CRAWDADDY MAGAZINE - NOVEMBER 1976

BIG MAC:  TWO ALL GOLD ALBUMS SPECIAL SONGS LET-UPS CHEESECAKE PICKLES DIVORCE ON A STAR-CROSSED SUCCESS RUN

BY JOHN GRISSIM

"What does it feel like to have won?  You couldn't have put it better."  Mick Fleetwood laughed contentedly in the back of the limousine headed for the soundcheck at the San Diego Sports Arena one afternoon late in August.  John McVie, sitting in front in aviator shades and a white cotton longshoreman cap, had an elbow over the backseat.  "In terms of going down to the bookstore and looking at boating magazines and drooling, which I have for five years -- I can now buy one. And I just did."

Mick unlimbered his 6'6" frame from what a moment earlier had been an attempted nap and curled up sideways like a praying mantis in hibernation.  "Winning on our own personal charm is the most important.  I mean the money is great, but in a lot of ways it has nothing to do with money.  The thing is we are all tremendously pleased with ourselves."

He removed his blue felt-brim hat and tossed his head back, revealing a tarnished brass pendulum earring.  It is one of several fashion accouterments which, like the old "I Ching" coin around his neck and the narrow rectangular heirloom wristwatch, possess the same well-seasoned character of their owner.

Fleetwood sat up now, seeming more intense. "But right now we are so completely involved in what we are doing that it's hard to relate to any of it.  The number one item on everyone's mind is the album.  We absolutely HAVE to finish the album."

***

"Chris, I think we should go for one more take to get a little brighter mood."  The pleasantly modulated voice flowing through the studio talk-back speaker belongs to Richard Dashut, Fleetwood Mac's sound engineer and production assistant.  He is standing at the console, his finger pressed on the talk button while he gropes for a helpful description.  "This is really more of a ...a cocaine song....than it is an alcohol song----if you know what I mean."

After several seconds of silence, Dashut peers through the double glass windows.  "Uh.....Chris?"

Sitting behind a mammoth Steinway grand facing the far wall of the darkened studio, Christine McVie ponders the situation without looking around or moving her hands from the keyboard.  A single directional spot overhead highlights her mopsy blond hair and the bottle of Blue Nun on the piano.

"Well," she drawls laconically, rocking ever so slightly to one side, "I AM drunk."

Dashut falls back into his armchair laughing as everyone in the control room cracks up.  Mick Fleetwood's grim countenance vanishes.  Stevie Nicks, sitting cross-legged in a reclining chair embroidering a pair of denim pants, stands up for a near-sighted glimpse of Christine, whose own laughter percolates through the monitors.

The comic relief, however inadvertent, is desperately welcome; especially at 4:30 a.m., near the end of another in a series of intense all-night sessions at the Record Plant's studios in Sausalito.  For some time, there hadn't been much to laugh at. Here it was, early March, and Fleetwood Mac, after nearly a month in the studio, was way behind schedule in finishing the thirteenth album in its kaleidoscopic nine-year career.  The group was feeling the strain of heavy recent-success pressure with too little time off.  Part of the delay had been mechanical:  pianos (three in succession) had failed to stay in tune, and a tape machine, nicknamed "Jaws", had acquired an appetite for eating fresh takes.

Then there was the night some delicious grass cookies showed up with the food prepared by Andrea and Robin, the Record Plant's caterers.  Pooh-poohing the advertised potency, the band gobbled freely. There followed what had come to be known as the "thousand-dollar cookie" session.  The band spent most of the night in an exceedingly bent condition and the engineer went home early.  All John McVie remembers is spending hours sitting with Stevie while the two of them giggled over a copy of Playboy.

Of greater consequence was the plethora of soap opera scenarios that dominated the band members' personal lives, playing havoc with the album's progress.  John and Christine were struggling to go their separate ways after seven years of marriage.  The Buckingham-Nicks non-marital five-year coupling was also lurching towards an end, accompanied by occasional tears and ill-concealed arguments.  And Mick was broodingly preoccupied with what seemed the end of his 12-year partnership with ex-model wife Jenny, the mother of his two daughters.  More soap flakes had appeared in the person of Sandra, John McVie's silently svelte English girlfriend (as well as one-time companion of Fleetwood Mac's former lead guitarist Peter Green).

"We were all in pretty bad shape," Stevie Nicks would later observe from a much happier perspective.  What was remarkable about the group's handling of the situation was the consideration its members seemed to show for each others' hurt feelings, an attitude, they'll tell you, that had more to do with a collective sense of family than any wish to keep together an act that was on the brink of becoming enormously successful.

No one in Fleetwood Mac was ashamed of the romantic turmoil, but one might have questioned their wisdom in allowing an observer access to the studio during those hectic weeks.  To an outsider, the band appeared to be dangerously directionless, operating without management and governed only be some vaguely functional group mind.

Complicating matter was the surrounding social scene that grew more intrusive in direct proportion to the weekly chart position of the band's unkillable lp, "Fleetwood Mac."  By the time the album turned platinum in February, the secondary sanctums inside the Record Plant -- the lobby, recreation room, and carpeted dining nook -- were populated by aloof, fashionable men and women with purposeful expressions that suggested they were there for SERIOUS reasons that had nothing to do with vamping on the excitement of their proximity to Studio B.  There seemed to be a stream of trendy strangers passing by band members in the corridor with hardly a side-long glance -- a two-way procession like some kind of weird unbonded double helix.  "Hey, who ARE all these people?" Lindsey whispered in the kitchen one midnight while scrounging in the refrigerator for cold chicken. He was less irritated than curious.  No one had a clue.

Inevitable, the ersatz entourage developed its own hierarchy, the top rung of which could be found within a cigarette haze in the semi-privacy of the sunken lounge room.  By unspoken agreement, the role of host was reserved for whichever nameless calfskin-coated stage door heavy was tapping the glass.

In the meantime, the band stayed sequestered, working long hours, doing its best to ignore the phone calls from Warner Bros. Records and the pressure to come up with a brilliant follow-up to its most successful album ever. Fleetwood Mac would do the best it could, driven by necessity and sustained by a lot of free-floating creative tension.

Stevie Nicks, physically the most fragile, exemplified that drive.  The night she recorded the vocal track to her "Gold Dust Woman" she did the first take standing up in a fully-lit studio.  The song required a lot of power and an equal measure of feeling.  As take followed take, Stevie gradually withdrew.  The lights were turned down; a chair was brought in for her, and she wrapped herself in an oversized cardigan to keep warm.  Forty minutes later she was barely visible in the darkness -- a mere waif wearing flight-deck earphones, huddled in a chair while next to her on a stool sat a convalescent stash of Kleenex, a Vicks inhaler, a bottle of Calistoga mineral water and a box of throat lozenges.  Stevie had achieved an astonishing command of the material and on the eighth take she sang the song straight through, nailing it perfectly.

***

As tempestuous as the Sausalito sessions were (the group returned home to Los Angeles in mid-March with only the basic tracks completed), there was one major compensation that made life a lot easier to bear:  their ship was coming in.  Fleetwood Mac, a transplanted British band with a good, albeit low-profile reputation and a solid cult following, was at last achieving mass acceptance.  The change in fortunes was little short of phenomenal. Quite possibly no group in contemporary music had been around so long as a durable second-line attraction and then made an almost quantum jump to become one of the hottest acts in America.

The transformation began early last year when the British nucleus of the band -- Mick Fleetwood (drums) and John McVie and Christine McVie (bass and keyboards, respectively) -- asked Americans Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to join the band, replacing guitarist Bob Welch.  The singer-songwriter duo, who had recorded one much underrated album ("Buckingham-Nicks") agreed, and within days the five of them went into the studio to record, having never performed together in public.  They were pleased with the resulting album, "Fleetwood Mac" (titled to emphasize the band's continuity despite line-up changes) but hardly suspected it would remain on the charts for more than a year.

For nearly six months following the lp's July '75 release, Fleetwood Mac worked the road relentlessly.  Things had clicked onstage from the beginning.  The infusion of fresh voices with new songs added depth and variety to the repertoire.  Buckingham's inventive guitar phrasing -- at first restrained, then growing bolder -- merged easily with the band's unpretentious but now punchier sound.  And Stevie's powerful, distinctly nasal vocals blended beautifully with Christine's darker voice, notably on "Over My Head," a melodic hit single that soared into the top ten.

Months later, Stevie's haunting, ethereal "Rhiannon" (about "a schizophrenic Welsh witch," she claims) was similarly successful  as a single.  In concert, the song became the focal point of the set as Stevie, dressed in diaphanous black chiffon and a silk hat would swirl and writhe across the stage in a stunning dance that was at once mystical, seductive, and totally feminine.  By the end of the year, she was on her way to being heralded as the most vivacious woman in rock.  Not bad for less than a year into a new gig.

Last summer, Fleetwood Mac toured for six weeks, sharing the bill several times with the Eagles and the Jefferson Starship before as many as 62,000 people.  The band sizzled, the reviews were superlative, and Stevie Nicks -- seen now as the blonde pixie with the hypnotic voice -- grew even more magnetic and glamorous.

Paralleling the stage success was the rinsing off of virtually all the Sausalito soap:  these days Lindsey, Stevie, Christine and John all seem happily single.  And Mick and Jenny, while legally divorced, are again living in the couple's Topanga Canyon home.

Add to that "Fleetwood Mac" finally reaching Number One a year after release and it's easy to see why Mick is looking so chipper these days.  This afternoon he's sitting on a couch in the lounge of the group's Hollywood offices, sipping a Heineken and discussing the recent past.  A clear-eyed, spindly Englishman, he's a striking contrast to his sidekick, John McVie, who's scrunched into a beanbag chair on the floor.  John's wearing a wrinkled cap, a slept-in sweatshirt, Levis and the hangover of a man accustomed to one.  He suggests it's still a bit too early in the day for someone who hasn't been to bed the night before.

"It was such a good tour." Mick says.  "And after all the things that had gone down, it was doubly important.  When we got back here we were all thinking, 'Shit, man, we did it!  That's bloody good!'  All the weirdness is gone."

The discussion turns to the flurry of rumors around Hollywood that Fleetwood Mac, having finally hit, will no longer continue to manage itself and will soon sign with an industry heavy.  Fleetwood and McVie, who have shared the management responsibilities for two years, become splendidly animated.

"That's the hardest thing for people in this business to accept." John insists.  "They can't believe that this band has achieved all this without professional help.  Some people still think that Mick's just a dumb drummer and I'm a dumb bass player."

Mick grins.  "Before, people would come up to us and say, 'You won't make it without us.'  Now they say, 'You REALLY need our help now, you can't possibly keep it up without us.' But take this band six months ago with all the heavy emotional stress that was occurring -- I doubt seriously if we'd had a manager that we'd be here today.  It would have been fatal, because the band was totally responsible to itself.  No one could take sides.  Besides, there was no way of anyone even beginning to understand how the people in this band work.  With the band managing itself -- the fact is it's working, it has worked, and we've got the results to show it."

The two are obviously proud of their independent business stance; however their vindication is now without humor.  They recently took out a full page ad in the trades that featured a doctored photo of the group gathered happily around a desk where John and Mick were sitting disguised as sleazoid fly-by-night scammers in black hats, pinky rings and suits with large bills stuck in breast pockets.  The ad announced that Fleetwood Mac was proud to be signing with "Seedy Management."

There was a time when the group did have a manager, whose departure led to a bizarre episode that seriously threatened the band's credibility.  In early 1974 Clifford Davis, insisting he owned the rights to the name Fleetwood Mac, hired several unknown English musicians, booked a national tour, and sent "the New Fleetwood Mac" on the road for three months.  The real Fleetwood Mac quickly got a court injunction to prevent the use of its name, but in the meantime a lot of astonished fans were angrily demanding ticket refunds.  The legal battle is heading for resolution at a hearing in London, and Mick is optimistic.  "There's a chance it'll be settled out of court, which is entirely at our discretion. Up to now the other side has been totally stubborn but there's been a change of heart.  Maybe it's because we've now got the money to continue paying lawyers."....

Exactly why Fleetwood Mac has survived for nine years is hard to explain.  So many musicians have come and gone that its identity should have long since been diluted beyond recognition.

In 1967, John McVie, a four-year veteran of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, teamed with Mick Fleetwood (hence the group's name) to form a rock-oriented blues band with guitarist Jeremy Spencer and Peter Green, the latter also a former Mayall sideman and one of Britain's premiere blues stylists.

A third guitarist, Danny Kirwan, was added several months later and for a brief time the aggregation was billed as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.  Within a year the group had the first of several hit singles on the British charts.

One admirer in particular was Christine Perfect, pianist and singer with the blues band Chicken Shack.  "Whenever I had a night off," she recalls, "I'd always go hear Fleetwood Mac 'cause I adored them."  Christine's own musical career had been circuitous.  The daughter of a Birmingham music teacher, she hated studying classical piano until one day when she found a book of Fats Domino tunes in the piano bench.  Her blues interest continued through four years of art school (from which she received "a completely useless degree in sculpture").  There followed a stint in London as a window dresser before she joined Chicken Shack and married John McVie.

For a while life was hectic.  "I was in Chicken Shack for another six months and it worked out that John and I were meeting each other on the doorstep with suitcases in hand.  He'd be coming back from a tour just as I was leaving -- or vice versa."

After a half year of this hello/goodbye lifestyle, Christine left Chicken Shack to be a full-time wife.  A year later she would join Fleetwood Mac but not before an abortive solo career. "It was a disaster.  I hadn't written any material and didn't have a band. But I got one together and recorded the lp in about a month.  The two or three songs I wrote weren't very good.  I was such a novice."

That album, originally titled "Christine Perfect" has recently resurfaced, having been reissued last August as "Christine McVie" and subtitled "The Legendary Christine Perfect Album".  Predictable, she is "sort of offended and embarrassed" by the fast-bucks attempt to capitalize on her Fleetwood Mac success.  "Anyway," she adds, "I'm too young to be a legend."

In the summer of 1970, following a European tour, Peter Green announced his retirement from rock, claiming he wanted to live as a Christian laborer. Shortly thereafter he left to become a cemetery gardener and later a hospital orderly.  Christine has a theory.  "On the European tour Peter had met a group of decadent German jet-set types who were into black magic and weird occult stuff.  They put a couple of tabs of acid in his drink and I think he took a couple of pretty heavy involuntary trips that way.  I think that did contribute to his later state of mind."

The band was at loose ends until a decision was made to find another instrument to fill out the sound.  Christine McVie was perfect.  A week after joining, she found herself playing her first gig with Fleetwood Mac at the Warehouse in New Orleans.

In Los Angeles a year later (1971) yet another band member became a rock 'n' roll casualty for Christ.  Guitarist Jeremy Spencer walked out of his hotel room to go shopping and got cornered on the street by some Children of God, a heavy-duty religious sect.  He never made it back to the hotel.  "When we found him," Christine says, "he was surrounded by about 400 kids chanting prayers.  Fortunately, he came out of it more or less OK.  He's now living in South America, has a band and five children, and seems very religious."

Guitarist Bob Welch, a native of San Francisco, was recruited to fill the void left by Green and Spencer.  "Bare Trees" was released in 1972 and reflected the shift in emphasis from blues to a mellower rock.

Many changes followed:  Danny Kirwan, who had become increasingly nervous on stage, was reluctantly ousted in '73 (the only member of the band ever to have been fired.)  Replacing him was former Long John Baldry guitarist Bob Weston, who remained in the fold for two albums, "Penguin" and "Mystery to Me" both of which sold respectably but lacked the old fire.

After the situation was made even more perilous by Clifford Davis' bogus band fiasco, Fleetwood Mac made a permanent move to Los Angeles, recorded "Heroes Are Hard to Find," and went on tour, anxious to reestablish its credibility.  Bob Welch left amicably around Christmas '74 to form the power trio Paris, but this time Fleetwood and McVie had anticipated the departure.  They had a hunch that Angelinos Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks might be the right combination to finally set Fleetwood Mac's career a-buzzing.

***

The arrival of a second female band member was a nice change for Christine McVie.  Despite many years on the road and a reputation as a Blues Mama, she appears warm and easygoing. Her manner is that of a seasoned rocker, a mature lady, a scarred survivor.

"I think I HAVE seen it all," Christine states unabashedly. "It's really not an easy life.  You have to take reasonable care of yourself -- and be adaptable.  Before Stevie I was the only girl, and I was also with John 24 hours a day -- for years -- and that's exactly why everything went wrong.  So I had to decide; either I'll be lonely or I'll damn well adapt enough to be like big sister, to be with the guys and still retain that respect.  I mean I love to be with men, generally more so than women, but since Stevie's been with us, it's great, especially on the road. If you got a gripe about an old man or whatever, you can just sit down and rap and drink coffee."

How does she feel about Stevie's high voltage visibility on stage?  Isn't the pretty upstart stealing her thunder?

"It's great," Christine counters, "because Stevie's a show woman and she loves it.  I'm the keyboard player, which keeps me out of the limelight.  I enjoy it because I'm not an extrovert.  Nobody contrived for Stevie to be a foxy chick.  It just emerged.  She moves and dances purely because she likes dancing.  But she has a split personality.  Onstage she's the goddess of whatever, but offstage she's very often like a little old lady with a cold or a sore throat.  Yet she's amazing -- she can feel like shit before she goes onstage but then she goes out there and pulls out the stops.

***

Stevie, in fact, does have a slight cold one afternoon when she discusses life and love at the top.  Barefoot, and wearing a patchwork shirt and white stretch-weave tube top, she is relaxed and pleasantly disheveled, her shag hair streaked here and there with green highlights from the last gig.

Her surroundings are comfortable, the patio next to a black rock swimming pool at the Benedict Canyon home of Irving Azoff, the 28-year-old wizard manager of the Eagles, Minnie Riperton, Dan Fogelberg and Boz Scaggs.  Stevie is staying there for two weeks while she looks for her own place.  Azoff's digs are appropriately posh:  a ranch-style home hidden at the top of a winding driveway protected by a remote-controlled gate.  The game room, with its bar and billiard table, appears to have been installed roughly two #1 albums ago -- but not used extensively.  And scattered casually about the living room -- on the floor, on bookcases and along the mantlepiece -- are an overflowing array of framed gold and platinum records.

Stevie sits in an outdoor lounge chair spooning her way through a cup of low-cal apricot-flavored yogurt as she talks.  Her voice even at conversational level is throaty and resonant.

"It's not like I just go onstage and sing every night," she (Stevie Nicks) begins.  "I SCREAM.  And crash tambourine on my leg and dance around a lot.  It's almost an athletic trip for me 'cause I've never been very strong.  In fact, I'm like a snake all day, just grooving along slowly.  Then for two hours onstage I have all that energy.  Afterwards, I'm a basket case.  I've got to be practically carried away immediately."

"As for the dancing, it's nothing I haven't done my whole life.  It's not a ploy to be sexy.  I decided from the beginning that if I didn't have something visually interesting to do I wouldn't stand out there.  I leave the stage when Lindsey or Mick has a heavy solo.  "Rhiannon" is the heavy-duty song to sing every night. Onstage it's really a mind tripper.  Everybody, including me, is just blitzed by the end of it.  And I put out so much in that song that I'm nearly down.  There's something to that song that touches people.  I don't know what it is but I'm really glad it happened."

There is a guileless -- even girlish -- enthusiasm here, but Stevie regularly mixes in punchy bottom liners.  "I feel a lot older than when I joined the band.  I'm 28 now -- no breaks."

Stevie comes from a fairly wealthy background.  Born in Phoenix, she was raised (successively) in Los Angeles, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and San Francisco while her father moved up in business, eventually becoming vice-president of the Greyhound corporation and president of Armour and Company.  In 1968, while living in the Atherton-Menlo Park area of the San Francisco peninsula, Stevie joined Fritz, "a riff-oriented" quasi-acid rock band which had a bass player named Lindsey Buckingham.  The group worked the area steadily for 3 1/2 years before breaking up.  After that, Stevie and Lindsey teamed together offstage as well as on, and moved to Los Angeles in 1972 to pursue a record contract.

The album that resulted, "Buckingham-Nicks", was released on Polydor in late '73 and promptly stiffed despite its striking bare-skinned cover photo.  After a frustrating year of turning down offers to become a Top Forty lounge act on the steak and lobster circuit, Stevie went to work as a waitress at Clementine's, a fashionable Twenties-style singles rendezvous in Hollywood.  Lindsey held a somewhat shady job soliciting ads by phone for a non-existent business products directory.  In their spare time the couple worked on a demo tape for a second album.  Finally, on New Year's Eve, Mick Fleetwood (who had met Lindsey briefly in the studio and had heard the Polydor album) called with an invitation to join Fleetwood Mac.

If the Buckingham-Nicks addition to Fleetwood Mac was a natural, so was Stevie Nicks' emergence as the new flash fox in rock.  One senses she hasn't deliberately created that identity, at least as a primary concern.

"Seriously, I'm not terribly aware of that image," Stevie asserts.  "And I rarely see the things written about me.  When it comes down to it, I'm pretty naive really, and gullible.  Plus, I've always had the fear of walking up to another band, even since I've been in Fleetwood Mac and saying, 'Hi, I'm Stevie, I really like your music.'  I'm so afraid they'll think I'm a glorified groupie."

"I hate that trip that's put on women in rock 'n' roll.  But I'd love to meet more people, especially now, since for the first time I'm independent.   I haven't been in that position for SIX YEARS."

Gullible Stevie got her chance a few months back when the Eagles' Don Henley called out of the blue, asking to meet her.  Both were touring at the time, so the sweet-talking titillation continued by phone for some time before the two groups ended up on the same bill.

"It was weird -- and fun.  We arrive and the Eagles are in the next dressing room, right?  Now I would never go in there and say, 'Hi, I'm Stevie.'  Never.  I would DIE first.  So I go into our dressing room and here's this huge bouquet of roses with a card in it.  So I open up the card and it reads 'The best of my love, dot dot dot.  Tonight, question mark, Don.'  And I said 'That's about the uncoolest thing I've ever seen in my whole life!  I mean how could he possible preconceive something like that?"  And I'm DYING, right?  My face is red and I'm FUMING.  And then, finally, Christine grabs me and takes me aside and says, 'Don didn't send that.  Mick and John did.'   They were in hysterics.

Introductions were eventually made and a fast friendship was born.  Despite the inevitable gossip this star-crossing inspired, the relationship is pretty to look at but not, intimates advise, celestial.

Balancing any romantic attachments is Stevie's determination to firmly establish her own autonomy, to which end she has acquired an apartment, a car and a roommate.  A secure nest takes precedence over a rampantly exotic lifestyle.  Moreover, she seems little disposed to play the role of rock siren and, in fact, up close, does not exude a savvy sexual aura.

"The last thing I need is to hear one more person saying, 'Isn't Stevie Nicks cute.'  I'm not responsible for the way I look, but I AM responsible for what I do creatively.  Nothing would make me happier than recognition as a songwriter.

There's an openness to Stevie, a disarming willingness to trust, that suggests Here is a girl-woman to whom life has been kind.  She seems vulnerable and yet her lack of conceit, coupled with an intuitive knowledge of who CAN be trusted, belies a deeper strength.  She's been in rock nearly as long as Fleetwood Mac has existed as a group.  That experience has enabled her to survive the uncoupling with Lindsey without damaging either the group or their close relationship.

"Splitting up has not been an easy thing for either Lindsey or me."  Stevie confides.  "I think we both knew deep down that it was the only thing we could do.  We weren't creating, either of us....It's much better now."

It was probably the last time it would ever happen to Lindsey Buckingham in his hometown.  One one side of Sunset Boulevard was this giant billboard in lights, advertising Fleetwood Mac's four-day sold-out appearance at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. And on the other side is the Rainbow Bar & Grill, Tinsel Town's rock 'n' roll watering hole and disco body exchange.

Lindsey had decided he would drop into the Rainbow and make the scene and maybe meet some ladies -- and NOT get recognized.  But he didn't really try.  As a bonafide star who'd recently played to more than a million people across the country, Buckingham instead was reminded of the grim years he spent romancing LA's bitch goddess success.

"I guess we've gotten there now, realized the dream, whatever the dream was," he admits afterward, driving his BMW back to his home in West Lost Angeles.  "I've thought about it, that this is everything I've ever wanted to do, to be, for the last ten years as a musician.  But it's not as weird as I thought it'd be.  I feel pretty normal.  In a lot of ways I'm still working out a lot of insecurities. Being in this position hasn't automatically given me new confidence, nor am I necessarily getting a lot of validation.  In fact, I probably had more confidence five years ago than I do now.  It's odd, but having been in LA for a while and having a lot of people tell you that you're shitty doesn't help.

"Stevie and I weren't ecstatic about Mick's offer to join Fleetwood Mac because we really believed in what we were doing with our second record.  But when we went up to their house to meet them, that clinched it right there.  You could just tell the five of us in that room that there was something happening."

At the time was he familiar with Fleetwood Mac's music?

"No, except for the "Then Play On" album.  But they've always had good guitar players.  So we just did it.  Nobody knew what was gonna happen but that's the way Fleetwood Mac has always been -- played everything by instinct; by feel rather than calculation.  I've got to hand it to them -- that's probably why they've been around so long."

Back at a spacious white stucco house (which he shares with sound man "Disco Dickie" Dashut and Curtis Brothers drummer Bob Agurra) Lindsey puts on a vintage Beatles record and pops a beer.  He recalls one off-the-wall episode just after joining the band.

"Someone in Birmingham, Alabama called out of the blue and asked us to headline a show there.  Stevie and I had gone there twice in the previous year to open shows, and apparently our album had sold very well there.  So we went to Birmingham and discovered we'd sold out an auditorium.  Just blew our minds because we were totally unknown in LA, couldn't get a gig at a club or anywhere.  And here were 6,000 people out there going NUTS!  We played three dates around there, the great 'Buckingham-Nicks inaugural/farewell tour.'  We announced we were joining Fleetwood Mac and everybody went 'Whaa?'  I dunno, we had no idea what we were getting into."

As the conversation turns to the recent past, Buckingham warms to the subject of how, with Fleetwood Mac, music and love didn't mix.  Lounging on the couch, wearing faded denims and an Hawaiian shirt, he speaks openly, now and then nipping nervously at a cuticle.

"I came back from this tour feeling really cleansed," he offers.  "All the things that had been happening between me and Stevie and between John and Chris mellowed into the situation they are now.  And it was important that I met a lot of beautiful women who I like a lot because, y'know, with the exception of one intervening summer, for the past ten years I've been tied up with just two ladies.  Now here I am at 26, re-realizing capabilities about myself and being a little more aggressive socially and having a good time.

"And for Stevie, someone like Don Henley is good for her.  It's strange; it's one thing to accept not being with someone and it's another to see them with someone else, especially someone like Don, right?  A big star in another group.  I could see it coming and I really thought it was gonna bum me out, but it was really a good thing just to see her sitting with him.  It actually made me happy.  I thought there was something to fear but there wasn't.  So the whole break-up has forced me to redefine my whole individuality -- musically as well.  I'm no longer thinking of Stevie and me as a duo.  That thought used to freak me out but now it's made me come back stronger, to be Lindsey Buckingham.

And what of the album?  That soul-wrenching masterwork born in the heat of serious road fever and nurtured with giddy dope-laced cookies?  That 24-track jewel which had survived knife-twisting jealousy and studio vamps bearing silver straws and Pouilly Fouisse?

"Well, it's changed from what it was originally," John McVie quips dryly, just before putting the finishing touches on it.

"It's WARMER," Mick adds.  "I don't mean in a soft way.  It means more personally to everyone in the band than the last album, which was executed, as it were, rather than felt out.  There's been a lot more suffering with this one."

"The song lyrics are about things that went on in and around the band," Lindsey says, "They were all written since Stevie and I joined, so they hang together as more of a statement."

The new album offers as much variety as the previous release, and musically should be more consistent. Stevie's contributions include "Dreams" (an R&B cut with a strongly melodic bass line); a sad song about everyone's break-ups called "Silver Springs," and the powerful "Gold Dust Woman."

"It's about groupie-type ladies," Nicks explains.  "About women who stand around and give me and Christine dirty looks but as soon as a guy comes in the room are overcome with smiles."

Rock on, ancient queen
Follow those who pale in your shadow
Rulers made bad lovers
You better put your kingdom
Up for sale

Lindsey's "Go Your Own Way" is punchy, acoustically-based rock 'n' roll, currently being performed on tour as a first encore.  The remaining two Buckingham numbers consist of a scintillating instrumental track with shart guitar work and a real scorcher with vaguely pornographic lyrics.

Christine's four cuts include "Oh Daddy" a slow, sensual track with strong lyrics; an uptempt piano boogie number titled "Think About Tomorrow"; a blues/rock combo called "You Make Lovin' Fun," which features a stomping major chorus; and a reflective ballad tentatively titled "Songbird," which was played on a concert grand piano recorded in Berkeley's acoustically near-perfect Zellerback Auditorium.

"It's a personal song," Christine claims.  "I don't like to hear it too much."  In general she feels the new album is a natural follow-up to "Fleetwood Mac, "It shows we know each other a lot better and I think we're playing better and singing better," she confides.  "Everything is more cohesive."

***

San Diego gave Fleetwood Mac a tumultuous hero's welcome as the group walked to its stage positions in darkness, opening in a shower of lights with Christine's "Over My Head."  "Station Man" followed immediately with John stepping forward to churn out the song's classic bass line as Mick grinned at him behind a formidable drum kit.  Lindsey, looking very relaxed in jeans and white kimono jacket, grabbed the lead, layering in sparkling riffs and fills that drew applause.  Halfway through, Stevie -- a sultry witch in black suede boots and midnight chiffon -- took center stage with "Rhiannon" and brought the arena to its feet in a screaming peak of excitement.  Christine followed with excellent vocals on "Why" and "You Make Lovin' Fun."  Then Stevie moved behind Mick's drum kit to play congas during a vintage favorite "Green Manalishi" as John and Lindsey worked out on a ballsy bass-guitar exchange.

On "World Turning" a sizzling highlight of the set, Christine moved out from the keyboards to play mariachis and power a three-voice chorus as Mick's drumming gradually gained solo domination with a crackling tempo shift.  He polished off a beer with one hand, then leaned out from behind his kit holding an African talking drum beneath one arm.  For the next minute this goateed beanpole in black vest and skinny plus-fours bounced amazing sounds around the arena, then rushed back to pump up a high-kicking finale.  The 90-minute set closed to a roaring ovation after "Don't Let Me Down" and "Hypnotized", the two encores.

The backstage area after the set was crowded but orderly as roadies gently kept a lot of equally polite California girls away from the dressing room.  Moments later, Stevie Nicks emerged and made her way to a waiting limousine, stopping several times to talk with admirers.  One young woman pressed five turquoise stones into her hand ("For everyone in the band"); another slipped an over-sized bracelet on her wrist.  Moments later, she was settled in the car's interior, and the crowd sounds were immediately replaced by the low WOOSH of conditioned air.  The limousine, with only two passengers, sleeked up the ramp out of the arena, passed a clutch of waving fans and headed for a hotel on Harbor Island.

During the 20-minute ride, Stevie talked excitedly.  "We've really got that set down, don't you think?  And Mick's such a dynamic drummer, such a showman.  I wish there was more room for Lindsey to open up more on his guitar solos; he's hot and getting so confident."

She settled back in the cushy seats, staring out the window for a moment.  The glow of passing street lights bathed her face in a soft blue/white glow.  "You know the part that always gets me?  It's when you're standing there just as you're about to go onstage and the audience is cheering.  There's this incredible excitement that just grabs you in the pit of your stomach.  I know it's all very Hollywood and everything, but it's a fantastic high."

She shifted to the upcoming home stand in Los Angeles and the lavish party Warner Bros. was planning.  "It's ironic.  It's getting harder to meet people now because the people I'd probably really like are too cool to come up to me to introduce themselves.  I sometimes feel people are afraid..."

Stevie stared ahead for a few seconds, poised in profile.  Tiny flecks of glitter on her left cheekbone sparkled in the half-light.  Her green-streaked stage-tousled hair fell perfectly around her face.  Her lips were slightly parted.  Here was the visual apotheosis of a stone fox, a vixen in black gossamer.  She turned now with a slight smile, her tone of voice wonderfully ambiguous.  "The whole presentation has got to be dramatic," she confided.  "I mean, we're talking about a little glamour here!"

Thanks to Kayde for transcribing this and posting it to the Ledge and to Anusha for forwarding it to us.