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The moonlight confessions of Stevie Nicks

By Amy Kaufman, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Nicks is speaking from a landline. She has a personal line that she dances around when it rings, wondering "Who could it be? Is this a two-hour call? Is this going to be a tragedy?" and an emergency line to which her assistant attends. She does not have a computer. She does have an iPhone, but it doesn't have cellular service and she uses it only as a camera.

Despite her distaste for social media, Nicks has gone viral a few times in recent months. Last week, the internet discovered a video in which a man skateboards while singing along to Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams," swigging from a container of cran-raspberry juice and generally living his best life. After the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Nicks paid tribute to the Supreme Court justice, admitting her into the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame of Life." (Nicks is only female to be inducted twice into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, first with Fleetwood Mac in 1998 and then on her own in 2019.) The reactions to the RBG post were largely positive, but she saw one comment that ignored her sentiment entirely and instead lambasted her for her band's interpersonal drama.

"They didn't even care about what I had written about Ruth and went right to the breakup of Fleetwood Mac and Lindsey Buckingham," she says. "I was like, 'We're talking about the death of a great Supreme Court judge, and you are yelling at me about something that happened two-and-a-half years ago? What are you, insane?' I'm reeling from it. But I'm also like, OK: I can never be on social media."

Nicks' troll was referring to the highly publicized 2018 firing of Buckingham, who joined Fleetwood Mac as a lead guitarist and vocalist alongside then-girlfriend Nicks in 1974. The group's tumult is the stuff of music legend: After ending her on-off again relationship with Buckingham, in 1977 Nicks had a brief affair with then-married drummer Mick Fleetwood. Singer Christine McVie, meanwhile, was in the midst of her own clandestine relationship with the band's lighting director, ultimately leading to her divorce from bassist John McVie.

With the exception of a decadelong hiatus to focus on his solo career in the '90s, however, Buckingham remained with Fleetwood Mac until January 2018, when he claims he was unceremoniously let go. Together, they'd made an indelible mark on music history. Hits like "Dreams," "Rhiannon," "Landslide," "The Chain" and "Gypsy" are now rock canon. 1977's "Rumours" was No. 1 in the U.S. for 31 weeks, and subsequent tours over the decades showcased not just an incomparable baby-boomer songbook but the scars left from the band's never-ending soap operas - Buckingham and Nicks frequently shot eye daggers at each other in front of packed stadiums during renditions of breakup anthems like "Go Your Own Way" and "Silver Springs."

When Buckingham was axed from the group, he sued for lost wages - claiming he would have collected between $12 million and $14 million dollars in two months of touring with Fleetwood Mac. (He was replaced by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Crowded House's Neil Finn.) In legal documents, Buckingham says his firing came days after the band's appearance at the January 2018 MusiCares Person of the Year ceremony. He alleges that he was later told that Nicks thought he'd mocked her on stage at the event while she was delivering a speech; she was apparently so upset that she told the rest of Fleetwood Mac she'd walk if he wasn't cut from the band.

 

Nicks is reluctant to discuss the details of that night, though she admits it was the "straw that broke the camel's back."

"I never planned for that to happen," she says hesitantly. "Any time we reformed to do a tour or a record, I always walked in with hope in my heart. And I just was so disappointed. I felt like all the wind had gone out of my sails."

There's melancholy in her voice when she discusses the split, which she describes as a "long time coming." She was always hopeful that "things would get better" but found herself noticing she was increasingly sad with Fleetwood Mac and more at peace in the "good, creative happy world" with her solo band.

"I just felt like a dying flower all the time," she says. "I stayed with him from 1968 until that night. It's a long time. And I really could hear my parents - I could hear my mom saying, 'Are you really gonna do this for the rest of your life?' And I could hear my dad saying in his very pragmatic way - because my dad really liked Lindsey - 'I think it's time for you and Lindsey to get a divorce.' It's a very unfortunate thing. It makes me very, very sad."

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