- Fleetwood Mac Essentials
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About Fleetwood Mac
Tension can be a great motivator for a band, and no group has put that maxim to the test quite like Fleetwood Mac, a ’60s British blues-rock outfit that—through a series of lineup changes, stylistic shifts, and rocky internal romances—became the paragons of ‘70s Californian pop. Since the band’s formation in London in 1967, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie have served as both the rhythmic and spiritual anchors for a group that has hosted a revolving-door procession of outsized personalities, starting with Peter Green, the budding guitar god responsible for early hits like “Black Magic Woman” (famously covered by Santana) and the tranquil instrumental “Albatross” (which The Beatles admittedly aped on their Abbey Road track “Sun King”).
After Green quit in 1970, the band cycled through different frontmen—Danny Kirwan and Bob Welch among them—while their keyboardist, McVie’s wife Christine, emerged as a female vocal foil. After a relocation to L.A., they welcomed singer/songwriter Lindsey Buckingham and his musical/romantic partner Stevie Nicks into the fold, heralding Fleetwood Mac’s transition into soft-rock hitmakers on their 1975 self-titled effort. But Nicks’ star turns on “Rhiannon” and “Landslide” revealed a darker mystique at the core of their easy-breezy sound and, as sudden success caused the long-term relationships within the band to disintegrate, their next release effectively invented a new genre: rock album as couples therapy. On 1977’s Rumours, Fleetwood Mac dressed up the bitterest break-up songs in the smoothest, sultriest arrangements to the tune of over 40 million copies sold; the album’s appeal is so universal that it’s been both cited by Courtney Love as an influence and used to soundtrack Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign.
But the band were eager to play against pop-star type—1979’s double-album colossus Tusk betrayed Buckingham’s affinity for post-punk, and though it was deemed a commercial disappointment at the time, it has since been embraced as a cult classic by discerning indie rockers. And even as more streamlined ‘80s efforts like Mirage and Tango in the Night reasserted their pop panache, Fleetwood Mac have remained a cauldron of drama and intra-band acrimony, the principal members seemingly coming and going without warning. In the wake of Buckingham’s departure in 2018, the group enlisted Crowded House singer Neil Finn and Tom Petty sideman Mike Campbell—big-name replacements that prove, after 50 years of smash hits and broken relationships, Fleetwood Mac still won’t stop thinking about tomorrow.
- London, England