Fleetwood Mac is a very famous name, and we all know their song ‘Landslide.’ But did you know that it wasn’t popular until years later? The band had its ups and downs and went through many different members. They put a lot of thought into each one of their albums, not just a title or a cover, but how the music flowed, and which songs complete it. This group eats and breathes drama, and their album ‘Rumours’ is no exception.
‘Rumours’ is an unhappy love story with a very happy ending. There was so much emotion put into the album, and it turned out to be a diamond of the lavish late seventies rock scene. So much so that the RIAA certified the album. To this date, more than 45 million copies have been sold worldwide, and it is one of the highest-selling albums of all time.
Here are forty mini-stories about Fleetwood Mac, their music, love, and drama.
The bands’ co-founder was also their drummer, Mick Fleetwood. While he was born in Redruth, Cornwell, he grew up with his father serving in Britain’s Royal Air Force. That means that he spent his time growing up traveling around the world. For the majority of the time, he would spend his time in Egypt and Norway.
They lived in Egypt first for about six years and then moved over to Norway when his father was posted there. Rom all of this traveling, Fleetwood ended up becoming fluent in Norwegian. He ended up referring to himself as a gypsy and a traveling alien in an interview in 1994. This is for sure because he traveled so much as a kid.
This band got to partake in a part of history. In August of 1967, they made their big live debut at the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival. This festival started out as the National Jazz Festival in 1961. In 1964, they changed the name, and just a few years later, Fleetwood Mac used the stage to become famous.
Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Peter Green, and Jeremy Spencer were the four members of the group at the time. The festival ended up being pretty large, and that year it attracted about 40,000 people from all over the U.S. in the four days it went on for. Other bands that performed at that event include Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Donovan, and Cream (with guitarist Eric Clapton).
You would think that Mick Fleetwood came up with the name Fleetwood Mac for this band, but it actually wasn’t his idea. Peter Green, who was a guitar player for the band, recruited Mick Fleetwood to come and play with John Mayall. Green had just replaced Clapton on the guitar and made sure to poach other great artists. It was actually Green who suggested that they call the band Fleetwood Mac after Mick Fleetwood and their bassist John McVie.
Fleetwood told the Irish Times in an interview, “Peter could have been the stereotypical superstar guitar player and control freak, but that wasn’t his style. He named the band after the bass player and drummer, for Christ’s sake.” He added, “he was always willing to give as much space and creative freedom to other members.”
It is definitely confusing when you start listening to Fleetwood Mac as you’re probably not sure where to start. They have two albums named after their band, and they were both called Fleetwood Mac. The first one was their debut album in 1968, and the second one was their album from 1975. The album from 1975 was their tenth album to drop and was also the first album to feature Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. The album from 1975 is also referred to as ‘The White Album.’
These are two great introduction albums for the band, where you can hear how they started out with some blues sounds but ended up putting out music with more of a popular soft rock vibe to it. The album from 1968 reached number 4 in the UK, and their album from 1975 reached 23 in the UK, but number 1 in the US.
Even though Fleetwood Mac has a crazy long list of songs and they sell millions of records, they only have one No. 1 hit to their name. This is after they came out with a total of 18 studio albums, 9 live albums, 23 compilations albums, and 62 singles. The one song that topped the Billboard Hot 100 was called Dreams.
This was one of the songs on their Rumours album, which was released in 1977. It was written by Stevie Nicks, and it is said that the band members absolutely loved it when they first heard it. They ended up selling over a million copies in Canada, and it also reached number one on their charts, the ‘RPM Top 100 Singles’.
Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac back in 1974. This was probably the most beloved lineup that they had over the years. John McVie talks about when he first heard the two of them singing. They were singing harmony with Christine McVie during rehearsal, and John said that he got goosebumps.
Originally, the band only contacted Buckingham after hearing his demo. McVie asked Buckingham to join the band, and he said yes but had a condition. He wanted his girlfriend, Stevie Nicks, to be included. This is how Nicks and Buckingham ended up being some of the main members of Fleetwood Mac. This was when they came out with their tenth studio album, also named after their band. According to Nicks, “If anything was keeping us from falling apart, it was going into the studio.”
Back in 1966, there was a British R&B band called Shotgun Express. They didn’t really have any success at the time, but little did everyone know these people would end up being big stars. These famous bandmembers were including Rod Stewart, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, and Peter Barden’s. Fleetwood was the drummer for the group, and Stewart joined with his infamous vocals.
Also, Beryl Marsden joined at the same time Stewart did. Shortly before the band broke up, Peter Green became a member. Rod Stewart left the band to join the Jeff Beck Group in 1967, and Shotgun Express split up. Fleetwood joined John Mayall’s band with Green and shortly after the two left to form Fleetwood Mac.
Christine McVie was known to write songs as an influential member of Fleetwood Mac during their greatest years. She designed some of the band’s artwork like the cover for their 1970 album called “Kiln House,” their fourth album released, which she actually painted. Christine also did backup vocals and played the keyboard for this album, but it went uncredited.
She also painted the cover for their 1972 album called “Bare Trees.” You can see in the photo here the artwork that was supposed to be used. However, they didn’t go with this. John McVie, who was her husband at the time, had taken some photographs, and they used one of them for the album. As you probably know, the album cover has a foggy shot of bare trees.
Cut to 1975 when Fleetwood Mac put out their self-titled album. This became their biggest hit record until this day. Their lead single, “Over My Head,” ended up becoming the band’s first single to land in the Billboard Hot 100 chart since 1969. Christine McVie wrote this song, and it reached No. 20.
The band actually thought that this song was the least likely to be released as a single, and they couldn’t have been more wrong. At the end of the day, Over My Head was released as a single and sold eight million copies. It is said that McVie composed this song in Miami, where she and her husband John lived after their tour using the portable Hohner electric piano.
Let’s start with the second guitarist in the band, Jeremy Spencer. He didn’t get along too well with Green, so he only lasted four years. Between 1968 and 1974, Danny Kirwan, Bob Welch, Dave Walker, and Bob Weston came and went. When Buckingham left, they brought in Billy Burnette, who stuck around until 1995. Stevie Nicks technically left for six years but is still a current member.
Bekka Bramlett and Dave Mason were two more members who only lasted a few years, both from 1993 to 1955. Then we have the two final members who are still members of the band, Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham. There are a few other members who have come through and worked with the band, and we can also include the fake members, which I will tell you more about later. These are the main artists that have been a part of the band.
Rumors debuted at number seven on the UK Albums Chart, and then it peaked at number one in January 1978. This was their first number one album in the UK. By the end of the year, Rumours sold over 10 million copies all over the world. The US bought eight million copies alone. By 1980, it had sold 13 million copies worldwide and jumped to 40 million copies in 2013.
This timeless piece of art has received a Diamond Award from the RIAA for having shipped 20 million copies, making it the fifth best-selling album in US history. Four of the songs on this album were popular enough to be released as singles, and they all reached the top 10 in the US.
Like a lot of bands in the ‘70s, they enjoyed some cocaine from time to time. They wanted to list their dealer in the ‘thanks’ section of the liner notes in their 1977 album, Rumours. The members of the band thought that the album wouldn’t have been possible without him at all if they had not been doing so much of that drug.
The band even says that if they laid out a line containing all of that drug that they used, they would have a seven-mile line. They claimed that they used it for combating fatigue rather than a pleasure. They would have added the thanks in, but Fleetwood addressed it in his first memoir, “Unfortunately, he got snuffed – executed! – before the thing came out.”
‘The Chain’ was the only song that all five members of the band helped write. However, they didn’t write it together. It was taken from a few different songs written by various members. The base was a composition called ‘Keep Me There’ (also referred to as ‘Butter Cookie’), which was an incomplete keyboard track from a recording session in February 1976. After deciding it needed a bridge, they took John McVie’s bass skills and Fleetwood’s drums and added them to Christine’s track.
Then comes Buckingham’s contribution; they used a folky guitar figure that he used in his own song ‘Lola (My Love).’ At that point, the only part of the track that belonged to Christine was the ending. Stevie Nicks ended up adding the final link to the chain when she just walked into the studio one day and said that she has some words that might be good for the song. This song ended up being a chain of all the members, which is how they got the name for the song.
Stevie Nicks says that the song ‘Dreams’ goes together with ‘Go Your Own Way,’ calling them the pair of ‘twin songs.’ She used to enjoy getting away during the day to an unused studio that was built for Sly Stone. It was unused, so she would bring an electric piano with her and even crocheted, wrote in her journals, and read until they needed her back in the studio.
She described the place as a black and red room with a seventies style. There was a sunken pit in the middle with a piano and a large velvet bed with fancy drapes. She went in one day and sat on the bed with her keyboard. She turned on her cassette player and ended up writing it in about ten minutes. There you have it; she wrote the song in Sly Stone’s bed.
Nicks wrote Dreams and brought it to the rest of the band. She had Lindsey listen to it first. In an interview with The Daily Mail in 2009, she mentioned, “It was a rough take, just me singing solo and playing the piano. Even though he was mad with me at the time, Lindsey played it and then looked up at me and smiled. What was going on between us was sad – we were couples who couldn’t make it through. But, as musicians, we still respected each other.”
Nicks admitted that Go Your Own Way was a bit more of an angry song. In an interview in 2013, she said that she wrote Dreams because she is the one who believes in fairies and angels, and Lindsey is the hardcore guy. The two songs might have completely different vibes to them, but they are both basically saying the same thing. It is time to move on and see other people, to start fresh. ‘Dreams’ was their only No. 1 single in the US.
Buckingham and one of the co-producers were discussing how they really admired Charlie Watt’s syncopated drum fills on the Rolling Stones’ ‘Street Fighting Man.’ They decided it would be good for the new song ‘Go Your Own Way’ and told Fleetwood about it. Fleetwood tried to mimic exactly what he heard, but there was a baffling, uncomfortable beat. This wasn’t really what Buckingham had in mind or what Watts had played, but it ended up being perfect for his track.
“[The] rhythm was a tom-tom structure that Lindsey demoed by hitting Kleenex boxes or something,” Fleetwood said in the documentary, Classic Albums. “I never quite got to grips with what he wanted, so the end result was my mutated interpretation. It became a major part of the song, a completely back-to-front approach that came; I’m ashamed to say, from capitalizing on my own ineptness.”
I spoke about what inspired the drumming, but I’m sure you are still wondering why he didn’t play the drum fills the way Watts did. In his memoir, Fleetwood wrote about how his ‘ineptness’ that he mentions is from his continuing struggle with a learning disorder. He struggles with dyslexia and says that it changes the way that he thinks about rhythm and even the way that he plays.
In his memoir, he wrote, “By nature, what we drummers do is manage a series of spinning plates … [but] my methods of keeping my plates spinning are entirely my own. I really had no idea, nor the ability to explain in musical terms, what I was ever doing in a particular song.”
On one of Fleetwood Mac’s tours, Boz Scaggs opened for them. Their drummer, Jeff Porcaro, stood in the wings every night trying to figure out the rhythms in Fleetwood’s song, ‘Go Your Own Way.’ Porcaro ended up approaching Fleetwood because he was really curious how he came up with that and couldn’t figure it out.
When he asked for his secret, Fleetwood realized that he didn’t’ really know how he did it either. He was asked about it in an interview later on, and he said, “It was only after we continued to talk that Jeff realized I wasn’t kidding around. We eventually had a tremendous laugh about it, and when I later told him that I was dyslexic, it finally made sense.”
In general, Fleetwood Mac is known to have an amazing sound. It was reported that it took them four days, nine pianos, and three different tuners to find the perfect instrument for Christine McVie. Their co-producer Ken Caillat paid close attention to Buckingham’s acoustic guitar when they were recording the song ‘Never Going Back Again.’ He discovered that after twenty minutes of playing, there was a big difference in how bright his strings sounded.
So, he asked if they could restring every 20 minutes to keep getting the best sound possible. It took a whole day, and they finally had him start to sing when everyone realized that they recorded the guitar part in the wrong key. They spent the whole next day recording everything again so they could finish recording.
This song was originally known as ‘Strummer.’ Buckingham spoke about it in the Classic Albums documentary saying, “The song itself consists of kind of a Scottish Irish fold influences, and when we first started cutting it, we started doing something that was maybe a literal translation of that, like maybe a march time on snares with brushes. But we were also very interested in keeping the pop element because it was going to be the first song, and it was a pop album.”
With this in mind, they took some inspiration from the Bee Gee’s ‘Jive Talkin,’ and tried to add a little disco groove into it. He got creative and pounded the seat of a Naugahyde chair that he found in the studio. Co-producer Caillat calls him the ‘accent king.’
You can tell by my stories up until now that this band never did anything simply. Christine McVie wrote the song, and their co-producer couldn’t believe it when he first heard it. At the Grammy Museum, Caillat mentioned, “We were finishing up one of the crazy sessions at Sausalito Record Plant, and I was wrapping up some cables.
Christine sat down at the piano and started playing this beautiful song. I stopped what I was doing, and I turned around and watched her. I was just amazed at how beautiful this song was.” Caillat made the decision to keep this song simple and not add any unnecessary noise to the background. What came next really brought the song to another level.
Caillat’s inspiration didn’t stop with leaving the track simple, and he wanted to take it to another level. He interviewed with Music Radar and said, “Before Rumours, I had recorded an album with Joni Mitchell at the Berkeley Community Theatre. I thought doing a similar kind of concert recital recording was perfect for ‘Songbird.’ Christine and the whole band loved the idea.”
They couldn’t get the same venue as Joni Mitchell, but they book the University’s Zellerbach Auditorium for March 1976. He made sure that there was an orchestra shell and a nine-foot Steinway piano. Caillat went as far as surprising Christine with a bouquet of roses on her piano with three different colored spotlights from above to illuminate it and set the mood. When she arrived, they dimmed the lights, so all you could see were the flowers and the piano.
There were so many hit songs for this album, and four of the songs released were released as singles later. This might have been an amazing album, but it did leave one of Nick’s future classics out. She had a lot of stories and usually had to cut her songs down a bit. The one song that was left out was ‘Silver Springs.’ Vinyl can only hold about 22 minutes per side, so they had to make certain edits.
When they were almost done recording, they realized that something just wasn’t working. There were a lot of long songs on the album like ‘Go Your Own Way’ and some slow and medium songs as well. They thought they might have too many slow songs on the first side that it takes over the first side. No matter how they put it together, it sounded too slow. So, they ended up taking it out.
They tried to make it up to her, of course, but she was never really happy with that. ‘Silver Springs’ was later added to side B of Buckingham’s ‘Go Your Own Way.’ It’s kind of funny that they did this since his song makes references to Nicks, going as far as to say, “shacking up’s all you want to do.” They included the track on their live album in 1997 called The Dance.
This version of Silver Springs earned the band a Grammy, so Nicks is the one having the last laugh. Nicks wrote this song about Buckingham after the two drove through Maryland together. They drove by a sign for Silver Spring, and she thought it sounded like a really nice place. She loved the name, and it created “You could be my silver springs,” This was very symbolic for her.
Who can forget the iconic cover photo of Rumours with a pair of wooden balls on a string that is hanging down the center of Mick Fleetwood’s pants? It started a bit earlier in the bands’ career. They were drinking a bit, and he ended up just coming out of the toilet with them. They are “lavatory chains,” which he just nicked from the bathroom.
Humor is the main thing behind this, and it is very funny. But he also addressed it later, saying, “In truth, I started off as a blues player. The whole ethic of a lot of blues music is slightly suggestive, might I say. And suitably, I walked out on stage with these two lavatory chains with these wooden balls hanging down, and after that, it just stuck.”
Fleetwood was known for his humor, and tribute to virility. The lavatory chains weren’t the only thing he brought out. At one point, pre-Buckingham/Nicks time, Fleetwood placed an adult toy on top of his bass drum. This toy kind of became a mascot, and it ended up being referred to as ‘Harold.’ While Fleetwood’s wooden balls are still around, even though the originals were lost at one point, but Harold didn’t have as much luck.
In an interview with The Express Fleetwood admitted, “Harold’s showbiz life came to a crashing end at an American Southern Baptist college, where we were very nearly arrested for his performance. Poor Harold was too much for them and, much to my wife’s chagrin, he ended his days on the show, sitting on our pine corner cabinet.”
There were a lot of rumors going around about who is sleeping with whom in this band, and really anything else that had to do with their private lives. Annie Leibovitz took advantage of this and helped come out with a cover photo that just plays with the rumors that were being spread. Leibowitz was a great photographer and already made a name for herself at the time.
Her original idea was to make the two ex-couples embrace as if they’ve been caught doing something wrong. It was a bit too much for Buckingham and Nicks, as everything was still fresh. Buckingham mentioned that at the time, the photo was not funny to him. Everyone ended up curled up next to different people, and the infamous cover photo was created.
This shoot had Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks feeling the connection, and they were eventually kicked out of the studio after sitting around making out for hours. However, Nicks was lying next to Mick Fleetwood during the shoot. Apparently, cuddling for that long brought up some feelings. Even though they tried to push them down, Nicks says that this is what planted the seed for their relationship a year later. The band was on tour, and it was late in the summer.
They were about to start traveling down to the South Pacific at the time. Fleetwood mentioned, “Stevie and I used to slip away and go on adventures after gigs, which was an easy way to get away.” The two would take romantic trips together to places like Maui, New Zealand, and even long drives through the Hollywood Hills. All of this brought them closer together. Even though it didn’t last long, Fleetwood wonders if he missed out on something more by not giving the relationship the time to blossom. Nicks once said, “We were rich, we were young, we were falling out of love with each other.”
Mick Fleetwood didn’t have an easy time academically attending different English boarding schools. He always performed poorly on exams, and he says now that was because he has trouble remembering facts. When he was thirteen, his parents got him a small ‘Gigster’ drum kit. He was grateful to his parents for recognizing that music was his future.
His father was even a drummer himself. While they were reluctant, they approved of him pursuing the arts and let him drop out of school to focus on being a musician when he was only fifteen years old. The tough decision to drop out of high school definitely paid off for him. He moved in with his younger sister Sally before finding his first opportunity.
After Buckingham and Nicks joined the band, the classic lineup that we all know was in place. Both couples within Fleetwood Mac were having relationship issues, Buckingham and Nicks, as well as the McVies. The drinking and drug use continued to get worse for everyone; McVie stuck to drinking, and Nicks enjoyed drugs. Nicks mentioned once, “At that time, everybody around me was doing it…”
“…Drug-taking was methodical when we got to LA. It was, ‘Here, try this.’ Everybody was so willing to give you stuff and tell you you’d like it. ‘Gold Dust Woman’ was about how we all love the ritual of it, the little bottle, the diamond-studded spoons, the fabulous velvet bags. For me, it fitted right into the incense and candles and that stuff. And I really imagined that it could overtake everything, never thinking in a million years that it would overtake me.”
So, the drug use got worse while they were recording Rumours. It even went as far as them storing a baggie of the drug under their desk and would randomly take hits while working. There is plenty of documentation to back up the timeline of the fun this band had with alcohol and drugs, but did you know that they had a special musical cue to let everyone else know when they needed that hit?
That’s right. Mick Fleetwood wrote about it in his book, which came out in 2014. Not only the band members, but the studio engineers would hum the tune of the movie theme from “Chariots of Fire,” and that would let everyone know it was time to go do more drugs. Forget the seven-mile line of Fleetwood; Nicks gave an estimate for how much she spent on the drug over the years, claiming it was $1 million.
‘Landslide’ was first released on their breakout album from 1975, ‘Fleetwood Mac.’ It wasn’t too popular, but it was released on a live reunion album called The Dance in 1998, and they ended up releasing it as a single. This is 23 years after it was originally released, but better late than never.
They released it as a single after its popularity, and it reached number 51 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. They ended up selling over 500,000 copies of it in the US by 2009, and it was certified as Gold. The Dixie Chicks put out a cover version in 2002, and it hit number seven on the Billboard Hot 100. By 2013, the single sold over 1,315, 950 copies in the US alone.
When Bill Clinton ran for president, he made sure to go all out. He made the theme song for his campaign, the song ‘Don’t Stop’ by Fleetwood Mac. This was in 1992, and the band members from that time had been broken up since 1987. Clinton went ahead and invited the band to perform at the inaugural gala in 1993.
He got lucky, and helped them out, as they agreed that they would re-form the band for this event. While they didn’t get back together right away, Mick Fleetwood and the McVies recorded another album. In May 1997, the band finally got together again for a live concert at the Warner Bros. soundstage in California. This band is almost more popular today than they were when they first started out.
Jeremy Spencer was the original guitarist for Fleetwood Mac and played with them on their first four albums. Now, he had been a member from the day of the band’s inception, and he decided in February 1971 that it was time to up and leave. This was shortly after the band started their first tour of America. He joined a religious cult which was called the “Children of God.”
He is still affiliated with the group today, but it is now referred to as “The Family International.” He released two solo albums later on and has recorded as part of a folk trio called Steetley, but Mick Fleetwood just could not convince him to rejoin Fleetwood Mac.
I mentioned earlier that Buckingham was very creative and known as the accent king. Well, the noises from a chair weren’t the only special noise in their music. The track ‘Tusk’ from their 1979 album is known for being used by the USC Trojans Marching Band. The sound that the band makes with that song is just great.
Lindsey Buckingham really experimented with this track, and he wanted to incorporate in this track as many random sounds as he could. Buckingham went as far as to drum on a box of tissues, which ended up on the final recording. He also used a spatula to bang on a lamb chop. Can you believe this sound made it into their recording?
Bill Clinton isn’t the only one who helped keep the band together. Fleetwood Mac has split up and reunited their classic lineup so many times over the years, but Stevie Nicks takes a lot of the credit for the beloved members’ reunion tours. She was interviewed in 2016 by Rolling Stone, and she said, “My solo career is truly the reason why Fleetwood Mac is still together because I get bored easily.”
She claims that she would never want to do these long tours with the band if she wasn’t able to come home and experiment with her music from her own solo career. I guess this makes sense, but I still think that Clinton was the one who made it all happen.
In 1974, the manager of their band sent out random people instead of the actual members of Fleetwood Mac. Their manager, Clifford Davis, or former manager at this point, tried to rip off their name for his own profit. This is one of the crazier stories that came from Fleetwood Mac’s career. They were in the middle of an America Tour, which just had a lot of problems.
Fleetwood was in the process of getting a divorce, and everyone needed a rest. They all went on vacation, but Davis went ahead and got a new band together to put on the road. No one noticed until they arrived for their first gig, and these people were not the members of the Fleetwood Mac everyone knew. The show was almost all sold out, which really led to some issues.
Clifford Davis started having trouble in Pittsburgh. They didn’t make any announcement of the changes. The second they started to play, about a dozen fans asked for their money back. Davis refused to, so the promoters gave them their money back. To top things off, during the next show, the vocalist, Elmer, had lost his voice. The whole audience just sat around and listened to music while the stage was cleared off.
But instead of canceling the whole performance, they lied to everyone saying Fleetwood went home (he did, but this time the lead lost his voice) and that the band would just come out to jam for a bit. They offered refunds to people who weren’t happy, and 800 people took it. This led to a lawsuit between the former manager, Davis, and the band on who owns the name. They still own the name so we can guess who won there.
There were two times in the band’s lifespan that all of the members actually lived together in one house. Both times were in the ‘70s, and one was at Mick Fleetwood’s English mansion, which was sold in the mid-’70s. They also lived together for several months in the English countryside in 1970. John McVie admits later that they didn’t get that much work don’t in the countryside and that their time was mostly spent eating, drinking, and doing ‘illegal substances.’
They had a nickname for that house, which would bring inspiration for their album, which was released that year. You guessed it, Kiln House. Fun fact; for how much time this band spent together, they don’t have one cover album with all the members. In the early years, there is usually a painting or photograph, and later on, its only one or two members on the cover.