Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac are an EnglishAmerican rock band formed in 1967 by drummer Mick Fleetwood and guitarist Peter Green. The first-recorded lineup stabilized with guitarist Jeremy Spencer and bassist John McVie. Green created the band’s name by combining the surnames of Mick (Fleetwood) and John (Mac). This lineup cut three singles and the 1968 albums Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and Mr. Wonderful.

Fleetwood Mac hired teenage guitarist–singer Danny Kirwan for the 1968–69 UK chart-toppers “Albatross,” “Man of the World,” and “Oh Well.” Their 1969 third album, Then Play On, features Green, Kirwan, Fleetwood, and McVie. Green left after the 1970 single “The Green Manalishi.” Spencer, absent from the prior two recordings, leads the fourth album Kiln House, recorded with pianist guest Christine Perfect, who married John and joined the band.

In early 1971, Spencer left for religious reasons. Fleetwood Mac hired American singer–guitarist Bob Welch for the album Future Games and its 1972 followup Bare Trees, their last with Kirwan. They hired guitarist–singer Bob Weston for the 1973 albums Penguin and Mystery to Me but crumbled shortly into their autumn US tour. Welch left after the 1974 album Heroes Are Hard to Find, their first to go Top 40 on the US Billboard 200.

In January 1975, Fleetwood Mac welcomed guitarist–singer Lindsey Buckingham and his then-girlfriend, singer Stevie Nicks, who made one album as the folk duo Buckingham Nicks. The lineup of Fleetwood, Buckingham, Nicks, and the McVie’s lasted twelve years and five studio albums, starting with the 1975 Reprise release Fleetwood Mac, the band’s tenth album and first No. 1, propelled by Stevie’s “Rhiannon.”

In February 1977, Fleetwood Mac released Rumours, which topped the Billboard 200 for thirty-one weeks and spawned the radio staples “Dreams” (No. 1 Billboard), “Don’t Stop” (No. 1 Cashbox), “Go Your Own Way,” and “You Make Loving Fun.”

After eighteen months of touring and press speculation about their personal lives, Fleetwood Mac spent ten months on their Rumours followup, the 1979 double-album Tusk, comprised of twenty songs of diverging styles by Buckingham, Nicks, and Christine McVie. Stevie’s ballad “Sara” and Lindsey’s tribal “Tusk” became hits.

In 1981, Buckingham, Nicks, and Mick Fleetwood each launched solo careers. Fleetwood Mac reconvened for the 1982 release Mirage, which spawned the chart hits “Gypsy” and “Hold Me,” both accompanied with iconic early MTV videos.

A five-year break ensued where Stevie courted solo stardom and Lindsey explored art-pop on his 1984 album Go Insane. Fleetwood Mac regrouped for the 1987 album Tango In the Night, which includes the hits “Big Love,” “Seven Wonders,” “Little Lies,” and “Everywhere.” Buckingham left after the album’s completion. For the accompanying tour, they hired guitarist–singers Billy Burnette and Rick Vito, who play on the 1990 album Behind the Mask.

Members: Mick Fleetwood (drums), Peter Green (guitar, vocals, 1967-70), Bob Brunning (bass, 1967), Jeremy Spencer (guitar, vocals, 1967-71), John McVie (bass, 1967-present), Danny Kirwan (guitar, 1968-72), Christine McVie (vocals, piano, keyboards, 1970-95, 1997-98, 2014-present), Bob Welch (guitar, vocals, 1971-74), Bob Weston (guitar, 1972-74), Dave Walker (guitar, vocals, 1973), Lindsey Buckingham (guitar, vocals, 1975-87, 1997-2018), Stevie Nicks (vocals, keyboards, 1975-91, 1997-present)


Background

Fleetwood Mac formed in July 1967 as an offshoot of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Bassist John McVie (b. Nov. 26, 1945; Ealing, Middlesex) belonged to the four-man Bluesbreakers lineup behind the 1966 Decca release Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton. After Clapton departed for Cream, guitarist Peter Green took his place on the Bluesbreakers’ 1967 release A Hard Road.

Green (b. Peter Greenbaum, Oct. 29, 1946; Bethnal Green) played beforehand with drummer Mick Fleetwood in the R&B–beat group Shotgun Express, an offshoot of the instrumental Peter B’s Looners with keyboardist Peter Bardens.

Fleetwood (b. June 24, 1947; Redruth, Cornwall) first surfaced with Bardens in beatsters The Cheynes, which cut three 1963–65 Columbia singles. He then replaced drummer (and future film producer) Nigel Hutchinson in The Bo Street Runners and played on their 1965 Columbia single “Baby Never Say Goodbye.” Mick then reteamed with Bardens, fresh off a stint with Them, in The Peter B’s, which cut the 1966 Columbia single “If You Wanna Be Happy,” an instrumental cover of the 1963 Jimmy Soul hit; backed with the Bardens’ original “Jodrell Blues,” the recording debut of relative newcomer Green.

After a brief spell as Peter B’s Looners, they morphed into Shotgun Express with singer Rod Stewart (ex-Steampacket) and Beryl Marsden, but Green jumped ship to the Bluesbreakers for the October 1966 Hard Road sessions. Meanwhile, Shotgun Express cut two Columbia singles but folded when Stewart joined a new band formed by ex-Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck. Green recommended Fleetwood to Mayall as a replacement for exiting Bluesbreakers drummer Aynsley Dunbar.

With Mayall’s Bluesbreakers now comprised of Green, McVie, and Fleetwood, Mayall offered them free studio time to cut three songs: “Curly,” “Rubber Duck,” and the Green-composed instrumental titled “Fleetwood Mac,” inspired by the surnames of the rhythm section (“Mac” derived from the first syllable in McVie). Soon after, Green suggested they form their own band. Fleetwood — since replaced in the Bluesbreakers by ex-Artwoods drummer Keef Hartley — jumped at the idea but McVie was hesitant to leave the steady income of his Bluesbreakers gig. To entice John, they named the band Fleetwood Mac, thus making him a namesake. As he considered the option, they hired slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer and used bassist Bob Brunning, the latter on an agreed-upon temporary basis. Spencer (b. July 4, 1948; Hartlepool, County Durham) played beforehand in The Levi Set, an unrecorded blues trio.

On August 13, 1967, Fleetwood Mac made their live debut at the Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival, a three-day event at the Royal Windsor Racecourse with sets by Amen Corner, The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Eric Burdon & The Animals, Marmalade, The Move, The Nice, Paul JonesSmall Faces, Tomorrow, Ten Years After, Timebox, and Zoot Money. Mac, billed at this stage as “Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac,” played Day 3 (Sunday) along with The Alan Bown Set, Blossom Toes, Chicken Shack, Cream, Donovan, Jeff Beck Group, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, P.P. Arnold, and The Pentangle.

Fleetwood Mac signed with Blue Horizon, an independent blues label established by producer Mike Vernon. On August 15, they headlined London’s prestigious Marquee club, supported by labelmates Chicken Shack.

In early September, McVie joined Fleetwood Mac. Brunning formed the Brunning Sunflower Blues Band, which cut three albums between 1968 and 1970 on Saga Records. Fleetwood Mac gigged the English club and college circuit for two months in the buildup to their vinyl debut.


“I Believe My Time Ain’t Long”

On November 3, 1967, Fleetwood Mac released their debut single: the Elmore James cover “I Believe My Time Ain’t Long,” backed with the Peter Green original “Rambling Pony.”

“I Believe My Time Ain’t Long” is the subtitle of “Dust My Broom,” a 1951 a-side by Elmore James, who performed the song in the late thirties in the Mississippi Delta.

On this single and the first album, they’re billed as Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. In the final two months of 1967, Fleetwood Mac played fifteen documented shows, including a November 24 headline slot at the Marquee, supported by Black Cat Bones. On December 14, they played Guildford’s Civic Hall with Blue Horizon signee Duster Bennett, whose 1968 debut album Smiling Like I’m Happy features Green, Fleetwood, and McVie.


1968

On January 16,1968, Fleetwood Mac backed Mississippi bluesman Eddie Boyd on three songs (“The Stroller,” “Blue Coat Man,” “Where You Belong”) for the 1/21 broadcast of the BBC Radio program Top Gear. Green, Fleetwood, and McVie play on Boyd’s March 1968 Blue Horizon release 7936 South Rhodes, an album of twelve originals co-billed to ‘Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.’

On Jan. 20, Fleetwood Mac played a multi-act bill at London’s Roundhouse with The Move, CWoAB, Fairport Convention, Louise, Paper Blitz Tissue, Geranium Pond, and Family. On February 3, they played Sheffield University with soul-psychsters The Mandrakes, which featured a young Robert Palmer. On Feb. 28, they appeared cross-channel at the Congresgebouw in Den Haag, Nederlands, with Twice as Much and rising Dutch stars The Golden Earrings.


Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac 

Fleetwood Mac released their debut album, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, on February 24, 1968, on Blue Horizon. It features four covers and eight originals. Green wrote “Merry Go Round,” “Long Grey Mare,” “Looking for Somebody,” “I Loved Another Woman,” and “The World Keep on Turning.” Spencer submitted “My Heart Beat Like a Hammer,” “My Baby’s Good to Me,” and “Cold Black Night.” They cover Robert Johnson (“Hellhound on My Trail”), Howlin’ Wolf (“No Place to Go”), and two songs by Elmore James (“Shake Your Moneymaker,” “Got to Move”).

1. “My Heart Beat Like a Hammer” (2:55)
2. “Merry Go Round” (4:05)
3. “Long Grey Mare” (2:15)
4. “Hellhound on My Trail” (2:00) first appeared as a 1938 Robert Johnson 78rpm on Vocalion Records.
5. “Shake Your Moneymaker” (2:55) first appeared as a 1961 Elmore James b-side on Fire Records.
6. “Looking for Somebody” (2:50)

1. “No Place to Go” Chester Burnett (3:20) first appeared as a 1954 Howlin’ Wolf a-side on Chess.
2. “My Baby’s Good to Me” (2:50)
3. “I Loved Another Woman” (2:55)
4. “Cold Black Night” (3:15)
5. “The World Keep on Turning” (2:30)
6. “Got to Move” (3:20) is a 1961 song by James, co-credited to music publisher Marshall Sehorn.

Sessions tool place in November–December 1967 at CBS and Decca Studios, London, where Vernon produced Fleetwood Mac amid singles by The Accents, Bluesbreakers, Savoy Brown, and the debut albums by David Bowie and Ten Years After. The engineer, Mike Ross, worked concurrently with Donovan and the Jimi Hendrix Experience (Are You Experienced).

Spencer sings his numbers and the Johnson and James covers; Green sings the balance. Brunning plays bass on “Long Grey Mare.” McVie plays on the rest apart from “Hellhound on My Trail” and “The World Keep on Turning.”

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac reached No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart. In North America, the album and their three subsequent singles appeared on Epic. In select parts of Europe (Germany, Netherlands, Norway), “Shake Your Moneymaker” appeared as a CBS a-side (b/w “My Heart Beat Like a Hammer”).


“Black Magic Woman”

On March 28, 1968, Fleetwood Mac released “Black Magic Woman,” a Green original backed with the Elmore James cover “The Sun Is Shining.”

“The Sun Is Shining” first appeared as a 1960 James a-side on Chess.

“Black Magic Woman” reached No. 37 on the UK Singles Chart.

Fleetwood Mac celebrated this release with a March 29 show at the Marquee, supported by Jethro Tull. On April 9, they performed “Black Magic Woman” and three other songs (“Worried Dreams,” “Please Find My Baby,” “Peggy Sue Got Married”) for the 4/13 broadcast of the BBC Radio program Saturday Club. On April 15, they appeared in Thurmaston for the ‘Barn Barbecue and Dance’ with Mayall, Soft Machine, Alan Brown, Fairport, Legay, and Pesky Gee.

On April 30, Fleetwood Mac launched their first European tour at the Rondo Club in Voss, Norway. That same say, they performed “Shake Your Moneymaker” and “My Heart Beats Like a Hammer” on the Norwegian TV show Popcorn, guest hosted by Tone Knaran, Miss Norway 1968. In May, they played five shows in Denmark and Sweden, supported by The Fugs, The Nice, and Ten Years After.

On June 7, Fleetwood Mac made their US debut in San Francisco at the Carousel Ballroom, supporting the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane. On June 14–15, they opened for Chuck Berry and the Chamber Brothers at LA’s Shrine Exposition Hall. They returned to the Carousel for opening dates behing Big Brother & the Holding Company (June 22–23), then back to the Shrine for a June 28–29 engagement with The Who and CWoAB.


“Need Your Love So Bad”

On July 5, 1968, Fleetwood Mac released “Need Your Love So Bad,” a Little Willie John cover backed with “Stop Messin’ Round,” a Green original co-credited to band manager Clifford George Adams (listed as C.G. Adams).

“Need Your Love So Bad” first appeared as a 1955 Little Willie b-side on Kings Records.

“Need Your Love So Bad” reached No. 31 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 7 in the Netherlands.

As the single hit shelves, Fleetwood Mac played a three-night engagement (July 5–7) at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, supporting the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Ten Years After. On July 11, they played Detroit’s Grande Ballroom, supported by local garage-rockers The Thyme. Fleetwood Mac made their New York debut on July 13 at Club Space. On the 15th, they supported Pink Floyd at The Scene.

In August 1968, Fleetwood Mac welcomed a fifth member, guitarist Danny Kirwan (b. 1950, Brixton). They spotted the eighteen-year-old fronting the blues-rock powertrio Boilerhouse at the Nag’s Head in Battersea.


Mr. Wonderful

Fleetwood Mac released their second album, Mr. Wonderful, on August 23, 1968, on Blue Horizon. It opens with the recent b-side “Stop Messin’ Round” and contains five further Green originals: “Rollin’ Man,” “Love That Burns,” “If You Be My Baby,” “Lazy Poker Blues,” “Trying So Hard to Forget.” The album also features three Spencer numbers (“I’ve Lost My Baby,” “Need Your Love Tonight,” “Evenin’ Boogie”) and the earlier b-side “Dust My Broom,” plus covers of Buster Brown (“Doctor Brown”) and Elmore James & His Broomdusters (“Coming Home”).

1. “Stop Messin’ Round” (2:22)
2. “I’ve Lost My Baby” (4:18)
3. “Rollin’ Man” (2:54)
4. “Dust My Broom” (2:54)
5. “Love That Burns” (5:04)
6. “Doctor Brown” (3:48) first appeared as a 1960 Brown a-side on Fire Records.

1. “Need Your Love Tonight” (3:29)
2. “If You Be My Baby” (3:54)
3. “Evenin’ Boogie” (2:42)
4. “Lazy Poker Blues” (2:37)
5. “Coming Home” (2:41) first appeared as a 1957 Broomdusters b-side on Chief Records.
6. “Trying So Hard to Forget” (4:47)

Green’s numbers are co-credited to Adams for copyright purposes.

Mike Vernon produced Mr. Natural in April 1968 at CBS Studio. This marks the first studio interaction between Fleetwood Mac and keyboardist–singer Christine Perfect of labelmates Chicken Shack, whose debut album, the Vernon-produced Forty Blue Fingers, Freshly Packed And Ready to Serve, appeared two months earlier. Ross engineered both albums in sequence with the self-titled album by July, a forerunner to Jade Warrior.

Mr. Natural also features guest appearances by four saxophonists, including current Bluesbreaker Johnny Almond and later Riff Raff member Steve Gregory. Another Blue Horizon act, harpist Duster Bennett, appears on select numbers.

Mr. Wonderful is housed in a portrait gatefold by Blue Horizon art director Terence Ibbott, who photographed Fleetwood in fig leaves with a doll and dog in hand. The inner-gate has tattered monochrome studio pics of each member.

Mr. Wonderful reached No. 10 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 8 on the Norwegian VG-lista. Fleetwood Mac greeted its released with an August 24 appearance at Hyde Park, where Kirwan made his live debut with the band as part of an all-day free festival that also featured sets by Roy Harper, Fairport, Family, and Eclection. On Aug. 26, Christine Perfect joined Mac at the BBC Playhouse Theatre for live renditions of three songs (“Need Your Love So Bad,” “Shake Your Money Maker,” “Stop Messin’ Round”) in Radio 1 O’Clock.

On September 2, Fleetwood Mac played the Bank Holiday Bluesology Festival, an event at Chateau Impney Grounds in Droitwich with sets by Breakthru‘, Chris Farlowe, Wynder K. Frog, The Move, Skip Bifferty, and Family. They followed with fourteen UK shows through the 25th. After a round of Dutch dates, they played thirty UK shows through November 14, including a 10/24 show at Birmingham’s Mothers club with labelmate Gordon Smith. At BBC Studio 2, they played a four-song set (“Hard-Hearted Woman,” “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Crazy About My Baby,” “Set a Date”) for the Nov. 26 broadcast of WS R&B 26.  


“Albatross”

On November 22, 1968, Fleetwood Mac released “Albatross,” a Green instrumental backed with Kirwan’s “Jigsaw Puzzle Blues.”

Fleetwood Mac mimed “Albatross” on the December 19 broadcast of the BBC music program Top of the Pops, which re-aired the song across three fortnights amid current hits by Dusty Springfield (“Son of a Preacher Man”), Marmalade (“Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da”), Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (“I’m The Urban Spaceman”), The Foundations (“Build Me Up Buttercup”), Stevie Wonder (“For Once In My Life”), The Move (“Blackberry Way”), Manfred Mann (“Fox On the Run”), Harmony Grass (“Move In a Little Closer”), Amen Corner (“(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice”), and Wilson Pickett (“Hey Jude”).

“Albatross” reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart on the week of January 29, 1969, where it overtook Marmalade and held the slot for one week before the Move overtook Mac. In Europe, “Albatross” reached No. 1 in the Netherlands, No. 2 in Norway, and No. 4 in Sweden and Switzerland. In North America, “Albatross” reached No. 45 in Canada and bubbled under the US Billboard Hot 100.

Fleetwood Mac embarked on a late-November Scandinavian tour that included an 11/17 show at Copenhagen’s Falkoner Centret with Chicken Shack and local stalwarts the Delta Blues Band, plus the Irish blues-rock trio Taste. On Nov. 27, Mac played three songs (“Homework,” “My Baby’s Sweet,” “Dust My Broom”) at ORTF Studios in Paris for Suprise Partie, a New Year’s Eve French TV broadcast with sets by The Who, Small Faces, Floyd, The Troggs, The Equals, Joe Cocker, Booker T & the MGs, and local beatsters Les Variations.


English Rose

In December 1968, Epic issued the twelve-track compilation English Rose as the second Fleetwood Mac album in America. It gathers three non-album UK single sides (“Albatross,” “Black Magic Woman,” “Jigsaw Puzzle Blues”) and six Mr. Wonderful tracks: “Stop Messin’ Round,” “Doctor Brown,” “Evenin’ Boogie,” “Love That Burns,” “I’ve Lost My Baby,” and “Coming Home.”

English Rose also contains three unissued Kirwan originals: “Something Inside of Me,” “One Sunny Day,” and “Without You.” The last two reappeared on their third UK studio album. Ibott took the English Rose cover photo, which shows Mick Fleetwood in drag.

Fleetwood Mac promoted English Rose with their second US tour, which included a three-night stand (Dec. 19–21) at the Boston Tea Party, supported by locals Ill Wind and the J Geils Band.

On Dec. 26–27, Mac returned to Detroit’s Grande Ballroom, supported by the Rotary Connection (first night) and The Stooges (second).

On December 28, Fleetwood Mac played to an audience of 100,000 at the First Annual Miami Pop Festival. a three-day event with sets by Procol Harum, Three Dog Night, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Blues Image. Fleetwood Mac closed out 1968 with a Dec. 31 opening slot for The Byrds at Chicago’s Kinetic Playground.


1969

Fleetwood Mac opened 1969 in Chicago at the Kinetic Playground, where they supported The Byrds on a New Year’s Day show with Muddy Waters. On Sunday the 4th, they held a session at Chess Ter-Mar Studios with seven American blues legends: harpist Walter Horton (1921–1981), double-bassist Willie Dixon (1915–1992), pianist Otis Spann (d. 1970), saxophonist J.T. Brown (1918–Nov. 24, 1969), drummer S.P. Leary (b. 1930), and guitarists Buddy Guy (b. 1936) and David “Honeyboy” Edwards (1915–2011).

Green, Kirwan, and McVie, along with S.P. Leary, back Spann on The Biggest Thing Since Colossus, a ten-song set of (mostly) Spann originals, recorded in January at New York’s Tempo Sound Studios and released in April on Blue Horizon.

On January 10 and 11, Fleetwood Mac played Northwest shows in Vancouver (PNE Garden Auditorium) and Seattle (Eagles Ballroom), followed by a four-night stand (Jan. 16–19) at Fillmore West supporting Creedence Clearwater Revival. On Jan. 24–25, Fleetwood Mac placed LA’s Shrine, supporting Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention with fellow openers Black Pearl. On Jan. 31, Mac played Fresno’s Rainbow Ballroom, supported by It’s a Beautiful Day and unsigned Milwaukee psychsters The Shag.

Between February 23 and April 1, Fleetwood Mac played the UK club and college circuit with breaks to Scandinavia and the Netherlands, where they appeared at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw for a Feb. 28 midnight bill supported by local blues stalwarts Cuby & The Blizzards and Livin Blues.

On March 16, Fleetwood Mac appeared at the Empire Pool (aka Wembley Stadium) for Pop World 69, which also featured The Move, Gun, Harmony Grass, Barry Ryan, Sharon Tandy & Les Fleur de Lys, and Gary Walker & Rain. On the 18th, Mac played Sheffield’s City Hall, supported by Savoy Brown and Terry Reid. 

Meanwhile, Clifford Adams moved Fleetwood Mac to Immediate Records, the label established by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham with a small star stable (Chris Farlowe, PP Arnold, Small Faces). Mac cut one Immediate single before label issues forced the band elsewhere. Mick Fleetwood’s brother-in-law, George Harrison, wanted them on The Beatles’ Apple label, but Adams signed them to the Warner subsidiary Reprise Records.

Three-fourths of Mac appear on the 1968 Blue Horizon release Long Overdue by Tynside blues guitarist–singer Gordon Smith. Green plays harmonica on one track (“Diving Duck Blues”); Fleetwood–McVie play on two (“Having a Good Time,” “I’ve Been Down So Long”).

Kirwan and Mick Fleetwood, along with early Mac bassist Bob Brunning, appear on Tramp, a 1969 release on the Music Man label. They undertook the project — headed by brother–sister blues singers Dave Kelly and Jo-Ann Kelly — on–off under the Tramp moniker.


“Man of the World”

On April 3, 1969, Fleetwood Mac released “Man of the World,” a Green original on Immediate Records.

Spencer, who doesn’t play on “Man of the World,” wrote its b-side, “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonite,” credited to Earl Vince and the Valiants (a Fleetwood Mac pseudonym).

Fleetwood Mac mimed the song for the April 10 broadcast of TotP, which re-aired the song weekly in May amid current hits by Marvin Gaye (“I Heard It Through the Grapevine”), The Who (“Pinball Wizard”), The Beatles with Billy Preston (“Get Back”), The Isley Brothers (“Behind a Painted Smile”), Mary Hopkin (“Goodbye”), The Herd (“The Game”), The 5th Dimension (“Aquarius–Let The Sunshine In (Medley)”), Status Quo (“Are You Growing Tired of My Love?”), and the Bee Gees (“Tomorrow Tomorrow”).

“Man of the World” reached No. 2 in the UK and Norway and No. 5 in Ireland. It also went Top 20 in South Africa (No. 11) and the Netherlands and Sweden (both No. 12).

In late April, Fleetwood Mac partook in an eight-city UK package tour with Duster Bennett and American bluesmen Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and headliner B.B. King.

Meanwhile, Clifford Adams changed his surname to Davis and cut his own version of “Man of the World” as the b-side to his 1969 Reprise version of Green’s “Before the Beginning.” 


Festival Shows

On Saturday May 10, 1969, Fleetwood Mac played the Nottingham Pop & Blues Festival, an all-day event (noon–11:00pm) at Notts County Football Ground with sets by The Tremeloes, Marmalade, George Fame, Love Sculpture, The Move, Pink Floyd, Keef Hartley Band, Status Quo, Duster Bennett, Dream Police, and Van Der Graaf Generator. The next day, Mac appeared at Empire Pool for the NME Poll Winners Contest ’69, which also honored Amen Corner, Lulu, The Move, and Love Sculpture.

On Friday May 23, Fleetwood Mac played the Croeso Blues Festival, a day-long event at Grosmont Wood Barn in Abergaveney, Wales, with sets by Jethro Tull, Elmer Gantrys Velvet Opera, Eyes of Blue, and Kimlataz. On the 25th, Mac appeared at the Roundhouse along with Pink Floyd, The Pretty Things, The Deviants, Eclection, Blossom Toes, and Family, who all appeared as part of a benefit show hosted by DJ John Peel on behalf of Fairport Convention, who recently suffered a tour-van crash that claimed the life of drummer Martin Lamble and entourage member Jeannie Franklyn, the girlfriend of Fairport guitarist Richard Thompson.

On Friday May 30, Fleetwood and played a free concert at Parliament Hill Fields as part of the third concert of the 1969 Camden Fringe Festival, held on three Fridays that month with sets by the Battered Ornaments, Bridget St. John, Edgar Broughton Band, Group Therapy, Jody Grind, Third Ear Band, and newcomers Yes.

On Saturday June 28, Fleetwood Mac headlined the Bath Festival of Blues, a day-long event at the Recreation Ground in Bath, England, with sets by the Bluesbreakers, Ten Years After, Led Zeppelin, The Nice, Colosseum, Blodwyn Pig, Clouds, Principal Edwards Magic Theatre. Hours on from her set with afternoon performers Chicken Shack, Christine Perfect reappeared on piano for Mac’s set.

Christine and John McVie quietly married, though she kept her maiden name for the time being. She recently completed her second album with Chicken Shack, the February 1969 Blue Horizon release O.K. Ken?, which hit No. 9 on the UK chart. In April, they issued the non-album Etta James cover “I’d Rather Go Blind,” a Top 20 hit that earned Christine the Top Female Singer accolade on Melody Maker’s 1969 Reader’s Poll. Despite this, she left Chicken Shack that same year to spend more time with her husband and his band.


The Pious Bird of Good Omen

In August 1969, Blue Horizon issued The Pious Bird of Good Omen, a Fleetwood Mac compilation for the UK, European, and Australasian markets. It contains their first four non-album UK a- and b-sides, plus two cuts from Mr. Wonderful (Green’s “Looking for Somebody” and the Elmore James cover “Comin’ Home”) and two collaborative numbers with Eddie Boyd: “The Big Boat” and the 7936 South Rhodes  track “Just the Blues.” Of the album’s twelve tracks, only four (“Albatross,” “Black Magic Woman,” “Jigsaw Puzzle Blues,” “Comin’ Home’) overlap with English Rose.

The title comes from the gloss of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a 1798 poem by English bard Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The phrase refers to the albatross killed in the poem (“The ancient Mariner inhospitably killeth the pious bird of good omen”). On the cover, a nun holds an albatross. (Taylor Coleridge’s poem also inspired the 1969 Blind Faith song “Sea of Joy.”)

On September 6, Fleetwood Mac played Dunstable’s Civic Hall, supported by Eclection, Hard Meat, and Eire Apparent. On Sept. 26–27, Fleetwood Mac and Family co-headlined the Progressive Blues Festival (aka The Buxton Festival), an overnight event (Friday 8:00pm — Saturday 7:30am) MC’d by John Peel with sets by East of Eden, Edgar Broughton, Stackwaddy, Spirit of John Morgan, Glass Menagerie, and Grisby Dyke.


Then Play On

Fleetwood Mac released their third album, Then Play On, on September 19, 1969, on Reprise. It features ten vocal numbers and four instrumentals. Green wrote “Closing My Eyes,” “Show-Biz Blues,” “Rattlesnake Shake,” “Before the Beginning,” and the instrumental “Before the Beginning.”

Kirwan wrote “Coming Your Way,” “When You Say,” “One Sunny Day,” “Although the Sun Is Shining,” “Without You,” and “Like Crying” (co-sung by Green), plus the instrumental “My Dream.” Then Play On also has an instrumental each by Fleetwood (“Fighting for Madge”) and McVie (“Searching for Madge”). Two songs, Kirwan’s “One Sunny Day” and “Without You,” appeared nine months earlier on the US Reprise compilation English Rose.

1. “Coming Your Way” (3:47)
2. “Closing My Eyes” (4:50)
3. “Fighting for Madge” (2:45)
4. “When You Say” (4:22)
5. “Show-Biz Blues” (3:50)
6. “Underway” Green (3:06)
7. “One Sunny Day” (3:12)

1. “Although the Sun Is Shining” (2:31)
2. “Rattlesnake Shake” (3:32)
3. “Without You” (4:34)
4. “Searching for Madge” (6:56)
5. “My Dream” (3:30)
6. “Like Crying” (2:21)
7. “Before the Beginning” (3:28)

Sessions for the remaining tracks occurred in 1969 in London at CBS and De Lane Lea Studios, where Fleetwood Mac self-produced Then Play On in the presence of Birch, who also engineered 1969 albums by Terry Reid and the Jeff Beck Group. Spencer, who was preoccupied with a solo project, is mostly absent from Then Play On apart from piano, also played by an uncredited Christine Perfect.

Then Play On is housed in a gatefold with a reproduction of a 1910s mural by English illustrator Maxwell Armfield (1881–1972). The inner-gate has a b&w field photo of the current five-man Fleetwood Mac, despite Spencer’s absence from the recording.

In the US, Then Play On appeared on Reprise (September 1969) without the two Kirwan tracks released already on English Rose. A second US issue (November 1969) contains eleven tracks with Part’s 1 and 2 of “Oh Well” joined on Side One in lieu of “When You Say” and “My Dream.” This version pairs the two “Madge” jams, titled after a rabid female Mac fan.

Then Play On reached No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 8 in Norway. Outside the UK, Reprise lifted “Rattlesnake Shake” as a single (b/w “Coming Your Way”).


“Oh Well”

On September 26, 1969, Fleetwood Mac released the standalone single “Oh Well,” a two-sided Green original. Musically, the song divides into a vocal blues rocker (Part 1) and a pastoral instrumental (Part 2).

Part 1 features Green on electric guitar and dobro, backed by Kirwan, McVie, and Fleetwood, who plays drums and assorted sundries (cowbell, congas, maracas, claves).

Part 2 features Green on electric and classical guitar, bass, cello, timpani, and clash cymbals. Spencer (absent on Part 1) plays piano. Green’s then-girlfriend, fashion model Sandra Elsdon, plays recorder.

Fleetwood Mac mimed “Oh Well” on the October 23 broadcast of TotP, which twice reaired the song amid hits by The Beatles (“Something”), The Hollies (“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”), Jethro Tull (“Sweet Dream”), Joe Cocker (“Delta Lady”), and Peter Sarstedt (“As Though It Were a Movie”).

“Oh Well” reached No. 2 in the UK and France, No. 3 in Belgium and Norway, No. 5 in Ireland and Germany, and No. 6 in Austria and Switzerland. In Spain, the single appeared as “Muy Bien,” which actually translates to “Very Good.”

On October 2, Fleetwood Mac played Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall with Jethro Tull, who recently dropped their second album Stand Up. On Oct. 9, Mac appeared at the Grugahalle in Essen, Germany, for Day 1 (Thursday) of the Internationales Essener Pop & Blues Festival, a three-day event with sets by Deep Purple, Free, Hardin York, Spooky Tooth, Steamhammer, Warm Dust, and the continental acts Amon Duul II, Ekseption, Fashion Pink, Organisation (a Kraftwerk precursor), Tangerine Dream, and Xhol Caravan.

On Friday October 24, Fleetwood Mac headlined “midnight rave again!” — a midnight–7:00am event at London’s Lyceum Ballroom with sets by Deep Purple, Renaissance, Aardvark, Andromeda, and American blues legend Howlin’ Wolf. After a round of November Scandinavian dates, Mac launched a two-month US tour at New York’s Fillmore East, supporting Joe Cocker along with King Crimson and the Voices of East Harlem. 


Blues Jam at Chess

In December 1969, Blue Horizon issued Blues Jam at Chess, a double-album of material from the January 1969 Chess Ter-Mar sessions. The album is co-billed to eight participating parties: Fleetwood Mac, Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, Shakey Horton, J.T. Brown, Guitar Buddy, Honey Boy Edwards, and S.P. Leary.

Mick Fleetwood plays on most tracks apart from “I Got the Blues” (Horton) and “World’s In a Tangle” (Jimmy Rogers), where McVie and S.P. Leary form the rhythm section behind Green Kirwan, and Spann. On “Red Hot Jam,” “I Can’t Hold Out,” “Black Jack Blues,” and Spencer’s “Rockin’ Boogie,” Fleetwood and Dixon form the rhythm section.

Green’s “Red Hot Jam” finds him in a three-way guitar battle with Buddy Guy and Honey Boy Edwards. The opening track, Green’s “Watch Out,” is self-contained to the Then Play On lineup. Side two contains four Elmore James covers (“I’m Worried,” “I Held My Baby Last Night,” “Madison Blues,” “I Can’t Hold Out”) sung by Spencer. Side Three contains the Kirwan numbers “Talk With You” and “Like It This Way.”

In 1971, Blue Horizon’s stateside branch issued the album as Fleetwood Mac In Chicago.


1970

In January 1970, Jeremy Spencer appeared on Reprise. It features nine Spencer originals and three covers, including the 1960 Fabian single “String-a-Long,” which features Green on Banjo. The rest of Mac (Fleetwood, McVie, Kirwan) back Spencer across the album. The opening track, “Linda,” appeared weeks earlier as a single, backed with the non-album “Teenage Darling.”

Fleetwood Mac greeted 1970 with a January 1 show at Seattle’s Eagle Auditorium, followed by a three-nighter (Jan. 2–4) at the Fillmore West. In Hollywood, they played Sunset’s famed Whiskey A Go-Go (Jan. 7–11), supported by The Litter and Boz Scaggs. While there, they dropped by CBS Television City and performed “Rattlesnake Shake” for the 1/8 broadcast of the syndicated variety show Playboy After Dark.

On the weekend of Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, Fleetwood Mac and The Flock supported The Grateful Dead at The Warehouse in New Orleans. Green sat in with the Dead on the Sunday show (the 1st) to help raise defense funds for the American band’s recent drug bust. On Feb. 5–7, Fleetwood Mac supported the James Gang at the Boston Tea Party, where Eric Clapton joined Mac on stage. On the 11th, Mac and the Allman Brothers supported the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore East. Green and Duane Allman joined the Dead for a medley of “Dark Star,” “Spanish Jam,” and “Lovelight.” On Feb. 13, Fleetwood Mac supported Sly & the Family Stone at New York’s 20,000-seat Madison Square Garden.

Fleetwood Mac headed home for a Feb. 25 Roundhouse show. On March 3, the launched a 21-date European tour in France at Execter University, supported by Vertigo recording artists Cressida. During a March 22–23 stopover in Munich, Green disappeared to a commune, where he jammed on LSD until Fleetwood and Mac’s roadies ushered him to the next gig.

On April 11, Fleetwood Mac played Thrum Hall Ground in Halifax, England, supported by The Tremeloes, The Foundations, and Chicken Shack, who replaced Christine with ex-Plastic Penny keyboardist–singer Paul Raymond and released their third album, 100 Ton Chicken, the prior autumn. On the 21, they played Caird Hall in Dundee, Scotland, supported by the John Dummer Band.

In late April, Fleetwood Mac played Pop Proms 1970, a week-long event hosted by John Peel with sets by Bronco, Elton John, Fotheringay, Ginger Baker’s Air Force, If, Juicy Lucy, Mott the Hoople, Quintessence, T. Rex, Toe Fat, and Traffic. Mac headlined Day 5 (Friday the 24th), supported by Hookfoot and Mighty Baby.

On May 1, Fleetwood Mac played the Commerce May Ball at Manchester’s College of Commerce, supported by Grisby Dyke and Christine Perfect, who cut a solo album and played on Fiends & Angels, the debut album Martha Velez.


“The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)”

On May 15, 1970, Fleetwood Mac released “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown),” a thundering Green rocker backed with the Kirwan–Green “World In Harmony.”

The song and title, which refers to money, came to Green in a dream where he was visited in the afterlife by a green devil’s dog. “The Green Manalishi” features dual electric rhythm guitar by Kirwan and Green, who also plays six-string bass over McVie’s four-string. Spencer was absent from the session, which occurred overnight in April 1970 in Hollywood.

TotP aired “The Green Manalishi” on its June 4 and 18 broadcasts amid hits by Cat Stevens (“Lady D’Arbanville”), Christie (“Yellow River”), Cliff Richard (“Goodbye Sam, Hello Samantha”), Free (“All Right Now”), The Guess Who (“American Woman”), and The Kinks (“Lola”).

“The Green Manalishi” reached No. 6 in the Netherlands and No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart. In Spain, the single appeared translated as “El Manalishi Verde” (b/w “Mondo en Armonia”).

On May 23, Fleetwood Mac appeared at Twerton Park in Bath, England, for the Spring Music Festival, which also featured Juicy Lucy, Sam Apple Pie, Wishbone Ash, and (as a last-minute replacement for Soft Machine) Chicken Shack, who just recorded their second post-Christine album, the June 1970 Blue Horizon release Accept.


Peter Green Exits

On May 28, Fleetwood Mac played London’s Roundhouse. This would be their last official concert appearance with Green, whose drug-induced erraticism intensified after the Munich stopover. He underwent a spiritual conversion that rendered him money-averse; a creed not shared by his bandmates.

On June 27, Green appeared at the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music with Mayall, Dunbar, and (ex-Family and Blind Faith) bassist Ric Grech. He also held a jam with Dunbar, Zoot Money, and Retaliation bassist Alex Dmochowski. The taped session appears on the December 1970 Reprise release The End of the Game, Green’s first solo album. He also plays on two tracks (“Juju,” “Black Velvet”) on the 1970 Polydor release Juju by jazz-rockers Gass.

Fleetwood Mac recorded a new album headed by Jeremy Spencer. They functioned as a four-piece (Spencer, Kirwan, Fleetwood, McVie) during June–July and performed a set for the 7/22 broadcast of BBC Radio’s First Gear.

Between the completion and release of their fourth studio album, Christine McVie joined Fleetwood Mac. Her recently completed solo album, Christine Perfect, appeared in June 1970 on Blue Horizon. It features five originals and seven covers, including Kirwan’s “When You Say,” which features him alongside her husband. The remaining album features two guitarists: singer–songwriter Rick Hayward and original Yardbird Top Topham. Blue Horizon lifted “I’m Too Far Gone (To Turn Around)” as a single (b/w “Close to Me”).

On August 1, 1970, Fleetwood Mac launched a ten-city US tour at New Orlean’s Warehouse Cafe. They shared bills with Buddy Miles (Aug. 6–9: Fillmore West), Jethro Tull (8/11: Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver), Mason Proffit (Aug. 12–16: Whisky A Go Go), and the Hampton Grease Band (8/20: Municipal Auditorium, Atlanta). On Aug. 22, they played Wollman Skating Rink at New York’s Central Park with support by Bloodrock and Zephyr.  On September 4–5, they played Detriot’s Eastown Theatre with The Stooges, whose set ended early after constant walkoffs by frontman Iggy Pop.


Kiln House

Fleetwood Mac released their fourth album, Kiln House, on September 18, 1970, on Reprise. This is the only album by the four-piece lineup of Kirwan and Spencer with the Fleetwood–McVie rhythm section.

Spencer, largely absent from Then Play On, dominates Kiln House with three originals (“This Is the Rock,” “Blood on the Floor,” “One Together”) and lead vocals on three covers (“Hi Ho Silver,” “Buddy’s Song,” “Mission Bell”).

Kirwan contributes “Tell Me All the Things You Do” and the instrumental “Earl Gray.” He also sings lead on joint-writes wih Spencer–McVie (“Station Man”) and Fleetwood–McVie (“Jewel Eyed Judy”).

1. “This Is the Rock” (2:45)
2. “Station Man” (5:49)
3. “Blood on the Floor” (2:44)
4. “Hi Ho Silver” (3:05) is a song by Kansas City blues singer Big Joe Turner, first issued as a 1953 Atlantic a-side (copyrighted to his wife, Lou Willie Turner).
5. “Jewel Eyed Judy” (3:17)

6. “Buddy’s Song” (2:08) is a 1963 song by American teen idol Bobby Vee, inspired by Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue Got Married” with added referential lyrics. The writer, country singer Waylon Jennings, bestowed credit on Holly’s widow Ella after the rock icon’s 1959 plane crash.
7. “Earl Gray” (4:01)
8. “One Together” (3:23)
9. “Tell Me All the Things You Do” (4:10)
10. “Mission Bell” (2:32) is a song by Hollywood pop composers Jesse Hodges and William Michael; first recorded by American rockabilly singer Donnie Brooks, whose 1960 version with girl group The Blossoms (featuring Darlene Love) reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Sessions took place in June–July 1970 at De Lane Lea Studios, where Fleetwood Mac self-produced the album with Birch, who also engineered 1970 albums by Beggars Opera, Deep Purple (In Rock), Faces (The First Step), Gary Farr, Groundhogs (Thank Christ for the Bomb), Jodo, Junco Partners, Rock Workshop, Skin Alley, Steamhammer, and Wishbone Ash.

Kiln House sports an ink-pen gatefold illustration of an English oast village by Christine McVie, who sings backing vocals and plays piano and Wurlitzer 200A on the album. She joined Fleetwood Mac immediately after sessions wrapped. They named the album after their communal Hampshire oast house where Mick Fleetwood married Jenny Boyd, the inspiration of Donovan’s 1968 single “Jennifer Juniper” and the sister of George Harrison’s wife (and Clapton muse) Patti Boyd (the veiled subject of Derek & The Dominos’ “Layla”).

Kiln House reached No. 26 in Australia and No. 39 in the UK, where Fleetwood Mac’s popularity cooled in Green’s absence. In the US, Kiln House became their first album to crack the Top 100 (at No. 69).

On October 29, Fleetwood Mac played a show in Dublin, supported by new Irish rockers Thin Lizzy.  In November, Mac played Brighton’s Regent Theatre with Genesis, who just released their second album, Trespass. On Nov. 19–20, Mac played two Scottish shows with folk rockers Trees and Northwind. In the final weeks of 1970, Mac shared bills with Shape of the Rain (11/27: Queen Mary College, London), Medicine Head (11/29: Guildhall, Plymouth), and Audience and Lindisfarne (Dec. 11: Leicester). 


1971

Fleetwood Mac had their first major North American hit (by proxy) in January 1971 when Bay Area Latin rockers Santana reached the Canadian and US Top 5 with a cover of “Black Magic Woman.” Santana’s version appropriates the Green composition with Latinized rhythms and interpolates the theme of “Gypsy Queen,” a 1966 instrumental by Hungarian jazz guitarist Gábor Szabó. “Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen” (5:24) appears on the September 1970 Columbia release Abraxas, Santana’s second album. Released as a single in late 1970, “Black Magic Woman” peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of January 9, 1971.

Meanwhile, the current five-piece Fleetwood Mac lineup (Spencer, Kirwan, Fleetwood, John and Christine McVie) performed four songs (“Teenage Darling,” “Preachin’,” “Purple Dancer,” “Station Man”) for the Jan. 23 BBC Radio One broadcast of Mike Harding – Sounds of the Seventies.


Jeremy Spencer Exits

On February 6, 1971, Fleetwood Mac launched a US tour in Vermont. By the time they played Vancouver’s Gardens Auditorium on Feb. 10, Spencer — crippled with insecurities and superstitions triggered by a recent mescaline trip — pleaded unsuccessfully with Fleetwood to cancel their upcoming dates in Southern California, which had just been rocked by the Sylmar earthquake. After their Feb. 11–14 Fillmore West engagement with Tom Rush and Clover, the band flew to LA, where Spencer disappeared on the day of their schedule show at the Whisky A Go Go. Days later, they found that he’d joined the Children of God, a Christian cult. Despite pleas from band manager Clifford Davis, Spencer renounced his band membership and abandonded his secular music career.

Fleetwood Mac, now down to one guitarist, slogged through pre-booked dates at the Fillmore West (Feb. 18–24) and San Bernardino’s Swing Auditorium (2/19), where they supported Quicksilver Messenger Service. On Feb. 26–27, Mac played the Fillmore East with Van Morrison.


“Dragonfly”

In March 1971, Fleetwood Mac released “Dragonfly,” a Kirwan original backed with “The Purple Dancer.”

Kirwan recorded “Dragonfly” immediately after Kiln House in a trio configuration with Fleetwood and McVie. The lyrics come from “The Dragonfly,” a 1927 poem by Welsh bard W. H. Davies.

“The Purple Dancer” is a co-write between Kurwin and Fleetwood–McVie with, recorded by the five-piece lineup with Christine and Spencer, who both provide backing vocals.

Before its appearance as the “Dragonfly” b-side, TotP aired “Purple Dancer” on their December 31, 1970, broadcast amid numbers by Cat Stevens (“Moonshadow”), Elton John (“Your Song”), Labi Siffre (“Make My Day”), and The Who (“Naked Eye”). “Dragonfly” aired on the March 25, 1971, TotP broadcast among songs by Assagai (“Telephone Girl”), Gilbert O’Sullivan (“Underneath the Blanket Go”), Olivia Newton-John (“If Not For You”), and T. Rex (“Hot Love”).

“Dragonfly,” their eighth and final non-album single, appeared in the UK, Netherlands, and Germany. By the time it hit shelves, Spencer had left Fleetwood Mac.

In the first week of March 1971, the reduced Mac (Fleetwood, Kirwan, the McVie’s) did a southeast swing with openers Black Sabbath, culminating with a March 12–13 engagement at Detroit’s Eastown Theatre with Sir Lord Baltimore. With one further month of pre-booked dates, Davis phoned Green in London and urged him to fly out and help Fleetwood Mac complete the tour. He agreed on the condition that they dispense with songs and perform inprovised sets. 

Green reunited with Fleetwood Mac for multi-act bills with Edgar Winter and Tin House (March 26–27: Rock Pile, Long Island) and the Damnation of Adam Blessing and Catfish (April 10: Sports Arena, Toledo). Despite their reservations, the band adapted to Green’s new free-form style, which roused crowds that called for encores.


Bob Welch Joins

In April 1971, Fleetwood Mac hired Bob Welch, an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter recommended to the band by their part-time secretary, a one-time classmate of the new member.

Welch (b. Aug. 31, 1945; Hollywood) cut three 1967–68 singles in the LA soul-rock act The Seven Souls, including covers of the CWoAB (“Fire”), Sam & Dave (“Hold On, I’m Coming”) and the original “I’m No Stranger,” co-written with bandmate Henry More. The two moved to Paris, France, and formed the soul-psych trio Head West, which cut a 1970 self-titled album on Disques Vogue. Welch was at loose ends when he got the call from Fleetwood Mac. He became their rhythm guitarist and moved into their communal property in Benifold, Hampshire.

On May 31, the new Fleetwood Mac lineup (Fleetwood, Kirwan, Welch, the McVie’s) made their live debut at the Pink Pop Festival, a day-long event at the Burgemeester Damen Sportpark in Geleen, Netherlands, with sets by Forest, Hardin & York, and the Dutch bands Brainbox, Focus, Shocking Blue, and Supersister. Mac followed with thirty UK June–July shows, including dates with Gothic Horizon (6/12: Assembly Rooms, Aylesbury) and Home (7/10: Hermitage Ballroom, Hitchin).

On August 20, Fleetwood Mac played Berlin’s Sportpalast, supported by Man and Gypsy. Back home, they played a Sept. 1 show at Hobbit’s Garden in Wimbledon, supported by Hard Meat & Skin Alley.


Future Games

Fleetwood Mac released their fifth album, Future Games, on September 3, 1971, on Reprise. It’s the first of two albums with the five-piece Kirwan–Welch lineup. It contains three Kirwan numbers (“Woman of 1000 Years,” “Sands of Time,” “Sometimes”) and two songs each by Welch (“Future Games,” “Lay It All Down”) and Christine McVie (“Morning Rain,” “Show Me a Smile”), plus the group-written instrumental “What a Shame.”

1. “Woman of 1000 Years” (5:28)
2. “Morning Rain” (5:38)
3. “What a Shame” (2:20)
4. “Future Games” (8:18)

1. “Sands of Time” (7:23)
2. “Sometimes” (5:26)
3. “Lay It All Down” (4:30)
4. “Show Me a Smile” (3:21)

Sessions took place between June and August 1971 at Advision Studios, London, where Fleetwood Mac self-produced Future Games with engineer Martin Rushent, a soundman on 1971 albums by Osibisa, Stone the Crows, and Tonton Macoute. Christine’s older brother John Perfect plays saxophone on “What a Shame.”

Artist and later Gull Graphics founder John Pasche designed the Future Games cover, which presents the name on a thick yellow frame (beige on some pressings) and monochrome photos of lakeside children (front) and each band member (back). Subsequent pressings (1972) have a sage green framework.

Reprise lifted an edited “Sands of Time” as the single in the US and New Zealand (b/w “Lay It All Down”). Future Games reached No. 91 on the Billboard 200 and eventually went Gold (500,000 units sold).

On September 4 and 5, Fleetwood Mack partook in the first British Rock Meeting, a two-city, two-day event in Speyer, Germany, and Vienna, Austria. The event featured ten acts per city (twenty total) who swapped cities between the two days. Mac played at the Speyer’s Rheinhalbinsel on Saturday the 4th and Vienna’s Stadthalle on the 5th. Other acts on the bill included Deep Purple, Curved Air, Rory Gallagher, Groundhogs, Gentle Giant, Jerusalem, Beggars Opera, and Heaven.

In mid-October, Fleetwood Mac embarked on a five-week US tour that included shows with Tucky Buzzard (Oct. 15-16: Eastown Theatre, Detroit), Frank Zappa (10/20: Milwaukee Arena, Milwaukee), Al Kooper (11/5: Dorton Arena, Raleigh, NC), Lighthouse (11/10: Music Hall, Boston), Jo Jo Gunne (11/12: Palladium, Hollywood), Colosseum (11/17: Paramount Theatre, Seattle), Ballin Jack (11/20: Sports Arena, San Diego), and multiple dates with Deep Purple and the third-billed Aussia act Daddy Cool. The tour wrapped on November 24 at the Paramount Theatre in Portland, Oregon.


1972

In the first weeks of 1972, Fleetwood Mac put the finishing touches on their second Kirwan–Welch album. Between January 12 and Fenruary 19, they played seven documented UK club and college shows and made one appearance in Germany at the Sporthalle in Sindelfingen (1/24).


Bare Trees

Fleetwood Mac released their sixth album, Bare Trees, in March 1972 on Reprise. It features two songs apiece by Welch (“The Ghost,” “Sentimental Lady”) and Christine McVie (“Homeward Bound,” “Spare Me a Little of Your Love”).

Kirwan, in his final project with Mac, contributes the album’s balance: “Child of Mine,” “Bare Trees,” “Danny’s Chant,” “Dust,” and the instrumental “Sunny Side of Heaven.” The closing miniature, “Thoughts on a Grey Day,” is a spoken-work poem by the band’s elderly neighbor Mrs. Scarrott.

1. “Child of Mine” (5:09)
2. “The Ghost” (3:58)
3. “Homeward Bound” (3:20)
4. “Sunny Side of Heaven” (3:10)

1. “Bare Trees” (5:02)
2. “Sentimental Lady” (4:35)
3. “Danny’s Chant” (3:16)
4. “Spare Me a Little of Your Love” (3:44)
5. “Dust” (2:41)
6. “Thoughts on a Grey Day” (1:46)

Sessions took place in the winter of 1971–1972 at De Lane Lea, where Fleetwood Mac self-produced the songs with Martin Birch, who engineered Bare Trees amid projects by Deep Purple (Machine Head), Flash (self-titled), Stray, Silverhead, Toad, and Warm Dust. They taped Mrs. Scarrott’s poem at her Hampshire home.

John McVie took the Bare Trees cover photo of deciduous trees in a bare, fog-laden winter state. The background shade, which varies by pressing, ranges from light gray to creamy off-white. The back cover shows a silhouette of trees against a maroon sunset.

Reprise issued “Sentimental Lady” as a single in North America, New Zealand, Japan, and the Philippines (b/w “Sunny Side of Heaven”). Welch later charted with a solo remake of the a-side.

Bare Trees reached No. 37 on the Australian Kent Music Report and No. 70 on the US Billboard 200. In 1988, the album received Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America for 1,000,000 units sold.

Buzzy Linhart covers “Spare Me a Little of Your Love” on the b-side of his 1972 single “If You Gotta Break Another Heart.”


Bare Trees Tour

Fleetwood Mac embarked on a forty-date (Feb. 25 — May 14) North American tour supporting Savoy Brown with fellow opener Long John Baldry.

Savoy Brown, the vehicle of guitarist–harpist Kim Simmonds, had just released its eighth album, Hellhound Train. Their current lineup featured Christine’s replacement in Chicken Shack, Paul Raymond; and Jeff Lynne’s replacement in The Idle Race, singer Dave Walker.

John Baldry, a veteran singer of London’s R&B boom (Bluesology, Steampacket), had just finished his sixth studio album, the May 1972 Warner release Everything Stops for Tea. It features two tracks (“You Can’t Judge a Book,” “Lord Remember Me”) with guitarist Bob Weston, an early Black Cat Bones member who cut the 1969 Decca album In From the Cold with blues-rockers Ashkan. His current band, Ashman Reynolds, appeared as a fourth-billed act on March 22 at the University of New Haven and again on May 14 at the Golden Hall in San Diego.

Fleetwood Mac’s spring 1972 itinerary also included triple bills with Alice Cooper and Blue Oyster Cult (April 22: Long Island Arena, Commack), Mountain and Spirit (4/28: Spectrum, Philadelphia), and two dates with McKendree Spring and Ashton, Gardner & Dyke (May 13: Peoria / 22: Oklahoma City)

On Friday August 18, Fleetwood Mac played the Peachtree Festival, a two-stage event at the North Carolina Motor Speedway with sets by Birtha, Fabulous Rhinestones, Rory Gallagher, James Gang, Bloodrock, Black Oak Arkansas, Tower of Power, Savoy Brown, and Goose Creek Symphony.

On August 22, Fleetwood Mac began a four-month stateside trek supporting Deep Purple, including multiple dates with fellow openers Elf (with Ronnie James Dio) and Silverhead.


Danny Kirwan Axed, Bob Weston

Fleetwood Mac’s nonstop roadlife took its toll on Danny Kirwan, who’d shouldered increased loads as the band’s chief songwriter and soloist since Green and Spencer’s departures. He grew detachted, erratic, and passive-agressive as depression and alcoholism wore on his mental state. Minutes before the band took the stage at a late-August show, Kirwan flew into a rage and ransacked their dressing room, then refused to go on with the set, which they struggled to play without him. After the show, the others agreed to terminate Kirwan, who dropped from view until the 1975 release Second Chapter, his first of three solo albums on DJM.

In September 1972, Fleetwood Mac welcomed two performers from the earlier leg of the Bare Trees tour: Dave Walker and Bob Weston. The dates with Deep Purple and Elf continued through autumn, interspersed with dates supported by Faces (9/6: Cobo Arena, Detroit) and Rory Gallagher and Danny O’Keefe (9/8: Allen Theater, Cleveland).

On Sunday Sept. 3, Fleetwood Mac appeared at the Empire Dragway in Leicester, NY, or “A Change of Season On Labor Day,” a multi-act event with Purple, Elf, Silverhead, Nazareth, Buddy Miles, and Ginger Baker. On Sept. 9, Mac played the Indianapolis Raceway Festival, a noon–midnight event at Bush Stadium with sets by Argent, Chuck Berry, Flash, Foghat, It’s a Beautiful Day, McKendree Spring, and Seigel–Schwall.

On November 24, Fleetwood Mac headlined over ZZ Top at the Civic Auditorium in Bakersfield. Mac continued as the main support act for Deep Purple through mid-December; the third slot rotated between Elf, BOC, and ex-Colosseum reedist Dick Heckstall-Smith, who opened the Dec. 16 show at the short-lived Pirates World amusement park in Dania, Florida.

On Dec. 19, Fleetwood Mac played the Civic Theatre in Akron, Ohio, supported by Mott the Hoople. Mac’s final show of 1972 took place on the 23rd at New York’s Academy of Music, supported by Heckstall-Smith, McKendree, and Elephant’s Memory.


1973

Fleetwood Mac entered 1973 as a six-piece band comprised of Fleetwood, McVie, Christine, Welch, Weston, and Walker. They played their first show of the year on February 26 at Detroit’s Ford Auditorium, supported by Mark-Almond and Elf. After a second show with Elf at the MSU Auditorium in East Lansing (2/27), they played a March 3 show at the French Field House in Columbus, Ohio, with Uriah Heep.


Penguin

Fleetwood Mac released their seventh album, Penguin, in March 1973 on Reprise. Christine McVie presents two numbers (“Remember Me,” “Dissatisfied”) and harmonizes with Weston on “Did You Ever Love Me,” a steelpan ballad co-written by Welch, who contributes “Bright Fire,” “Revelation,” and “Night Watch.”

Penguin is the first of two Fleetwood Mac albums with Weston, who wrote the closing instrumental “Caught in the Rain.” Walker, in his only recorded moments with the band, contributes “The Derelict” and sings the Motown cover “(I’m a) Road Runner.”

1. “Remember Me” (2:41)
2. “Bright Fire” (4:32)
3. “Dissatisfied” (3:43)
4. “(I’m a) Road Runner” (4:52) is a 1966 Motown hit by Jr. Walker & the Allstars, written by the team of Holland–Dozier–Holland.

5. “The Derelict” (2:43)
6. “Revelation” (4:55)
7. “Did You Ever Love Me” (3:39)
8. “Night Watch” (6:17)
9. “Caught in the Rain” (2:35)

Fleetwood Mac recorded Penguin in January 1973 on their communal property in Benifold, Hampshire with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, a portable 16-track facility used for recent albums by Horslips, Ten Years After, Frank Zappa, and Led Zeppelin (III, IV). Mac co-produced the album with Birch, who worked on this and the followup amid 1973 projects by Richard Kerr and the Gary Moore Band.

Aside from their regular roles, Welch plays bass on “Revelation” and Weston plays slide on “Remember Me” and banjo and harmonica on “The Derelict.” Peter Green makes a surprise appearance with additional lead guitar on “Night Watch,” which features guest organist (and Rupert Hine associate) Steve Nye. “Did You Ever Love Me” features three steel drum players, including Ralph Richardson and Russell Valdez of the UK-based Trinidadian funk-psych act Batti Mamzelle.

Penguin is housed in a gatefold sleeve designed by Modula illustrator Chris Moore. It shows a penguin peeking through a chrome-plated porthole from both sides (front and back) with pink stars aglow. Photographer Barry Wentzell took the inner-gate spread, which shows the six-member band by the lakeside with dogs and nearby swans. The title stems from John McVie’s fascination with the Antarctic bird stems from the London Zoo, located near his early residence with Christine. He joined the Zoological Society of London to study penguins.

Penguin reached No. 49 on the US Billboard 200. Fleetwood Mac promoted the album with a March US tour with Tempest, a hard-rock band with (ex-Colisseum) drummer Jon Hiseman and guitarist Allan Holdsworth.

On April 12, Mac embarked on a 21-date leg with Deep Purple and Rory Gallagher, starting at Fresno’s Selland Arena and wrapping May 8 at Duluth Arena in Minneapolis. Apart from the Purple tour dates, Fleetwood Mac played an extended set at Billy Hebert Field in Stockton, Calif., as part of a multi-act event with Elvin Bishop, Canned Heat, and Buddy Miles. During Mac’s set, tensions between rival biker gangs sparked a melee that ended with fifty arrests and a venue-ban on rock concerts.

As sessions commenced on their next album, Fleetwood Mac deemed Walker’s vocals ill-suited to the band. They proceeded as a five-piece (Fleetwood, Welch, Weston, the McVie’s).


Mystery to Me 

Fleetwood Mac released their eighth album, Mystery to Me, on 15 October 15, 1973, on Reprise. Welch dominates the album with five songs: “Emerald Eyes,” “Hypnotized,” “The City,” “Miles Away,” and “Somebody.” He co-wrote “Forever” with Weston and John McVie and handed “Keep On Going” to Christine McVie, who contributes “Believe Me,” “Just Crazy Love,” “The Way I Feel,” and “Why.”

1. “Emerald Eyes” (3:37)
2. “Believe Me” (4:12)
3. “Just Crazy Love” (3:22)
4. “Hypnotized” (4:48)
5. “Forever” (4:04)
6. “Keep On Going” (4:05) Welch assigned this song to Christine because he considered her voice the better fit.

1. “The City” (3:35)
2. “Miles Away” (3:47)
3. “Somebody” (5:00)
4. “The Way I Feel” (2:43)
5. “For Your Love” (3:44) is a Welch-sung cover of the 1965 British Invasion hit by The Yardbirds, written by (then-Mockingbird) Graham Gouldman of the now-popular 10cc.
6. “Why” (4:55)

Sessions took place in the Spring–Summer of 1973 on the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, where Fleetwood Mac co-produced Mystery to Me with Birch, who engineered the album with assistance from Desmond Majekodunmi (a Thin Lizzy associate) and Paul Hardiman, a soundman on 1972–73 albums by Brian Eno (Here Come the Warm Jets), Curved Air (Air Cut), and Groundhogs (Hogwash).

Welch plays bass on “Keep on Going.” Weston plays lead electric, acoustic, and slide guitar on Mystery to Me, the second and final album of his abbreviated Mac tenure. Select passages feature added strings by Richard Hewson, an arranger on recent albums by Al Stewart (Past, Present and Future), Clifford T. Ward, Renaissance (Ashes Are Burning), and Stealers Wheel (Ferguslie Park).

Mystery to Me is housed in a gatefold illustrated by an unidentified Liverpool art student. It shows a cartoon beach setting where a crying anthropomorphic bulldog licks icing from a melting cake (front) while a facing wiseman recites scripture (back) with a nearby penguin — a recurrence of John McVie’s favored band mascot. Photographer Clive Arrowsmith took the monochrome portrait inner-gate shot, which shows the band huddled under an attic oculus.

Fleetwood Mac lifted “For Your Love” as a single, backed with “Hypnotized,” the preferred track among album-oriented FM programmers.

Mystery to Me reached No. 82 in Canada and No. 67 on the US Billboard 200. In 1976, it received Gold certification by the RIAA for 500,000 units sold.


Bob Weston Axed

Fleetwood Mac plugged Mystery to Me with a round of West Coast and Midwest dates, including a Sept. 27 show at Carver Gymnasium in Bellingham, Washington, supported by Weather Report. They played early autumn dates with Elvin Bishop (9/29, 1973 Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, Antioch), Strawbs (10/6: Shubert Theater, Philly), BOC (10/13: Albee Hall, Osh Kosh, Wisc.), Nazareth and ZZ Top, who both opened Mac’s October 12 show at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom.

As the tour unfolded, Mick Fleetwood learned that his wife, Jenny, was having an affair with Weston. He initially tried to cope and continue for the sake of the band, but decided he could no longer work with Bob Weston. The others agreed to terminate Weston, who was informed of this decision by their tour manager. With no lead guitarist to complete their pre-arranged live material, they canceled the remaining tour dates, including scheduled November shows with the Climax Blues Band (11/1: Case Western Reserve Uni., Cleveland) and Weather Report (11/10: Indiana Uni., Bloomington).

Fleetwood Mac flew home and informed an irate Clifford Davis, who believed he owned the band’s name and enlisted another group of musicians in Mac’s stead.

Weston surfaced next behind Murray Head on the singer–songwriter’s 1975 A&M release Say It Ain’t So. Meanwhile, Mick Fleetwood plays on one track (“So Sad (No Love of His Own)”) on the November 1973 Chrysalis release On the Road to Freedom, a collaborative album between ex-Ten Years After frontman Alvin Lee and Christain rock singer Mylon LeFevre.


1974

In January 1974, Davis concocted an erzats ‘Fleetwood Mac’ with five non-affiliated musicians: singer Elmer Gantry, guitarist Graham “Kirby” Gregory, bassist Paul Martinez, keyboardist John Wilkinson, and Australian drummer Craig Collinge.

Kirby played in the short-lived Curved Air lineup that made the 1973 album Air Cut. He and Gantry recently formed the power-trio Legs, a Davis-managed act that cut the 1973 Warner single “So Many Faces” (b/w “You Bet You Have”). Both hailed from Armada, an unsigned jazz-rock band. In the sixties, Gantry (real name David Terry) played in Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera, which cut a 1968 psychedelic self-titled album.

Martinez played in hard-rockers Hackensack with (future Be-Bop Deluxe) drummer Simon Fox. Their album, Up the Hardway, appeared in 1974 on Polydor (UK only).

When Davis devised the ruse, he erroneously told Gantry and Kirby that Mick Fleetwood was on board for the tour. Before they hit the road, Davis drafted Craig, a veteran of Sydney’s beat scene (The Librettos, The Playboys, Procession) who played on albums by Manfred Mann Chapter Three, Three Man Army, and Shoot.

Davis booked thirty-eight winter–spring dates in North America but didn’t inform concert promoters of the ruse. The ‘Fake Fleetwood Mac’ tour commenced on January 18 at the Warehouse Cafe in New Orleans. Promoters familiar with the band complained to Davis, who only addressed matters when audience walkouts became an issue. Prior to a Jan. 26 show at the Academy of Music, Gantry’s voice failed due to throat inflamation. The four musicians played an instrumental set to the 3,400 attendees. Within the first fifteen minutes, nearly 800 people demanded refunds.

The tour collapsed amid bad press, cancelled shows, and negative world-of-mouth. In a Feb. 28 exposé piece in Rolling Stone, Welch announced the real band’s plan to take legal action against Davis. The ensuing court case lasted four years.

Meanwhile, Mac continued as a four-piece (Fleetwood, Welch, the McVie’s) for a new album. They relocated to Los Angeles and self-managed their business affairs.

Elsewhere, Gantry and Kirby formed Stretch, a blues-rock band with Martinez and drummer Jim Russell, Kirby’s bandmate in the 1973 Curved Air lineup. In 1975, Stretch released Elastique, their first of four albums. Martinez later joined the Deep Purple-offshoot Paice Ashton Lord. Gantry sings on 1980s albums by Cozy Powell and the Alan Parsons Project.


Heroes Are Hard to Find

Fleetwood Mac released their ninth album, Heroes Are Hard to Find, on September 13, 1974, on Reprise. Christine McVie submits the bookend numbers of Side One (“Heroes Are Hard to Find,” “Come a Little Bit Closer”) and a pair of Side Two tracks (“Bad Loser,” “Prove Your Love”). Bob Welch presents the remaining songs: three on Side One (“Coming Home,” “Angel,” “Bermuda Triangle”) and four on Side Two (“She’s Changing Me,” “Silver Heels,” “Born Enchanter,” “Safe Harbour”).

Heroes Are Hard to Find is the fifth and final Fleetwood Mac album with Bob Welch.

1. “Heroes Are Hard to Find” (3:35)
2. “Coming Home” (3:55)
3. “Angel” (3:55)
4. “Bermuda Triangle” (4:08)
5. “Come a Little Bit Closer” (4:48)

1. “She’s Changing Me” (2:58)
2. “Bad Loser” (3:25)
3. “Silver Heels” (3:26)
4. “Prove Your Love” (3:57)
5. “Born Enchanter” (2:54)
6. “Safe Harbour” (2:32)

Fleetwood Mac recorded Heroes Are Hard to Find in July 1974 at Angel City Sound in Los Angeles. They co-produced the album with engineer Bob Hughes, a soundman with a lengthy psych- and soul-rock resume (Gotham, Insect Trust, Mama Lion, Road, Vanilla Fudge) who also worked on Zappa’s concurrent Apostrophe.

Heroes is the first Fleetwood Mac album recorded in the US and the second of only three (after Kiln House and before Say You Will) made as a quartet (barring Then Play On, when they were technically a quintet).

Bob Welch plays vibraphone in addition to electric and acoustic guitar. Christine McVie includes the ARP String Ensemble in her keyboard arsenal. Nick DeCaro, a veteran MOR orchestral conductor, handles horn and string arrangements. “Come a Little Bit Closer” features pedal steel guitar by Sneaky Pete Kleinow, a country-rock sessionist (Delaney & Bonnie, Little Feat, Mother Hen, Shawn Phillips).

Heroes Are Hard to Find sports dark monochrome imagery by photographer Herbert Wheeler Worthington III. Fleetwood and a small child, seen at three angles, engage in a tense two-handed brace. On the back cover, the four-piece Fleetwood Mac cavorts in the dark.

Heroes Are Hard to Find reached No. 46 in Canada and No. 34 on the Billboard 200. This was their first album to peak inside the US Top 40. Reprise lifted the title track as a single in North and South America (b/w “Coming Home”)

Fleetwood Mac embarked on a 48-date autumn US tour with German symphonic-rockers Triumvirat, who performed the entirety of their 1974 Harvest release Illusions on a Double Dimple, an album-length song suite. The tour commenced on September 29 at the John Long Centre in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and ran to December 1 at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom, where the Eric Burdon Band appeared as a third act. Select dates features triple-bills with Little Feat (11/3: Memorial Hall, Kansas City) and the Jefferson Starship (10/31: Omni Coliseum, Atlanta). On three mid-November dates in the Great Plains, rustic-rockers Unicorn served as Mac’s opening act.

While the tour marked their first outing with a one-guitar lineup, they invited the HAHtF assistant engineer, Doug Graves, to serve as a their second keyboardist and allow Christine more on-stage flexibilty. They didn’t hire him as ongoing member because Christine found his organ style ill-suited to her material. For the second half of the tour, they used Welch’s Head West colleague, keyboardist Robert Hunt.

Once the tour wrapped, Bob Welch — plagued by personal woes and creative fatigue — resigned from Fleetwood Mac. He formed Paris, a hard-rock trio that made two 1976 albums on Capitol.


1975

Weeks before Welch’s exit, as Mick Fleetwood scanned LA’s studios for the next band project, he visited Sound City Studios, a Van Nuyes facility with an advanced 28-input console (one of only four in the world). While there, Sound City in-house producer Keith Olsen played Fleetwood the first album recorded on the console: the 1973 Polydor release Buckingham Nicks by the namesake folk-rock duo of guitarist–singer Lindsey Buckingham (b. Oct. 3, 1949; Palo Alto) and his girlfriend, singer Stevie Nicks (b. May 26, 1948; Phoenix). Impressed by the track “Frozen Love,” Fleetwood inquired about the guitarist.


Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks Join

After Welch stepped down, Fleetwood phoned Sound City for Buckingham’s contact info. Turns out, Lindsey was at the studio cutting demos for a second Buckingham Nicks album. Mick arranged a lunch meeting with the young guitarist, who brought his singing girlfriend, a fellow songwriter.

Fleetwood told Buckingham about the vacancy opened by Welch. Buckingham insisted that he and Nicks were a package deal, having played together since their Bay Area high school days when both joined the Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band, which toured the national rock circuit as the unsigned Fritz. Fleetwood hired both on the spot without a formal audition.

Buckingham and Nicks formally joined Fleetwood Mac in January 1975. However, they had a pre-booked show in Alabama, a Buckingham Nicks stronghold, where the duo told their audience the news. Upon their return to LA, Fleetwood Mac commenced work on its first album with the pair.

Fleetwood Mac played their first concert with Buckingham and Nicks on April 12, 1975, at San Diego’s Balboa Bowl as part of a multi-bill with Rod Stewart, Loggins & Messina, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Their next show occured on May 5 at Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton, Alberta. After a swing through Texas, Mac played dates with up-and-comers Kansas (5/20: Municipal Auditorium, Austin) and Ambrosia (5/22: Michigan Theatre, Detroit). In the Midwest and Northeast, they played multiple shows with Henry Gross, joined on select dates by Ace (6/3: Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh) and Golden Earring (6/7: Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ).


Fleetwood Mac 

Fleetwood Mac released their tenth album, Fleetwood Mac, on July 11, 1975, on Reprise. It’s the first of five consecutive studio albums by the five-piece lineup with singer Stevie Nicks and guitarist–singer Lindsey Buckingham. Nicks sings two contributions (“Rhiannon,” “Landslide”) and hands a third (“Crystal”) to Buckingham, who presents two originals (“Monday Morning,” “I’m So Afraid”). He co-wrote “World Turning” with Christine McVie, who contributes “Warm Ways,” “Over My Head,” “Say You Love Me,” and “Sugar Daddy.”

The one outside number is “Blue Letter,” written by brothers Michael and Richard Curtis, a songwriting duo that Buckingham–Nicks befriended before their involvement with Fleetwood Mac.

1. “Monday Morning” (2:48)
2. “Warm Ways” (3:54)
3. “Blue Letter” (2:41)
4. “Rhiannon” (4:11)
5. “Over My Head” (3:38)
6. “Crystal” (5:14) first appeared on Buckingham–Nicks.

1. “Say You Love Me” (4:11)
2. “Landslide” (3:19)
3. “World Turning” (4:25)
4. “Sugar Daddy” (4:10)
5. “I’m So Afraid” (4:22)

Sessions took place in January–February 1975 at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, where Fleetwood Mac co-produced the album with engineer Keith Olsen, who worked with the band in sequence with projects by Jade, Michael Fennelly, and the reformed Spirit. His assistant, David Devore, engineered the self-titled album by Space Opera and worked concurrently with Black Heat.

Buckingham plays electric and acoustic guitar, plus Dobro and banjo on select numbers. LA sessionist Waddy Wachtel plays rhythm guitar on “Sugar Daddy.” Four songs (“Rhiannon,” “I’m So Afraid,” “Monday Morning,” and “Blue Letter”) originated in the 1974 Buckingham–Nicks live set for an intended second duo album.

Herbert Worthington did the Fleetwood Mac photography. The grayscale cover shows the band’s formally attired rhythm section positioned before a lone-standing door jamb, where a shaved, cane-holding Fleetwood stands upright and sips from a wine glass while McVie kneels and gazes at a hovering globe. The back cover shows the band grouped in a bathroom sink area in loose post-hippie attire. Thhe inner-sleeve features song lyrics and four illustrations (repeated on each side) of the penguin mascot.

In September 1975, Reprise lifted “Over My Head” as the album’s first US single (b/w “I’m So Afraid”). It reached No. 9 in Canada and became their first Top 20 hit in the US, where it peaked at No. 18 on the Cashbox Top 100 and No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1976. Meanwhile, Reprise picked “Warm Ways” as the first UK single (b/w “Blue Letter”).

In February 1976, “Rhiannon” (parenthetically subtitled “Will You Ever Win”) became the second Fleetwood Mac single (b/w “Sugar Daddy”). It reached No. 4 in Canada, No. 9 on Cashbox (No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100), and No. 14 in Australia. German and Dutch picture sleeves use Worthington’s back-cover photo.

In June 1976, as the eleven-month-old album inched up the Billboard 200, Reprise lifted “Say You Love Me” as the third US single (b/w “Monday Morning”). It reached No. 12 on Cashbox and No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Fleetwood Mac reached No. 2 in Canada, No. 4 in New Zealand, and No. 3 in Australia and the Netherlands. In the UK, the album peaked at No. 23 and sparked renewed interest in the band. Fourteen months after its release, Fleetwood Mac reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for the week of September 4, 1976. Its slow but steady climb propelled Fleetwood Mac to superstar status. As of 2018, Fleetwood Mac has moved 7,000,000 in the US, where “Rhiannon” and “Say You Love Me” remain evergreens of FM radio.


Fleetwood Mac Tour

Fleetwood Mac embarked on a five-month tour behind their self-titled album with seventy-six shows across two legs. On July 26, they played New Orleans’ City Park Stadium as part of a multi-act event with Aerosmith, Jeff Beck, ZZ Top, and Canadian rockers Trooper. On August 1, they played San Bernardino’s Swing Auditorium with Robin Trower and Ruby Starr. On Sunday Aug. 3, Mac and Trower played Day On the Green #3, an Oakland Stadium event (dubbed “THE BRITISH ARE COMING” AKA “The INVASION OF THE BRITISH”) with sets by Dave Mason, Gary Wright, and Peter Frampton.

Mac’s 1975 setlist featured nine songs from Fleetwood Mac (everything except “Blue Way” and “Sugar Daddy”), two songs from Buckingham Nicks (“Frozen Love,” “Don’t Let Me Down Again,” plus the adopted “Crystal”), two songs from Mystery to Me (“Hypnotized,” “Why”), a song apeice from Bare Trees (“Spare Me a Little of Your Love”) and Kiln House (“Station Man”), two Green-era numbers (“Oh Well,” “The Green Manalishi”), plus the Chicken Shack song “Get Like You Used to Be.”

In September, Fleetwood Mac played Midwest double-bills with Head East (9/24: RKO Orpheum Theatre, Davenport, IA) and a multi-act event with the Eagles, Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, and New Riders of The Purple Sage (9/21: Edgewater Raceway, Cincinnati). On the week of Sept. 27, Fleetwood Mac climbed to No. 10 on the Billboard 200 — their first Top 10 entry on the US charts.

In October, Fleetwood Mac headlined over Heartsfield (10/26: Beacon Theatre, NYC), Renaissance (10/25: University of Connecticut), and the Amazing Rhythm Aces (10/?: Student Union Gym, Johnstown, Penn.). Mac, in turn, opened multiple shows for Loggins & Messina and the Jefferson Starship, who just scored their first Billboard No. 1 album with Red Octopus.

In November, Fleetwood Mac headlined eleven times over Jiva, a band fronted by Gary Wright, a fellow ten-year veteran who (like Mac) was just now tasting US chart success with The Dream Weaver, his first album since the second breakup of Spooky Tooth. Bob Welch attended the Nov. 27 double-bill at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and stood in the wings as Mac encored with “Hypnotized.” That weekend (Nov. 28–29) the two bands played the Winterland Ballroom and welcomed a third act, Brian Auger & Oblivion Express.

After breaking for the Christmas holiday, Fleetwood Mac appeared in Honolulu for the Diamond Head Festival, a New Year’s Eve event with sets by America, Melissa Manchester, Herbie Hancock, Seals & Crofts, Tower of Power, Stampeders, Shawn Phillips, and comedians Cheech & Chong.


1976

In February 1976, Fleetwood Mac commenced sessions for a new album at the Sausalito Record Plant, a windowless wooden facility. Fleetwood hired soundmen Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut for the project. Caillat’s resume dates to 1973–74 titles by the 5th Dimension, Marshall Tucker Band, Pharoah Sanders, and the Joni Mitchell live release Miles of Aisles, performed with LA Express. Dashut engineered Buckingham Nicks and Emitt Rhodes early swan song (Farewell to Paradise), plus recent albums by Canadian rockers Moxy and the Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

Sessions ran through late summer on the album, tentatively titled Yesterday’s Gone — the refrain in a new Christine McVie song with the chorus line “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.” The song was about perseverence amid heartbreak and hardship with goals for a better future. It resonated personally from a band that contained two couples: Christine and John McVie and Buckingham and Nicks. The daily routine of living and working together took its toll on both pairs. As sessions advanced, the McVie’s divorced while Lindsey and Stevie reached the end of their five-year romance. Both parting pairs kept their distances off stage and outside the studio. Meanwhile, Mick was in the throes of his final breakup with Jenny.

On April 22, Fleetwood Mac played their first show of 1976 at Fresno’s Selland Arena, supported by Gary Wright and Status Quo, currently the biggest UK rock band with no hold on the US market. On Sunday the 25th, all three acts played Day On the Green # 1 (“The British Are Back to Back”) with headliner Peter Frampton, the long-obscure veteran rocker (The Herd, Humble Pie) whose recent A&M live double-album Frampton Comes Alive catapulted him to ‘overnight’ stardom.

On May 2, Fleetwood Mac played Santa Barbara’s Campus Field with English hard-rockers UFO. That month, they premiered a new Christine number, “You Make Loving Fun.” On its first performance at the Universal Amphitheatre, Mick broke his kickdrum pedal and paused the show for repairs. On Friday the 28th, Mac played at Busch Stadium in St. Louis with Ted Nugent, Jefferson Starship, Jeff Beck, and Jan Hammer.

On June 18, Fleetwood Mac and Kansas co-headlined Summer Jam 76, a day-long event at Royals Stadium in Kansas City with sets by Head East, REO Speedwagon, and Henry Gross, then heading up the Billboard and Cashbox singles charts with his dog lament “Shannon.” A newly famous fifth scheduled act, Heart, failed to make the event. On July 2, Fleetwood Mac supported the Eagles at the Winston Salem Speedway in Greensboro, NC, along with another rising star, soul-pop singer and bandleader Boz Scaggs.

On Sunday July 4, 1976, Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles appeared with Loggins & Messina at Tampa Stadium to commemorate the US Bicentennial. On July 13, Mac played the War Memorial Auditorium in Syracuse, supported by Firefall. On July 18, Mac supported The Beach Boys at Denver’s Mile High Stadium with fellow openers Santana and Gerard.

Fleetwood Mac took four weeks off the road to finish their upcoming album. On August 24, they retutned to the Swing Auditorium with Firefall, Spirit, and Stephen Stills. Days later, Mac did a four-night stand (Aug. 27–30) at the Universal Ampithetre with avant-pop singer Peter Ivers, who just released his third solo album Peter Peter Ivers, produced by Gary Wright.

On September 5, Fleetwood Mac wrapped their summer ’76 blitz with a show in Austin on Highway 620 and Quinlan Park Road, where they were joined by England Dan & John Ford Coley, Chicago (both Billboard chart-toppers that year), and The Band, months shy of their staged retirement. That week, Fleetwood Mac topped the Billboard 200. They attended the Second Annual Rock Music Awards (aired Sept. 19), where John McVie wore a newly tailored three-piece burgundy velvet suit, purportedly to impress fellow nominee Linda Ronstadt, a no-show.

As Fleetwood Mac backed in their newfound fame, Nicks sang backing vocals on two songs (“Hurry Boy,” “Rosanna”) on the 1976 release Tom Snow, the songwriter’s second of two Capitol albums.


1977

In January 1977, Fleetwood Mac’s eighteen-month-old self-titled album remained just inside the Billboard Top 50. Its followup, originally slated for a September 1976 release, got delayed due to issues with the rhythm tracks, which Sausalito soundmen remixed that autumn.

Meanwhile, Buckingham and Nicks partook in sessions for the March 1977 Columbia release Fundamental Roll, the debut album by LA-based guitarist–singer Walter Egan. Lindsey plays guitar on ten of the album’s eleven songs and sings backing harmonies with Stevie on “Only the Lucky,” “Won’t You Say You Will,” and “When I Get My Wheels.”


Rumours 

Fleetwood Mac released their eleventh album, Rumours, on February 4, 1977, on Warner Bros. Side One contains three songs written and sung by Buckingham: “Second Hand News,” “Never Going Back Again,” and “Go Your Own Way.” Christine McVie sings three contributions (“Songbird,” “You Make Loving Fun,” “Oh Daddy”) and harmonizes on the fourth (“Don’t Stop”) with Buckingham, who also co-sings “I Don’t Want to Know,” one of three numbers by Nicks, who also contributes “Dreams” and “Gold Dust Woman.” Side Two opens with “The Chain,” a group-written epic.

1. “Second Hand News” (2:43)
2. “Dreams” (4:14)
3. “Never Going Back Again” (2:02)
4. “Don’t Stop” (3:11)
5. “Go Your Own Way” (3:38)
6. “Songbird” (3:20)

1. “The Chain” (4:28) fretless bass
2. “You Make Loving Fun” (3:31)
3. “I Don’t Want to Know” (3:11)
4. “Oh Daddy” (3:54)
5. “Gold Dust Woman” (4:51)

Sessions took place between February and August 1976 at the Sausalito Record Plant, where Fleetwood Mac co-produced Rumours with Dashut and Caillat while the latter juggled projects with Cal Tjader, Lee Garrett (Heat for the Feets), and Warren Zevon. Chris Morris, a soudman on Stevie Wonder‘s 1976 double-album Songs In the Key of Life, worked as an assistant engineer on Rumours.

Buckingham plays 12-string guitar on “Go Your Own Way” (acoustic) and “I Don’t Want to Know” (electric), plus Dobro (“The Chain,” “You Make Loving Fun”), tom toms (“Second Hand News,” “You Make Loving Fun”), and ‘chair percussion’ (“Second Hand News”).

Christine McVie’s arsenal includes conventional piano and organ, plus Fender Rhodes and vibraphone (“Dreams”), tack piano and Vox Continental (“Don’t Stop”), harmonium (“The Chain”), Hohner D6 clavinet and Hammond B-3 (“You Make Loving Fun”), Wurlitzer (“I Don’t Want to Know”), and Moog (“Oh Daddy”).

Fleetwood’s percussive sundries include ‘ass shakers’ and marching snare (“Second Hand News”), maracas (“Go Your Own Way”), wind chimes and castanets (“You Make Loving Fun”), and gong (“Oh Daddy”), in addition to sound effects and processed electric harpsichord (“Gold Dust Woman”).

AGI art director Desmond Strobel designed the Rumours cover, which has calligraphy by Larry Vigon and photography by Herbert W. Worthington. The front shows a vintage-attired Fleetwood (nickers and vest) with one knee up under Nicks, who poses in her Rhiannon dress, a chiffon batwing garment designed by Margi Kent. Mick holds a globe with miniature imagery of the McVie’s. The wooden balls that hang from his waist are a good-luck talisman from Fleetwood Mac’s early days. The back cover shows multiple frames of a causal band photoshoot. Original copies have a folded lyrics insert with a grayscale collage of studio pics.

Warner lifted “Go Your Own Way” as an advance single in December 1976; backed with the non-album Nicks original “Silver Springs.” It reached No. 1 in Belgium and the Netherlands and peaked at No. 10 on the US Cashbox and Billboard charts.

“Dreams” became the second single in March 1977 (b/w “Songbird”). It reached No. 4 in Australia, No. 6 in New Zealand, No. 9 in Canada, and No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Warner issued “Don’t Stop” as the third single in April, backed with “Gold Dust Woman” (UK) and “Never Going Back Again” (US). It reached No. 6 in Belgium, No. 4 in the Netherlands, No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 1 on the Cashbox Top 100 and the Canadian RPM.

“You Make Loving Fun” became the fourth and final Rumours single in September 1977, backed with “Gold Dust Woman” (US), “Never Going Back Again” (UK), and “The Chain” (France, Germany). It peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 7 on Cashbox and the Canadian RPM.

Rumours hit No. 1 in the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the Netherlands, and Greece. It peaked at No. 2 in Austria and No. 6 in Germany. In the US, Rumours reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 on the week of April 2, 1977. It held the top spot for thirty-one non-consecutive weeks.

Rumours has since earned double-Diamond certification in the US (20,000,000 copies sold) and Canada (2,000,000 sold). It went multi-Platinum in the UK (15×; 4,500,000 sold) and Australia (13×; 950,000). As of 2023, global Rumours sales exceed 40,000,000.


Rumours Tour

On February 24, 1977, Fleetwood Mac launched the Rumours Tour at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. On Monday the 28th, they played a benefit show for French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau at the Berkeley Community Theater. In March, they swung through the South and Northeast, supported on select dates by Kenny Loggins (3/?: Civic Center, El Paso) and Jeff Beck (3/27: Ramshead Airforce Base, Annapolis, MD) and multiple nights by Firefall.

In its March 28, 1977, issue (No. 235), Rolling Stone ran an eight-page feature on Fleetwood Mac: “The Long Hard Road from British Blues to California Gold.” The article, by journalist Cameron Crowe, touches on the band’s history and recent breakthrough but largely focuses on their personal drama. The cover bears the headline “TRUE LIFE CONFESSIONS” with a photo by celebrity art photographer Annie Leibovitz. It shows the band (from above) on a bed where Mick (head to foot) holds Stevie while Lindsey holds Christine while John (opposite side) reads a paper. Apart from John, they appear to be naked under a half-wrapped linen sheet.

On April 2, Fleetwood Mac commenced the UK–European leg of Rumours at the Birmingham Odeon. They hit the Manchester and Glasgow Apollo’s and played three nights at London’s Rainbow, where they were visited back stage on Friday the 8th by Peter Green. On the Continent, they played two shows each in France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and three dates in Germany, including an April 14  show at the Jahrhunderthalle in Frankfurt, supported by Volker Kriegel’s Mild Maniac.

The second North America leg of the Rumours Tour (May–October, 55 shows) commenced at the Folsom Music Festival on Sunday May 1 in Boulder. On Saturday the 7th, Fleetwood Mac played the ’77 Day On the Green #1 with the Doobie Brothers and Gary Wright, who plugged his second post-Spooky Tooth solo album The Light of Smiles.

On May 29, Fleetwood Mac appeared at Orlando’s Tangerine Bowl for the Rock Superbowl, which also featured sets by Return to Forever and Kenny Loggins, who supported Mac on multiple June–July shows, including dates with Foreigner (6/5: Tad Gormley Stadium, New Orleans) and the Little River Band, who opened their July 4 show at Toronto’s 61k-capacity Exhibition Stadium.

In September, Fleetwood Mac played Midwest dates with Ram Jam (9/17: Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis) and Stephen Bishop (9/20: Market Square Arena, Indianapolis). They reteamed with Loggins for Sept. 25–27 shows at the Cleveland Coliseum and the Philly Spectrum, where Stevie joined him to harmonize on the Loggins & Messina hit “Vahevala.” Fleetwood Mac wrapped the North American leg with an October 3–4 engagement at the San Diego Sports Arena, supported by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Fleetwood Mac took a four-week break that freed Buckingham to work on the second Walter Egan album at LA’s Village Recorder Studios.

On November 6, Fleetwood Mac began the Oceanic leg of Rumours at the Western Springs Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, where Mick and Stevie had a secret fling. In Australia, Mac headlined Rockarena, a two-part event in Sydney (11/11: RAS Sydney Showgrounds) and Melbourne (11/13: Calder Park Raceway) with Santana, Little River Band, and the Kevin Borich Express.

In December, Fleetwood Mac played four shows in Japan and two in Hawaii, including an outdoow benefit at the Maui Sheraton.

Meanwhile, former Fleetwood Mac member Bob Welch emerged from his two-album Paris stint with his debut solo album, the September 1977 Capitol release French Kiss. It opens with a remake of the Bare Trees chesnut “Sentimental Lady,” co-produced by his onetime bandmate Christine McVie and his replacement in Mac, Lindsey Buckingham. They both play on the remake along with Mick Fleetwood. Welch’s “Sentimental Lady” reached No. 4 on the Cashbox Top 100 and No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The followup single, “Ebony Eyes,” went Top 20 on both charts and Top 10 in Canada and Oceania (No. 2 in Australia). French Kiss, his first of six back-to-back solo albums, reached No. 12 on the Billboard 200 and went Platinum.


1978

Fleetwood Mac appear on the January 12, 1978, issue of Rolling Stone (No. 256) as winners of the magazine’s 1977 Reader’s Poll in the categories of Artist of the Year, Band of the Year, Best Album (Rumours), and Best Single (“Dreams”). In the accompanying three-page interview with journalist Dave Marsh (“BIG MAC: Over 8 Million Sold”), Mick Fleetwood reveals the band’s desire to make a double album.

Meanwhile, Fleetwood and John McVie played on the session for “Werewolves of London,” the leadoff single from the January 1978 Asylum release Excitable Boy, the second album by Warren Zevon.

In February, Walter Egan released Not Shy on Columbia. Buckingham co-produced and engineered the album with Rumours soundman Richard Dashut. Lindsey plays guitar throughout Not Shy, which features Mick Fleetwood on two tracks (“Make It Alone,” “Star In the Dust”) and Stevie on five, including “Just the Wanting,” “The Blonde In the Blue T-Bird,” and “Magnet and Steel,” a neo-fifties ballad that reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.

On March 18, Stevie and Mick appeared at the Motor Speedway in Ontario, California, during Bob Welch’s set at Cal Jam II, a twelve-hour event with sets by Dave Mason, Foreigner, Heart, Jean-Michel Jarre, Mahogany Rush, Rubicon, and Santana. The two harmonized with the former Mac singer on “Ebony Eyes.”

In July 1978, as Rumours still rode the charts, Fleetwood Mac embarked on the Penguin Country Summer Safari, a seventeen-date US tour launched with three nights (July 17–19) at the Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, Wisc., where Lindsey appeared beardless and hair-shorn.

Summer Safari included four dates with Bob Welch, who supported Fleetwood Mac on multi-act bills with Steve Miller and the Little River Band (7/23: Cotton Bowl, Dallas) and Foreigner and Pablo Cruise (7/28: Rich Stadium “Summerfest,” Orchard Park, NY). Welch, Mac, and Miller had a two-night engagement (July 29–30) at Philly’s JFK Stadium with a fourth act, the Sanford Townshend Band. On the second night, Buckingham collapsed and required a spinal tap.

Fleetwood Mac were scheduled for the “World Series of Rock” concert on August 5 at Cleveland Lakefront Stadium but had to postpone the event due to Lindsey’s spinal tap. They recheduled the event for Saturday the 26th, when Fleetwood Mac and Welch played Lakefront with The Cars, Eddie Money, and Todd Rundgren, who replaced the J. Geils Band, the fifth act scheduled for the original date.

Rungren secured the Lakefront slot through Stevie, who partook in his Aug. 23 show at Agora Theater, where Todd and his band Utopia recorded Sides One and Four of his 1978 live double-album Back to the Bars. The final number — a rendition of his 1973 Billboard No. 5 hit “Hello It’s Me” (from his 1972 studio double-album Something / Anything?) — features Stevie in the live backing chorus with Hall & Oates, Spencer Davis, and Utopia bassist–singer Kasim Sulton.

Summer Safari wrapped on Aug. 30 at the LSU Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

Meanwhile, Fleetwood Mac’s association with Kenny Loggins on the Rumours Tour blossomed into “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend,” a Loggins–Nicks duet on Kenny’s July 1978 Columbia release Nightwatch, his second solo album. The song — a co-write between Loggins and Melissa Manchester — reached No. 3 in Canada and No. 5 on the Billboard and Cashbox singles charts.

Buckingham plays on three tracks (“Raining In My Heart,” “Something Fine,” “Running To My Freedom”) on the self-titled sixth album by Leo Sayer, released in August 1978 on Warner Bros.


1979

In February 1979, Bob Welch released his second solo album, Three Hearts. It features backing vocals by Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks and percussion by Mick Fleetwood, who drums on “The Ghost of Flight 401.” The penultimate track, “Don’t Wait Too Long,” is a reworked version of “Good Things (Come to Those Who Wait),” an outtake from the Mystery to Me sessions. Three Hearts reached No. 20 on the Billboard 200 and went Gold. It spawned three singles, including the Billboard No. 19 hit “Precious Love.”

McVie plays bass on one track (“Part of Me”) on the March 1979 Arista release Perfect Stranger, the singular solo album by singer Robert Fleischman, fresh off a recent, unrecorded stint with Journey, whose 1978 fourth album Infinity — the first with his replacement, Steve Perry — includes three Fleischman co-writes, including “Wheel In the Sky.”

In May, Peter Green reemerged from a nine-year absence with his second solo album, In the Skies, released on Creole (Germany), PVK (UK), and Sail Records (US). It features nine originals with backing on four by Green and Fleetwood’s onetime Looners keyboardist Peter Bardens, who recently launched a solo career after six albums with symphonic jazz-rockers Camel. In the Skies launched Green’s most active phase, which produced five albums between 1980 and 1985 on PVK, Headine, and Platinum Records.

Buckingham produced the May 1979 RSO release Bombs Away Dream Babies, the eighth solo studio album by guitarist–singer John Stewart, an alumnus of sixties folksters the Kingston Trio. Lindsey sings on one track (“The Spinnin’ of the World”) and plays guitar on four, including two (“Gold,” “Midnight Wind”) with harmonies by Stevie Nicks. “Gold” reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

John McVie produced the October 1979 single “Rock Sugar” by erstwhile Grass Roots frontman Rob Grill. “Rock Sugar” — recorded at Studio D with McVie (bass), Fleetwood (drums), and Buckingham (guitar) — is the Side Two opener on Uprooted, the singer’s lone solo album.

Fleetwood–McVie and Christine play alongside Eric Clapton on “Hate You,” the Side Two opener on Night Eyes, the lone solo album by Wha-Koo guitarist–singer Danny Douma.

On October 10, 1979, Fleetwood Mac attended a dedication ceremony for the enveiling of their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6608 Hollywood Boulevard. LA Mayor Tom Bradley declared this ‘Fleetwood Mac Day.’


Tusk

Fleetwood Mac released their twelfth album, Tusk, on October 12, 1979, on Warner Bros. It features twenty songs across four sides.

Record One has two Christine compositions (“Brown Eyes,” “Never Make Me Cry”), three Stevie songs (“Sara,” “Storms,” “Sisters of the Moon”), and five Buckingham tunes: “The Ledge,” “Save Me a Place,” “What Makes You Think You’re the One,” “That’s All for Everyone,” and “Not That Funny.”

Record Two has two Nicks numbers (“Angel,” “Beautiful Child”) and four contributions apiece by Christine (“Brown Eyes,” “Never Make Me Cry,” “Honey Hi,” “Never Forget”) and Buckingham (“That’s Enough for Me,” “I Know I’m Not Wrong,” “Walk a Thin Line,” “Tusk”).

Musically, Tusk veers between Christine and Stevie’s trademark balladry and Buckingham’s newfound rock minimalism.

1. “Over & Over” (4:34)
2. “The Ledge” (2:08)
3. “Think About Me” (2:44)
4. “Save Me a Place” (2:42)
5. “Sara” (6:22) is about Stevie’s friend Sara Recor. After Stevie demoed this song, Recor started dating (and later married) Mick Fleetwood.

1. “What Makes You Think You’re the One” (3:32)
2. “Storms” (5:31)
3. “That’s All for Everyone” (3:03)
4. “Not That Funny” (3:11)
5. “Sisters of the Moon” (4:42)

1. “Angel” (4:54) not to be confused with the 1974 Bob Welch song on Heroes Are Hard to Find.
2. “That’s Enough for Me” (1:50)
3. “Brown Eyes” (4:27)
4. “Never Make Me Cry” (2:18)
5. “I Know I’m Not Wrong” (3:05)

1. “Honey Hi” (2:41)
2. “Beautiful Child” (5:21)
3. “Walk a Thin Line” (3:46)
4. “Tusk” (3:37) backed by the USC Trojan Marching Band on horns and marching drums. Features Christine on accordion.
5. “Never Forget” (3:34)

Sessions spanned ten months between late 1978 and mid-1979 at Studio D, the band’s customized studio at the Village Recorder in Los Angeles. Fleetwood Mac co-produced Tusk with Dashut and Caillat, who engineered the album with assistants Rich Feldman and Hernán Rojas, an engineer on recent albums by Lenny White, Giorgio Moroder, and Carol Bayer Sager. They recorded the 112-member Trojan Marching Band live with a mobile studio at LA’s Dodger Stadium.

Christine and Stevie recorded their songs at Studio D with the rest of the band. Buckingham brought in raw demos and had the others add overdubs. He employed odd methods of recording during the project (bathroom taping, floor miking, cardboard drumming) and completed three songs (“The Ledge,” “Save Me a Place,” “That’s Enough For Me”) with no outside input.

As the album got underway, Peter Green resurfaced at a group party, where Buckingham met his forebear for the first time. Green plays guitar on “Brown Eyes” as a return favor to Christine, who played piano (pre-membership) on his contributions to Mr. Wonderful and Then Play On.

Tusk appeared in a thick embossed single sleeve by Vigon Nahas Vigon, the LA studio of Rumours designer Larry Vigon. The front cover shows Caillat’s dog Scooter in the act of leg-biting; photographed by Jayme Odgers, also credited on 1977–78 albums by Gary Wright (Touch and Gone), Ian Matthews (Hit and Run), and Marc Jordan (Mannequin), each with similar photo-in-a-photo covers. Each record comes in a picture dustcover with grayscale and colored group photographs. On the Side Two sleeve side, members defy gravity in a modernist room. First-press copies contain a media writeup and promo pics of the five members.

On September 21, 1979, Fleetwood Mac lifted “Tusk” as an advance single (b/w “Never Make Me Cry”). It went Top 10 in Australia (No. 3), New Zealand (No. 4), Canada (No. 5), the UK (No. 6), West Germany (No. 7), the Netherlands (No. 9), and the US, where the single reached No. 8 on the Cashbox Top 100 and the Billboard Hot 100. In the video, four-fifths of Fleetwood Mac walk around Dodger Stadium on the day of the Trojan Marching Band recording (June 4, 1979). The absent John McVie, who was on vacation in Tahiti, appears in the form of a lifesize cardboard cutout photo.

In December, “Sara” became the album’s second single (b/w “That’s Enough for Me”). It reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 13 on the US Adult Contemporary chart. In Canada, “Sara” reached No. 12 on the RPM Top Singles chart and No. 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart. In 1980, an unnamed claimant alledged that Stevie plagiarized a namesake 1978 song submitted to Warner. Nicks countered that her “Sara” demo predated the Warner submission. The case was dismissed.

In February 1980, “Not That Funny” (b/w “Save Me a Place”) became the third Tusk single in the UK, where its new wave style reflected local trends. The song became a Fleetwood Mac live staple with extended instrumental breaks. “Think About Me” (b/w “Save Me a Place”) became the third  single in the US, where it reached No. 20 on the Hot 100. In June, “Sisters of the Moon” (b/w “Walk a Thin Line”) became the fourth US single. The following month, Stevie’s “Angel” reappeared as a Dutch-only single.

Tusk reached No. 1 in the UK, No. 2 in Australia, and No. 4 on the Billboard 200. It also reached No. 1 in New Zealand and made the Top 10 in Austria (No. 4), Germany (No. 3), the Netherlands (No. 3), Norway (No. 6), and Sweden (No. 8). Tusk went Platinum in the UK (300,000 sales), double-Platinum in the US (2,000,000 sales), and triple-Platinum in Australia (150,000 sales).

Fleetwood Mac launched the Tusk Tour on October 26, 1979, at the Mini Dome in Pocatello, Idaho. They performed 112 shows across six legs over ten months. Leg 1 (North America) covered twenty-three cities with November New York two-nighters at Nassau Coliseum and Madison Square Garden. Danny Douma opened select dates, including shows in New Haven (11/10: Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum) and Philadelphia (11/21: Spectrum, Philadelphia).

In Cincinnati, Fleetwood Mac played the Riverfront Stadium on Nov. 7, four weeks before a deadly stampede at a Who concert caused by the venue’s practice of festival seating. On December 4, the USC Trojan Marching Band joined Mac for a performance of “Tusk” at the Inglewood Forum. Mac wrapped the US leg with a Dec. 14–16 engagement at the Cow Palace, a 33.8k-seater in Daly City, Calif.


1980

Stevie Nicks stradles Mick Fleetwood’s shoulders on the February 7, 1980, cover of Rolling Stone (issue No. 310). The image — a cropped portion of a posed group photo by celebrity photographer Richard Avedon — accompanies a four-page chronicle of their winter tour by Daisann McLane (“Five Not So Easy Pieces”), who accompanies the band and marvels at the unlikely set of circumstances (chance meetings, lucky breaks) that led to their current fortune.

Late in the article, Buckingham and Dashut discuss the latest Talking Heads album, Fear of Music, near a blaze McVie, who snaps in horror when he hears that the New York band’s drummer and bassist are married. “Did you say married to each other? You mean, this band has a man and wife, a couple in it?” According to McLane, a long silence follows before John sips a drink and mumbles “We ought to mail these people a Fleetwood Mac biography. Labeled BEWARE!”

Fleetwood Mac launched Leg 2 of the Tusk Tour with a three-night stand (February 3–5) at Tokyo’s Budokan. They played seven cities in Japan, culimating with a Feb. 16–17 engagement at Osaka Festival Hall.

Leg 3 encompassed seventeen dates in Oceania. Fleetwood Mac hit five cities in Australia with two-nighters at the Perth Entertainment Centre (Feb. 21–22) and Brisbane Festival Hall (March 7–8), a five nonconsecutive nights in melbourne and Sydney, where local star John Paul Young opened at Feb. 27–28, shows at the Hordern Pavilion. In New Zealand, Mac played a filmed and broadcast March 20 show at Wellington’s 39k-seat Athletic Park. They flew to Hawaii for a three-night engagement (March 27–29) at Honolulu’s Neil S. Blaisdell Center.

Leg 4 started in the Pacific Northwest, where Fleetwood Mac hit Portland (April 30: Memorial Coliseum), Seattle (May 1: Hec Edmunson Pavilion), and Vancouver (May 2: PNE Coliseum), followed by shows in Edmonton and the US Midwest, including a date with Christopher Cross at Madison’s Dane County Coliseum.

Leg 5 covered Europe with four shows in Germany, including dates with Bob Marley & the Wailers at Munich’s Open Air Festival (June 1: Reitstadion) and the Kaiserslautern Festival (June 8: Betzenberg Stadion). After single nights in Zürich, Brussels, Rotterdam, and Paris, Fleetwood Mac landed in England for two shows at Stafford’s Bingley Hall and six nights (June 20–22, 25–27) at London’s Wembley Arena.

Fleetwood Mac wrapped the Tusk Tour with a seventeen-city Southern US swing, including an Aug. 16 show in Dallas at Reunion Arena, where opener Rocky Burnette (then in the charts with “Tired of Toein’ the Line”) deputized an ill John McVie. Leg 6 concluded with a two-night engagement (Aug. 31–Sept. 1) at the Hollywood Bowl.


Fleetwood Mac Live

In December 1980, Warner issued Fleetwood Mac Live, a 91-minute double album with eighteen numbers from the spring–summer tour, plus one track (the Buckingham Nicks song “Don’t Let Me Down Again”) from their October 17, 1975, show at Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ.

Live collects performances of four songs from Fleetwood Mac (“Landslide,” “Rhiannon,” “I’m So Afraid,” “Over My Head”) and six from Rumours: “Monday Morning,” “Say You Love Me,” “Dreams,” “Never Going Back Again,” “Go Your Own Way,” and “Don’t Stop.”

From the recent Tusk, they perform one song per writer: “Over & Over,” “Sara,” and “Not That Funny.”

They elongate three numbers: “Not That Funny” (9:04), “Rhiannon” (7:43), and “I’m So Afraid” (8:28). Lindsey sings a revved-up “Oh Well” (Part One), the only Green-era song performed by the Buckingham–Nicks lineup.

“Oh Well” and “Sara” come from their November 5, 1979, show at the Checker Dome in St. Louis. “Monday Morning” comes from their February 3, 1980, show at Tokyo’s Budokan. Seven numbers come from May–June performances at one of three locations:

  • Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland (May 20–21) — “Not That Funny,” “Go Your Own Way,” and “I’m So Afraid.”
  • Palais de Sport, Paris (June 14) — “Dreams” and “Don’t Stop” (pre-show soundcheck renditions).
  • Wembley Arena (June 25–26) — “Landslide” and “Rhiannon.”

Four numbers (“Over & Over,” “Over My Head,” “Say You Love Me,” “Never Going Back Again”) come from respective August 22–28 shows in Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Wichita, and Tucson.

Fleetwood Mac Live also contains new songs by Stevie (“Fireflies”) and Christine (“One More Night”), plus the Beach Boys obscurity “The Farmer’s Daughter” — all attributed to private post-tour shows on Sept. 3–4 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (“for crew and friends”) but possibly sourced from Village Recorder demos with added live noise.

Select numbers feature auxiliary musicianship from percussionist Tony Toadaro, keyboard technician Jeffery Sova, and guitar technician Ray Lindsey. Fleetwood Mac co-produced Live with Dashut and Caillat, who engineered and mixed the fifteen verified live tracks: recorded by Westwood One Mobile operator Biff Dawes and concert soundman James “Trip” Khalaf, who also engineered the 1979 EMI release Live Killers, a live double-album by Queen.

Vigon designed the gatefold cover, which has a blurred outer-gate backshot of Fleetwood Mac bowing to their audience. The inner-gates have a monochrome collage of group and member pics by rock photographers Chris Callis and Sam Emerson and publicist Sharon Weisz.

Fleetwood Mac Live reached No. 14 on the Billboard 200. In January 1981, Warner lifted “Fireflies” as a single, backed with the live rendition of “Over My Head.”


1981–1982

In March–April 1981, Buckingham partook in sessions for Malibooz Rule!, a retro surf-rock album by The Malibooz, the briefly reformed college band of Walter Egan, who also employed singer Wendy Waldman and Lindsey’s pre-fame colleague Fritz Fuller for the project.

Christine McVie co-produced the 1981 Liberty release Distant Shores, the second album by English singer, keyboardist, and songwriter Robbie Patton (managed by Sara’s ex-husband, Jim Recor). She provides musical and vocal backing on the album along with Buckingham, Welch, Weston, and onetime Ora bassist Robin Sylvester.

Meanwhile, Bob Weston released his second solo album, Studio Picks, with backing on one track (“Ford 44”) by Mick Fleetwood, who apparently made peace with the ontime Mac guitarist.


Solo Albums

In June 1981, Mick Fleetwood made his solo debut with The Visitor, his first of two RCA albums. Sessions took place the prior winter in Ghana, Africa, with local percussionists and choir vocalists and Mick’s core backers: bassist–keyboardist George Hawkins (a Loggins sideman) and guitarist Todd Sharp.

The Visitor features ten covers, mostly in the blues-rock and Afro-rock veins, including remakes of songs from Tusk (“Walk a Thin Line”) and Then Play On (“Rattlesnake Shake”). The former features George Harrison on slide and 12-string guitar. “Rattlesnake Shake” features its writer, Peter Green, on lead guitar and vocals with orchestration by Andrew Powell (Alan Parson Project, Ambrosia, John Miles, Kate Bush). Ex-Pilot guitarist Ian Bairnson plays on the Buddy Holly cover “Not Fade Away” and the Hawkins contribution “Cassiopeia Surrender.”

Steve Nicks debuted as a solo artist with Bella Donna, released on July 27, 1981, on Atco. It features three co-writes and seven self-penned numbers, including the FM staple “Edge of Seventeen.” She worked with producer Jimmy Iovine and a host of players, including Ronstadt guitarist Waddy Watchell, Elton guitarist Dave Johnstone, and organist Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, who back Nicks as a group on “Outside the Rain” and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” a Nicks–Petty duet written by Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell. Don Henley of the recently disbanded Eagles duets with Stevie on the country ballad “Leather and Lace.”

Bella Donna reached No. 2 in Canada and No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and the Australian Kent Music Report. It spawned four Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100: “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (No. 3), “Leather and Lace” (No. 6), “Edge of Seventeen” (No. 11), and “After the Glitter Fades.”

In October 1981, Lindsey Buckingham made his solo debut with Law and Order, released on Asylum (North America) and Mercury (abroad). It features eight originals and three covers, including Kurt Weill’s “September Song.” Dashut co-produced the album with Buckingham, who self-performs the songs on guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, and percussion. Musically, Law and Order, continues the quirky, minimal approach of Lindsey’s Tusk material. McVie sings backing vocals on “Shadow of the West.” The album’s lush, airy second track, “Trouble,” has Fleetwood on drums and Hawkins on bass (all of Mick’s band, Zoo, appear in the song’s video). Lindsey’s then-girlfriend, Carol Ann Harris, sings backing vocals on “Trouble,” which reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The videos of “Trouble” and “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” as well “Tusk” and the 1980 live clip of “Sara,” became first-year staples of the fledgling US cable music channel MTV.

Fleetwood Mac reconvened in November 1981 in Hérouville, France, at the Château d’Hérouville, the vaunted recording site of Jethro Tull’s ill-fated “Chateau d’Isaster” tapes and late-seventies titles by the Bee Gees, David Bowie (Low), Iggy Pop (The Idiot), Magma, Rainbow, and Sweet.


Mirage

Fleetwood Mac released their thirteenth studio album, Mirage, on June 18, 1982, on Warner Bros. It features three Stevie songs (“That’s Alright,” “Gypsy,” “Straight Back”) and two Lindsey lone-writes (“Can’t Go Back,” “Eyes of the World”). Buckingham also co-wrote three songs (“Book of Love,” “Empire State,” “Oh Diane”) with Law and Order producer Richard Dashut, a colleague since Buckingham–Nicks.

Christine McVie contributes the airy ballad “Only Over You” and co-writes with Patton (“Hold Me”), Jim Recor (“Love in Store”), and English journeyman drummer Colin Allen (“Wish You Were Here”). Allen, a fellow traveler of the sixties blues-rock scene, played with Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band, Stone the Crows, and Top Topham, the guitarist on The Legendary Christine Perfect Album.

1. “Love in Store” (3:14) Mick Fleetwood on güiro, wood block, and xylophone.
2. “Can’t Go Back” (2:42)
3. “That’s Alright” (3:09)
4. “Book of Love” (3:21)
5. “Gypsy” (4:24) Christine McVie on tack piano and Hammond organ.
6. “Only Over You” (4:08)

1. “Empire State” (2:51) Buckingham on lap harp.
2. “Straight Back” (4:17)
3. “Hold Me” (3:44)
4. “Oh Diane” (2:36)
5. “Eyes of the World” (3:44)
6. “Wish You Were Here” (4:45)

Sessions occurred between November 1981 and March 1982 in Hérouville (Le Château) and Los Angeles (Larrabee Sound and the Record Plant). Fleetwood Mac co-produced Mirage with Dashut and Caillat, who engineered the album with assistance by David Bianco and Carla Frederick, a soundman on Bombs Away Dream Babies and Distant Shores. Ray Lindsey plays additional guitar on “Straight Back.”

Vignon conceived and designed the cover, which features dark-lit photography by George Hurrell. It shows Stevie in a dance embrace with Lindsey, who looks back over his shoulder at Christine while Mick and John (back) look straight to the camera. Hurrell’s half-shaded style also appears on Law and Order and 1981–82 albums by Aretha Franklin and Melissa Manchester. Buckingham did the artwork on the lyrical inner-sleeve, which features a paint-enhanced group photo and a doodle of the penguin mascot.

Fleetwood Mac lifted “Hold Me” as the first single (b/w “Eyes of the World”). It reached No. 3 on the Cashbox Top 100 and the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart (No. 4 on the Hot 100).

For the video, Fleetwood Mac used Irish filmmaker Steve Barron, who also made early clips for Adam & The Ants (“Antmusic”), Fun Boy Three & Bananarama (“It Ain’t What You Do….”), The Jam (“Going Underground”), and Joe Jackson (“Stepping Out”). “Hold Me” takes place in the Mojave Desert, where Lindsey roams and sings while a fort-bound Christine observes and harmonizes. Amid shattered mirrors and Magritte’s Man in a Bowler Hat (reflected in Christine’s observatory), Mick and John labor in the sand over deconstructed guitar sculptures while Stevie reclines in a red gown for Lindsey, who renders her with oil to canvass.

In August, they lifted “Gypsy” as the second single, backed with the live non-album acoustic number “Cool Water,” a 1936 song by Canadian–American hillbilly singer Bob Nolan. “Gypsy” reached No. 4 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and No. 9 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

For the video, Fleetwood Mac teamed with Australian filmmaker Russell Mulcahy, who directed early music videos for The Buggles (“Video Killed the Radio Star”), Duran Duran (“Planet Earth”), Kim Carnes (“Bette Davis Eyes”), The Motels (“Only the Lonely”), and Ultravox (“Vienna”). “Gypsy” opens with a pastel bedroom scene where Stevie, surrounded with antique furnishings, drifts to a b&w Edwardian vignette, in which she flees a ballroom to dance in the rain. The other members appear as ritzy ballroom denizens; Lindsey becomes her suitor. Later, she spins in a white gown on a pink-lit precipice where the others appear as picnic-goers. MTV plugged “Gypsy” as the station’s first World Premiere Video.

In November, Fleetwood Mac lifted “Love in Store” as the third US single (b/w “Can’t Go Back”). It reached No. 11 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.

Meanwhile, “Oh Diane” (b/w “Only Over You”) became the fourth single in the UK, where it appeared on a picture disc with the penguin mascot. In February 1983, it peaked at No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart. Fleetwood Mac filmed a soundstage clip in which a quiffed, up-collared Buckingham mimes with an acoustic guitar for the Feb. 3 broadcast of TotP, which aired the song amid current hits by Kajagoogoo (“Too Shy”), Men at Work (“Down Under”), Tears for Fears (“Change”), and U2 (“New Year’s Day”).

“Oh Diane” became the fourth US single while “Can’t Go Back” appeared as a UK-only fourth single (both backed with “That’s Alright”).

Mirage reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and No. 5 in Canada and the UK. It also went Top 10 in Australia (No. 2), Norway (No. 2), the Netherlands (No. 6), Sweden (No. 10), Germany (No. 12), New Zealand (No. 13), and Spain (No. 17). The album has since gone Platinum in the UK and double-Platinum in the US.


Mirage Tour

Fleetwood Mac supported Mirage with a two-month, 32-date US tour, launched September 1, 1981, in North Carolina at the Greensboro Coliseum. On September 4, they played Orlando’s Tangerine Bowl, supported by Loverboy, John Cougar, and ex-Babys singer John Waite.

The typical Mirage Tour set ran 135 minutes and featured twenty-two numbers: four apiece from Fleetwood Mac (“Rhiannon,” “Landslide,” “I’m So Afraid,” “Blue Letter”) and Mirage (“Hold Me,” “Gypsy,” “Love in Store,” “Eyes of the World”); five from Tusk (“Brown Eyes,” “Not That Funny,” “Tusk,” “Sara,” “Sisters of the Moon”) and eight from Rumours — “Second Hand News,” “The Chain,” “Don’t Stop,” “Dreams,” “Never Going Back Again,” “You Make Loving Fun,” “Go Your Own Way,” and “Songbird” — plus the Green-era staple “Oh Well (Pt. 1).” Buckingham’s guitar technician, Ray Lindsey, played second guitar on “Second Hand News,” “Gypsy,” “Hold Me,” “Eyes of the World,” and “Go Your Own Way.”

On September 5, Fleetwood Mac played the first US Festival, a three-day event organized by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who envisioned the concerts as communal mergings of rock and technology for the Computer Age. The weekend event had sets by The Beat, The B-52’s, The Cars, Gang of Four, The Kinks, Oingo Boingo, Pat Benetar, The Police, and Talking Heads. Mac closed Day 3 (Sunday) after sets by Jackson Brown and Jimmy Buffett.

On the thirteen dates between Sept. 10 (The Scope, Norfolk, VA) and Oct. 3 (Coliseum Arena, Oakland), Fleetwood Mac welcomed openers Men at Work, the Aussie five-piece that broke stateside via MTV with the comedic numbers “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Down Under” from their 1981 debut album Business as Usual.

Between October 10 and 28, Fleetwood Mac played eight shows supported by Glenn Frey. On Monday the 18th, Mac held a benefit show for the City of Hope (a clinical research non-profit) at Irvine Meadows, where Frey’s erstwhile bandmate Don Henley dueted with Nicks on “Leather and Lace.”

Fleetwood Mac played a two-night engagement (Oct. 21–22) at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, supported by Dave Mason. Cameramen taped the Friday show (10/22) for In Concert: Mirage Tour ’82, released in 1983 on VHS tape and CED laserdisc.

The Mirage Tour wrapped on Oct. 31, 1982, at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.


1983

On June 10, 1983, Stevie Nicks released her second solo album, The Wild Heart. It features nine originals, including three co-writes with her friend Sandy Stewart: “Nightbird,” “Nothing Ever Changes,” and the synth-laden ballad “If Anyone Falls.” Tom Petty contributes “I Will Run to You,” a second Petty–Nicks duet with backing by the Heartbreakers. The closing track, “Beauty and the Beast,” features string arrangements by Paul Buckmaster, a longtime conductor for Elton John. Prince performs the synth pattern on “Stand Back,” an upbeat dance track with a high-rotated MTV video. The Wild Heart peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 for seven weeks and spawned a five-month US tour.

Also in June, Mick Fleetwood released I’m Not Me, his second solo album credited to ‘Mick Fleetwood’s Zoo,’ his blues-rock quartet with Hawkins and guitarist–singers Billy Burnette and Steve Ross. It has an eleven-song tracklist with three lead vocals apiece by Ross and Burnette and four by Hawkins. The album also features three saxists and contributions by Christine McVie and Buckingham, who collaborates with Ross on “I Want You Back.”

Lindsey Buckingham cut a standalone single, “Holiday Road,” the theme to National Lampoon’s Vacation starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. It appears on the soundtrack album with cuts by The Ramones, Nicolette Larson, Vanity 6, June Pointer, and fifties vocal trio The Fleetwoods.

Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham do backing vocals on McCriminal, a 1983 private press EP by self-styled Ian McCorkle, who’s also backed by pianist Nicky Hopkins and (ex-Rainbow Press) keyboardist Marc Ellis. Christine and Lindsey also appear on the 1983 MCA release Wild Exhibitions, the fifth and (for many years) final album by Walter Egan.

Christine sings backing vocals on one track (“When I’m Dead And Gone”) on the Capitol release Phil Everly, the fourth solo album by the younger Everly brother. The song, by Gallagher & Lyle, was a 1970 No. 2 hit for McGuinness Flint. Christine also sings backing vocals on “I Love LA,” the MTV-rotated single off Trouble In Paradise, the 1983 Warner release by Randy Newman.


1984

In January 1984, Christine McVie released her self-titled second solo album, backed on most tracks by Buckingham and Steve Winwood, who co-wrote “Ask Anybody.” She co-wrote five songs with Zoo guitarist and Welch sideman Todd Sharp. One track, “So Excited,” is a three-way write with Zoo singer–guitarist Billy Burnette. The final track, “The Smile I Live For,” features additional keyboards by Eddy Quintela, a Portuguese songwriter who became Christine’s romantic partner. Christine McVie spawned two US Top 30 hits — “Got a Hold on Me” (No. 10) and “Love Will Show Us How” — and reached No. 26 on the Billboard 200.

In July 1984, Lindsey Buckingham released Go Insane, his second solo album. He self-produced and largely self-performed the music in his garage. Musically, Go Insane combines Lindsey’s avant-pop leanings with newly aquired hi-tech instruments like the Fairlight CMI synthesizer and the Linn electronic drum. Several tracks (“I Want You,” “Play in the Rain,” “Bang the Drum”) feature layered, processed vocal samples. The closing piece, “D.W. Suite,” is an orchestral epic with lap harp. Buckingham shot a quirky video for the album’s title track, his second Top 30 solo hit.

Buckingham plays guitar and harmonizes on one song (“You Can’t Make Love”) on the November 1984 Geffen release Building the Perfect Beast, the second solo album by Don Henley. Lindsey also plays guitar on “Jimmy Loves Maryann,” the lead-off track on From the Hip, the second album by new wave singer Josie Cotton.


1985

Lindsey Buckingham partook in the January 28, 1985, recording session for “We Are the World,” an all-star charitable single organized by actor–singer Harry Belafonte for Ethiopian famine relief. Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie co-wrote the Quincy Jones-produced song, which features trade-off leads by some of the era’s biggest singers, including Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Billy Joel, James Ingram, Al Jarreau, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Cyndi Lauper, and Daryl Hall. Buckingham appears toward the end of the video among the chorus of participants. “We Are the World” reached No. 1 worldwide and raised a purported $63 million in humanitarian aid.

Buckingham plays guitar on two songs (“I Couldn’t Get To Sleep Last Night,”In the Name of Love”) on the 1985 Elektra release E S P, the second album by the synthpop combo Espionage. He also plays rhythm guitar on “Something’s Happening,” one of three songs written by Jerry Lynn Williams for the March 1985 Warner release Behind the Sun, the ninth solo studio album by Eric Clapton, who scored a hit that spring with the Williams-penned “Forever Man.” Lindsey also plays on one track (“Begging for Favors (Learning How Things Work)”) on the May 1985 EMI America release Barking at Airplanes, the ninth album by singer Kim Carnes.

Buckingham contributed the song “Time Bomb Town” to the soundtrack of Back to the Future, the summer 1985 blockbuster sci-fi comedy starring Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, a high school rock guitarist who travels back to 1955 and meddles in his parent’s budding courtship.

Mick Fleetwood is one of two drummers on the 1985 MCA release Try Me, the sixth solo album by Zoo guitarist–singer Billy Burnette. Concurrently, Fleetwood and Burnette contributed to the self-titled North American debut by Scottish–Australian singer Jimmy Barnes, the former frontman of Adelaide rockers Cold Chisel.

On November 18, 1985, Stevie Nicks released her third solo album, Rock a Little. It contains three lone-writes (“Rock a Little (Go Ahead Lily),” “I Sing for the Things,” “No Spoken Word”) and six co-writes, including collaborations with Mike Campbell (“Imperial Hotel”), Les Dudek (“Sister Honey”), and Stevie’s brother Chris Nicks (“The Nightmare”). Stevie dedicated “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?” to the deceased daughter of Joe Walsh

Of the two songs submitted by outside writers, “Talk to Me” (by Atlantan AOR singer–songwriter Chas Sandford) became the lead-off single (No. 4 Billboard). Six songs feature backing vocals by Loggins sidewoman Marilyn Martin, who scored a No. 1 Billboard hit that fall with “Seperate Live,” her duet ballad with Phil Collins for the 1985 musical drama White Nights.

Rock a Little took more than a year to finish and cost a purported $1 million. It involved six producers; mainly Iovine (four songs) and emerging soundman Rick Nowels, who co-wrote the hi-tech second single “I Can’t Wait.” Early sessions bore the unused “Running Through the Garden” (which later surfaced on Fleetwood Mac’s 2003 album Say You Will). Songs pitched to Stevie for the project include Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (a 1985 Heartbreakers hit) and the Martin Page–Bernie Taupin ballad “These Dreams” (a 1986 No. 1 for Heart off their self-titled comeback album). Rock a Little reached No. 5 in Australia and No. 12 in the US, where it certified Platinum.

Meanwhile, Buckingham’s plans for his third solo album got usurped by a new Fleetwood Mac project that would ultimately require seventeen months of studio time.


1986–1987

Christine McVie sings backing vocals on one track (“We Were Lonely”) on the 1986 MCA release Who Am I, the first of two solo albums by erstwhile Zoo guitarist–singer Todd Sharp, the chief collaborator on her 1984 solo album. She and Todd sing backing vocals on the closing ballad on Bonnie Riatt’s 1986 ninth album Nine Lives. The track in question, “Angel,” is a song by pianist Eric Kaz (Blues Magoos, Bear, American Flyer) and is neither the 1974 Welch or 1979 Christine songs of the same name.

Christine also sings a cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” the Elvis Presley ballad from his 1961 surf dramedy Blue Hawaii. Her version appears on the sountrack to A Fine Mess, the 1986 screwball comedy starring Cheers lead Ted Danson and St. Elsewhere actor Howie Mandell.

Buckingham produced two tracks (“Indian Summer,” “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime”) on the 1987 Reprise release Remembrance Days, the second album by the English ethereal neo-psych trio The Dream Academy. He plays bass on both tracks and guitar and keyboards on the latter, a cover of the 1980 Billboard Top 20 hit by Stackridge spin-off The Korgis.


Tango In the Night

Fleetwood Mac released their fourteenth studio album, Tango In the Night, on April 13, 1987, on Warner Bros. It contains three Buckingham lone-writes (“Big Love,” “Caroline,” “Tango in the Night”) and a fourth song (“Family Man”) co-written by Dashut — all conceived for a third solo album.

Nicks collaborated with Sandy Stewart on “Seven Wonders” and lone-wrote two numbers: “Welcome to the Room… Sara,” a reference to her rehab stint; and “When I See You Again,” where her and Lindsey harmonize.

Christine submitted “Everywhere” and co-wrote “Little Lies” with Quintela, who she married in 1986. Buckingham helped the pair on “Isn’t It Midnight.” Each side closes with a Lindsey–Christine co-write: “Mystified” (sung by Christine) and “You and I, Part II” (sung by Lindsey).

1. “Big Love” (3:37)
2. “Seven Wonders” (3:38)
3. “Everywhere” (3:48)
4. “Caroline” (3:50)
5. “Tango in the Night” (3:56)
6. “Mystified” (3:08)

1. “Little Lies” (3:40)
2. “Family Man” (4:08)
3. “Welcome to the Room… Sara” (3:37)
4. “Isn’t It Midnight” (4:06)
5. “When I See You Again” (3:49)
6. “You and I, Part II” (2:40)

Sessions commenced in November 1985 and ran through March 1987. Buckingham, who demoed songs for a third solo album, agreed to use them for a new Fleetwood Mac album at Mick’s insistence. He co-produced and engineered Tango In the Night with Dashut and Greg Droman, a soundman on “Time Bomb Town.”

Buckingham recorded backing tracks at The Slope, the 24-track studio in his Hollywood home. Apart from Mick’s drum track, Lindsey self-recorded “Big Love,” which uses Fairlight-processed vocals to simulate male-female harmonies. Additional work took place at Studio Rumbo Recorders, a Canoga Park facility owned by Captain & Tennille. Nicks, who devoted herself to the Rock a Little tour, was only present for two weeks of the seventeen-month Tango sessions.

Christine and Lindsey collaborated on two further songs, “Where We Belong” and “Special Kind of Love,” that Fleetwood Mac recorded but withheld from the final album.

Tango In the Night features cover art by Australian painter Brett-Livingstone Strong, whose work depicts a tropical wetland with alligators, hippos, giraffes, zebras, elephants, and birds, including a white swan that stands on a swimming gator. Veteran celebrity photographer Greg Gorman (GQ, Vogue, Vanity Fair) took the back-cover shot of Fleetwood Mac in designer clothes.

In March 1987, Warner issued “Big Love” as an advance single, backed with the non-album “You & I Part 1,” a prequel to the closing track (Part II) on Tango In the Night. “Big Love” reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart. The video starts with the members situated afar on a mansion peristyle and follows with pan outs, primarily of Lindsey, in a sequence of indoor–outdoor settings.

In June, Warner lifted “Seven Wonders” as the second single, backed with the non-album Nicks instrumental “Book of Miracles,” which Stevie later developed into “Juliet” for her fourth solo album. “Seven Wonders” reached No. 2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and No. 13 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The video takes place in a mansion foyer and constantly pans on the individual members with an emphasis on Stevie and her multiple wardrobes.

In August, “Little Lies” became the third single, backed with the non-album Christine–Lindsey b-side “Ricky.” It reached No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and No. 9 on the Cashbox Top 100. The video takes place on a farm where the individuals fade in and out at various spots with recurrent impressionist visual filters.

In November, “Everywhere” became the fourth US single (b/w “When I See You Again”). It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and No. 14 on the Hot 100. “Everywhere” was the highest-charting Tango single in multiple territories. It reached No. 1 in Belgium and Canada, No. 2 in Ireland, No. 3 in the Netherlands, and No. 4 in the UK, where it appeared in March 1988 as the fifth single. Fleetwood Mac don’t appear in the video: a vignette of martyred 18th century lovers based on “The Highwayman,” a 1906 poem by English playwright Alfred Noyes.

“Family Man” became the fifth single in April 1988, backed by the non-album Buckingham track “Down Endless Street.” In June 1988, “Isn’t It Midnight” became the sixth and final Tango single (b/w “Mystified”). It reached No. 14 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

Tango In the Night spent five non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 in the UK, where it went octuple Platinum (2,500,000 sold). It also reached No. 1 in Sweden and No. 2 in the Netherlands and Germany, where it went double-Platinum (1,000,000 sold). The album also went Top 10 in Finland (No. 3), Australia and Canada (both No. 5), Switzerland (No. 7), New Zealand (No. 9), and Norway (No. 10). In the US, Tango In the Night reached No. 7 on the Billboard 200 and went triple-Platinum. As of 2023, Tango In the Night  has sold 15,000,000 copies worldwide.

Immediately after Tango‘s release, Lindsey Buckingham departed Fleetwood Mac. They hired Zoo guitarist–singer Billy Burnette and fellow guitarist–singer Rick Vito, a longtime sessionist (Something / Anything?, Down to Earth) who recently backed Jackson Brown and Rita Coolidge. Two of Stevie’s solo backing singers, Sharon Celani and Lori Perry, served as auxiliary tour members. The expanded Mac embarked on a 42-date autumn US tour (Sept. 30–Dec. 18), supported by The Cruzados.


Studio albums:

  • Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac (1968)
  • Mr. Wonderful (1968)
  • Then Play On (1969)
  • Kiln House (1970)
  • Future Games (1971)
  • Bare Trees (1972)
  • Penguin (1973)
  • Mystery to Me (1973)
  • Heroes Are Hard to Find (1974)
  • Fleetwood Mac (1975)
  • Rumours (1977)
  • Tusk (1979)
  • Mirage (1982)
  • Tango In the Night (1987)
  • Behind the Mask (1990)
  • Time (1995)
  • Say You Will (2003)

Sources:

1 thought on “Fleetwood Mac

  1. Intro to first draft (January 2018): “Fleetwood Mac are an English–American rock institution established in 1967. The nameplate is derived from the surname’s of its rhythm section, founders Mick Fleetwood (drums) and John McVie (bass), the two constant members throughout numerous changes in personnel during the past half-century.

    The band was initially a blues-rock combo with three guitarists: Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, and Danny Kirwan. The first two departed in 1970, just as keyboardist Christine McVie (ex-Chicken Shack) became a member. Moving stateside, the band employed guitarist/singer Bob Welch for a five-album stint on Reprise. After he left to form Paris, they hired the singing/songwriting duo of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, a move that propelled the band to global stardom with the 1975–77 releases Fleetwood Mac and Rumours.”

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