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Exploring 70s Power House Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwod Mac – One of the best-selling acts of the 1970s.  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.

Top Hits of Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac has produced a rich catalog of music, marked by various stylistic changes and a series of hit songs, especially during their peak in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of their top hits include:

  1. “Go Your Own Way” (1977): From the album “Rumours,” this song, written by Lindsey Buckingham, is known for its driving rhythm and candid lyrics about the end of his relationship with fellow band member Stevie Nicks.
  2. “Dreams” (1977): Also from “Rumours,” this Stevie Nicks-penned song is notable for its ethereal style and became the band’s only number-one hit in the U.S.
  3. “The Chain” (1977): A unique collaboration from all members of the band, featured on “Rumours.” It’s known for its strong bass line and is often used as the band’s signature song during live performances.
  4. “Landslide” (1975): Written by Stevie Nicks and featured on the album “Fleetwood Mac,” this song has become one of their most beloved tracks, covered by many artists over the years.
  5. “Rhiannon” (1975): Another Stevie Nicks song from the album “Fleetwood Mac,” inspired by a Welsh witch’s tale, known for its haunting melody.
  6. “Don’t Stop” (1977): Written by Christine McVie for “Rumours,” this song is upbeat and optimistic, often associated with Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.
  7. “Tusk” (1979): The title track from their album “Tusk,” this song is known for its experimental style and use of the USC Trojan Marching Band.
  8. “Gypsy” (1982): Featured on the album “Mirage,” this Stevie Nicks song is noted for its lyrical references to her life before Fleetwood Mac.
  9. “Little Lies” (1987): A hit from the album “Tango in the Night,” written and sung by Christine McVie, it’s known for its catchy chorus and pop sensibilities.
  10. “Everywhere” (1987): Another Christine McVie song from “Tango in the Night,” this track is upbeat and has become one of their most popular songs.

Fleetwood Mac’s hits showcase the band’s diverse range of styles, from blues-inspired beginnings to more pop-oriented sounds, and their ability to craft songs with emotional depth and memorable melodies. Their music continues to resonate with audiences worldwide.

Band Members Over Time

Fleetwood Mac, formed in 1967, is known for its shifting lineup over the years, with members coming and going at various points in its history. The band’s most famous lineup came together in the mid-1970s, but several talented musicians have been part of Fleetwood Mac at different times. Here’s an overview of key members:

Original Members (1967):

  1. Peter Green (Guitar, Vocals): A founding member and original frontman, Green was a highly influential blues guitarist and songwriter. He left the band in 1970 due to mental health issues.
  2. Mick Fleetwood (Drums): As the band’s namesake and co-founder, Fleetwood has been the only member to remain with the band throughout its entire history.
  3. John McVie (Bass Guitar): Another namesake of the band, McVie joined shortly after its formation and has been a mainstay, known for his solid and understated bass playing.
  4. Jeremy Spencer (Guitar, Vocals): An original member, Spencer was known for his slide guitar work and Elvis Presley-inspired vocals. He left the band in 1971 under dramatic circumstances.

Later Key Members:

  1. Danny Kirwan (Guitar, Vocals): Joined in 1968, Kirwan played a significant role in the band’s early years but was fired in 1972 due to personal and professional issues.
  2. Christine McVie (Keyboards, Vocals): Joining in 1970, Christine (formerly Christine Perfect) became an integral part of the band, contributing hit songs and vocals. She was married to John McVie for a period.
  3. Bob Welch (Guitar, Vocals): Welch joined in 1971 and played a key role during a transitional period for the band. He left in 1974 to pursue a solo career.

Stevie Nicks

The Most Famous Lineup (Mid-1970s to Early 1980s):

  1. Stevie Nicks (Vocals): Joining in 1975 with Lindsey Buckingham, Nicks brought a mystical stage presence and unique voice. Her songwriting and distinctive style made her a standout member.
  2. Lindsey Buckingham (Guitar, Vocals): Also joining in 1975, Buckingham was known for his innovative guitar techniques and production skills. His tumultuous relationship with Nicks and complex dynamics with other band members were well-publicized.

Later Members: Over the years, several other musicians have been part of Fleetwood Mac, including Rick Vito, Billy Burnette, Dave Mason, Bekka Bramlett, and Mike Campbell, among others. Each contributed to the band’s evolving sound.

The history of Fleetwood Mac’s lineup changes reflects the band’s ability to adapt and evolve musically. Despite personal and professional challenges, Fleetwood Mac has remained a significant force in rock music, with enduring popularity and influence.

Finding Success in Their Own Land

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 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.

The Controversies Over the Years

Fleetwood Mac, while celebrated for their musical achievements, has also been known for a series of controversies and internal dramas, particularly among the band members. These controversies have been part of the band’s public image and have sometimes influenced their music:

  1. Interpersonal Relationships and Breakups: The most well-known controversies within Fleetwood Mac involve the romantic relationships and subsequent breakups among the band members. The turbulent relationship between Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, as well as the divorce of John and Christine McVie, led to tensions that were famously channeled into their music, particularly in the album “Rumours.”
  2. Substance Abuse: Various members of Fleetwood Mac struggled with substance abuse, especially during the height of their fame in the 1970s and 1980s. The band’s drug use, particularly cocaine, was well-documented and often cited as a factor in the interpersonal conflicts and health issues that affected them.
  3. Lineup Changes and Legal Battles: The band underwent numerous lineup changes, which sometimes led to legal disputes. For instance, original member Bob Welch sued the band after their reunion led to increased album sales and royalties from which he did not benefit.
  4. Departure and Return of Members: The departures and subsequent returns of key members, such as Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, often made headlines. Buckingham’s departure in 1987 and again in 2018, amid rumors of disputes with other members, particularly Nicks, was a significant controversy.
  5. Mental Health Issues: Peter Green, one of the founding members, struggled with mental health issues exacerbated by drug use. His departure from the band in the early 1970s was a result of these struggles.
  6. Behind the Music Conflicts: The making of their albums sometimes involved intense conflicts and drama, as revealed in various interviews and biographies. The tension and emotional strife within the band during the recording of “Rumours” is a notable example.
  7. Onstage Incidents: There have been instances of apparent tension and conflicts spilling over onto the stage during performances. This includes visible disagreements or altered performances of songs that reference other members.
  8. Legal Issues and Settlements: The band has faced various legal challenges over the years, including disputes over the rights to the band’s name and music.

Despite, or perhaps because of, these controversies, Fleetwood Mac has remained a fixture in the music world, with their personal and professional challenges often adding to their mystique and appeal. Their ability to channel their struggles into their music has been credited with creating some of their most enduring and emotionally resonant work.

Fleetwood Mac in Pop Culture

Fleetwood Mac’s influence on pop culture extends far beyond their substantial impact on the music industry. Their songs have become interwoven with various aspects of popular culture, including film, television, and beyond. Here’s an overview of their influence:

Impact on Music and Musicians:

  • Fleetwood Mac’s unique blend of rock, pop, and blues, coupled with their distinctive harmonies and personal, emotive lyrics, has influenced countless musicians and bands. Their style has been emulated and admired across various genres, solidifying their status as one of the most influential bands in rock history.

Presence in Film and Television:

  • Fleetwood Mac’s music has been featured extensively in movies and TV shows, often used to evoke certain moods or underscore key narrative moments. Songs like “Go Your Own Way,” “Dreams,” and “The Chain” have appeared in various films and series, resonating with new audiences and reinforcing the timelessness of their music.
  • The band and its members have also been the subject of documentaries and biographical films that explore their music, history, and personal dynamics. These works provide insight into the band’s creative process and the challenges they faced.
  • “Dreams” experienced a resurgence in popularity in 2020 thanks to a viral TikTok video, illustrating the band’s enduring relevance in the digital age and among younger audiences.

Influence on Fashion and Style:

  • The personal style of band members, particularly Stevie Nicks, became iconic. Nicks’ bohemian and ethereal fashion sense has been a significant influence in the world of fashion and has inspired many designers and fans alike.

Literature and Art:

  • The band’s story, music, and the individual journeys of its members have been the subject of numerous books, from biographies to analyses of their music. The complexity of their interpersonal relationships, combined with their musical evolution, makes them a fascinating subject for writers and historians.

Cultural Symbolism:

  • Fleetwood Mac’s music often symbolizes the 1970s and 1980s era in cultural retrospectives, capturing the spirit of these decades in popular history.
  • The band’s tumultuous history, marked by personal and professional ups and downs, reflects broader themes of love, loss, and resilience, resonating with a wide audience.

Live Performances and Tours:

  • Their live performances and tours have been notable events, drawing fans from multiple generations. The band’s ability to deliver powerful live shows, even decades after their initial success, speaks to their lasting appeal and the timeless quality of their music.

Fleetwood Mac’s contribution to pop culture is multi-faceted. Their music not only defined a generation but continues to influence and inspire, making them an enduring presence in the cultural landscape.

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 has continued to make significant contributions to the music world, marked by tours, lineup changes, and continued influence in popular culture. Here’s an overview of key developments and events involving the band since then:

In 2013, Christine McVie rejoined Fleetwood Mac after a 16-year absence, leading to a reunion tour. The “On With the Show” tour, which started in 2014, was a major event, reuniting the most famous lineup of the band and drawing large audiences.  Although Fleetwood Mac has not released a new studio album since 2013, they have reissued several of their classic albums with additional content. This includes expanded editions of “Tusk,” “Mirage,” and “Tango in the Night,” offering fans remastered tracks, live recordings, and outtakes.

In 2018, Lindsey Buckingham was fired from the band due to disagreements over the band’s upcoming tour schedule and other conflicts. This was a significant change, as Buckingham had been a key member of the band’s most successful era. He was replaced by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Neil Finn of Crowded House.  Buckingham sued the band for his dismissal, citing breach of fiduciary duty and breach of oral contract, among other charges. The lawsuit was settled out of court at the end of 2018.

Despite the lineup change, Fleetwood Mac continued touring, with the new lineup receiving positive reviews. Their live performances continued to draw large audiences, demonstrating the band’s enduring appeal.  Fleetwood Mac’s music, particularly the song “Dreams,” experienced a resurgence in popularity due to its presence on social media platforms like TikTok, introducing the band to a new generation of listeners.  Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks have openly discussed their health issues and the challenges of touring as they get older, highlighting the human aspect behind the band’s long history.

Members of the band have continued to pursue individual projects. Stevie Nicks, in particular, has remained active as a solo artist, releasing music and performing live. Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham have also pursued solo projects and collaborations.

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