Fleetwood Mac on booting Buckingham: ‘We weren’t happy’
“It gets lonely in these hotels,” says Mick Fleetwood with a laugh when he gets on the line. So he’s more than happy to do a phone interview from Atlanta on a day off during Fleetwood Mac’s tour.
Co-founded by its namesake drummer in 1967, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band — which will bring its “An Evening With Fleetwood Mac” show to Madison Square Garden on Monday and March 18, and the Prudential Center on Wednesday — will take a rest day here and there, but after 52 years, there are absolutely no plans to retire from the road.
“This is what we do,” Fleetwood, 71, tells The Post. “That really is where we’re at … In the past, when we literally never stopped, we never even thought of smelling the roses and going on a holiday or something. It was always straight in the studio, straight on the road.”
No doubt, Fleetwood Mac doesn’t stop thinking about tomorrow — even if it’s without Lindsey Buckingham. The singer-guitarist, who joined the group with Stevie Nicks in 1974, was unceremoniously booted from the group in April 2018. He was replaced by not one but two musicians: Neil Finn, former frontman of Crowded House (“Don’t Dream It’s Over”), and Mike Campbell, erstwhile guitarist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
‘It just wasn’t a happy situation anymore, really for everyone.’
Buckingham’s dismissal — over which he sued Fleetwood Mac (the lawsuit was later settled out of court) — was the latest drama for a band whose biggest album, 1977’s classic “Rumours,” was rife with it.
“We weren’t happy — [happy] sounds almost like too light of a word to use,” Fleetwood says of Buckingham’s firing. “It just wasn’t a happy situation anymore, really for everyone.”
Still, the British-born drummer admits the split with Buckingham was complicated.
“It was a huge event in terms of the dynamic that affected everyone,” he says. “He’s been a major part of the story, which did start for me and John [McVie] in 1967 … We’ve been doing Fleetwood Mac storytelling, as it were, with 18 different people in Fleetwood Mac since we started.”
But you can still probably expect to hear such Buckingham-led hits as “Don’t Stop” and “Go Your Own Way” on tour.
“We do a couple of Lindsey’s songs, in the same way as when Christine [McVie] was not with us … we would always do a couple of her songs,” says Fleetwood. “But it wouldn’t be appropriate to be banging out, like, 20 songs of Lindsey’s. The lucky thing is, we’ve got this feast of [material] between Stevie and Christine. A song shortage is not our problem.”
Indeed, even in their senior years, they’re not skimping on the set list.
“We do nearly three hours of music,” Fleetwood says. “Mike was like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s way longer than Tom Petty ever did!’ Many facets have to be represented during the show, which is the story of Fleetwood Mac.”
The set list also represents the musical pedigrees of Finn and Campbell with nods to their other work. Campbell, who previously collaborated with Nicks in her solo career — he co-wrote “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” her 1981 hit with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers — was the first one added to the post-Lindsey lineup and then Finn.
“Then, we knew we had a band that we felt was credible … with people who are hugely talented in their own world,” says Fleetwood. “We just lucked out, and it’s been really amazing in terms of a new band and a new dynamic.”
But some things remain the same, such as the way Fleetwood plays like a “maniac” on the drums. How does he still go hard for three hours at 71? Even when he’s not touring, Fleetwood says, “I keep playing, so physically I’m always in drumming shape. I keep fit. I have a trainer, I train every day. For the last 15 years, maybe a bit more, I don’t live life in the craziest of forms, as I was fairly well known to do. And you can’t do that anymore. You’re lucky to be surviving all that stuff.”
While it is on Fleetwood’s “wish list” that the band will eventually record some new music — they haven’t released a studio album since 2003’s “Say You Will” — he never gets sick of playing “Dreams,” “Little Lies” or any of those other old songs.
“I have no dread of any song,” he says. “[There are] some songs that I go, ‘Oh, boy, I better not screw this one up!’ and it’s a little bit of a challenge. But it would never be that I don’t want to do it. Ever.”
Lindsey Buckingham is the latest to go his own way from Fleetwood Mac, but he’s certainly not the first: The London-born band has had 18 different players in its nearly 52-year history. Here are some other members of the ex-Fleetwood club.