Lindsey Buckingham: ‘I would like to think there's a better way for us to finish up than we finished up'

One day in early February 2019, Lindsey Buckingham woke up to a wallop of a surprise: He had just had a heart attack, followed by an emergency triple bypass.

© Getty Images

Buckingham performs at the Grammy Awards in 2014

– Getty Images

The good news was that he’d had a cardiac event at arguably the best possible time and place, while under anaesthesia for a minor medical procedure. (His older brother Greg, an Olympic swimmer, dropped dead from one alone in his backyard in 1990, at 45. A similar fate befell their father at 56.)

Buckingham found out the bad news when he tried to speak and realised he couldn’t raise his voice above a hoarse whisper: Someone had been “a little rough with the breathing tube,” as he put it, and damaged his vocal cords – not just any vocal cords, but those of the onetime Fleetwood Mac yelper responsible for such modern pop standards as “Go Your Own Way”, “Second Hand News” and “Never Going Back Again”. For months, he wasn’t sure if the injury was temporary or permanent. But fortunately, from his serene California living room one Summer Saturday afternoon, Buckingham can now recall it all with a full-voiced laugh.

“Somebody in the hospital was going, ‘Oops! Hope he doesn’t find me!’”

Buckingham, 71, may be playing a bit on what he knows is his prickly, self-serious reputation – as parodied, however absurdly, by Bill Hader on US comedy institution “Saturday Night Live” – but throughout a series of conversations he was remarkably open and quick with the occasional self-deprecating joke. As he prepares to release Lindsey Buckingham, his first solo album in a decade, on 17 September, his edges seem to have smoothed a bit in the wake of a series of perspective-shifting events: the bypass and then the pandemic, of course, but also the July 2020 death of Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green, and Buckingham’s recent separation from Kristen Messner, his wife of 21 years and the mother of his three children.

Then there was the business, three years ago, when he got kicked out of Fleetwood Mac a beloved group known as much for its timeless songcraft as its intra-band pyrotechnics and power struggles – and then sued his former bandmates.

Many of Buckingham’s solo releases have been pressure valves for when Fleetwood Mac was feeling a little too tense or controlled. After steering the group more left of centre with the edgy and eclectic Tusk in 1979, the drummer and (in Buckingham’s words) “vibe master” Mick Fleetwood said they would have to reorient in a more commercial direction. Buckingham told him, “OK, well, I guess I’ve got to make some solo albums.”

© Provided by The Independent With then-bandmates Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood onstage in New York, 2018 (Getty Images)

Buckingham was able to release his first two – the taut Law and Order (1981) and the angular Go Insane (1984) – while still in the band, but after recording Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 blockbuster Tango in the Night, he took a decade-long leave to fulfil himself personally and artistically. (Buckingham’s decision to step away from an environment of excessive drug use and drinking was also, as he put it, “for my own survival”.) He made one of his best albums, Out of the Cradle (1992), and met Messner when she photographed him for another solo project. He returned to the Mac in 1997 for their triumphant Clinton-era victory lap, The Dance.

“That guy is one of the best producers on the planet,” says Rob Cavallo, a record industry executive and Grammy-winning producer who’s worked on and off with Buckingham since the mid-1990s. “So much of the style and techniques from Rumours on, so much of it is him,” he adds, referring to one of the most successful and storied albums of all time.

It’s unlikely that any single incident was to blame for Buckingham’s departure, but several days later, he was shocked to receive a call from the band’s manager, Irving Azoff, telling him he’d been fired.

Lindsey Buckingham, a blend of California-sunny power-pop and partly cloudy ballads, is perhaps the most straightforward release of his solo career. “I went into it thinking I wanted to make a pop album,” says Buckingham. While he noted that its musical reference points date back to Rumours, the subject matter is “family and long-term relationships”. Though he wrote and recorded the album in 2018, long before Messner filed for divorce, he now believes some of the stormiest songs were “a little bit prescient”.

Still, these songs aren’t all emotional turbulence: Buckingham sees them as being about how “joy and pain have to coexist side by side”. Perhaps that, too, is prescient: after a period of separation, he and Messner are once again spending time together, even though he’s not yet sure what the future holds for their relationship.

A similar haze of uncertainty clouds the future of Fleetwood Mac. Even though Buckingham and some of his bandmates are once again on speaking terms, and he admitted he’d “be back like a shot” if they’d have him, his potential return is contingent upon one member in particular.

As he tells it, the latest tensions began simmering in 2017 when he asked to postpone a proposed Fleetwood Mac outing by three months so he could release and promote a solo album: “At least one person in the band” – his eternal ex Stevie Nicks, he clarified – “wasn’t very receptive to that.”

© Provided by The Independent With former partner and Fleetwood Mac bandmate Stevie Nicks in 2014 (Getty Images)

But things boiled over in January 2018 during what Fleetwood Mac fans now simply refer to as “the smirking incident”. At a New York concert where the band were the recipients of the Recording Academy’s annual philanthropic honour, the MusiCares Person of the Year, Nicks was said to have believed that Buckingham was making a face behind her while she gave a heartfelt acceptance speech. “I would doubt very much that I was smirking,” Buckingham says, while also pointing out that band members dancing or exchanging exaggerated glances when Nicks’ stage banter went on for a while was a “running gag” in the Mac.

After decades of cumulative personal conflict, it’s unlikely that any single incident was to blame for Buckingham’s departure, but several days later, he was shocked to receive a call from the band’s manager, Irving Azoff, telling him he’d been fired. He says that Nicks had given her bandmates an ultimatum: him or me. (The members of Fleetwood Mac declined to be interviewed for this article. In December 2018, Buckingham said that he and the band had settled his lawsuit.)

Now that his long-awaited solo album is finished, though, and audiences are (if a little tentatively) ready to rock, Buckingham is eager to get back on the road. His voice is “at 95 per cent” following the breathing tube debacle. “A couple of the songs we’ve lowered the keys a little bit, but we’ve been doing that all along anyway, the older we get,” he admitted with a laugh.

Both times we meet, Buckingham wears the exact same thing – a faded black V-neck T-shirt and slim-cut jeans – as though like a rock ’n’ roll Steve Jobs, he long ago selected an optimal outfit and cleared that much more space in his mind for what is still his central concern: music.

© Provided by The Independent Fleetwood Mac at the Musicares Person Of The Year event in 2018 (Getty Images)

He and his family downsized a few years ago from a sprawling Brentwood property just down the street, but he still has the living room of a person who’s been married to an interior designer and recently sold his extensive publishing catalogue for many millions of dollars. (“There was this axiom for years and years, ‘Don’t sell your publishing’,” he says. “And I think there may still be some truth to that, but you get to a certain point in your life…”)

Tasteful coffee table books adorn the gleaming slab of marble in front of us, but the house buzzes with domestic life. In the kitchen, Buckingham’s college-age daughter LeeLee and her boyfriend are baking Australian meringues. They have brought their two dogs over, which adds to the usual trio. As Buckingham and I chat about his new music, the canine quintet periodically yap and jaw at one another in the foyer like, well … Fleetwood Mac making Rumours, probably.

Raised near Palo Alto, California, Buckingham taught himself guitar – and his unique, Scotty Moore-influenced style of fingerpicking – after becoming entranced with Elvis at age six. By the summer of Sgt. Pepper’s, he’d already been experimenting with early home recording devices. His obsessive, solitary interest in music made him something of a round peg in a square town. Few of his peers were interested in the counterculture; competitive aquatics were more their thing.

In his sophomore year at Menlo-Atherton High School, a new girl – a junior – who shared some of his musical interests transferred in: Stevie Nicks. She eventually joined Buckingham’s acid-rock band, Fritz, but by the late 1960s they had realised they worked better as a duo, professionally and romantically.

Nicks is another matter: save for a brief email she sent to Buckingham after his bypass, the two haven’t spoken

The pair relocated to Los Angeles and began working on material that showcased their tight harmonies and Buckingham’s wailing, knotty guitar playing. But what they thought was their big bang – the 1973 release of their first and only record as a duo – turned out to be more of a whimper. The moment that would actually change their lives forever seemed pretty ordinary at the time. One day Mick Fleetwood, a drummer trying to keep his band together after the departure of its lead guitarist and singer, happened to be testing out the equipment at Sound City Studios. To showcase the sound system’s power, engineer Keith Olsen played him the screaming solo from Buckingham Nicks’ “Frozen Love”.

Who was this guitarist? Would he be interested in joining Mick’s band? Only if his girlfriend could join too, Buckingham told him.

In the post-Peter Green era, Fleetwood Mac always seemed more like a random group of people stuck together in an elevator than a band – a lanky British giant, a West Coast sorceress, a nervy guitar virtuoso, a serene songbird, some guy who always seemed like he would rather be sailing – which was of course part of its magic. As the members’ romantic relationships sparked and sputtered, their peculiar alchemy and soap-operatic personal lives fuelled a stretch of timeless rock albums.

When we meet up again, Buckingham escorts me to his home recording studio, in the pool house’s basement. The night before, Buckingham mentioned, some younger neighbours had thrown a raucous party with a DJ, so the guitarist of one of the more notoriously hard-partying bands in rock history had to knock on their door and ask them to keep it down.

© Provided by The Independent On stage in 2018 (Getty Images)

Even if those young neighbours didn’t recognise him, they likely would have known the tunes. More than almost any other band of the 1970s, Fleetwood Mac’s music has maintained an age-defying relevance: “We started seeing two or three generations of people at our shows,” says Buckingham, “and you start realising that you must be doing something right.” He has also appeared on recent albums by The Killers and Halsey. “He was so easy to work with, we even tried bribing him to be in the band,” the Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr says via email.

Proof of the Mac’s continued popularity came last year, when “Dreams” from 1977 was the soundtrack to a wildly popular TikTok challenge, and re-entered the Billboard charts. Buckingham filmed his own version of the meme, atop a horse, even if he didn’t realise that’s what was happening at the time. “My daughter made me do that,” he says. One day when they were up at their stables, she innocently asked him to pick up some Ocean Spray. TikToks “are like, five seconds or something,” he adds with a shudder. “Isn’t the attention span short enough already?”

A few weeks before their viral moment, Buckingham had reached out to Mick Fleetwood in the wake of Green’s death: “We both just adored Peter Green.” The two have begun talking and texting again (“Mick and I are soul mates,” he says), though recent plans to meet face-to-face for the first time in more than three years were thwarted when someone in Fleetwood’s circle tested positive for Covid-19.

© Provided by The Independent Buckingham and Nicks perform together at Fleetwood Mac’s 1998 induction to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame (AFP via Getty Images)

In an interview with Rolling Stone earlier this year, Fleetwood expressed optimism that Buckingham may one day rejoin the band for a proper farewell tour. “Somehow,” Fleetwood said, “I would love the elements that are not healed to be healed.”

Nicks is another matter: save for a brief email she sent to Buckingham after his bypass, the two haven’t spoken. Buckingham isn’t sure what it would take to get them to hash things out, but he is open to mending fences. “I’ve known Stevie since I was 16, so I would like to think there’s a better way for us to finish up than we finished up,” he says. “Not just for Fleetwood Mac and for the legacy, but just for the two of us.”

Still, he says that after “the 43 years we’d been together” weathering more serious storms, the relatively small disagreements that he believes led to his ousting “dishonoured the legacy”.

But aren’t those disagreements also part of the legacy and the emotional authenticity of Fleetwood Mac?

“When you have just one super-creative megastar in a band, that’s pretty hard to handle. In this case, you have five, and three of them who can write and sing their own records,” says Cavallo. “When they’re contained inside of a band, that struggle and competitiveness can create amazing things,” he adds. The flip side, though, is that “the emotional part, the drama part, it doesn’t end. It’s not going to end, ever.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

From news to politics, travel to sport, culture to climate – The Independent has a host of free newsletters to suit your interests. To find the stories you want to read, and more, in your inbox, click here.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Soccer-Injury forces Federici to retire ahead of A-League season

(Reuters) – Former Australia goalkeeper Adam Federici has announced his retirement due to injury less than a month before the start of the new A-League season. © Reuters/CRAIG BROUGH Championship ... Read more »

Celtics' head coach Ime Udoka says Boston were 'punked' in home opener blow out loss

It wasn’t the home opener the Boston Celtics were hoping for. Backing up after a draining double-overtime loss to the New York Knicks, the Celtics were run out of TD ... Read more »

Utah vs. Oregon State College Football Odds, Plays and Insights

Check out odds, insights and more in our betting preview for the Utah Utes vs. Oregon State Beavers college football matchup on October 23, 2021. © Provided by Sports Illustrated ... Read more »

Indonesian Police Shut Down Facebook Page, Charge Man in Selling of Exotic Animals

Indonesian police have arrested a man, charging him in the selling of endangered animals through a Facebook page. © Cameron Spencer/Getty Indonesia police has arrested an individual allegedly behind a ... Read more »

CD Projekt Delays Updates of Cyberpunk 2077, Witcher 3 to 2022

Polish video game developer CD Projekt SA said Wednesday it’s delaying the next-generation versions of Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3 for the newest consoles until next year.  After a ... Read more »

Florida State vs. Massachusetts odds: College football picks, Week 8 predictions from proven computer model

The Massachusetts Minutemen will take on the Florida State Seminoles at noon ET next Saturday at Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium. FSU is 2-4 overall and 1-3 at ... Read more »

GoFundMe Launched 'in Memory of' Late Rust Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins

A chapter of the International Cinematographers Guild is raising funds in memory of its member Halyna Hutchins, who was killed Thursday following a shooting incident on the set of the ... Read more »

Coldplay invites boy celebrating 6th birthday on stage at Climate Pledge Arena concert in Seattle

A young boy celebrating his birthday got the experience of a lifetime at Friday night’s Coldplay concert at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.  © Provided by KING-TV Seattle After the ... Read more »

Shades of 2021 NBA playoffs as 76ers collapse late in home opener against Nets

The Philadelphia 76ers’ home opener against the Brooklyn Nets came 124 days after they were eliminated in the 2021 playoffs with a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Conference ... Read more »

From 'Sesame Street' to 'Alma's Way': How Sonia Manzano continues to break ground and elevate Latino stories on US television

After 44 years as the loveable Maria on Sesame Street, Sonia Manzano thought she was finally ready to move to a quieter, non-puppet inhabited neighborhood where she could spend her ... Read more »

NHL Rink Wrap: Sabres lose, but Sharks stay undefeated

© Provided by NBC Sports Top player from Friday in the NHL Logan Couture, Sharks Plenty of Sharks players absorb blame for the past couple seasons of futility. Unless you ... Read more »

Child tax credit tussle reflects debate over work incentives

WASHINGTON (AP) — To supporters of the child tax credit, there has always been an “aha moment” — the recognition that as little as a few hundred dollars a month ... Read more »

Husband of woman killed on set of 'Rust' breaks silence with heartbreaking statement

The husband of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer who was fatally shot by Alec Baldwin with a prop gun on the set of the Western film “Rust” on Thursday, is speaking ... Read more »

Fan ejected from Staples Center after altercation with Lakers guard Rajon Rondo

The NBA, it seems, isn’t done dealing with fan incidents during the 2021-22 season. © Provided by Yahoo! Sports Rajon Rondo was seen pointing a finger gun in the fans ... Read more »

Secrecy shrouds Afghan refugees sent by US to base in Kosovo

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is welcoming tens of thousands of Afghans airlifted out of Kabul but has disclosed little publicly about a small group who remain overseas: dozens who ... Read more »

Russians prove they are back as two pairs' teams lead the way at Skate America

Brandon Frazier sounded like a lot of the leading U.S. pairs’ skaters who have come before him over the years. © Provided by NBC Sports “We’re trying to push ourselves ... Read more »

Astros Punch World Series Ticket After 5–0 Shutout in ALCS Game 6

© Provided by Sports Illustrated In front of its fans, Houston secured the American League pennant and its third World Series appearance in the last five seasons on Friday. View ... Read more »

Elton John Says He Needs 'to Be with' His Family After Farewell Tour: 'I've Had Enough Applause'

© Provided by People Global Citizen/Youtube Elton John is getting ready to hit the Yellow Brick Road one last time, and then go home to be with his family. The ... Read more »

Watch: Rajon Rondo gets courtside fan ejected in bizarre sequence

Friday night’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns was a bizarre one, and Lakers guard Rajon Rondo added to the bedlam. © Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports ... Read more »

Why Former Miss America, Who Was Crowned in 1958, Is Auctioning Off Her Crown

After six decades, Marilyn Van Derbur is bestowing her Miss America crown upon someone else. © Provided by People PhotoQuest/Getty The crown, which Van Derbur won in 1958, is currently ... Read more »

Fauci shows that trusting scientists and trusting science aren't the same

Elite public opinion until recently deplored and even denounced the idea that the coronavirus might have come out of a Chinese laboratory, calling it a racist theory. It has since ... Read more »

Rising tide of leaks threatens to inundate Facebook

Facebook held back from doing all it could to stop users from being radicalized and US election misinformation from flooding the social network, according to media reports Friday. © Chris ... Read more »

Hitchhiker Who Disappeared 50 Years Ago ID'd Using DNA From Child He Didn't Know He Had

© Provided by the Coos County Sheriff’s Office The body of a teenage hitchhiker, Winston Arthur Maxey III, who left his home in Idaho at the age of 15 for ... Read more »

Biden has new chance to rein in pandemic

Tens of millions of Americans who see vaccines as a passport back to normal life are craving clear, jargon-free advice about boosters for themselves and first-time shots for their kids ... Read more »

A daycare owner who hid 26 kids behind a false wall in her basement was sentenced to 6 years in prison

© El Paso County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File This undated file photo provided by the El Paso County, Colo., Sheriff’s Office shows Carla Faith. El Paso County Sheriff’s Office ... Read more »

Tv-skådespelaren Peter Scolari död

© TAMMIE ARROYO Peter Scolari har avlidit. Han har spelat mot Tom Hanks och Lena Dunham. Nu har skådespelaren Peter Scolari avlidit, 66 år gammal. Peter Scolari har varit aktiv ... Read more »

‘A Bully and Basically a Lowlife': Trump Absolutely UNLEASHES on Meghan McCain, Smears John in Utterly Bonkers Statement

© Provided by Mediaite Trump and Meghan McCain Once again proving that the idea of being “too petty” is foreign to him, former President Donald Trump lashed out at Meghan ... Read more »

Record high migrant entries at US-Mexico border

The US says more than 1.7 million migrants were detained along its border with Mexico in the past 12 months – the highest number ever recorded. © Reuters Of all ... Read more »

This Woman's Kindness Saved a Boy From Nazi Murderers

In this excerpt from Rebecca Frankel’s INTO THE FOREST: A Holocaust Story of Survival, Triumph, and Love, Miriam Rabinowitz, in an overwhelming display of courage, surrounded by Nazis with their ... Read more »

Chris Paul becomes first player in NBA history with 20,000 points and 10,000 assists

Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul made history on Friday night in Los Angeles. Paul, thanks to a free throw he sank in the second quarter of their game against the ... Read more »

Report: Scherzer Won't Start Game 6 of NLCS vs. Braves Due to Fatigue Concerns

© Provided by Sports Illustrated The eight-time All-Star righthander will reportedly miss Saturday’s start against the Braves due to fatigue concerns. View the original article to see embedded media. Dodgers ... Read more »

Member of Congress fears Jon Gruden emails are the “tip of the iceberg”

© Provided by NBC Sports The U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee wants to learn more about the Washington Football Team workplace investigation that resulted in a leak of emails ... Read more »

JFK assassination documents: White House issues memo postponing disclosure, citing Covid

The White House announced late Friday that it would further postpone the release of more documents related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, pointing to the “significant ... Read more »

Frustrations boil over between Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard on Los Angeles Lakers bench

The rocky start has continued for the Los Angeles Lakers. After going winless in preseason and dropping their first regular season game to the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers found ... Read more »

Suns' Chris Paul makes NBA history, becomes first player with 20,000 points and 10,000 assists

Chris Paul has created a category all his own. During Friday night’s game between the Suns and Lakers, the Phoenix star became the first player in NBA history to score at least ... Read more »

Every Day, Biden Smells Like More of a Loser

With a hint of confusion in his eyes and a whiff of failure in the air around him, Joe Biden is watching his approval ratings continue to plummet to the ... Read more »

Astros close out ALCS, Red Sox in Game 6 to earn trip back to World Series

The Houston Astros are headed to the World Series. © Provided by Yahoo! Sports The Astros are headed to their third World Series in six years. (Elsa/Getty Images) The Astros ... Read more »

Email shows Loudon superintendent knew of bathroom sexual assault on same day

A newly disclosed email sent by the superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools alerting school board members of an alleged sexual assault on school grounds contradicts what he later said ... Read more »

Tobias Harris offers passionate defense of Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons has been criticized by many Philadelphia 76ers fans and even some within the organization. On Friday, however, Simmons received a strong defense from one of his teammates. © ... Read more »

Japan's Princess Mako celebrates final birthday as member of imperial family before wedding to commoner

Japan’s Princess Mako turned 30 on Saturday — her final birthday as a member of the imperial family before she marries her commoner boyfriend next week. © The Imperial Household ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic