Still Going Their Own Way
Saturday, July 3, 2004
By Alan Sculley
For The Columbian - Vancouver, WA, USA
A year ago, as Fleetwood Mac got set to release its new studio
album, "Say You Will," drummer Mick Fleetwood knew any extended
future for the reunited group would probably hinge on how things
went on the impending tour to support the CD.
"Hopefully this will be a happy and successful tour and more
importantly a happy tour for everyone this next year and a half of
work," Fleetwood said in a March 2003 interview. "If that is the
case, I think everyone is really open to making more music and doing
it really quickly."
The mere fact that a year later Fleetwood Mac is in the midst of
another 10-week American tour, which arrives at the Amphitheater at
Clark Clark County on Monday, says volumes in itself about the
quality of life within the group, which includes guitarist/singer
Lindsey Buckingham, singer Stevie Nicks and bassist John McVie. (Longtime
singer/keyboardist Christine McVie did not rejoin the band for "Say
"It could have turned into a nightmare, and it didn't," Fleetwood
said of the tour. What helps, of course, is that life has changed
in drastic ways for the band members, whose personal dramas during
the 1970s and '80s were as big a storyline as their record-setting
The arrival of the then-romantically linked Buckingham and Nicks in
1974 reshaped the musical direction and the fortunes of Fleetwood
Mac, which up to then had enjoyed nothing bigger than a modest
following after debuting in 1967 as a blues-rooted rock band fronted
by guitarist Peter Green.
Buckingham and Nicks had released a folk-pop-flavoured album as a
duo in 1973. Along with songwriter Christine McVie, they steered the
group toward more of an impeccably crafted California pop sound, and
the shift quickly paid phenomenal dividends.
A 1975 self-titled album caught fire behind three hit singles, "Over
My Head," "Say You Love Me" and "Rhiannon" (the latter a coming-out
showcase for the charismatic Nicks). Then in 1976 came "Rumours,"
the mega-platinum, hit-filled Grammy-winning album that topped the
charts for 31 weeks. As fans now know, "Rumours" documented the
stormy disintegrations of the Buckingham-Nicks romance and the
marriage of the McVies.
The wounds from those separations, coupled with a drug-fuelled
lifestyle and a then-secret romance between Fleetwood and Nicks in
the late 1970s created monumental tensions over the next decade.
Somehow the group co-existed long enough to make three more studio
CDs before Buckingham's departure in 1987 spelled an end of an era
for the group.
A decade later, though, Buckingham and his four former bandmates
decided to try reuniting. The first step was recording a live CD,
"The Dance," in 1997, followed by a lucrative tour. But rather than
lead directly to a new Fleetwood Mac studio CD, Buckingham, after
the tour, returned to work on his in-progress third solo CD.
Nicks, seeing a lack of movement toward recording a Fleetwood Mac
record, instead also made a solo CD, "Trouble In Shangri-La."
Eventually Buckingham, with encouragement in particular from
Fleetwood, decided to make his solo album the foundation for the new
Fleetwood Mac release. And just before starting her tour to support
"Trouble In Shangri-La," Nicks gave Buckingham a CD of 17 songs and
invited the rest of the band which by this time had seen Christine
McVie bow out to start recording the songs they liked while she went
on her solo tour.
Finally last spring, Fleetwood Mac emerged with the solid 18-song
"Say You Will" CD, minus Christine McVie, but at least the tenuous
prospect of an extended future as a group. The year of touring that
has since followed, Fleetwood said, has done much to rebuild the
bruised but still-potent chemistry in the group.
Whether Fleetwood Mac would thrive again largely hinged on how
Buckingham and Nicks meshed during the tour, he said. "Internally
what was really important, you know, we have a new front line. It's
really Stevie's and Lindsey's deal," Fleetwood said.
"Not to denigrate me and John, but the reality is a band is a band
is a band, but there's also a front line is a front line. And that
has been the most important thing where they have arrived, because
they've never necessarily seen eye to eye on a lot of things during
their history, and I think the testimony to the fact that that's
working is the fact that we are still out here doing this (tour).
They have really found what they had when they were
Buckingham/Nicks, and it's more and more and more pronounced.
"So that has been a big success," Fleetwood said. "And any ups and
downs that they are prone to as people emotionally have been handled
really well to allow them total free rein to really blossom on
stage. It's been magical, it really has."