In 1968, while living in the Atherton-Menlo Park area of the San Francisco peninsula, Stevie joined Fritz, "a riff-oriented" quasi-acid rock band which had a bass player named Lindsey Buckingham. The group worked the area steadily for 3 1/2 years before breaking up. After that, Stevie and Lindsey teamed together offstage as well as on, and moved to Los Angeles in 1972 to pursue a record contract.
The album that resulted, "Buckingham-Nicks", was released on Polydor in late '73 and promptly stiffed despite its striking bare-skinned cover photo. After a frustrating year of turning down offers to become a Top Forty lounge act on the steak and lobster circuit, Stevie went to work as a waitress at Clementine's, a fashionable Twenties-style singles rendezvous in Hollywood. Lindsey held a somewhat shady job soliciting ads by phone for a non-existent business products directory. In their spare time the couple worked on a demo tape for a second album. Finally, on New Year's Eve, Mick Fleetwood (who had met Lindsey briefly in the studio and had heard the Polydor album) called with an invitation to join Fleetwood Mac.
She's been in rock nearly as long as Fleetwood Mac has existed as a group. That experience has enabled her to survive the uncoupling with Lindsey without damaging either the group or their close relationship.
"Splitting up has not been an easy thing for either Lindsey or me." Stevie confides. "I think we both knew deep down that it was the only thing we could do. We weren't creating, either of us....It's much better now."
"Stevie and I weren't ecstatic about Mick's offer to join Fleetwood Mac because we really believed in what we were doing with our second record. But when we went up to their house to meet them, that clinched it right there. You could just tell the five of us in that room that there was something happening."
At the time was he familiar with Fleetwood Mac's music?
"No, except for the "Then Play On" album. But they've always had good guitar players. So we just did it. Nobody knew what was gonna happen but that's the way Fleetwood Mac has always been -- played everything by instinct; by feel rather than calculation. I've got to hand it to them -- that's probably why they've been around so long."
Back at a spacious white stucco house (which he shares with sound man "Disco Dickie" Dashut and Curtis Brothers drummer Bob
"Someone in Birmingham, Alabama called out of the blue and asked us to headline a show there. Stevie and I had gone there twice in the previous year to open shows, and apparently our album had sold very well there. So we went to Birmingham and discovered we'd sold out an auditorium. Just blew our minds because we were totally unknown in LA, couldn't get a gig at a club or anywhere. And here were 6,000 people out there going NUTS! We played three dates around there, the great 'Buckingham-Nicks inaugural/farewell tour.' We announced we were joining Fleetwood Mac and everybody went '
As the conversation turns to the recent past, Buckingham warms to the subject of how, with Fleetwood Mac, music and love didn't mix. Lounging on the couch, wearing faded
"I came back from this tour feeling really cleansed," he offers. "All the things that had been happening between me and Stevie and between John and Chris mellowed into the situation they are now. And it was important that I met a lot of beautiful women who I like a lot because,
"And for Stevie, someone like Don Henley is good for her. It's strange; it's one thing to accept not being with someone and it's another to see them with someone else, especially someone like Don, right? A big star in another group. I could see it coming and I really thought it was gonna bum me out, but it was really a good thing just to see her sitting with him. It actually made me happy. I thought there was something to fear but there wasn't. So the whole break-up has forced me to redefine my whole individuality -- musically as well. I'm no longer thinking of Stevie and me as a duo. That thought used to freak me out but now it's made me come back stronger, to be Lindsey Buckingham.”
During the 20-minute ride, Stevie talked excitedly. "We've really got that set down, don't you think? And Mick's such a dynamic drummer, such a showman. I wish there was more room for Lindsey to open up more on his guitar solos; he's hot and getting so confident."