Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours 45 years on: How Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham juggled success with scandal

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It was 45 years ago this year that Fleetwood Mac released their masterpiece album, Rumours.

The 1977 studio album is one of the most popular and celebrated compilations in pop music history, with tracks such as Dreams, Landslide and Go Your Own Way still topping the charts even today.

But Fleetwood Mac’s meteoric success didn’t come without a struggle. After the death of singer and keyboardist Christine McVie at age 79, we are taking a look back at the band’s tumultuous journey to timeless stardom.

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Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had a tumultuous relationship at the band’s peak. (Getty)

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Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine and John McVie and Mick Fleetwood were engulfed in bitter feuds, affairs and drug addictions which threatened to tear the band apart at the height of their success.

When Rumours was released over four decades ago, there was a soap opera-level of crisis going on behind the scenes.

“Drama. Dra-ma,” is how the late Christine McVie described the album’s recording shortly after its release.

She was right; during the Rumours era, Nicks had just split with her long-time lover and musical partner Buckingham, while McVie was in the middle of divorcing her husband and Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie.

Musical duo Nicks and Buckingham had met in high school in the 1960s and launched their careers together, releasing their first-ever record Buckingham Nicks in 1973.

The bandmates had been on-and-off again during the early 70s, their relationship tumultuous from the very beginning.

Fleetwood Mac (Christine McVie) performs at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota on June 30, 1990. (Photo by Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Christine McVie performing in 1990. (Getty)
18. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
Rumours by Fleetwood Mac was released 45 years ago this week. (Warner Bros.)

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During their early relationship Nicks “cooked and cleaned and took care of” Buckingham, the pair of them living like a married couple.

But tensions arose when, according to Nicks, Buckingham wanted her “all to himself” and began to distrust where she’d been or who she had been with.

At the time of the recording for Rumours in 1977, their erratic romance was officially over.

“We were just finishing up the end of our 12 songs in Sausalito for Rumours and I said, ‘We’re done. I think that this is over, and we both know now that no matter what it takes, we’re going to keep Fleetwood Mac together,” Nicks told Oprah in 2013.

“Our breaking up is not going to break up this band and I’m not going to quit and neither are you – and we were done.”

During the Rumours recording sessions, the tension between Nicks and Buckingham caused vicious fights, and the McVies weren’t speaking at all.

John McVie and Buckingham were also warring at the time, with McVie reportedly throwing a glass of vodka at his bandmate’s head on one occasion.

The band weathered bitter feuds, affairs and drug addiction. (Getty)

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The chart-topping song Go Your Own Way was written by Buckingham about his on-again-off-again romance with Nicks and Dreams – written by Nicks – was inspired by their nasty breakup.

“Now there you go again, you say you want your freedom. Well, who am I to keep you down?” was a telling lyric, supposedly about how Buckingham treated Nicks.

Then, in 1977, nearing the end of the Rumours tour, Nicks and Fleetwood embarked on an affair.

Nicks recalled she and Fleetwood “were absolutely horrified that this happened” kept the affair a secret until it “blew up and was over.”

The legendary musician said she and Buckingham “never, never talked about Mick. Ever.”

Buckingham later said he “didn’t feel betrayed” when he heard about their affair and admitted he “would have been surprised if it didn’t happen”.

Stevie Nicks pictured in 1978. (WireImage)

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Nevertheless, Fleetwood Mac stayed together for years afterwards, however Buckingham and Nicks would famously shoot “eye daggers” at each other in packed stadiums as they sang their breakup anthems.

Buckingham eventually left the band in the 1980s and stayed away for a decade, with Nicks following suit several years later before launching her own solo career.

The pair would return to the band for sporadic tours, but the final breakup occurred in 2018 when Buckingham was unceremoniously fired from the band.

Buckingham had asked for flexibility on tour dates, but Nicks refused to budge. He later sued for millions, with the lawsuit settled by the end of that year.

“Ironically,” Buckingham told The Times, “nothing went down that night that was [as contentious] as the stuff we’d been through for 43 years.”

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