Salt Lake Tribune, June 17, 1992


by Greg Kott, The Chicago Tribune

In 1987, when the musical world last heard from Lindsey Buckingham, he was telling Fleetwood Mac he wanted out -- and his band mates were not taking the news well. The break-up, on the eve of a world tour, was recounted in bloody detail by Mick Fleetwood in a recent autobiography, but the drummer says that in retrospect, everyone saw it coming.

"Lindsey was mentally out of this band years before he left," Fleetwood acknowledged in an interview. "He was just putting off the agony until he was forced on top of a fence."

Buckingham had been the creative hub of the band for 12 years, as songwriter, singer, guitarist, producer and arranger, the "boy wonder" -- as Fleetwood described him -- who could take one of Stevie Nicks' raw, rambling stories and sculpt it into a pop song such as "Sara" or "Gypsy." But he found himself no longer being challenged.

"I had not been very happy in that situation for a while," Buckingham says, calling from New York. His first new music in five years, "Out of the Cradle" (Warner Bros., 4 stars), arrived in stores Tuesday, and as the title implies, it's a fresh start for the 42-year-old singer: "I feel better than I've felt in 10 years, and it's the idea of taking responsibility and having accountability for yourself," he says.

"The whole atmosphere in Fleetwood Mac was kind of crazy, wasn't very productive, and it certainly wasn't an atmosphere that aspired to trying to grow or continue the creative process," he explains. Leaving the band "was a survival move I had to make."

For Buckingham, the beginning of the end was the 1979 "Tusk" album, which included some of the singer's most experimental music, sold several million copies and yet was considered a commercial failure in the wake of the 20-million selling "Rumours" album.

"After 'Rumours,' the soap opera, the phenomenon of the sales, the sensationalistic aspects of the interrelationships in the group were the things people were focusing on and not the music," he says. "When the machinery is stoked up that much, there are forces in and outside of the group that will want you to run it into the ground.

"Quite often I felt I was an outsider watching this happen. I was always ambivalent about that kind of success. Plus you had a lot of (punk and new-wave) music coming in from England and other places right before 'Tusk' that was a kick in the butt.

"My reaction was to say to Mick, 'I'd like to go into my house and just fool around with songs on my own.' So I'd sit in my bathroom and hit boxes and do whatever worked on a really primitive level, and I'd also come in to the studio and work on everybody else's stuff. 'Tusk' was the result. You could pull my songs off there and in a way it was like my first solo album. And that was great. That was probably the most liberating time for me in the group."

It was six months after he quit Fleetwood Mac before Buckingham could even think about making music again - "I had to let the emotional dust settle." Then he began paying daily visits to his home studio in the Los Angeles hills, where he tinkered for 10 or 11 hours each day, sometimes in collaboration with his friend and producer Richard Dashut, but just as often alone.

"Working alone, you start off with a blank canvas and an intent, but as you put strokes on the canvas, the work leads you off in different directions. It's intuitive and lends itself to discovery a lot more."

While Buckingham was making those discoveries and the years rolled by, Warner Brothers executives began getting anxious.

"They gave up [pressuring me] after a while," Buckingham says with a chuckle, and "went from trying to expedite the process to actually getting drawn into what was going on more and more" as they heard one good song after another.

The wait was worth it. "Out of the Cradle" is a dazzling sonic feast, showing Buckingham's range as a balladeer, rocker and Tin Pan Alley-style craftsman.

Thanks to Les for posting this to the Ledge and to Anusha for formatting and sending it to us.