We had a big confrontation over this at a much-dreaded band meeting on the white leather sofas in Stevie Nicks’s living room that July. ‘Lindsey,’ I said, ‘we want to go back to work, as you know, and I think it’s about time you gave us an answer.’
‘I’m feeling a lot of pressure,’ he said quietly. ‘I know the band should go out, but check it out from my point of view. I just finished Tango and I’m fried. I’ve got my own album to do. Why should I go out and kill myself on the road?’
‘Because Fleetwood Mac has to play this new music live if we are going to survive,’ I said. ‘It’s simple, Lindsey. I want to know what this band is doing, and whether we go on the road or not, we all would like to hear what you want in connection to this band. You’ve aired your feelings to friends and to the public. Why don’t you give us a clue?’
There was a pause, and Lindsey looked at the floor. ‘Mick,’ he said. ‘You’re not letting go of this, are you?’
‘No, Lindsey, I’m not. It’s not fair to the rest of us. The days of five years between albums is over. We’re musicians and we just wanna go back to work.’ Stevie, Chris and John nodded in assent. We were all focusing on Lindsey, and he was writhing.
‘What should I do?’ Lindsey groaned. ‘I don’t want to tour - I don’t need to tour - but I feel funny leaving the band. I might regret it later.’
‘You probably would,’ Stevie said. Lindsey looked at her darkly.
I intervened. ‘C’mon, Lindsey. People are upset.’
‘Are you gonna go on the road without me?’ he asked.
‘Yes, Lindsey, we are. We wanna go back to work. Now it’s cards on the table. We know you’re the one on the spit here, but we just want to do our jobs. Are you on the pot or not?’
‘Yeah, yeah,’ he said, stalling. ‘How long do you want to go out for?’
We looked at John Courage. ‘Eight months, give or take,’ the Colonel said.
‘C’mon, Lindsey,’ I said. ‘If you wanna leave the band, go on the road with us and then go your own way.’ Lindsey shook his head. ‘I don’t need this,’ he said.
Then Stevie decided to swallow her pride and have a go.
‘Hey, Lindsey,’ she joshed. ‘It won’t be so bad. We can have a great time out there. Let’s do it for old times’ sake, just once more.’ Stevie stopped and blushed, and we all laughed. For the first time that evening, Lindsey smiled. Somehow, Stevie almost broke through. ‘Lindsey,’ she said. ‘I can promise you this tour won’t be a nightmare.’
‘OK,’ he said, ‘let me think about it.’ And then he left, saying he would meet us later for dinner with his answer.
‘The old boy’s got his screws turned pretty tight,’ John McVie observed a bit later.
‘Too bad,’ I said. ‘If it’s considered pressure, then pressure it has to be.’ But when we met later that evening at the restaurant, Lindsey didn’t show. Actually he drove up to the place, and then turned around and roared off again.
‘Well, lads and lasses,’ I said, ‘looks like he’s packed it in.’ But the others didn’t want to give Lindsey up so easily, and we were determined to try to convince our singer and guitarist to stay with us.
Finally, Mo Ostin persuaded Lindsey to tour with us for ten weeks. The news was flashed over the telephone. Hey! It’s on! Fucking hell! Great! There was a big meeting at Christine’s, and Lindsey was enthusiastic. I was thrilled! It’s on! !
A week later, we were doing a Zoo gig in Salt Lake City. All that spring, Stevie had been coming along and singing with the Zoo, and she was there that day. Back in LA Fleetwood Mac had started rehearsing, signing on roadies, confirming dates with booking agents. We were rolling. Then Dennis Dunstan called me at Stevie’s house in Phoenix. ‘Are you sitting down?’ he asked. Oh no, I thought, what now?
‘The tour’s off,’ Dennis said. Lindsey had called John Courage and said he had changed his mind, that he couldn’t go through with the tour. Courage told Lindsey that the rest of Fleetwood Mac deserved an explanation, and a meeting was set up for the whole band to have it out.
It was a real showdown.
7 August 1987.
We gathered at Christine’s house, where from the start feelings ran high. No one wanted to face the humiliation of a cancelled tour - it was like a hideous spectre from our distant past - except for Lindsey, who just wanted out. The meeting was civil for about five minutes. Stevie felt devastated. She took Lindsey’s rejection of us personally. ‘You can’t do this,’ she said. ‘Why are you doing this?’
Lindsey apologized. ‘Look, I’m sorry. I just can’t do it anymore. I’ve given twelve years of my life to this band? I’ve done it all - arranged, produced, played guitar, sang. I just can’t… hack it… and do it all anymore.’
Christine spoke now. ‘What do you mean, Lindsey, do it all?’ Her tone was withering. It was her singles, after all, that got played on the radio, not Lindsey’s. This was a sore spot, because in interviews Lindsey had been describing his role in the band as the grand interpreter of Chris’s and Stevie’s music to the world - as if he felt he had carried the rest of the band. Nobody liked this, especially now. Lindsey was silent. No one knew what to say. Lindsey had given his answer.
I looked over at Stevie, who was brushing back tears. ‘Lindsey,’ she said, ‘you’ve broken my fucking heart on this.’
‘Hey,’ he said, turning on Stevie and becoming agitated, ‘don’t do this again. Don’t start attacking me.’
‘Watch out, Lindsey,’ Stevie said. ‘There’s other people in the room beside yourself yourself.’
‘Oh shit!’ Lindsey shouted. ‘Get this bitch out of my way. And fuck the lot of you!’ A great hue and cry now ensued. Lindsey headed out to his car, and Stevie followed him outside to the courtyard, trying to change his mind. It was a terribly sad moment, because I could tell that even in her anger, a part of Stevie still loved Lindsey Buckingham and didn’t want him to leave Fleetwood Mac. She didn’t want him to go. They exchanged words in Chris’s courtyard for a few moments. I didn’t hear what he said, but Stevie cried out, ‘Hey, man, you’ll never be in love with anyone but yourself!’
Then it got physical. Lindsey grabbed Stevie and slapped her and bent her backwards over the hood of his car. Was he going to hit her again? He’d done it before. Suddenly Dennis Dunstan and Stevie’s manager, Tony Diminitriades, pulled Lindsey off her and told him that was enough. Lindsey then came back into the house, very distraught. He shouted, ‘Get that woman out of my life - that schizophrenic bitch!’
Christine sounded furious. ‘Lindsey, look at yourself, screaming like a madman.’
There was a silence. And John McVie quietly said to Lindsey Buckingham, ‘I think you’d better leave now.’
‘You’re a bunch of selfish bastards,’ Lindsey said, and walked out. He said in his car in the driveway for fifteen minutes, obviously distraught, but nobody wanted to go to him. Eventually, we heard him start his motor and leave.
I’ve put down as complete an account of this incident as memory allows, because I want it clear that Lindsey Buckingham was not fired from Fleetwood Mac. He left the group on his own.