Life After Fleetwood Mac Face the music, fans: Lindsey Buckingham finds the solo life good

January 17, 1993|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Pop Music Critic

What is it about rock group reunions that so tantalizes fans and so traumatizes stars?

When it was announced earlier this month that the members of Fleetwood Mac would reunite to perform for the Clinton inauguration, the official story was that the group's gesture was in response to Clinton's use of "Don't Stop" as a campaign anthem.

But for many fans, the prospect of seeing this group together again -- Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, the same five musicians whose 1977 release, "Rumours," spent 31 weeks at the top of the album charts -- is the ultimate in pop music wish-fulfillment, a perfect chance to recapture the past.

Lindsey Buckingham understands. Buckingham left the band in 1987 (Nicks and Christine McVie followed three years later), and by his own admission is far more excited at the prospect of touring behind his current solo album, "Out of the Cradle," than he is over playing with Fleetwood Mac again.

But despite the fact that he has no intention of extending this reunion beyond a one-song, one-shot appearance at the televised presidential gala on Tuesday, he knows how the fans feel.

"You can't divorce the audience from the people making the music," he said, over the phone from his Los Angeles home. "People just want to regain moments that they've lost, moments that have meaning, have aspects of religion to them that they will never be able to get back. And that's just the way things are."

At the same time, however, no amount of fan enthusiasm can undo the sort of musical divorce that occurs when a popular group breaks up. And that certainly seems the case for Fleetwood Mac.

True, Buckingham did participate in the production of "The Chain," the four-CD Fleetwood Mac retrospective released late last year. But, he says, "The box set doesn't represent anything in terms of a reunion, other than maybe me having to see Mick or John or Stevie in order to deal with some of the material that got on there.

"Stevie wanted me to help with something of hers, so I spent some nights with her going through material, and we came up with something. And I gave them a track of mine that didn't make it on 'Out of the Cradle,' so that was something that was just sitting in my garage.

"But I wasn't involved at all with the songs of Christine. I haven't even heard those. That's how much of a reunion it was."

Band politics

Though Buckingham says this evenly enough, it's not hard to sense the bitterness beneath his words. Neither is he the only one for whom the inner politics of Fleetwood Mac is a sore point.

In a 1991 interview, Stevie Nicks stated that she was in the midst of "the most serious argument I've ever had with Mick Fleetwood in my life."

What was her beef? She wouldn't give specifics but said: "It's over a pretty serious thing. He won't give in and I feel it's unfair, since he's not considering my feelings and I've always considered his. For that reason, for the first time in my life, I can actually say, 'No, I'm not going to go on tour with them or work with them.' Not them, but him, because he's done something that is unforgivable."

Asked if Nicks is still feuding with Fleetwood, Buckingham said, "She still is."

But, he adds, that shouldn't be too surprising, because such fights are just as much a part of the bandmembers' emotional intensity as the music they made together.

"One of the things that made us what we were was the chemistry, and that same chemistry is what makes something fly apart, and makes it hard to sort of patch up," he said. "But having left, and put some distance between myself and the group, I think I am able to appreciate, say, Stevie's struggle a little more. Just be a little wiser about it, which was something I really couldn't do [while I was in the band]. You would think after eight, nine years, that you could, but it's hard.

"So that helped me to move on to the next thing. And Mick, who maybe three years ago was not in very good shape -- just between you and me, although I suppose it's not exactly privileged knowledge -- and was embarrassing people and hurting people by writing trashy books, has since kind of gotten it together, and has apologized to me for the book and the inaccuracies in it.

A sense of closure

"That kind of turnaround made it clear to me that there has been some growth, not just from me but from other people. That was sort of a more healthy sense of closure, and I think that in a way, maybe everyone's thinking that this will be even a nicer sense of closure. That's my interpretation."

As such, Buckingham expects that despite their lingering resentments, he and his former band mates will have no trouble sounding like a band again on Tuesday. "Oh, sure," he says. "We're not doing a set, we're just doing one song. We're not going to rehearse, even; we'll just go in and do a sound check. We can do this in our sleep. I don't see it as much of a problem."

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