What kind of crazy mixed-up world do we live in when Lindsey Buckingham is fired by Fleetwood Mac?
Buckingham was the architect of the sound that made Fleetwood Mac so popular starting in 1975. After all the success producing their songs, being one of three songwriters & lead vocalists, and playing lead guitar, he quit the group in 1987. He was replaced by two musicians, Billy Burnette and Rick Vito.
Then after 10 years, he rejoined Fleetwood Mac for their 1997 reunion, “The Dance”. The group has toured on and off since then, including quite a few years without Christine McVie.
This month, after disagreements about an upcoming tour, Fleetwood Mac dismissed Buckingham, and replaced him with The Heartbreaker’s lead guitarist, Mike Campbell, and Crowded House leader Neil Finn. Those are two extremely talented musicians who could actually add some new touches to Fleetwood Mac. Notice how it always takes two guys to replace Lindsey Buckingham.
I’m a fan of Lindsey Buckingham, and own most of his albums. 1992’s Out Of The Cradle is my favorite by him, but his more recent studio albums have over-produced effects on his voice. His 2012 live album, Songs From The Small Machine, has some better versions of his later material.
We had tickets for his concert in a fairly small venue in Lincoln, Nebraska in the early 2000’s. But, when we showed up to see him, we were informed he was not satisfied with the sound system, and had canceled the show. He has a reputation for sometimes being difficult…although that might be an interpretation of his caring about doing things right.
So…now that Lindsey Buckingham is “Second Hand News”…will the new tour be a success for Fleetwood Mac? Almost certainly, yes. There’s plenty of star power with Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, and the rest of this new line-up.
History has shown us bands are their own brands, and not all the original members are needed. Journey still draws crowds without lead singer Steve Perry. Foreigner does the same without lead singer Lou Gramm. Queen is a success without Freddie Mercury, and many more longtime bands draw crowds without various original members. Apparently, fans want to hear the hits, and “close enough” versions are accepted.
Back in the late ’80’s, I encountered the opposite phenomenon…lead singers without their bands. It was an oldies show at a county fair. Gary Lewis (without The Playboys), Dennis Yost (without The Classics Four), and Alex Chilton (without The Box Tops) all performed with the same backing band. At least we heard “This Diamond Ring”, “Traces”, and “The Letter” by the original vocalists. Because I was with the local radio stations, I had a chance to talk with the singers. Alex Chilton was the only one who didn’t really want to be there. He made it obvious he was doing it for the money, as his other critically praised group, Big Star, was never a commercial success. I certainly got the impression he would have preferred performing new music, instead of oldies.
As for Lindsey Buckingham…it seems a shame that the members of Fleetwood Mac had to “break the chain”.