“I took my love and I took it down.”
Everybody knows the words to “Landslide,” but do they know the story behind its performers? Do they know that Fleetwood Mac began as a British blues band, or that one member mysteriously vanished to join a cult, or that Stevie Nicks was absent from the first nine studio albums? With more than 50 years under its belt, it's only natural that Fleetwood Mac has some interesting stories to tell.
Formed as a blues rock band in 1967, the lineup for Fleetwood Mac’s debut album consisted of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, from whom the band derived its name, as well as Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer. After the album's release, Christine McVie, then Christine Perfect, began contributing to the group and married John McVie in 1968.
Over the course of the next seven years, members frequently came and went as Mac cranked out nine studio albums. Peter Green’s mental health deteriorated as he relied more heavily on drugs and insisted the band give all of its money to charity. Green left in 1970, with Spencer following in 1971 after walking out of the band’s hotel prior to a show and joining the cult Children of God.
Mick Fleetwood was struggling to keep his band afloat by the time he met Lindsey Buckingham, who, on the condition that his girlfriend and musical partner Stevie Nicks come with him, agreed to join Fleetwood Mac. This ensemble would prove to be the most famous in Fleetwood Mac history, rebranding the group as a British-American rock band. Together they created Mac’s first No. 1 album, self-titled "Fleetwood Mac" in 1975.
The band’s personal lives soon began to unravel: Buckingham and Nicks broke up, the McVies divorced and Fleetwood discovered his wife had cheated on him with his best friend. Fueled by heartbreak and cocaine, the band produced what would become the 1978 Album of the Year: “Rumours” in 1977. Today, “Rumours” holds the distinction of being the 10th best-selling album of all time with more than 20 million copies sold.
The most haunting track of this tortured breakup album, however, cannot be found in the lyrics of
No.1 hit-single “Dreams” or in the heart-on-sleeve vocals of Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way.” In fact, it cannot be found on the original album at all, but in the story of “Silver Springs.”
Considered to be Nicks’ masterpiece, “Silver Springs” was essentially the “La La Land” of its time, inspired by the what ifs of Nicks and Buckingham’s failed relationship. The song serves as a retrospective look at the idealistic life the couple could have shared had they stayed together and as a powerful reminder to Buckingham that he can “never get away from the sound of the woman that loves [him].” The track, however, was cut from the album due to length restrictions. Demoted to the B-side of a single, “Silver Springs” was quickly forgotten by all but a devastated Stevie Nicks.
Tensions never entirely subsided, but the band nonetheless remained relevant with the release of two more top-five albums, “Tusk” (1979) and “Mirage” (1984). Together, these albums produced a variety of notable songs, including title track “Tusk,” Buckingham’s experimental anthem remembered for its use of a full marching band; “Sara,” a stirringly ambiguous ballad believed to be influenced by Nicks’ aborted baby; “Hold Me,” a seldom-performed duet between Christine McVie and Buckingham; and “Gypsy,” a nostalgic reflection on Nicks’ simplistic, pre-Mac life in San Francisco.
“Tango in the Night” (1987), this lineup’s fifth album and the 14th album overall, marked both highs and lows within the band. Christine McVie was perhaps at her best, proving to fans that she is just as integral to Fleetwood Mac’s structure as Nicks or Buckingham with her songs “Little Lies” and “Everywhere.” Fleetwood, however, was facing bankruptcy during the album’s production, and Nicks was battling a drug addiction that hindered her performance during studio sessions. Buckingham, meanwhile, was struggling with his decision to postpone his solo career for the sake of producing another Fleetwood Mac album. Soon after the album’s release, Buckingham announced his departure from the band, thus bringing Fleetwood Mac’s most successful era to an end.
With Buckingham’s departure came a decline in popularity. Their 15th album, “Behind the Mask” (1990), had little commercial success, and Nicks announced her departure soon after. When “Time” (1995) became their first album not to chart in the US, Fleetwood Mac disbanded.
It was not long before Fleetwood Mac reunited, however. The band’s most popular lineup regrouped for a world tour in 1997 – the twentieth anniversary of “Rumours.” Symbolic of their triumphs over past conflicts and solidifying their legacy as one of perseverance, Fleetwood Mac reintroduced the world to Nicks’ long-lost “Silver Springs.” Nicks’ impassioned performance of the song for the live album “The Dance” earned the band a Grammy nomination, one of its three that year, reversing the fate of the “Rumours”-era masterpiece. What’s more, “The Dance” was Mac’s first chart-topping album since 1982’s “Mirage.”
Fleetwood Mac was soon inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, with former members Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan being honored alongside Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Christine McVie officially retired later that year, but the band continued to play on, releasing a new album, “Say You Will,” in 2003.
Fleetwood Mac remained relatively quiet for the next decade until Stevie Nicks appeared on “American Horror Story: Coven” in 2014. As a result, “Seven Wonders,” a forgotten track from “Tango in the Night,” returned from oblivion, making its way onto Billboard’s Digital Rock Songs chart more than 26 years after its initial release.
That same year, Christine McVie returned from retirement in order to continue touring with Fleetwood Mac. Thus, the poster child for perseverance and maturity, Mac was ready to stroll happily into the sunset with a potential farewell tour scheduled for 2018. The past was seemingly behind them, and they were all sharing the stage once more.
Then, Lindsey Buckingham was fired.
“The Chain,” a popular song from “Rumours,” was the only track produced by the band to have been written in some part by all five members. Embedded within are the lyrics “never break the chain” and “chains keep us together.” As such, fans and band members alike have begun to refer to Mac’s history, in all its trials and tribulations, as “The Chain": No matter how turbulent things got, the band persisted. They persisted through breakups, through affairs, through drug addiction and through alcohol abuse.
In the past year, Crowded House’s Neil Finn and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell joined Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham filed a lawsuit against the band and every member has told a different side of the latest breakup story in Mac’s long history. Buckingham blames his ousting on Nicks’ unwillingness to share the stage with him, while others claim it was Buckingham’s want to push back the tour that made his firing an inevitability. Though Buckingham’s suit was recently settled outside of court, many still call into question whether or not this chapter has soured the legacy of Fleetwood Mac and effectively broken the chain.
Buckingham has stated that he would love to return to Fleetwood Mac for a farewell tour if they would have him since he feels the current ensemble is merely a cover band that dishonors the legacy of his beloved Mac. Is Buckingham correct, given that he was responsible for writing and providing vocals on some of the band’s most popular songs, including “Monday Morning,” “Second Hand News” and “Big Love,” or is Fleetwood Mac greater than just the individuals who shaped it?
Regardless, the band is currently on the road for its “An Evening with Fleetwood Mac” tour, where it has premiered covers of “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and “Free Fallin’” and brought back rarely performed gems like “Hold Me,” “Storms” and “Black Magic Woman.”
The on-stage chemistry may be different, and the vocals on Buckingham’s songs may be unfamiliar, but Fleetwood Mac is still the same band that audiences fell in love with 50 years ago. Perhaps the chain has indeed broken, or perhaps this is merely the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the ever-evolving story of Fleetwood Mac.
Fleetwood Mac's upcoming stop in Columbia is one of 62 stops in the North American leg of the tour.
When: Friday, Feb. 22 at 8 p.m.
Where: Colonial Life Arena
Doors Open: 7 p.m.
Colonial Life Arena has a clear bag policy: All bags larger than a clutch must be clear.
Tickets are available through resale only.