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San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
March 7, 1993
Section: Sunday Datebook
Michael Snyder, Chronicle Staff Writer

LINDSEY Buckingham didn't have to perform that rendition of "Don't Stop (Thinkin' About Tomorrow)" at President Clinton's inaugural festivities to be reminded that "yesterday's gone."

It's been six years since singer-guitarist Buckingham left the roster of Fleetwood Mac -- even longer since the South Bay native, who found stardom in Los Angeles, played on the original version of "Don't Stop." When the song -- a hit for Fleetwood Mac in the band's '70s heyday -- became the anthem of the successful Clinton-Gore presidential campaign, Buckingham was wrapping up three years of recording-studio seclusion. He finally had completed his third solo album, "Out of the Cradle," and Fleetwood Mac was the last thing on his mind.

After a long absence from touring, Buckingham was assembling his own band to perform his new material, but agreed to reunite with his old band mates one more time at the inauguration.

"It was nice to see the band in Washington," Buckingham admitted during a phone call from his Bel-Air digs in the hills above Los Angeles. "Luckily, they only wanted us to do one song. We could do 'Don't Stop' in our sleep. We've probably done it in our sleep a few times. It was pretty bizarre. The closest thing I can relate it to is hearing marching bands play 'Tusk' (the Buckingham/Fleetwood Mac song) at football games.

"It was so short a time onstage. I felt more a part of the band when I sat in with them on their last tour and did 'Go Your Own Way.' There were loose ends that were unresolved when I left. Doing this positive thing . . . created a real nice sense of closure."

Buckingham, 43, is getting on with his life. He will make his Bay Area solo debut Wednesday at Bimbo's, accompanied by a nine-piece ensemble. He videotaped a half-hour concert special with the band to be aired Tuesday on VH-1. An hourlong version will be broadcast on PBS in the spring.

"The band is five guitars including me, three percussionists, a bass player and a keyboardist," he said. "Seven of us can sing. It used to drive me crazy in earlier days, trying to re-create the records in concert. This lineup gives me the flexibility to orchestrate my music and reproduce the sounds I get in the studio.

"The show is a lot of 'Out of the Cradle,' and a sampling of the other two solo records. I thought it would be a mistake to not do some Fleetwood Mac songs, too."

"Out of the Cradle" is his first solo album since leaving the big Mac in 1987. Like his first two solo records, it features him on all vocals and most of the instruments. It's pop precision with the glimmering guitar jangle of Los Angeles folk-rock, the sheen of Beach Boys harmonies, the slap of stripped-down rock and roll, and the mythic air of Hollywood and the western frontier. It's primarily his own compositions, including the rocking, radio-ready Mac attack of "Don't Look Back." He also does some delicate acoustic finger picking on an instrumental version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "This Nearly Was Mine" from "South Pacific."

But three years is a long time to produce one album. Buckingham has been accused of being an obsessive studio rat in the mode of Brian Wilson, reluctant to venture out into the light or perform live. "I'm dying to get on the road. In the Fleetwood Mac days, I got a reputation for not liking to tour. It's not that. I didn't want to tour with Fleetwood Mac. I couldn't really effect much change. No one was interested in trying anything radical," he said.

"Holing up in the studio was a defense against the creative situation in Fleetwood Mac. I took a year off after I quit the band, getting off that treadmill. It took three years to lose the demons, get rid of the baggage. I had spent 12 years in a group that was a selling machine. That's a double-edged sword: In exchange for freedom, there are financial benefits. People want to place you in one area and keep you there. They always wanted us to make the same album over and over.

"I kept my money. I don't have to think about mortgage payments. Now I can make the choices I want."

He said that he had very little input on the recently released Fleetwood Mac anthology, "25 Years -- The Chain," even though he included a new track for the collection. "All I did was OK some of the mixes. I haven't even heard it. I recorded 'Make Me a Mask' during the sessions for 'Cradle.' It really didn't fit on the rest of my album, so I gave it to the anthology."

On the subject of Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood's tell-all book about the band that included some unflattering recollections, Buckingham was blunt. "The book was not a class act," he said. "There were things that were downright untrue. Mick's probably seeing things differently now. In Washington, he came up and apologized to me. I thought it was sweet. The book didn't dignify the band's name. I'm sure it was done for monetary reasons."

Although his stormy relationship with Mac diva Stevie Nicks during the '70s is a matter of record, Buckingham has never been married. "I am seeing someone nice now," he said. "But I never had kids. I guess I've been obsessive with getting the music the way I wanted it."


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