Few rock 'n' roll bands openly displayed their internal fissures like Fleetwood Mac - or rode them to greater success.
But the hurt feelings and emotional turmoil that were poured onto vinyl for 1977's mega-platinum “Rumours,” still one of the best-selling records of all-time, are decades behind them now. The band is currently winding down its “Greatest Hits Unleashed” North American tour. These days, everyone seems to be getting along swimmingly.
Being together off and on for more than three decades can do that to a band.
”We've been down this road, a long, long road, together,” songwriter-guitarist Lindsay Buckingham said while promoting the tour. “In some ways, we know each other better than we know anybody else. We share things with each other that we've never shared with other people. I think we all want to dignify the road we've been down.”
Adds drummer Mick Fleetwood, a wide-eyed giant of a man whose pounding drums have been a staple with the band since Day One, “It's something that has not always been easy. But change and surviving that change ... is somewhat of a miracle, to tell you the truth.”
For Fleetwood Mac, the road extends as far back as 1967, when some veterans of Britain's legendary John Mayall's Bluesbreakers decided to form their own group. Named for drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, Fleetwood Mac saw several members come and go before solidifying in the mid-1970s. Only Fleetwood and McVie remained from the original lineup, which now included vocalists Buckingham, his girlfriend, Stevie Nicks, and McVie's wife, Christine, who also played keyboards.
That lineup was responsible for a trio of landmark albums, including 1975's “Fleetwood Mac,” which established the blend of pop and blues-influenced rock that would briefly make them one of the hottest bands on Earth, and 1979's “Tusk,” a hodgepodge of musical styles and Buckingham's doodlings that stands as one of the decade's most daring musical experiments.
Between those albums came “Rumours,” made while the McVies' marriage was dissolving and Buckingham and Nicks were undergoing a not-so-amicable break-up. The result, filled with anger, yearning and some of the greatest hooks of the rock era, had sold some 40 million copies worldwide.
Fleetwood Mac's lineup would continue to shuffle, with Buckingham, Nicks and Christine McVie all leaving and rejoining the group at various times. This is the group's first tour since 2004, and the first without a new album to promote.
”We've been apart for four years, now we're back together and we're having a blast,” says Nicks, who recently celebrated her 61st birthday. “Had we been working every single year for the last four years and we were going out to do yet another tour this year, we would all be going, like, “Uh, OK.' So this makes it very, very different, and we're all excited.”
That excitement even extends to the idea of not having any new music to offer, of playing only their greatest hits. The band members say they're excited by the challenge of playing to audiences whose loyalties have stood the test of time. Even more, they say, they're looking forward to playing with and for one another.