Revisiting Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham’s First Fleetwood Mac Show
Less than six months earlier, the situation looked pretty dire for a couple of young musicians named Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Though the duo had released an album, the self-titled Buckingham Nicks, they were still paying off the studio fees – with Nicks doing housework and Buckingham contributing session work at Los Angeles’ Sound City Studios.
It was at Sound City that everything changed. Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood was checking out studios for his band’s next project and Buckingham was the guitarist chosen to demonstrate Sound City’s sonic capabilities. When current Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Welch departed abruptly in late 1974, Fleetwood remembered Buckingham and asked him to join.
“He was standing there grooving to this searing guitar solo and he needed a guitar player,” Buckingham later told Uncut. “That was as far as his thinking went. I had to explain we came as a duo. Stupid me, eh?”
With some trepidation (mostly because Fleetwood was worried that Christine McVie wouldn’t be thrilled having another woman in the band), Fleetwood extended the offer to both of the musicians, who quickly passed muster with bassist John McVie and keyboardist Christine. They all made it official on the last day of 1974.
The new, five-member Fleetwood Mac got to work quickly in 1975, recording the classic Fleetwood Mac album in about 10 days at Sound City. Songwriting duties were split between Buckingham and Nicks (who drew on leftovers from their former group as well as songs for a potential second LP) and Christine McVie.
Among the songs that would become classics were “Over My Head,” “Monday Morning” and “Rhiannon” – the latter of which most often proved to be the show-stopper during the band’s 1975 concerts. The other four members would begin playing before Nicks would appear onstage in a black top hat or flowing capes and announce, “this is a song about a Welsh witch.” That might be the way the 10th (and most successful) incarnation of Fleetwood Mac introduced themselves when they played their first show as a unit in El Paso, Texas on May 15, 1975.
No matter how the show began, it had to be a somewhat strange experience for those who attended. Not only was the new album a couple of months away from release, this new version of Fleetwood Mac marked a radical departure from the blues-based band Peter Green had originally co-founded. Nicks remembers working quite hard to make an impression. “We just played everywhere and we sold that record,” she said. “We kicked that album in the ass.”
Fleetwood Mac toured incessantly from May 1975 until the fall of the next year when, 15 months after it was first released, Fleetwood Mac hit No. 1.