Singer, songwriter, guitarist
Multitalented musician Lindsey Buckingham first came to the attention of millions of music fans when he joined the rock and roll group Fleetwood Mac with his then girlfriend, Stevie Nicks, in 1975. With his revered compositions, vocals, guitar playing, and production skills, he made a major contribution to the band’s extraordinary success in the years that followed. Buckingham provided Fleetwood Mac with such trademark songs as “Go Your Own Way,” “Second Hand News,” “Tusk,” and “Big Love,” in addition to venturing out with solo albums, including 1981’s Law and Order, 1984’s Go Insane, and his critically acclaimed release of 1992, Out of the Cradle.
Buckingham was born on October 3, 1949, in Palo Alto, California. He grew up listening to his older brother’s recordings of Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley. As a child, Buckingham practiced playing on a plastic Mickey Mouse guitar until his parents bought him a real one. Afterwards, he further honed his skills on the instrument by playing along with the albums of the folk group Kingston Trio and was greatly influenced by the music of the Beach Boys. Before Buckingham left high school, he began to play and sing for a rock group called Fritz. In this band, he was later joined by singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks.
Buckingham and Nicks eventually got involved romantically as well as musically, and when Fritz disbanded in 1971, the duo moved from the San Francisco Bay area to Los Angeles to work as a musical team. On their own, their style was more folksy than the harder rock music they had made with Fritz. After struggling for a few years, Buckingham and Nicks were signed by Polydor Records, and they released an album titled Buckingham/Nicks. Though this album was not a big seller, it inadvertently brought them to the attention of the rock band Fleetwood Mac, which was looking for a recording studio. The studio that had produced Buckingham/Nicks played the album for them as an example of its handiwork. The band’s members not only liked the technical aspects of the LP, but were also intrigued by the duo they heard. Since Fleetwood Mac member Bob Welch had recently departed, they sought out Buckingham and Nicks to fill out their group in 1974.
A “Lesson in Adaptation”
Buckingham and Nicks’s first work with Fleetwood Mac turned out to be another self-titled album. Fleetwood Mac marked the emergence of the band—which now consisted of Buckingham, Nicks, Christine and John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood—as a popular success, yielding hits such as Nicks’s “Rhiannon” and Christine McVie’s “Don’t Stop.” Buckingham acknowledged in
For the Record…
Born October 3, 1949 (some sources say 1947), in Palo Alto, CA.
Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer. Played with rock band Fritz, beginning in the 1960s; formed duo with Stevie Nicks, 1971-74; member of Fleetwood Mac, 1975-87; solo recording artist, 1981—.
Selected awards: Grammy Award, with Fleetwood Mac, 1977, for Rumours.
Addresses: Home —Bel Air, CA. Manager —c/o Michael Brokaw Management, 3389 Camino De La Cumbre, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Record company —Reprise, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019.
Rolling Stone, though, that even from the beginning, there were differences among the band’s members. “Fleetwood Mac was one big lesson in adaptation for me. … There were five very different personalities, and I suppose that made it great for a while. … But the problems really kicked in when you started adding five managers and five lawyers to the equation.”
Buckingham took a larger role both in the songwriting and production aspects of the group’s 1977 album, Rumours. Extremely successful, Rumours climbed the charts, remaining there for years. Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way” was one of the first smash singles from the album. Unfortunately, however, Rumours was also a chronicle of the dissolution of Fleetwood Mac’s two love relationships—the McVies’ marriage and the longtime partnership of Buckingham and Nicks. Michael Goldberg of Rolling Stone called the album a “pop-rock soap opera.” Despite personal differences, the band members decided to stay together musically, and Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac received a Grammy Award for Rumours.
Fleetwood Mac’s next project saw Buckingham’s creative control of the group increase dramatically. The result, the 1979 two-album set Tusk, was an immediate best-seller, but due to the fact that it was a departure from the style of Fleetwood Mac and Rumours, it only spawned two minor hits, Buckingham’s title track and Nicks’s “Sara.” But Buckingham’s experimentation on the LP won critical acclaim. “Tusk” combined unorthodox African rhythms with the impressive sound of the University of Southern California marching band. And Rolling Stone reviewer Christopher Connelly praised “the spare, threatening whomp of the album’s undiscovered treasure, ‘Not That Funny.’”
Launched Solo Career
Buckingham recounted what it was like to work on Tusk for Goldberg: “I would bring tunes in, and everyone [in the band] would go, ‘Oh, that’s great.’ When Mick [Fleetwood] took the Tusk album down to Warner Bros., everyone was jumping up and down, going, ‘Oh, this is really one of the neatest things we’ve ever heard’—although I have subsequently heard that when a lot of those people... heard that album, they saw their Christmas bonuses flying out the window. I do think there was a time when everyone in the band was quite carried away with the spirit of experimentation. But when it began to become apparent that it wasn’t going to sell 15 million copies [like Rumours], then everyone from the band looked at me and went, ‘Oh, you blew it, buddy.’”
In the same year that Tusk was released, Buckingham also busied himself producing records for other artists, most notably folk-rocker John Stewart’s album Bombs Away, Dream Babies. The effort yielded Stewart’s first pop hit, “Gold.” Releasing his own album in 1981—titled Law and Order— Buckingham scored a hit with the single “Trouble,” and after being disappointed with Fleetwood Mac’s 1982 album Mirage, the musician increasingly concentrated on his own projects. An especially successful one was the 1984 solo album Go Insane. The title track became a hit for Buckingham, and the accompanying video received much airplay on MTV.
Rolling Stone’s Connelly raved about Go Insane, calling it “the richest, most fascinatingly tuneful album of the year.” He summed up Buckingham’s work starting with Tusk: “This songwriter, singer and guitarist has struggled to combine the wildest possibilities of new music with the folk-fostered melodies that have marked his most commercially fruitful efforts.” Like Rumours, however, Go Insane was a deeply personal creation for Buckingham, taking its inspiration from his relationship and breakup with longtime companion Carol Ann Harris.
Buckingham stayed with Fleetwood Mac until the completion of their 1987 album, Tango in the Night. “I would not have wanted to leave the group on the ambiguous note that Mirage sounded,” he told Robert Hilburn in the Los Angeles Times. “This band has done some remarkable things and Mirage was no way to say goodbye. I think we had something to prove and we did it in the new album.” Though Buckingham’s “Big Love” was one of the most popular hits from Tango in the Night, artistic differences prompted the musician to leave Fleetwood Mac, foregoing its subsequent tour. In 1990, however, he took the stage with his former bandmates for the farewell concert of Nicks and Christine McVie. According to Steve Pond of Rolling Stone, Buckingham “wound up stealing the show” on this occasion.
Raves for Out of the Cradle
Five years after the release of Tango in the Night, three of which he spent 12 hours a day in the studio, Buckingham released Out of the Cradle, an album Rolling Stone’s J. D. Considine considered the place “where Buckingham’s solo career grows up.” Referring to his bittersweet departure from Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham admitted to David Wild in Rolling Stone, “I guess it’s obvious that making [Out of the Cradle ] hasn’t been an especially speedy process. … But I had to let a lot of emotional dust settle.” Such songs as “Wrong” and “Don’t Look Down” contain subtle commentary on quitting Fleetwood Mac—an event he feels was wrongly portrayed in Mick Fleetwood’s 1990 book Fleetwood— and on his decision to concentrate on solo ventures.
Calling Out of the Cradle “a wildly impressive coming-out party,” Wild felt that “the album is an artfully crafted song cycle whose romantic lushness is effectively balanced by a healthy dose of ripping guitar.” Further accolades came from People reviewer Craig Tomashoff, who declared that “nobody in pop music these days creates better feel-good melodies than Buckingham.”
A truly respected and innovative figure in pop music, Buckingham was touring the United States in 1992, playing at clubs and on various radio stations in an effort to gain exposure for Out of the Cradle and his burgeoning solo career. He also indicated that he would be open to recording some new songs with Fleetwood Mac for a compact disc box set that was in the planning stages. Commenting on his productive career, Buckingham told Gary Graff of the Detroit Free Press, “See, making music with [Fleetwood Mac] was always a bit like making movies, I would imagine. It was a verbalized political process in many ways, to get from point A to point B. Working solo, playing most of the stuff myself, is always more like painting... a far more intuitive process.”
With Fleetwood Mac; on Warner Bros. Records
Fleetwood Mac, 1975.
Rumours (includes “Go Your Own Way”), 1977.
Tusk (two album set; includes title track and “Not That Funny”), 1979.
Tango in the Night (includes “Big Love”), 1987.
(With Stevie Nicks) Buckingham/Nicks, Polydor, 1973.
Law and Order (includes “Trouble”), Asylum, 1981.
Go Insane, Elektra, 1984.
Out of the Cradle, Reprise, 1992.
Helander, Brock, The Rock Who’s Who, Schirmer Books, 1982.
Stambler, Irwin, The Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock, and Soul, St. Martin’s, 1989.
Detroit Free Press, July 10, 1992.
Detroit News, July 23, 1992.
Entertainment Weekly, July 17, 1992.
Musician, July 1992; August 1992.
People, July 6, 1992.
Rolling Stone, August 30, 1984; October 25, 1984; February 7, 1991; June 25, 1992; July 9, 1992.
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