For most heritage bands, pumping out a couple new albums to prove they've still got it before eventually signing off with a farewell tour or three is generally par for the course.
This, of course, does not apply to Fleetwood Mac. Their infamous drama, fighting and gossip may have first kicked off back in the late 70s, with the world's most popular break-up record, Rumours, but even in the twilight of the group's 50 year-long career, they're still proving to be as provocative as ever.
In a new interview with the LA Times, former guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, who was fired from the group in 2018, has shared new light on his dismissal, and opens up about what he thinks of his ex-bandmates.
Buckingham's forthcoming and long awaited self-titled album — arriving September 17 — is apparently what initially led to his departure, as he claims that the band disallowed him time to promote the new material as Fleetwood Mac were planning on heading out on tour around the same time.
Stating that most of the group seemed open to the idea of rearranging their schedule, he claims that frontwoman Stevie Nicks was not – and that by that point, estranged lovers Buckingham and Nicks were becoming more and more hostile with one other. Allegedly, an ultimatum was made where the rest of the band had to chose between the pair, in terms of how they would progress as a band and on the upcoming tour. Siding with Nicks, Buckingham was fired. He explains: “It would be like a scenario where Mick Jagger says, ‘Either Keith [Richards] goes or I go.' No, neither one of you can go. But I guess the singer has to stay. The figurehead has to stay.”
Although the spat with Nicks prior to his dismissal is already public knowledge, Buckingham alleges that his former bandmembers and manager Irving Azoff were more focused on their finances – especially in regards to the pay check that would follow after a run of stadium shows – than protecting the group's legacy. He explains: "[Mick Fleetwood] has never quite gotten to the point where he’s financially stable all the time. He’s been married and divorced many times. He’s just not smart with his money.”
Alleging that the same money-based motivation applied to both Christine McVie and Azoff, Buckingham states that shortly after being fired, he received a message from the keyboardist that read: "I’m really sorry that I didn’t stand up for you, but I just bought a house". He also claims that "Irving doesn’t need the money, but he’s still driven by the money".
Reputing the accusation in a conversation with The Times, Azoff says: "In speaking with Stevie, her account of events are factual and truthful. While I understand it’s challenging for Lindsey to accept his own role in these matters and far easier to blame a manager, the fact remains that his actions alone are responsible for what transpired.
"Frankly, if I can be accused of anything it’s perhaps holding things together longer than I should have. After 2018 when Fleetwood Mac evolved with their new line-up, my continued work with the band was due entirely to the fact I’ve been aligned with Stevie Nicks in thought and purpose from the earliest of days.
"While financial gain was not a motivator for me, it was a delightful bonus that the band scored their highest grossing tour ever without Lindsey.”
In terms of what really went down with Stevie Nicks, Buckingham believes it ran deeper than money. Admitting that he believes the pair had never truly got closure from their earlier relationship, he also states that the true reason for their ongoing bickering was envy on Nicks' part – and that, put simply, Nicks wanted to "cut herself loose" from having to compete with him on stage for so many years.
Buckingham explains: "I think she saw the possibility of remaking the band more in the Stevie Nicks vein. More mellow and kind of down, giving her more chances to do the kind of talking she does onstage.
"You could do a whole analysis on Stevie at this point in her life and what she’s allowed to happen and what she’s allowed to slip away from her. 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 onstage. 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.”
Clearly, the soap opera that is Fleetwood Mac is still far from over, but Buckingham reveals that if there's one thing that has come out of his recent misfortunes — from leaving Fleetwood Mac, to the legal dispute that took place as well as his life-changing surgery shortly after — it's that he now feels less "aggressive" and "less-self involved" as a person. "I’ll tell you what: Between the Fleetwood Mac stuff and the heart attack, it’s all been humbling." He explains.
"I’ve never suffered from a lack of confidence, and sometimes could get carried away with that in the process of leading the band. But everything has pulled me in a little bit. I’m not as aggressive a person as I was before, which is probably not a bad thing. It made me look around more — and become less self-involved, hopefully.”
Lindsey Buckingham will arrive September 17 via Reprise. Pre-order the album now.