Stevie Nicks is arguably the reigning Queen of Rock and Roll. The sultry voiced singer songwriter of the group Fleetwood Mac is 72 years old this year and has no intentions of slowing down. When I first started to listen to Fleetwood Mac, it was just after the “Rumours” album in 1977. Her music and her vocals spoke to me. In those lyrics I heard an incredible amount of pain and heartbreak that I think we can all relate.
During the time that Rumours was being recorded, all the members of the band were going through break-ups. Band members John and Cristine McVie were in the middle of a messy divorce. Founder Mick Fleetwood had just separated with his wife Jenny Boyd. Over the years I began to read stories about the feud between Stevie and Lindsey Buckingham.
Nicks and Buckingham met in Atherton High School in California. Stevie was smitten with the long haired guitar player, and they joined a rock band “Fritz”. Fritz would go on to open for Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. After high school, Stevie and Lindsey attended San Jose State University, but dropped out to pursue a musical career.
Stevie was working as a waitress and cleaning houses so that Lindsey could concentrate on improving his guitar skills. This bears repeating. Stevie sometimes worked two jobs so that Lindsey could stay home in their modest apartment playing guitar with his friends. Stevie would later write that she would come home exhausted to find Lindsey and friends passed out and stoned. It was during this time that Stevie started writing some of her most painful poetry.
In 1973 they recorded an album “Buckingham Nicks” which ultimately flopped. The cover image on the album featured a nude Stevie and Lindsey. Stevie would later say that she was “mortified” but Lindsey and the photographer insisted, yelling that they were creating art.
After being dropped by the label Polydor, Lindsey got a job as a guitarist to tour with the Everly Brothers. Stevie went back to working as a waitress and lived for a short time in Aspen Colorado where she wrote “Rhiannon” and “Landslide”.
When Fleetwood Mac offered a job to Lindsey Buckingham, he insisted that they take Stevie too as a vocalist. The next album featured two songs written by Nicks, Landslide and Rhiannon. Both received a lot of airplay, and subsequent touring dates had Stevie twirling on stage in her top hat, boots and chiffon dresses. Audiences went wild. It has been said that around this time, Lindsey Buckingham became very upset at how the audiences were crazy about Stevie. In Lindsey’s mind, it was all about him. He was the guitar player, why were the audiences not chanting HIS name?
For film enthusiasts, this may create a sense of ‘Déjà Vu‘ with the plot of the movie “A Star is Born” where a popular male entertainer helps a female singer get into the spotlight, only to become envious when she becomes more popular than he is.
Although Stevie has never penned a biography about her life, saying that the public couldn’t handle it if she did, it has been noted by several people in the music industry that Lindsey Buckingham may be the biggest jerk in Rock and Roll. According to “Gold Dust Woman” by Stephen Davis, Stevie Nicks was quoted as saying “From the beginning, Lindsey was very controlling and very possessive.”
In the year after their first album with Fleetwood Mac, the fighting between Nicks and Buckingham intensified. They began writing songs about each other. Buckingham wrote “Go Your Own Way” about his feelings toward Stevie, and added some personal jabs like the line, “Packing up, shacking up’s all you wanna do.” Search for some of the band’s live performances of that song, and notice the glaring looks between Stevie and Lindsey in the early years.
Stevie came back with “Dreams” containing even more breakup sadness:
“But listen carefully
To the sound of your loneliness
Like a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had
And what you lost”
Lindsey Buckingham continued to be bitter about the split, and at times, his antics went over the edge. During the 1980 tour for “Tusk” Lindsey mocked Stevie’s dancing on stage, and tried (allegedly) to trip her. Christine McVie was so furious that she later slapped Lindsey for acting that way on stage in the public view.
Buckingham likes to tell reporters that he does not remember acting that way, and that he’s really not a jerk, just a misunderstood musical artist.
Buckingham’s next relationship tells a similar story. Carol Ann Harris wrote “Storms: My Life with Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac” and in her book she reveals that Buckingham was extremely jealous and possessive, telling the band’s crew members not to talk to her. She describes Buckingham as someone who would regularly consume mountains of cocaine and then physically abusing her.
It would be easy to surmise that Lindsey Buckingham’s biggest problem is his ego that enters the room five minutes before he does. He left the band in 1987 to embark on his solo career, convinced that HE was the reason that Fleetwood Mac was successful. His first solo album was “Out of the Cradle” in 1992. It was a huge flop, and included a lot of songs written about Stevie Nicks. He tried touring as a solo act with the release of the album, but audience attendance was… underwhelming.
Lindsey would release additional solo albums, and each with less success than the previous. He rejoined Fleetwood Mac for several tours, but continued to bicker and fight with Stevie and everyone else involved in the band. He was unceremoniously fired from the band in January of 2018.
It has been said that in the music world, when someone breaks your heart, you don’t key their car, you write songs about them. Stevie continued to write songs about Lindsey, and continued to stand beside him in concerts for the next 30 years and make him sing songs about what a jerk he was to her.
When it comes to heartbreak revenge, Taylor Swift is amateur. Stevie Nicks is professional grade.