7 August 1970 & 1987: The beginning and end of an era for Fleetwood Mac
According to the history books, today is a double anniversary in the history of Fleetwood Mac. On this day in 1970, Christine McVie officially joined the band as keyboardist and vocalist.
Already married to Fleetwood Mac’s bassist John McVie, the addition of Christine brought the group closer to the 1975 onwards line-up of the British-American rock band alongside Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks that would enshrine them in history.
Today is also the day that Buckingham walked out on the group shortly before they were due to tour their album ‘Tango in the Night’. Buckingham would later rejoin, but this was the end of what can only be described as a tumultuous 12 years.
This is, of course, the story of how Fleetwood Mac recorded their most famous album, 1977’s ‘Rumours’.
By the time the recording sessions for ‘Rumours’ came about in 1976, Christine and John’s marriage was in turmoil. Press intrusion into their lives and the stress of touring had become too much and the pair divorced. Not willing to let the dissolution of an eight-year marriage get in the way of their careers, they agreed to continue working together despite barely being on speaking terms.
The other half of the band weren’t doing so hot either. Singer-songwriter duo Buckingham and Nicks had been in a relationship prior to joining the band. A year later, they were arguing regularly, splitting up and getting back together over and over again.
For a band with four out of five members barely able to stand the company of each other, it would be natural to assume a long hiatus was around the corner. Instead, they produced one of the greatest albums in history.
Here are just some of the salacious stories that came out of the 11 months it took to record the album that pretty much destroyed them.
Christine soon started an affair after the end of her marriage to John. Shacking up with the sound engineer Martin Birch, her lyrics to the song ‘You Make Loving Fun’ would have been a particularly stinging jab at her ex-husband. To be fair to her, the only thing John ever said to her during much of the recording sessions were questions about what key the song was in.
Speaking of bitter lyrics, two of the album’s best known tracks come as a pair, due to the history of the band’s feuds.
‘Go Your Own Way’ was the album’s first single. Written by Buckingham, it was a response to Nicks finding new avenues of love outside of their rocky relationships. It quite clearly states how Buckingham felt he’d tried everything to keep the relationship together to no avail, Nicks was going to go her own way.
When she heard the track, Nicks was furious. The direct address against her was hardly a complement. Retreating to another studio to write, Nicks came up with ‘Dreams’. Although the first verse follows a similar attitude of a lover who’s tried everything, the song takes a more philosophical approach.
Both songs were hits, though Nicks was probably pretty chuffed to know that ‘Dreams’ was the one that went to number 1 in the charts.
Think all of this is messy already, you haven’t heard about the drug use. “It was the craziest period of our lives. We went four or five weeks without sleep, doing a lot of drugs. I'm talking about cocaine in such quantities that, at one point, I thought I was really going insane,” Fleetwood once recalled.
In fact, the song ‘Gold Dust Woman’ is basically a paean to the stuff. Nicks was particularly addicted and is maybe the protagonist of the song with her “silver spoon” digging her grave.