Fleetwood Mac: After Lindsey Buckingham's departure - a brief history of the ever-changing lineup

This latest split has brought a long-running debate about the band and what the "official" Fleetwood Mac lineup actually is, bubbling back to the surface

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Tuesday 10 April 2018 16:54
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Fleetwood Mac perform at Isle of Wight Festival 2015

Fleetwood Mac fans have been divided by the news that Lindsey Buckingham, lead guitarist and key songwriter for more than half the iconic band's existence, is leaving the group - again.

News of his departure was announced just two months before their new tour, in a brief statement released on 9 April.

"Lindsey Buckingham will not be performing with the band on this tour," the statement said. "The band wishes Lindsey all the best."

Rolling Stone and Variety both reported unnamed sources who claimed that Buckingham had been fired, something not beyond the realms of belief given the band's famously tumultuous history.

This is not the first time Buckingham - ranked among the greatest guitarists of all time - has left, either, in 1987 he quit and kept his distance for nearly a decade; returning when Fleetwood Mac performed at the presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1992.

This latest split has brought a long-running debate about the band and what the "official" Fleetwood Mac lineup actually is, bubbling back to the surface: about a band that seems to thrive on breakup drama.

Buckingham himself admitted as much at the band's most recent appearance at Radio City Music Hall in New York, where he said: "It was much of the attraction and much of the fuel for our material.

"Not very far below that level of dysfunction is what really exists and what we are feeling even more now in our career, which is love. This has always been a group of chemistry."

It began as a British blues band in London in 1967, formed by co-founder Mick Fleetwood and including former members of John Mayall's Bluesbreaker: guitarist and vocalist Peter Green and Fleetwood enlisted guitarist Jeremy Spencer and bassist Bob Brunning - the latter of whom was quickly replaced by John McVie; Fleetwood and Green's preferred choice for the band.

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Buckingham and his then-girlfriend, later wife, then ex-wife, Stevie Nicks, joined in 1975 and would transform Fleetwood Mac, leading to groundbreaking albums such as Fleetwood Mac (1975), Rumours (1977) and Tusk (1979).

When Buckingham quit the night before they were supposed to embark on their 1987 tour, he was replaced with Billy Burnette and Rick Zito, later returning for their '97 reunion on The Dance.

In 2012, he and Nicks were interviewed by Rolling Stone where she admitted: "Lindsey and I will always be dramatic," a comment he followed with: "We're a group of people who, you could make the argument, don't belong in the same band together. It's the synergy of that that makes it work.

"It also sort of makes us the anti-Eagles in terms of never, ever being on the same page."

Christine McVie rejoined the band four years ago, which brought the classic lineup together again, scuppered only by Nicks leaving the other four to do a string of solo shows.

Asked about rumours that the 2018 tour would be a "farewell" to Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham now seems to have pre-empted this most recent of dramas, telling The Independent: in an interview last year: "It's not a question of being ready or not ready [to say goodbye] but we've never as a band talked about this being our last tour.

"I certainly don't [see it that way]. And given how long people seem to keep going and how we all feel individually, I would be shocked - but stranger things have happened."

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