Fleetwood Mac - Mojo Magazine (December 2003)

Because here’s the news. Four songs in, Buckingham and Nicks, the romantic leads who broke up amid Rumours 27 years ago, are gazing into each others’ eyes across the stage as they sing a harmony. A little later, she hip-wiggles up to him and her fingers dance air guitar right next to his. In Landslide, as he reaches – let’s face it – a climax, she slips behind him, a hand on his arm and he turns and kisses her forehead. Then, at the end of Tusk, they fall into a full embrace. Buckingham breaks from the clinch and, bent like Quasimodo, makes for a microphone. He tilts his head back and roars. “Rrrrrraaaaarrrr!”

While Caillat recollects “some kind moments” between Nicks and Buckingham, the guitarist/producer sees the peaceful passages as “exercises in denial”. Tellingly, he has recalled Nicks “coming in once a week to do her song and that would be it”, while her perception was that “I was in the studio every day for 13 months.” Feeling insecure within the band, she bonded more than ever with Christine and engaged The Eagles’ manager Irving Azoff, with whom she secretly set up a new label, Modern, to launch a solo career.

For months after that [Stevie and Mick's break-up], says Nicks, “We weren’t talking to each other very much. We were there, but looking past each other. Everybody was nervous: ‘Is she going to burst into tears and leave?’” Nicks believes the rest of the band realised what was going on, but Buckingham, his attention and perceptions fiercely “compartmentalised”, has said he knew nothing until a couple of years after the event when Fleetwood, in English gentlemanly fashion, gave him a ‘There’s something you ought to know’ speech.

Buckingham too started to come unscrewed, overwhelmed by frustrations about his relationship with Nicks, the way it ended, her position as crowd favourite at concerts. In March 1980, playing to 60,000 in Auckland, New Zealand while loaded with whisky (according to Fleetwood), he pulled his jacket over his head in grotesque imitation of Nicks’s drapes and started to ape her twirling moves. Then he ran across the stage and kicked her. Nicks carried on like a trouper.

In the dressing-room, head hung in shame, he was confronted by Christine McVie who slapped him and threw a glass of wine over him: “Don’t you ever do that to this band again! Ever! Is that clear?”

Buckingham can’t remember the events, but says, with bemusement: “Oh, I wouldn’t doubt that I mimicked Stevie on-stage. And kicked her? That could have happened too.”

Twenty-three years on, in Madison Square Garden, at the end of Don’t Stop, Buckingham and Nicks strike a startling tableau centre-stage. In profile, she stands with her back to him gazing upwards, he bends low over his guitar, his face buried in her ash-blonde hair. The crowd sighs. And steams. The hands of lovers young and old entwine. But it probably wouldn’t work if it wasn’t based on a true story.

At the Ritz-Carlton earlier that day, Buckingham mused, in his California way: “Stevie and I could never quite find each other after Tusk. You have to understand that this is someone I met when I was 16 [they duetted California Dreaming at a high school party before they were introduced]. I was completely devastated when she took off. And yet, trying to rise above that professionally, I produced hits for her, I had to do a lot of things for her that I really didn’t want to do. If I kicked her on-stage, that was….something coming through the veneer. There has been a lot of darkness.”

Reconciliation came – slowly – out of the band reunions and, probably, a mellowing in Buckingham. Ken Caillat quotes a recent conversation: “He said, ’I’m a selfish guy.’ Which is true, he’s all about me, me, me. He admitted he had even been angry about having a child to start with. Then one day the kid grabbed his little finger and he just got it. He understood there was another world out there.”

And when Nicks rejoined Fleetwood Mac for the intriguingly Tusk-like Say You Will – he found her ready to forgive – and not forget, but laugh about “the time you threw that Les Paul at me” and such..

“Now, on the road, we’ve had many really good talks,” he says. “We’ve known each other most of our lives and yet we’re still trying to figure out what’s going on. Obviously, a lot of love as a subtext. But where is that love? How do we get in touch with any of that? For all of us, the decisions we make now are going to determine how we are as people until we die. Stevie and I are trying to look at it…with care.”

He grunts a laugh. “It’s significant that someone can end up, you know…. not having killed you!”

“Now I just adore him,” says Nicks, with ravishing candour. “He is my love. My first love and my love for all time. But we can’t ever be together. He has a lovely wife, Kristen, who I really like, and they are expecting their third child. The way he is with his children just knocks me out. I look at him now and just go, Oh, Stevie, you made a mistake!”

She leans forward. “But when we go on-stage together we are able to experience our love affair again – and again and again! For two and a half hours, four times a week…There isn’t really anybody in my life – it wouldn’t be good for me now anyway, I’m always away. But when hard times come over the next 20 or 30 years, when people we love die, he’ll be the first person I’ll call. Knowing that now, I think he has been able to let go of all the nasty things that happened and realise that, like I said to him, Lindsey, you’ll always have me. I’m always a phone call away. So you get it all.”

“It’s a forever story with those two,” grins Fleetwood. “As it is with all of us.”