Buckingham and his then creative and romantic partner, Stevie Nicks, joined Fleetwood Mac in late 1974. At the time, Buckingham was already a "complete studio rat." He first caught the bug when he set up a recording room at his father's coffee plant, in Daly City, California, after dropping out of college in the early Seventies. Around the same time, he and Nicks started playing together with a Bay Area group called Fritz. They moved to Los Angeles in 1973, recording an album as Buckingham-Nicks the next year.
"Our record company had no idea what to do with us," says Buckingham. "They said something about wanting us to be the new Jim Stafford, and they wanted us to play steakhouses." Opportunity knocked when Mick Fleetwood went to check out an L.A. studio and producer Keith Olsen played a track from the record he'd done with Buckingham-Nicks as a demonstration. Impressed, Fleetwood asked the pair to join his band a week later. It would prove to be a savvy decision. The reconstituted Mac - with Buckingham and Nicks joining bassist John McVie; his then wife, keyboardist and vocalist Christine McVie; and Fleetwood - debuted with 1975's Fleetwood Mac, a multiplatinum smash that sold nearly 6 million copies worldwide, followed by the classic Rumours two years later.
Yet Buckingham says it was never an easy fit -- though at first the tensions within the band fueled the music. "Fleetwood Mac was one big lesson in adaptation for me," says Buckingham. "There were five very different personalities, and I suppose that made it great for a while. Obviously, having two couples - and soon enough, ex-couples - added a lot more tension and some great subject matter to the mix. But the problems really kicked in when you started adding five managers and five lawyers to the equation. Once Stevie was singled out and selected as the star of the band, the machinery of the rock business kicked in, and things really got stupid. By the time of Tango, you could hardly fit all these people in one room for a band meeting. It was a heartbreaking thing to watch, until it became almost comical."
Partly in an attempt to give Fleetwood Mac a more fitting swan song, Buckingham and Dashut returned to help whip Tango in the Night into shape. In the end, that record became the group's biggest album since Rumours, with sales of 8 million. Still, the experience was hardly an easy one. "It was a mess," he says. "Whatever was going on in people's personal lives, I can't really say. I was never the one up all night creating shenanigans and high-jinks anyway - I was the one who went up to my room to work on songs. But for whatever reasons, there was no camaraderie left. Just getting people in the same room to create more semblance of a group became a huge hassle. Especially with Stevie, who was probably around for something like ten days for that whole record."