Lindsey Buckingham shatters silence over Fleetwood Mac ousting

‘There were factions within the band that had lost their perspective…’

Jeremy Roberts
May 12, 2018 · 8 min read
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“There were factions within the band that had lost their perspective…what that did was to harm the 43-year legacy that we had worked so hard to build.” For the first time, Fleetwood Mac guitar slinger Lindsey Buckingham publicly addresses why he was fired from the diamond-certified ’70s pop rock quintet. Dressed casually in blue jeans, a black T-shirt, and cool black leather jacket in the accompanying still, a sweat-soaked Buckingham screams in ecstasy after soloing on a customized Rick Turner Renaissance guitar. Photography by Jeremy Roberts

Thirty-seven days after a tweet by late ’80s Fleetwood Mac guitarist Billy Burnette ironically divulged that the guy he replaced in the rock quintet, Lindsey Buckingham, had been unceremoniously fired at the insistence of Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood, the idiosyncratic Rumours mastermind broke his silence over the shocking revelation.

Not seen publicly since January 2018 when Fleetwood Mac was bestowed MusiCares Person of the Year by the Recording Academy, Buckingham was videoed on May 11 in between songs at a campaign fundraiser supporting Mike Levin, an environmental attorney and Democratic candidate who ultimately won election to the U.S. House to represent the 49th Congressional District of California.

“It’s been an interesting time on a lot of levels,” said Buckingham from the Los Feliz, California, backyard of fellow Levin donor Erica Rothschild. “For me, personally, probably some of you know that for the last three months I have sadly taken leave of my band of 43 years, Fleetwood Mac. This was not something that was really my doing or my choice” [following 1987’s Tango in the Night, Buckingham left Fleetwood Mac voluntarily and did not return full-time until 1997’s live comeback document The Dance].

“I think what you would say is that there were factions within the band that had lost their perspective [a female fan shouts, ‘F — k Stevie Nicks!,’ prompting Buckingham to raise his hand]. Well, it doesn’t really matter. The point is that they’d lost their perspective. What that did was to harm — and this is the only thing I’m really sad about, the rest of it becomes an opportunity — it harmed the 43-year legacy that we had worked so hard to build [another admirer chimes in, ‘That you built, Lindsey’]. That legacy was really about rising above difficulties in order to fulfill one’s higher truth and one’s higher destiny.”

Adroitly drawing a parallel as to why the blue state constituents were in attendance, Buckingham continued, “Now, we also are at a point with our country in Washington where there’s been a loss of perspective. Mr. Dean [John W. Dean, President Richard Nixon’s White House Counsel and Watergate star witness who spoke earlier at the fundraiser] saw it first-hand 45 years ago. I think the difference was that perhaps there were more separations of powers. There was more potential for checks and balances in that loss of perspective. The loss of perspective we see now is indeed threatening to harm the legacy that is the United States.

“In the context of that you’ve gotta think of what needs to be done. It is not gonna come from the top down — it is gonna come from the ground up. This is why we are here. And so, I am most honored and most pleased to have been asked in my own small way to help in that pushback which very, very much needs to happen in order to continue the legacy that we all have come to value. So, thank you for having me.”

Fleetwood Mac replaced Buckingham with two ingenious choices — Australian rock band Crowded House singer-guitarist Neil Finn and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers chief axeman Mike Campbell, whose frequent studio and stage collaborations with Nicks extend to her debut solo single “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” in 1981. The diamond-certified pop rockers began a prodigious 88-date, 13-month North American arena tour in October 2018 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which apparently precipitated the split.

On a CBS This Morning profile moderated by Anthony Mason, the jilted “Landslide” chanteuse was not sorry to part ways with her former paramour. “This team wanted to get out on the road, and one of the members didn’t want to go out on the road for a year,” said Nicks, who was the only Fleetwood Mac member not to join the sessions for 2017's acclaimed Buckingham McVie record. “We just couldn’t agree. When you’re in a band, it’s a team. I have a solo career. I love my solo career, and I’m the boss. But I’m not the boss in this band.”

Fleetwood, the groove-laden drummer and co-founder, seconded the most recognizable group member and only one capable of packing arenas to Rolling Stone’s Andy Greene. “Not to hedge around, but we arrived at the impasse of hitting a brick wall,” admitted Fleetwood. “This was not a happy situation for us in terms of the logistics of a functioning band. To that purpose, we made a decision that we could not go on with him. Majority rules in term of what we need to do as a band and go forward.” Singer-songwriter-keyboardist Christine McVie was at home in London and not told until after the majority vote had been cast.

A fan encounter filmed the day after the MusiCares gala and a few days before Buckingham’s sacking found the multifaceted musician explaining that he wanted to plot solo “small machine” dates in between Fleetwood Mac’s “big machine” trek. As “An Evening with Fleetwood Mac” unfolded in Tulsa, Buckingham was true to his word, supporting the three-disc Solo Anthology — The Best of Lindsey Buckingham with a 34-show, two-month tour of North American theaters.

Buckingham auspiciously sued his former bandmates just a few days into the Solo Anthology run, alleging breach of fiduciary duty and breach of oral contract, among other charges. An undisclosed settlement was reached in December, with Buckingham divulging to CBS This Morning that “I’m happy enough with it. I’m not out there trying to twist the knife at all. I’m trying to look at this with some level of compassion, some level of wisdom.” The obfuscating soap opera is nothing new to the Mac.

The Out of the Cradle mastermind laid low and counted his good fortune until an expected brush with death in February 2019. Severe chest pains led to emergency open heart surgery. Doctors unintentionally damaged Buckingham’s vocal cords by feeding a tube down his throat to prompt breathing, but an intensive year of rehabilitation, vocal specialists, and unwavering support from wife Kristen Messner had the former Fleetwood Mac maestro set to play a dozen USA dates from April to May 2020 if the COVID-19 epidemic had not interfered. They would have been Buckingham’s first concerts since briefly supplying acoustic guitar on “Landslide” at daughter LeeLee’s high school graduation a year prior. Fleetwood let slip during a follow-up conversation with Rolling Stone that he has not spoken to Buckingham since the heart attack and does not envision sharing a stage with him again.

Watch Lindsey Buckingham’s diplomatic, classy rebuttal regarding why he was canned from Fleetwood Mac in 2018. Video Credit: The Brian Larsen Collection / YouTube
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On May 11, 2018, former Fleetwood Mac frontman Lindsey Buckingham poses for a quick selfie with indie rock singer-songwriter and ardent Fleetwood Mac aficionado Brian Larsen during a backyard campaign fundraiser appearance for Mike Levin, an environmental attorney and Democratic candidate who ultimately won election to the U.S. House to represent the 49th Congressional District of California, at the Los Feliz, California, home of Erica Rothschild. Larsen captured the video of Buckingham’s first public comments on being fired from Fleetwood Mac. Image Credit: The Brian Larsen Collection / Twitter
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In his first public appearance since Fleetwood Mac’s MusiCares Person of the Year celebration at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on January 26, former Fleetwood Mac member Lindsey Buckingham opts for a Gibson acoustic guitar during an intimate backyard campaign fundraiser appearance for Mike Levin, an environmental attorney and Democratic candidate who eventually won election to the U.S. House to represent the 49th Congressional District of California, at the Los Feliz, California, home of Erica Rothschild on May 11, 2018. Image Credit: Photography by Talia Osteen Hess / Twitter
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“After we flip the house, we’re never going back again!” In his first public appearance since Fleetwood Mac’s MusiCares Person of the Year celebration at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on January 26, former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham plays an intimate acoustic backyard campaign fundraiser appearance for Mike Levin, an environmental attorney and Democratic candidate who ultimately won election to the U.S. House to represent the 49th Congressional District of California, at the Los Feliz, California, home of Erica Rothschild on May 11, 2018. Image Credit: Photography by Randi Mayem Singer / Twitter
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In his first public appearance since Fleetwood Mac’s MusiCares Person of the Year celebration at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on January 26, former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham plays an intimate acoustic backyard campaign fundraiser appearance for Mike Levin, an environmental attorney and Democratic candidate who soon won a seat in the U.S. House to represent the 49th Congressional District of California, at the Los Feliz, California, home of Erica Rothschild on May 11, 2018. Image Credit: Photography by Karen Ray / Twitter
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An advertisement plugs the campaign fundraiser for Mike Levin, an environmental attorney and Democratic candidate who eventually won a seat in the U.S. House to represent the 49th Congressional District of California, at the Los Feliz, California, home of Erica Rothschild. “Rumours” key contributor Lindsey Buckingham, part of Fleetwood Mac’s core lineup for 43 years until being unceremoniously fired in April 2018, made his first public appearance at the backyard May 11 event following the abrupt news. Event co-hosts included actress Alyssa Milano, techno singer-songwriter Moby, and writer-director Cameron Crowe. Photography by Karen Ray / Twitter Image Credit: The Campaign to Elect Mike Levin / Fleetwood Mac News
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With hands resting comfortably on his customized Rick Turner Renaissance guitar, Lindsey Buckingham prepares the audience for three new songs in a row by delivering a rehearsed “big machine” [aka Fleetwood Mac] versus “small machine” [the solo stuff] speech during a fantastic solo “Seeds We Sow” concert on October 3, 2011, at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida. Image Credit: Photography by Jeremy Roberts
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Lindsey Buckingham prepares the audience for three new songs in a row by delivering a rehearsed “big machine” [aka Fleetwood Mac] versus “small machine” [the solo stuff] speech during a fantastic solo “Seeds We Sow” concert on October 3, 2011, at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida. Image Credit: Photography by Jeremy Roberts

© Jeremy Roberts, 2018. All rights reserved. To echo the sentiments of my talented colleague Bonnie Barton — “I know you are busy and have lots of ways you could be spending your time. Using it to read my work means the world and is truly appreciated.” Feel free to recommend, share, or follow me here on Medium. For new articles sent weekly to your inbox, email jeremylr@windstream.net and mention which story led you my way.

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