Music

19 Things You Might Not Know About Fleetwood Mac

Secret affairs, rampant cocaine abuse, and a guitarist skipping out on the band to join a cult is just the tip of the iceberg.

1. The original Fleetwood Mac was led by guitarist Peter Green, who is widely considered to be one of the best English blues guitarists of all time.

Green left the band in 1970 after developing an LSD habit that compromised his physical and mental health. “Somebody gave him some bad acid,” Christine McVie told Rolling Stone in 1997. “It freaked him out. I saw one Peter Green leave and a completely different one come back - pale, wan, depressed. A little mad, really.” Around the same time, Green felt very conflicted about the money he was making as a rock star while there were children in the world going hungry, so he gave away most of his money and possessions, and tried to convince the band to work only for charity, keeping only enough money to cover their basic expenses. This did not go over well with the other members of the group.

2. Founding member Jeremy Spencer abruptly left the group in 1971 to join the Children of God cult.

Spencer skipped out on the band before a gig at the Whiskey a Go Go in Los Angeles, and wasn’t found for days. He refused to rejoin the band, which forced them to scramble to find a replacement for their de facto frontman. Peter Green briefly rejoined Fleetwood Mac in the aftermath of Spencer’s departure, but made matters worse by alienating audiences by refusing to play anything but extended jams and openly mocking the audience.

3. Guitarist Danny Kirwan left the band after a bizarre episode in which he went flipped out while the band was tuning up, ran into a bathroom, and smashed his head against a wall before destroying his guitar.

Needless to say, Fleetwood Mac had a very hard time with guitarists in the early days of their career.

4. Christine McVie’s maiden name was actually Christine Perfect, and she released her first solo album in 1970 under that name.

Rumours co-producer Ken Caillat wrote in his book Making Rumours that she once joked, “You know, Ken, I used to be perfect before I married John [McVie].”

5. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were recruited to join Fleetwood Mac after Mick Fleetwood visited the Sound City recording studio and asked to hear the most recent album recorded there.

Studio owner Ken Olsen played “Frozen Love,” a cut from the duo’s debut album, which he had produced.

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Fleetwood was blown away by Buckingham’s playing and initially only wanted to invite him to join the band, but Buckingham refused to join unless Nicks came with him.

6. The classic lineup of Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood, Nicks, Buckingham, Christine and John McVie – was actually the 10th lineup of the band.

soundonsound.com / Via http://GAB%20Archives/Redferns

This was the most stable and successful version of Fleetwood Mac. This lineup produced five studio albums between 1976 and 1987, and reunited for The Dance in 1997. This version is mostly intact today, though Christine McVie has retired from music.

7. Christine McVie was not impressed with the first draft of Nicks’ “Dreams,” which went on to become the band’s biggest hit.

“‘When Stevie first played it for me on the piano, it was just three chords and one note in the left hand,” McVie told Q in 1997. “I thought, ‘This is really boring,’ but the Lindsey genius came into play and he fashioned three sections out of identical chords, making each section sound completely different. He created the impression that there’s a thread running through the whole thing.”

Here’s an early recording of “Dreams” featuring only Nicks’ vocal, Buckingham on guitar, and McVie on keyboard.

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8. “The Chain” is the only song credited to all five members of the classic lineup of Fleetwood Mac. It was created by merging three distinct songs…

“Lola (My Love),” a Buckingham Nicks outtake penned by Lindsey Buckingham…

…an unfinished track called “Keep Me There,” which was written by Christine McVie based on a groove developed by bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood…

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…and this early acoustic version of “The Chain” by Stevie Nicks which has the same chorus as the final composition, but is otherwise a completely different song.

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9. Mick Fleetwood’s wife, model Jenny Boyd, was having an affair with his best friend and former Mac guitarist Bob Weston through the mid-’70s.

Boyd – the sister of Pattie Boyd, who married both George Harrison and Eric Clapton – divorced Fleetwood in 1977. Fleetwood rebounded from the end of his marriage by becoming romantically involved with Stevie Nicks.

10. Christine McVie wrote “You Make Loving Fun” about her affair with the band’s lighting director, Curry Grant.

Grant and McVie began hooking up while she was still married to John McVie. The two actually remained married through the course of writing and recording Rumours, though they were separated and seeing other people.

11. Stevie Nicks’ ballad “Silver Springs” was cut from “Rumours” at the last minute because there was not enough space on the LP and the rest of the band didn’t think it fit with the rest of the songs. It was used as the b-side for “Go Your Own Way.”

Stevie resented this, and was even more upset when the band kept her from releasing it on one of her solo albums. It eventually became a hit when they re-recorded it for “The Dance” in 1997.

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12. When the band decided to drop “Silver Springs,” they realized they needed to replace it with another Nicks number. Buckingham chose “I Don’t Want To Know,” a song they performed together as a duo, without consulting her.

Buckingham recorded this rough version of the song while Nicks was out of the studio.

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Nicks was surprised and happy to learn the band had begun work on one of her songs, but was still bitter that “Silver Springs” was being dropped.

13. “Tusk,” the followup to “Rumours,” flopped in the marketplace in part because it was priced much higher than other albums at the time – $15.99 for the double vinyl set.

Plus, it was played in its entirety on the Westwood One radio network, which encouraged many fans to just tape it from the broadcast. Also, there’s the fact that it’s sprawling and a bit weird and there’s no obvious singles along the lines of “Rhiannon,” “Dreams,” and “Go Your Own Way” on it. It’s really quite good though!

14. Stevie Nicks was sued for plagiarism by a songwriter named Carol Hinton who claimed that “Sara” was very similar to a song that she had submitted to Warner Bros., but backed out when Nicks proved she had demoed the song months earlier.

“Sara” was written for Sara Recor, Nicks’ best friend. Recor became romantically involved with Mick Fleetwood around the song was written, which marked the end of Nicks’ secret affair with the drummer, not to mention Recor’s own marriage.

15. Stevie Nicks wrote “Gypsy” about when she and Buckingham lived together and were totally broke in the early days of their career. They slept on a single mattress on the floor decorated with lace and a flower vase at its side.

“To this day, when I’m feeling cluttered, I will take my mattress off of my beautiful bed, wherever that may be, and put it outside my bedroom, with a table and a little lamp,” Nicks told Entertainment Weekly in 2009.

16. Nicks’ cocaine habit in the ’70s and ’80s was so bad that she burned a hole in the cartilage of her nose.

Nicks was motivated to kick the habit after a plastic surgeon warned her that her condition was so severe that she could lose her nose, or die. “He said to me, ‘The next toot that you do could be your last. The tissue in your nose is very delicate. It could go straight up to your head, and then you could drop to the floor and die a lousy, two-hour death,” she told Rolling Stone. She managed to quit cocaine after a stint in rehab, but that led to going into psychiatric treatment, which in turn led to her getting hooked on the powerful prescription tranquilizer Klonopin. “The drug changed me from a tormented, productive artist to an indifferent woman,” Nicks told People in 1998. “I vegetated into my own little world.”

17. “Tango in the Night” began as a Lindsey Buckingham solo album.

Buckingham repurposed songs intended for his third solo set for Fleetwood Mac when the rest of the band was willing to work at his home studio and allow him to fully produce the record. The sessions were very tense, and Buckingham quit the band just after the record was released, forcing the rest of the group to tour without their guitarist. Two guitarists, Rick Vito and Billy Burnette, were drafted to replace him in the band, and stuck around for the widely panned followup album, Behind the Mask, in 1990.

18. Fleetwood Mac toured through the mid-’90s without Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, or Lindsey Buckingham.

This is the dark era for the Mac, with Buckingham and Nicks both long gone, and Christine McVie refusing to tour. Fleetwood and McVie kept the band alive by playing gigs on the oldies circuit with Billy Burnette, Dave Mason, Steve Thoma, and Bekka Bramlett. “It was really disturbing when they wound up on a nostalgia tour triple-bill package as the middle act between Pat Benatar and REO Speedwagon,” Buckingham told Salon in 1997. “It was just something I wasn’t happy to see Mick and John doing - or having to do, if you want to look at it that way. It started to feel like the Platters franchise.”

19. “Landslide” was never released as a single, and its popularity today is largely due to a cover version by The Smashing Pumpkins.

Billy Corgan recorded a solo recording of “Landslide” at a BBC session in 1993. The recording was used as a b-side, and then appeared on the Pumpkins’ 1994 compilation Pisces Iscariot. It became a radio hit, which encouraged Fleetwood Mac to revisit the song when they recorded their reunion live album The Dance in 1997. That version was issued as a single and became a hit. The Dixies Chicks and Glee have also recorded hit versions of the song, making it something of a modern pop standard.

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