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Don't Stop: Fleetwood Mac's Ongoing Evolution

Friday, 14 June 2019 Written by Huw Baines

Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes, and members of Fleetwood Mac falling out with one another.

The pop-rock giants’ latest tour dates, including two nights at Wembley Stadium in London, will be the latest completed without Lindsey Buckingham, who has once again taken his leave from the band he helped push over the top into superstardom during the ‘70s.

His shoes have on this occasion been filled by former Heartbreaker Mike Campbell and Neil Finn, erstwhile leader of Crowded House. The challenge facing them, as it has been for any new member dating back to the late ‘60s, is slotting into a temperamental unit that, for all its dysfunction, has always mainlined chemistry.

Everyone has a favourite version of Fleetwood Mac, and here we take a look back at how their cast of thousands (not quite, but shhh) made each one tick.

The Peter Green Era

Drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie have been in place since the band’s earliest days, having bounced around in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Peter Green. The Green iteration of the group had several facets to its sound: a heavily blues-based element that was clearly a product of a fertile time in the British scene, and also the interaction between some idiosyncratic players. The instrumental Albatross, the band’s first and only UK number one single, displayed the talents of Green and teenage guitarist Danny Kirwan, which in turn highlighted Green’s ongoing rift with slide player Jeremy Spencer. Green left the band in 1970, retreating from music in an acid haze as his mental health worsened.

The (Sort of) Wilderness Years

After Green’s exit, Fleetwood Mac’s revolving door kept on spinning. Kirwan and Spencer were soon gone, and by 1974 their replacements, Bobs Welch and Weston, and Dave Walker, had had either walked or been fired. With a fake version of Fleetwood Mac even doing the touring rounds for a short while, the band’s state of flux seemed permanent. But with Christine McVie, who had been playing with them since album two, now a prominent songwriting force, and the band’s rhythm section still in harness, the foundations were there for what came next. Welch's influence, helping to push them towards their pop-rock future, also shouldn't be overlooked.

Buckingham/Nicks

Welch’s split from the group was followed rapidly by the addition of Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, also known as the greatest package deal in the history of the music industry. In 1975, they slid a side of west coast pop smarts onto the band’s plate, countering and playing off Christine McVie’s stately writing on their self-titled LP. By the time the band’s disintegrating romantic relationships fed into the seminal ‘Rumours’, Fleetwood Mac were comfortably settled into one of rock’s greatest imperial phases. This was their evolving chemistry at its spikiest and most difficult to contain, with spite and loss somehow being compressed into a diamond.

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Buckingham’s decision to quit following the release of the hit album ‘Tango in the Night’ in 1987 ushered in some lean years for Fleetwood Mac. He was eventually followed through the door by Nicks, who took her leave in order to concentrate on her solo career in 1990, and the fracturing wouldn’t end there. By the time Buckingham and Nicks re-entered the fray in the mid-’90s, Christine McVie was making her plans to exit stage right. We wouldn’t see the ‘Rumours’ line up back in tandem as a full-time unit until 2014.

A Heartbreaker in a Crowded House

It perhaps speaks to Buckingham’s importance as a songwriter and performer that Fleetwood Mac turned to musicians with the stature of Campbell and Finn to fill the gap when he again said adios in 2018. And, even with lawsuits and press barbs flying (“It's a cover band kind of deal, and Stevie may be enjoying that, and that's fine,” Buckingham told CBS) they have quietly gotten on with things. The meshing of Finn’s Don’t Dream it’s Over with Nicks’ classic Landslide suggests mutual respect, while Campbell goes way back to Nicks’ ‘Bella Donna’ days. And he was in the Heartbreakers, so he’s going to do just fine whatever.

The Future

Honestly, who knows? Please, whatever you do, don’t bet on any one outcome. That’s never been the Fleetwood Mac way.

Fleetwood Mac Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun June 16 2019 - LONDON Wembley Stadium
Tue June 18 2019 - LONDON Wembley Stadium

Click here to compare & buy Fleetwood Mac Tickets at Stereoboard.com.





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