New Fleetwood Mac 2018

Fleetwood Mac’s messy divorce

The band has parted ways with Lindsey Buckingham, but that isn’t stopping it from launching a huge tour this fall.

EARLY THIS SPRING, most of Fleetwood Mac – Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood – gathered at a theater on the Hawaiian island of Maui with their future in doubt. The band had secretly parted ways with Lindsey Buckingham, the voice and guitar behind many of its most enduring songs. According to the group, the split came down to a scheduling conflict surrounding an upcoming tour. “We were supposed to go into rehearsal in June, and he wanted to put it off until next November,” says Nicks. “That’s a long time. I just did 70 shows [on a solo tour]. As soon as I finish one thing, I dive back into another. Why would we stop? This is what we do.”

So the bandmates invited Mike Campbell, former guitarist of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Neil Finn, best known as the frontman of Eighties hitmakers Crowded House, to spend a few days workshopping songs and see if they could press forward without Buckingham. “I immediately felt like I’d known them for years,” says Christine McVie, “though we’d only just met.” The lineup will embark on a 52date tour beginning October 3rd in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that will run until mid-2019.

Buckingham’s ousting marks the latest messy chapter in the ongoing 50-year Fleetwood Mac drama – or, as drummer Fleetwood tells it, business as usual. When key early members like Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer left in the early 1970s, Fleetwood got on the phone and recruited new members. The group never stopped working, even when Nicks left in the early 1990s and a new lineup found itself opening for the likes of REO Speedwagon on the amphitheater circuit. “My instincts have always been to gravitate toward going forward,” Fleetwood says. “But I’d be lying if I didn’t literally say to myself, ‘This one needs a lot of thought.’ ” (Buckingham has not responded to interview requests.)

On February 1st, Fleetwood called Campbell, who was in Hawaii. It was the guitarist’s 68th birthday. “I was sitting by my pool contemplating my future without my partner [Petty], which was going to be a dark place,” he says. “I said, ‘Give me a day to think it over.’ The more I thought, the more I thought it could be great. Stevie and I have always been very creative together.” After getting Campbell’s commitment, Fleetwood called Finn, whom he played with at a 2016 fundraiser in New Zealand. “I was stunned,” Finn says. “I’m relishing this beautiful gift given to me.”

The new version of Fleetwood Mac soon starts two months of rehearsals. They’ve decided to draw from their entire catalog, not just the Buckingham-Nicks run from 1975 to 1987 that gave them nearly all of their hits. “We were never able to do that because certain people in the band weren’t interested,” says Nicks. “Now we can open the set.”

For Nicks, carrying on without Buckingham is bittersweet: “Our relationship has always been volatile. We were never married, but we might as well have been. Some couples get divorced after 40 years. They break their kids’ hearts. This is sad for me, but I want the next 10 years of my life to be really fun and happy. I want to get up every day and dance around my apartment and say, ‘Thank God for this amazing life.’ ”

PHOTO (COLOR): GO YOUR OWN WAY McVie, Finn, Fleetwood, Nicks, Campbell, McVie (Randee St. Nicholas)

Andy Greene / Rolling Stone / Thursday, May 17, 2018

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