Fleetwood Mac were formed in London, UK in the mid-1960s. Initially recording blues, the band released their first albums Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and Mr. Wonderful and their first singles “Black Magic Woman” and “Need Your Love So Bad”. The following single “Albatross” was their first #1 UK hit.
Bob Welch also joined Fleetwood Mac would stay with them until 1974. The band then went to the United States where they encountered Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, who eventually joined Fleetwood Mac. Their eponymous 1975 album was a success, yielding two hits in the US: “Rhiannon” and “Say You Love Me”.
The following year they headed to California and recorded what was to be their masterpiece, Rumours. The album spawned four US Top 10 singles “Go Your Own Way”, “Dreams”, “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun”. Rumours gained widespread critical acclaim and sold 40 million copies worldwide, subsequently winning the Grammy Award for Album Of The Year in 1978.
By the early 1980s, members of Fleetwood Mac released their own solo recordings as well as their album together Mirage. After Mirage, Fleetwood Mac went on a hiatus, with the band members turning their focus on separate music projects. In 1997 the band reformed for the 20th anniversary of Rumours‘ release.
Finding success in their own land, and shifting lineup
The roots of one of the most successful and critically-acclaimed bands started in London, England during the 1960s. Each of the original members of Fleetwood Mac had been involved in other bands. Guitarist Peter Green, drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie were members of the blues-rock outfit John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. In 1967 Green left the Bluesbreakers and invited Fleetwood to form another group. Green also attempted to ask McVie to join them, even naming the group “Fleetwood Mac” to entice him, but McVie still opted to be with the Bluesbreakers, mainly for the steady income it offered. Fleetwood Mac then included slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer and temporary bassist Bob Burning, who knew that he would be replaced anytime McVie decided to join the band, which McVie eventually did.
Fleetwood Mac released their eponymous all-blues debut album in 1968. Although it released no singles, it went to #4 on the UK album charts. Another album Mr. Wonderful, was released later that same year and still carried the bluesy theme.
The band added talented guitarist Danny Kirwan, and were slowly veering away from being just a blues-only outfit. The following year Fleetwood Mac issued their second American album English Rose, which featured half of the track listing from Mr. Wonderful. English Rose also issued two singles “Black Magic Woman” and “Need Your Love So Bad.” Both of those singles made it to the Top 40 UK chart. Further hits came to the band as the following singles “Albatross” and “Man of The World” made it to the UK top 10, at #1 and #2 respectively
Peter Green’s mental health (probably caused by taking too much LSD) was slowly deteriorating, and it affected the band’s activity. He and his bandmates disagreed over financial matters, and finally Green left Fleetwood Mac in 1970. Keyboardist Christine Perfect collaborated with Fleetwood Mac as a guest backing vocalist; she also contributed to the artwork of the band’s fourth album Kiln House. She eventually married McVie and also became an official bandmember. It was also to become their last album with Spencer, who left the band after Kiln House‘s release. In 1971 Bob Welch joined the band as well.
Coming to America
The band eventually moved to the United States; Welch soon left the band in 1974 (The song he wrote, “Sentimental Lady,” originally appeared on Fleetwood Mac’s 1972 album Bare Trees, and became Welch’s best-known hit). Fleetwood Mac met guitarist Lindsay Buckingham and singer Stevie Nicks in California, and they joined the band later on. The new lineup released their second self titled album (tenth overall) in 1975. The album was a success, selling five million copies in the US – it spawned hit singles “Over My Head,” “Rhiannon,” and “Say You Love Me,” which became classics.
Experiencing phenomenal successes with Rumours (in particular) and Tusk
Fleetwood Mac were in for the phenomenal success when they released Rumours in 1977. It became their most successful album yet, becoming a best-seller in many parts of the world. It sold 19 million copies in the US, 11 million copies in the UK, 13 million units in Australia, and 10 million copies in New Zealand. Overall, Rumours had sold a total of 40 million units. It produced four Top 10 singles in the US: “Go Your Own Way,” “Dreams,” “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun.”
Because of the astounding global success of Rumours, the band was able to produce their most ambitious effort to date, Tusk, a double album which was released in 1979. Although it was successful too, Tusk’s commercial performance paled in comparison to its predecessor’s, and it failed to live up to the band’s expectations.
The band kicked off a world tour to promote the album, and it led to the recording of a live LP Fleetwood Mac Live, which would be eventually released in 1980. Then they went into a year-long hiatus, with each of the band members pursuing solo projects. Fleetwood Mac returned in 1982 with their 13th studio album Mirage. It was also a platinum seller in the US, although their attempt to recapture the success of Rumours was never realized, and they would never be able to duplicate its success.
Fleetwood Mac in later years
Their 1987 album Tango In The Night came out quite strong, producing two US Top 10 singles “Big Love” and “Little Lies.” It would also be the band’s last studio album – with Fleetwood, Buckingham, Nicks and John and Christine McVie in it – before the band disintegrated. The classic lineup would reunite for a while to perform on the 20th anniversary of their classic album Rumours in 1997. The following year Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and also performed at the Grammy Awards.
Christine McVie separated from the band and returned to the UK to concentrate her own singing career. This left Buckingham and Nicks, as well as some newer members, to carry the band’s name, releasing a new LP Say You Will in 2003. In 2012 Fleetwood Mac celebrated the 35th anniversary of Rumours by releasing a deluxe box set.
Fleetwood Mac is deemed to be one of the most commercially successful and critically-acclaimed acts in the 1970s. But the band members still aren’t resting their laurels, as there are talks that there is going to be a new album, based on the Buckingham’s recent allusion that there were “many more chapters to the book of Fleetwood Mac.”
In 2014, Christine McVie re-joined the band. As of this writing, Fleetwood Mac announced that a new album will be released in 2015. A world tour will also be forthcoming.