One of the bitterest feuds in pop music rolls on, after Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks – once a couple whose breakup powered the classic album Rumours – have strongly disputed Buckingham’s departure from the band.
In 2018, it was announced that Buckingham would not be appearing on a forthcoming Fleetwood Mac tour. Buckingham sued the band later that year, saying that he was “suddenly cut off” after a dispute over being able to postpone the tour to play solo dates.
The lawsuit was settled out of court, with Buckingham saying: “We’ve all signed off on something. I’m happy enough with it. I’m not out there trying to twist the knife at all. I’m trying to look at this with some level of compassion, some level of wisdom.”
But in a new interview with Rolling Stone, Buckingham has said he was ousted because Nicks “wanted to shape the band in her own image, a more mellow thing”. He added: “I think others in the band just felt that they were not empowered enough individually, for whatever their own reasons, to stand up for what was right. And so it became a little bit like Trump and the Republicans.”
He said the ensuing tour, with Mike Campbell and Crowded House’s Neil Finn replacing him on guitar, “seemed somewhat generic and perhaps bordering on being a cover band … what this did was dishonour the legacy that we built”.
Buckingham claimed Nicks was dismayed that Buckingham eventually had his first child at the age of 48, while she remains childless: “It certainly wasn’t lost on her that … I did get in under the wire.”
In another interview with the LA Times, Buckingham said of Nicks: “Her creativity, at least for a while, it seemed like she wasn’t in touch with that – same with the level of energy she once had on stage. I think that was hard for her, seeing me jump around in an age-inappropriate way. Also, she’s lonely. She’s alone. She has the people who work for her, and I’m sure she has friends, but, you know.”
Nicks has responded by calling Buckingham’s account “revisionist history”. She wrote:
Following an exceedingly difficult time with Lindsey at MusiCares [award show] in New York in 2018, I decided for myself that I was no longer willing to work with him … we could start in 1968 and work up to 2018 with a litany of very precise reasons why I will not work with him. To be exceedingly clear, I did not have him fired, I did not ask for him to be fired, I did not demand he be fired. Frankly, I fired myself. I proactively removed myself from the band and a situation I considered to be toxic to my wellbeing. I was done. If the band went on without me, so be it. I have championed independence my whole life, and I believe every human being should have the absolute freedom to set their boundaries of what they can and cannot work with. And after many lengthy group discussions, Fleetwood Mac, a band whose legacy is rooted in evolution and change, found a new path forward with two hugely talented new members.
She rejected his claims about her wanting children: “I’m proud of the life choices I’ve made, and it seems a shame for him to pass judgment on anyone who makes a choice to live their life on their own terms, even if it looks differently from what his life choices have been.”
Fleetwood Mac’s manager Irving Azoff sided with Nicks, saying her account is “factual and truthful … [Buckingham’s] actions alone are responsible for what transpired.”
It has been reported that tensions initially flared up during the MusiCares event when Buckingham reacted unhappily to the Nicks-penned Rhiannon being played to announce their arrival, and that he smirked during Nicks’ acceptance speech.
Buckingham and Nicks met in their high-school days. They later became a couple and formed a duo, Buckingham Nicks, who released a single album in 1973 – it flopped, but caught the ear of Mick Fleetwood, who invited the pair to join his band. Their arrival heralded the band’s most successful phase, with albums including Rumours, Tusk, Mirage and Tango in the Night.
Following the band’s 50th-anniversary tour (without Buckingham), Nicks was intending to play five solo dates in 2021, but cancelled them due to the pandemic, saying: “At my age I am still being extremely cautious.” A film of her 2017 tour, 24 Karat Gold, was released this year.
Buckingham is releasing a new self-titled solo album – with the perhaps deceptively titled single I Don’t Mind – and touring the US for the remainder of 2021, before a European tour in 2022. In June, his wife Kristen Messner filed for divorce.