This Is The Latest Twist In Mick Fleetwood’s Feud With Lindsey Buckingham – And Why It Stunned Fans

Fleetwood Mac has become a byword for quality soft rock – and scandalous in-fighting. The stormy partnership between Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks has particularly grabbed headlines over the past 40 years. And while fans might’ve thought this fight had ended in the 2018 firing of Buckingham, they’d be completely wrong. That’s because the band’s endless feuding took a remarkable new turn in 2021.

This is all-the-more stunning because it seemed that Buckingham was done with Fleetwood Mac back in 2018. At the time, Nicks claimed that Buckingham was fired because he’d asked for too long of a break to work on his own project. And once Buckingham was gone, the group drafted in Neil Finn, of Crowded House fame, plus Mike Campbell from The Heartbreakers. But this wasn’t the end of the story.

When asked about Buckingham’s departure, Mick Fleetwood said he didn’t care much for the word “fired.” He told music website NME, “Not to hedge around, but we arrived at the impasse of hitting a brick wall. This was not a happy situation for us in terms of the logistics of a functioning band.” Yet the drummer made it clear that ditching Buckingham had been a group decision.

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Buckingham, of course, had his own take on these events – and he shared it with Rolling Stone. Buckingham said that Irving Azoff, manager of the group, had contacted him with a shocking comment from Nicks. Azoff reportedly told the guitarist, “Stevie never wants to be on a stage with you again.”

According to Buckingham, that had come as quite a shock. “We rehearsed for two days, and everything was great,” he told the magazine. “We were getting along great.” But, he said, appearances were deceptive. Nicks apparently had a series of grievances that included Buckingham “smirking” while she spoke at a benefit concert.

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The guitarist didn’t feel there was much substance to those allegations, though. “I don’t think there was ever anything that was just cause to be fired,” he told Rolling Stone. “We have all done things that were not constructive. All of us have worn on each other’s psyches at times. That’s the history of the group.”

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Buckingham and Nicks have known each other since high school. Nicks told The Source website that the guitarist had seemed like a “darling” when she’d first met him. They played together in a group, the Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band, for a few years with some mutual buddies before becoming a duo.

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Romance didn’t blossom straight away, though, as Nicks explained to Rolling Stone in 1977. She recalled, “I think there was always something between me and Lindsey, but nobody in that band [Fritz] really wanted me as their girlfriend because I was just too ambitious for them.” Yet that would change after the band broke up.

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“We started spending a lot of time together working out songs,” Nicks continued. “Pretty soon we started spending all our time together and… it just happened.” And they clearly had chemistry, both in person and in their music. Their record, Buckingham Nicks, pleased a lot of ears, among them Mick Fleetwood’s.

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So the pair got an invite to hook up with Fleetwood Mac in 1975, which they were quick to accept. Romantically, by now they were firmly established as an item. But it wasn’t all wine and roses even before they joined the band, and the couple now entered a period that Nicks subsequently described as “tumultuous.”

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“Lindsey and I were in total chaos a year before we met Fleetwood Mac,” Nicks told Uncut magazine. “Our relationship was already in dire straits. But if we’d broken up within the first six months of Fleetwood Mac, there would have been no record, and we would have been in big trouble. So when we joined the band, we took the decision to hang in there.”

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Part of the problem, Nicks claimed, derived from Buckingham’s jealousy. She alleged that he hadn’t wanted her to spend time with anyone else and began to treat her with suspicion. Whatever the true reasons, as 1976 progressed, their relationship fell apart. And when the band made the Rumours album together, the psychological fallout informed the songs.

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Tensions between Nicks and Buckingham weren’t the only reason that the sessions for the album descended into chaos, though. John and Christine McVie were in the midst of a divorce, meaning the pair couldn’t even bring themselves to talk to one another. The bassist and Buckingham also had their moments in the studio: McVie once hurled a tumbler towards the guitar player’s head.

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So many rumors concerning the group were flying around that John McVie put the word forward for the album’s title. And it wasn’t just the infighting that caused problems. A studio machine mangled the tape that held finished versions of some songs, which meant re-recording became necessary. It would take 12 months to complete the record in the end.

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As these internal conflicts tore their relationships apart, the band’s members poured their feelings into the music. Buckingham and Nicks penned arch lyrics about each other, while Christine McVie wrote a track about how happy she was with lover Curry Grant. She was at least kind enough to pretend that the song was inspired by her dog!

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Given how unhappy everyone seemed to be, it was no surprise that each member had thoughts of leaving the group. On one occasion, Buckingham told Fleetwood, “Well, things don’t seem to be going exactly the way I would like them to go.” The drummer wasn’t too sympathetic, snapping back, “Well, maybe you don’t want to be in a group.”

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Rumours was finally introduced to the world in February 1977. Over the course of making the album, every romantic relationship the band members had been in before recording began had ended. Even Fleetwood would finish up divorced after his partner began seeing someone else.

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At the time, Nicks felt that parting from Buckingham had been inevitable. “Splitting up has not been an easy thing for either Lindsey or me,” she said in 1976. “I think we both knew deep down that it was the only thing we could do.” And the following year she told Rolling Stone, “[I don’t] care that everybody knows me and Chris and John and Lindsey all broke up. Because we did. So that’s a fact.”

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The band then set out to tour the album in February 1977, and the pressure had really begun to tell on Nicks. She and Fleetwood embarked on a fling, but that didn’t make her feel any better.

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Things went from bad to worse with Nicks’ friendship with Buckingham. “When we broke up, two years after joining Fleetwood Mac, it was like a living nightmare,” she explained to Woman’s Own magazine in 1986. “Everything about me seemed to bug him… He and I were about as compatible as a boa constrictor and a rat.”

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Things became so bad that in 1987 Buckingham quit the band, with Nicks following suit in 1991. Word was that it was unlikely that the Rumours line-up of Fleetwood Mac would ever play live again, though they did get together for the inauguration of President Clinton in 1993. A year later, Nicks was saying that the former couple had “sung our last song.”

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When Rolling Stone asked Nicks that same year about her friendship with Buckingham, she was scathing. “We’re really not friends. We’re really not anything,” Nicks told the magazine. “We did not break up friends, and we have never been friends since.” But even if it wasn’t friendship, there was still definitely something between the two of them, and it didn’t completely die.

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And that something sparked back into life in 1996, with the pair returning to Fleetwood Mac. The band reformed, though Nicks and Buckingham never fully ended their conflict. People in the business viewed it as a continuing feud – and it would flare up once more in 2018.

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In that year, Buckingham was turfed out of the group after his friction with Nicks went radioactive again. The guitarist told Rolling Stone that the fight had been over Nicks’ speech at a New York benefit, during which he “may or may not have smirked.” He’d joined in some hijinks along with Christine McVie and Fleetwood as well, which apparently also upset Nicks.

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When Azoff brought up these issues, Buckingham initially thought it just meant Nicks was quitting the group. But it turned out that it was the guitarist who was going. Nicks had demanded that the other members pick between the two of them. The band had chosen to keep her, and now Buckingham was out on his ear.

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So that seemed to be that. The band brought in Finn and Campbell to replace Buckingham on a 2018-19 world tour. Which went really well, apparently, with Fleetwood telling Rolling Stone, “It was a massive, really lovely world tour that was beyond successful in every way. And a happy tour.” But wouldn’t you know it, things then changed again!

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In March 2021 Fleetwood explained to Rolling Stone that there was one achievement left for the band. It’d never had a farewell tour, and he’d begun to think about one. Fleetwood said, “I’m very aware that we’ve never played that card.” After all, Fleetwood Mac has been around for a very long time now, so calling it a day officially has some appeal.

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Fleetwood told the magazine, “I think the vision for me, and I think it would be hugely appropriate, is that we actually say, ‘This is goodbye,’ and go out and actually do that. That has always been my vision, and I’m flatly confident that we can do that. We owe it to the fans.”

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Christine McVie, though, had seemed to suggest that the farewell tour would never happen. “If we do it, it’ll be without John and without Stevie [Nicks], I think,” she told the BBC in February 2021. “I’m getting a bit old for it now. I don’t know if I can get myself back into it.” A big issue seemed to be that John McVie now preferred sailing to playing.

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But Fleetwood didn’t agree that this would stop McVie from taking part. “He’s always more interested in going sailing until you put it in front of his face,” the drummer said. “He’s so not caught up in the drama of the workings of the band. That has always been my world. I’ve never not known John to answer the call and say, ‘Show me the gig, and I’ll plug my bass in.’”

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And Fleetwood didn’t feel that people should take Christine McVie’s words too much to heart. He laughed off her comments, adding, “I think she got out of bed on the wrong side that day. She meant to say, ‘We’ve done so much. I don’t know whether or not we can keep going.’”

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“Anything other than that, she can speak for herself,” Fleetwood continued. “But I can assure you we are alive and well. And she has no regrets. She just got caught up in whatever she was saying, and she also felt she had been misunderstood.” And it turned out that Christine hadn’t wanted anyone to think she didn’t favor a farewell tour.

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Christine told Rolling Stone, “To clarify my recent comments, I was specifically asked if Fleetwood Mac would tour again. I gave a cheeky answer indicating that the band might be ‘done with that’ or ‘you just never know.’ I always intended to convey that, particularly after the last year, we just don’t know what the future holds.”

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And Christine added, “In no way are any members of Fleetwood Mac ‘done’ with being part of the band. If anyone took that from my statement, that was a misperception and not intended. Fleetwood Mac is part of the DNA of who I am, and I know the same is true for Stevie, Mick and John.” Interestingly, though, she didn’t add “Lindsey.”

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But what about Buckingham? Well, it turns out that the passing of Fleetwood Mac co-founder Peter Green got Fleetwood thinking about his former band-mate, and he looked him up. Fleetwood explained, “I’ve really enjoyed being reconnected with Lindsey, which has been gracious and open. And both of us have been beautifully honest about who we are and how we got to where we were.”

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So does that mean Buckingham will be back for the farewell tour? Fleetwood thought it was a possibility. “Strange things can happen,” the drummer said. “I look at Fleetwood Mac as a huge family. Everyone plays an important role in our history, even someone like [early 1970s] guitarist Bob Welch, who was huge and sometimes gets forgotten. Lindsey’s position in Fleetwood Mac will, for obvious reasons, never been forgotten, as it should never be forgotten.”

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Yes, Fleetwood had a happy ending in mind to the band’s story. He added, “My vision of things happening in the future is really far-reaching. Would I love to think that [a reunion] could happen? Yeah. I’d love to think that all of us could be healed, and also respect the people who are in the band, Neil Finn and Michael Campbell.”

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But an obstacle lies in the way of realizing that dream: Nicks. Fleetwood didn’t have any idea how that would pan out, explaining, “I can’t speak for the dynamic with Stevie and him. I don’t even need to protect it. It’s so known that they’re chalk and cheese in so many ways, and yet not.”

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Mind you, even if the tour doesn’t pan out to include Buckingham, Fleetwood sees his own future including the guitarist. “I know for a fact that I intend to make music and play again with Lindsey,” the drummer stated. “I would love that. It doesn’t have to be in Fleetwood Mac.”

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Fleetwood concluded by summing up his feelings on the band, saying, “Fleetwood Mac is such a strange story. All the players in the play are able to talk and speak for themselves. Somehow, I would love the elements that are not healed to be healed. I love the fantasy that we could cross that bridge and everyone could leave with creative, holistic energy, and everyone could be healed with grace and dignity.”

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