." Yet these two unpromising acts combined for instant commercial combustion, the second album of their marriage being the 25 million-selling Rumours. Legend has it that the making of '77's biggest album was a combination of a wife-swapping party, a marathon encounter group and a prolonged coke binge.

"No, nothing like that," Lindsey Buckingham pooh-poohs. "No wife-swapping. One of the things that gave the group this tension was you had these two couples who were 75 per cent of the way to being broken up, and the group just accelerated what was happening anyway. Stevie and I and John and Christine broke up in the middle of Rumours. We were doing something important; we had the tiger by the tail and you had to categorise your emotions to make that work. On the road you're seeing them every day and sometimes it was hard to rise above that. You try to be adult about it: these things happen - let's make the music. Things get patched over, but I couldn't totally get myself healed about Stevie until I left the band. In the meantime, you keep putting Band-Aids on it."

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