In all, Buckingham seems pleased with the way things have turned out: "When I left Fleetwood in '87, it really was as a physical and emotional survival move. The situation then was not a very kind one for creativity, not a very nurturing one. But during the 10 years since then, I've been able to re-focus my energy and idealism. To bring that back into the chemistry of the group now, and to have the support of the other four people, has just been tremendous."
GUITAR WORLD: When did you first meet Stevie Nicks?
LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM: In high school. She's a year older than me-I graduated in '67 and she was in the class of '66. She first arrived at my school when I was a junior, and she just kind of flew in somewhat flamboyantly and became popular at school. I think she was working on being a bohemian type even then, with the poetry and all of that. I had met her briefly at some social occasions. She was aware that I played guitar, and I was aware that she played guitar and sang. We had some rapport, but that was about it. Then she went on to junior college, I stayed on in high school, and we didn't really hook up again until the next year. We got together in a band called Fritz; I played bass and she sang.
But it wasn't until that band broke up in 1971 that Stevie and I became romantically involved. That's also when we began doing music as a duo. We moved down to L.A. in '72. We got a record deal and put out an album the following year [Buckingham Nicks, Polydor, 19731. We were trying to make a second record when the offer to join Fleetwood Mac came along.
GW: The story goes that Mick Fleetwood "discovered" you and Stevie at Sound City [recording studio] in Van Nuys, California.
BUCKINGHAM: Yeah. Mick was looking for a place to record the next Fleetwood Mac album, and heard good things about Sound City from a friend. The studio was owned by an engineer named Keith Olsen, who demonstrated the sound of the facility by playing Mick "Frozen Love" from Buckingham Nicks, which had been recorded there.
My guitar playing must have made an impression on him, because when Bob Welch quit Fleetwood Mac in late 1974, Mick called Sound City and told them he wanted the guitar player he'd heard.
But I said, "Well, Stevie and I are a package deal." He took that information back to Christine, who, I'm sure, had to think about that a bit.
GW: Had you been a Fleetwood Mac fan prior to being asked to join the band in 1975?
BUCKINGHAM: There were so many incarnations of Fleetwood Mac. I was not aware of many of them. When I was still living up in Northern California, I was aware of Then Play On [1969, Reprise] because the album's single, "Oh Well," was maybe the only thing by Fleetwood Mac that had made it onto the radio back then. So I'd heard that whole album and obviously loved it, but that was it, really. So when Stevie and I were asked to join Fleetwood Mac in 1975, we actually had to go out and buy all the Fleetwood Mac albums to get a sense of how the band had evolved since the '69 lineup with Peter Green.
GW: Was that trademark Fleetwood Mac vocal harmony blend there right from the start?
BUCKINGHAM: Yeah, right from the start. I mean Stevie and I had this great two-part thing going-kind of an Ian and Sylvia tension [Ian and Sylvia Tyson were a husband-and-wife folk duo who recorded in the Sixties-GW Ed.] As singers, Stevie and I both are on the nasal side, which works really well in a two-part Appalachian kind of harmony style. And Christine has this very round, flutey voice that warmed up the whole thing. It's probably even a voicing that you could put down to some theory. It was just apparent right away that it was something that really worked.
A lot of things were apparent early on. Going into the rehearsals, Stevie and I had a backlog of material, so there was enough quantity for the rest of the band to be able to look at what we had to offer them, songwise, and feel comfortable in choosing what would work with what Christine had to offer. There were no problems going in. That itself was almost a little unsettling.
GW Did any songs from the Buckingham Nicks-era make it onto the Fleetwood Mac [Reprise, 1975] album?
BUCKINGHAM: Yes, a song of Stevie's called "Crystal"; that was the only thing. But on the Fleetwood Mac Live album in the early Eighties, we did a Buckingham Nicks song called "Don't Let Me Down Again."
GW: What are your memories of making Rumours ?
BUCKINGHAM: Christine and John were breaking up. Stevie and I were breaking up, although in a more drawn-out, ambiguous way than Christine and John. With Christine and John it was over really quick. Whereas Stevie and I were more like, "Well I don't know..." There were times when we were sleeping together and times when we were officially something else. But there was definitely a moving apart.
GW: And all of this was happening while you were in the studio, working on the album?
BUCKINGHAM: Yeah. So then you start writing songs about what's happening to you. You've got these dialogues that are directed at other members of the band and that are about what's going on while you are recording the songs. It was just such a crazy time. We started up in Sausalito [at what was then the Northern California Record Plant-GW Ed.]. I don't know why Mick wanted to do it there, but Sausalito was filled with freaks back then and is probably still pretty crazy. And there was a lot of pressure. "Over My Head," off the Fleetwood Mac album, had become a hit. And then when 'Rhiannon' kicked in, it really raised the stakes for us. But we didn't want to repeat the previous album's formulas. We wanted to break away and find the unexpected through chaos a little more. And clearly there was chaos. That's the way the album felt. After Sausalito, we worked in Florida for a while because we were still touring and working on the album between legs of the tour. Then we came back and worked at Wally Heider's in Los Angeles. It was a long haul. And I don't think we necessarily realized how close to the bone the music was until we started assembling it. The whole process had been a challenge. Like with Stevie's music. I'd always been this kind of soulmate who always somehow knew what to do with her music - how to complement it and bring out its best. But there were times when I really had the urge not to do that, you know? So I had to keep checking myself - keep challenging myself to be a better person than I felt like being at times.
GW: The other thing is that Mirage marks the advent of compositional collaboration in Fleetwood Mac. You started writing with Richard Dashut, and Christine began working with a few different co-writers.
BUCKINGHAM: That's right. And again-not taking away from Richard, who has a lot of great raw ideas-I think that came about through the absence of my own resolve. I'd been feeling a little weak and was looking for a shepherd of sorts. But having said all that, I do think there are some really good things on Mirage. I think "Gypsy" was one of my best collaborations ever with Stevie. Not that I co-wrote it with her, but in terms of what I do for Stevie as far as arrangement and things go. I think that was one of the most effective pieces we've ever done.
GW: Her country rock songwriting direction on that brought out a high lonesome kind of guitar style in you.
BUCKINGHAM: [reluctantly] Yeah...we bring out the corn in each other.
GW: You've said that Tango is the album where the drugs really took their toll.
BUCKINGHAM: That album took close to a year to make, and I think we saw Stevie for about three weeks out of that time. And these weeks weren't the greatest three weeks. Nobody was in a good place, really.
GW: That's also the album where you began using the Fairlight [an early digital keyboard workstation-GW Ed.].
BUCKINGHAM: A little bit. We just did whatever we could, really. We had to take little bits of Stevie just singing off the cuff and make a whole vocal track out of that, because that's all we'd get out of her. I played a lot of the bass parts on that.
GW: Are there plans to do other projects as Fleetwood Mac, beyond this?
BUCKINGHAM: That depends on whom you ask. If you ask Mick, he'll say, "Oh, we'll probably go in and do a studio album." If you ask me, my first priority really is finishing this solo album that I'm working on. I think it's the best thing I've ever done. Hopefully, it will come out in the spring. Beyond that, I can't really say. I'm not discounting the possibility of going in the studio with Fleetwood Mac again. We're all having a good time. It is a nice family feeling, to have all these people you care about around you and not have all the emotional baggage that used to be there. So we'll see what happens.