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Members include Lindsey Buckingham (born on October 3, 1947; group member, 1975-87, 1993, 1997-), guitar; Mick Fleetwood (born on June 24, 1942), drums; Peter Green (born on October 29, 1946; group member, 1967-70), guitar, vocals; Danny Kirwan (group member, 1968-73), guitar; Christine McVie (born on July 12, 1943; originally performed under maiden name Christine Perfect; group member, 1970-93, 1997), keyboards, vocals; John McVie (born on November 26, 1945), bass; Stevie Nicks (born on May 26, 1948; group member, 1975-93, 1997-), vocals; Jeremy Spencer (born on July 4, 1948; group member, 1970-71), guitarist; Bob Welch (born on July 31, 1946; group member, 1971-75), guitar. Other members have included Bekka Bramlett (group member, 1993-96), vocals; Billy Burnette (group member, 1987-96), guitar, vocals; Dave Mason (group member, 1994-96), guitar, vocals; Rick Vito (group member, 1987-91), guitar. Addresses: Record company--Warner Bros./Reprise, 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505, website: http://www.repriserecords.com. Website--Fleetwood Mac Official Website: http://www.fleetwoodmac.com.
Although Fleetwood Mac is today recognized as one of the most successful pop/rock bands in contemporary music--selling more than 70 million albums worldwide--they originally began as a strict blues outfit. Guitarist Peter Green, bassist John McVie, and drummer Mick Fleetwood were all alumni of Englishman John Mayall's Bluesbreakers when they first appeared on August 12, 1967, as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac at the British National Jazz & Blues Festival. Jeremy Spencer added his Elmore James-flavored licks to the band which "in that early incarnation, evolved into a fantastic blues band--- sharp-edged without rawness, steady in the Chicago blues mold, impressive and direct," according to The Guitar: The Music, The History, The Players.
The band signed with Mike Vernon's Blue Horizon label and were then known as Fleetwood Mac. Their first big hit came with "Black Magic Woman," from their debut LP, Fleetwood Mac, in 1968. The song, which remained on the charts for 13 weeks, stretched their blues roots to include Latin percussions and weaving guitar lines. In late 1968 they added a third guitarist, Danny Kirwan, as the band continued to slowly move away from their roots with a number one British single, "Albatross." "The BBC used it for some wildlife program and then someone put it on Top of the Pops and it was a hit," Fleetwood told Rolling Stone.
Broke into American Market
The band was still relatively obscure in America, however, and was billed as the opening act for an American tour that included Jethro Tull and Joe Cocker. Green left the group temporarily in May of 1970 for religious reasons while the group scored a hit with his "Green Manalishi" soon after. The Mac broke into the American market with their Kiln House LP later that year as McVie's wife, Christine Perfect (formerly of Chicken Shack), filled in on keyboards on the record and the ensuing tour.
The band struggled through more personnel changes as Spencer quit in February of 1971 to join a religious cult, Children of God. Green replaced him briefly (after quitting the second time, Green was committed to a mental institution for giving his royalty money away) before a California singer/guitarist named Bob Welch joined. His work on Future Games and Bare Trees was instrumental in bringing the group recognition in the States as their British popularity declined. In late 1972 Kirwan was booted from the band and Bob Weston and Dave Walker were hired for 1972's Penguin LP and the following year's Mystery To Me.
By now Fleetwood Mac was calling Los Angeles their home, but legal complications prevented them from working until late 1974. Their former manager, Clifford Davis, had formed a bogus Fleetwood Mac band, with no original members, and was gearing up for a United States tour. A court order finally blocked Davis's efforts but left the real band on hold until their Heroes Are Hard To Find LP. Mick Fleetwood and lawyer Michael Shapiro decided to run the band on their own after ditching Davis. "We probably would have broken up when there were problems," Fleetwood told Rolling Stone about the possibility of hiring an outside manager. "This band is like a highly tuned operation and wouldn't respond to some blunt instrument coming in. There's a trust between all of us that would make that a problem."
Buckingham, Nicks Joined Group
Fleetwood Mac's musical course took a financial upswing in 1975 when Welch left to form the band Paris and was replaced by the songwriting/performing team of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks (who were, at the time, romantically involved). "When I joined [the band was] still hovering on the edge," Welch told Rolling Stone. "When I left, they'd done a complete switcharound to a slick, sophisticated, production kind of band." He later told Guitar World, "I agreed with the philosophy but I said, 'Naah, I don't really want to stay for another go-round.' Much to my dismay." While searching for a studio to record the band, Fleetwood overheard the duo's LP, Buckingham/Nicks, at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California. Nicks had previously sung with Buckingham in the band Fritz and their addition to Fleetwood Mac brought the group a new melodic sound that catapulted them to superstar status nearly overnight with the LP Fleetwood Mac in 1975.
With its folksy, lush vocals, the album "finally realized the apotheosis of that early-Sixties blues crusade to get back to the roots," wrote John Swenson in Rolling Stone. In concert, Nicks took on the persona of the mythological Welsh witch Rhiannon, swirling about on stage in a black cape and adding a new sexual element to the band's presence. Tunes like "Say You Love Me," "Over My Head," and "Monday Morning" pushed Fleetwood Mac to platinum status and became Warner Bros.' best-selling LP ever at the time (previous Mac albums sold around 200,000 copies each). Released in July of 1975, the LP reached the top 20 and then sank to the top 40 just before peaking at number three right before Christmas. Of their success, Buckingham told Guitar World, "It wasn't a supergroup. They were selling no albums at all. They were broke for all practical purposes.... I'm not saying it was our doing, but it was all of our doing. It was the right chemistry." The album earned five-times platinum sales by 1986.
Personal Struggles Reflected in Rumours
Musically, the band members meshed perfectly, but their personal relationships were not as smooth. During the next eleven months they worked on their follow-up LP, Rumours, while trying to cope with the breakups of the McVies and Nicks and Buckingham. "Go Your Own Way" was typical of the album's tone and, as the band struggled with their relationship problems, their record flew up the charts to the number one spot. "What makes the difference this time is knowing that, for all the problems we've encountered, we've got a huge album," Fleetwood told Rolling Stone during the recording of the LP. "It makes any bad things that happen seem not nearly as bad as if the last album had stifled."
The high recording expense paid off as Rumours had sold 19 million copies in the United States--more than 40 million worldwide--as of fall 2003. With Fleetwood Mac and Rumours, the band had made pop history and defined the decade's musical characteristics. "Catchy but emotionally affecting pop rock for the late Seventies," was how John Rockwell described their music in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll. "The music was unabashedly pop, yet it touched on serious themes without being weighed down by them."
Buckingham took control on their next effort, the double-LP Tusk, from 1979. More folk than rock, nine of the tunes were penned by the guitarist. "Another series of saccharine-soaked melodies, guaranteed to stick to your cassette deck like a layer of crazy glue," stated Keith Sharp in Rock Express. "[Buckingham] recognizes the powerful Yuppie, Middle America market and he's orchestrated an album that will fill a huge void in the lazy summer months ahead.... Functional ... but no longer fun. And with Lindsey Buckingham holding the reins, I'm surprised he hasn't renamed the band Buckingham Mac."
Other critics were not as harsh and some even compared Tusk to the finest work of the Beatles. No one could have possibly expected it to sell like their previous two LPs, and it didn't, but Buckingham told Rolling Stone about the pressures of trying to create Rumours Two. "Suddenly the phenomenon was the sales and not the work. And that's dangerous ground as far as I'm concerned."
Pursued Solo Careers
During the 1980s, Fleetwood Mac released a live LP and two more studio albums while Nicks worked on a solo career for the Modern label and Buckingham recorded the exceptionally fine Law and Order on his own. After their Mirage LP in 1982, Mick Fleetwood declared bankruptcy and in 1987 called on Buckingham to take a break from his solo career to help out on the band's Tango in the Night. Fleetwood Mac was back in the spotlight thanks to the hit single "Seven Wonders" as Buckingham returned to his solo work while being replaced by two guitarists, Billy Burnette and Rick Vito, and during his absence from the group during the mid-1990s by Dave Mason.
In 1990 the band released their Behind the Mask LP and were, amazingly, still going strong after 23 years and eleven different lineups. "No rock band has had more excuses to break up. Or fewer inclinations to do so," wrote Edna Gundersen in the Lansing State Journal. "Fleetwood Mac has weathered soured romances, commercial slumps, drug addiction, alcoholism, bankruptcy and abrupt membership shuffles; any might have splintered a less resilient menage."
Reunited for The Dance
Though it took some convincing, Buckingham reunited with Fleetwood Mac in 1997 after releasing his third solo album, Out of the Cradle, four years earlier. The group had played at President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993 ("Don't Stop" became a campaign anthem), but soon split. It was at this time that Nicks officially left the group and was replaced by Bekka Bramlett. With Nicks now on board, the group formally rejoined, signing with Reprise and releasing a CD and DVD recorded for an MTV special called The Dance, which included Fleetwood Mac classics and some new material. A highly successful tour followed, which grossed $36 million in ticket sales, likely powered by the popularity of the Rumours lineup of the band. "We can all go our separate ways for periods of time, but we always seem to come back to each other," Nick told Billboard about the resilient group in 1997. "There's a connection between each of us that has nothing to do with business." The Grammy Award-nominated album went five-times platinum in 2000.
What was originally intended to be Buckingham's fourth solo album morphed into another opportunity for the group to come together, though this time without Christine McVie, who had opted out because she didn't want to tour. The result was 2003's Say You Will, which featured the Nicks-penned songs "Say You Will," "Destiny Rules," "Silver Girl," and the September 11th-inspired "Illume." Notable Buckingham tracks include "Red Rover," the uncharacteristically sexual "Come," and "Murrow Turning Over in His Grave," about legendary newsperson Edward R. Murrow. The group once again embarked on a tour.
Though Buckingham's solo career stalled in the 1990s, Nicks continued to release albums, including Street Angel in 1994 and Trouble in Shangri-La in 2001. Fleetwood Mac has also been the subject of odes from fellow musicians, most notably on the album Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac's Rumors in 1998, and covers of "Landslide" by the Smashing Pumpkins and the Dixie Chicks. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received a BRIT Award for Outstanding Contribution to the British Music Industry in 1998.
by Calen D. Stone
Fleetwood Mac's Career
Group formed in England as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, 1967; released the blues-tinged albums Fleetwood Mac and Mr. Wonderful, 1968; released English Rose and Then Play On, 1969; broke into the American market with the rock 'n' roll album Kiln House, 1970; released Future Games, 1971, and Bare Trees, 1972; released Mystery To Me, 1973, and Heroes Are Hard to Find, 1974; released Fleetwood Mac, 1975, and Rumours, 1977; released double album Tusk, 1979; released Mirage, 1982; Tango in the Night, 1987; Behind the Mask, 1990; performed "Don't Stop" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, 1993; group formally reunited for the MTV special and CD The Dance, 1997; released Say You Will, 2003.
Fleetwood Mac's Awards
Rolling Stone magazine's Critics' Awards, Band of the Year, Album of the Year for Rumours, 1977; Grammy Award, Album of the Year for Rumors, 1977; BRIT Award for Outstanding Contribution to the British Music Industry, 1998; induction, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1998.
- Selected discography
- Fleetwood Mac Blue Horizon, 1968.
- Mr. Wonderful Blue Horizon, 1968.
- Fleetwood Mac in Chicago Blue Horizon, 1969.
- Then Play On Reprise, 1969.
- English Rose Epic, 1969.
- Kiln House Reprise, 1970.
- Future Games Reprise, 1971.
- Bare Trees Reprise, 1972.
- Penguin Reprise, 1972.
- Mystery To Me Reprise, 1973.
- Heroes Are Hard To Find Reprise, 1974.
- Fleetwood Mac Reprise, 1975.
- Rumours Warner Bros., 1977.
- Tusk Warner Bros., 1979.
- Fleetwood Mac Live Warner Bros., 1980.
- Mirage Warner Bros., 1982.
- Tango in the Night Warner Bros., 1987.
- Behind the Mask Reprise, 1990.
- The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac Reprise, 1992.
- 25 Years: The Chain (box set), Reprise, 1992.
- Time Warner Bros., 1995.
- The Dance Reprise, 1997.
- Say You Will Reprise, 2003.
- Christgau, Robert, Christgau's Record Guide, Ticknor & Fields, 1981.
- Graff, Gary, and Daniel Durchholz, editors, MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, Visible Ink Press, 1999.
- Kozinn, Allan, Pete Welding, Dan Forte and Gene Santoro, The Guitar: The Music, the History, the Players, Quill, 1984.
- Logan, Nick, and Bob Woffinden, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, Harmony, 1977.
- Marsh, Dave, and John Swenson, editors, The Rolling Stone Record Guide, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1979.
- Miller, Jim, editor, The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1976.
- American Amusement, December 8, 1997.
- Billboard, August 16, 1997; February 21, 1998.
- Detroit Free Press, July 1, 1990.
- Entertainment Weekly, August 22, 1997.
- Guitar Player, January 1977; January 1978; April 2003.
- Guitar World, January 1983; May 1987; December 1989.
- Interview June 2003, p. 74.
- Lansing State Journal, June 30, 1990.
- Rock Express, May-June, 1987.
- Rolling Stone, April 8, 1976; March 24, 1977; April 21, 1977; December 29, 1977; January 12, 1978; December 13, 1979; February 7, 1980; June 5, 1986; March 26, 1987; September 24, 1987.
- BRIT Awards, http://www.brits.co.uk (October 4, 2003).
- "Fleetwood Mac," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (October 3, 2003).
- "Fleetwood Mac," Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, http://www.rockhall.com/hof/inductee.asp?id=103 (October 4, 2003).
- "Musicians to Make Tribute to Rumours," RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com/news/newsarticle.asp?nid=2847&cf=714 (October 3, 2003).
- Record Industry Association of America, http://www.riaa.com (October 3, 2003).
- Recording Academy, http://www.grammy.com (September 12, 2003).
- Reprise Records, http://www.repriserecords.com (September 12, 2003).
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