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Lindsey Buckingham, Lonely Guy

Page 3 of 3

Rumours went on to become one of the biggest-selling records of all time. Yet for Buckingham it was a bittersweet experience. ''When Rumours went crazy, I just couldn't bring myself to feel that strongly about the album. At some point, all the stuff surrounding it started to become the main focus. There was a gap between what I felt was important internally – what I had accomplished musically – and the popular acclaim.''

Tusk was ''a rebellion against that.'' For Buckingham, who had become excited by the spirit of punk and New Wave – Dashut remembers Lindsey playing him records by the Sex Pistols, the Clash and Talking Heads – it meant abandoning the pop formula that had made Rumours such a success and plunging into the unknown. On tour he began using a portable studio to record in his hotel rooms. Back in L.A., he put together songs by himself in a spare room at his house, taping vocals in the bathroom. His efforts were not well received by the band. Still, Buckingham got his way. ''Basically, if Lindsey hadn't been allowed to do what he did on Tusk, I think that you wouldn't have had a band,'' says Dashut. ''Or that they would have got another guitar player. I think that everybody else went along to save the band, as opposed to really agreeing with where his head was at.''

Buckingham remembers things differently. ''I would bring tunes in, and everyone would go, 'Oh, that's great.' When Mick took the Tusk album down to Warner Bros., everyone was jumping up and down, going, 'Oh, this is really one of the neatest things we ever heard'– although I have subsequently heard that when a lot of those people at Warner Bros, heard that album, they saw their Christmas bonuses flying out the window. I do think there was a time when everyone in the band was quite carried away with the spirit of experimentation. But when it began to become apparent that it wasn't going to sell 15 million copies, then everyone from the band looked at me and went, 'Oh, you blew it, buddy.'''

Today, Buckingham feels removed from the other members of Fleetwood Mac, though they were never close socially. ''We never hung out. Never,'' he says. ''We were never friends in the sense that I would call Mick up and go hang out.'' Now there isn't much of a creative bond, either. ''What used to keep them together was the music,'' says Dashut. ''These days he doesn't share much in common musically with everybody else.''

Buckingham is plainly bored, and a little disappointed, with what his colleagues have been up to on their own. ''I've seen Stevie's show, I've seen Christine's show. To me, they both bordered on being lounge acts, simply because they were resting so heavily on Fleetwood Mac's laurels. But I think you owe it to yourself and you owe it to your audience to try at least.''

He is vague about his future with Fleetwood Mac. He might make another album with the group. Still, as he says, referring to Go insane, ''If this album becomes quite successful, everything's going to change radically.

''I've heard rumors that if I was not ready to do an album in the next three or four months, or at least talk about it, they were going to seek out somebody else,'' he says. ''Like Pete Townshend. That's probably an idle rumor that's somehow gotten around. But at the same time I can't say that doesn't more or less coincide with the kind of psychology I've seen go on in the group at certain times. If something needs to get done, they'll get it done one way or another. And if Lindsey doesn't want to play ball, then fuck him. They'll fire him and get somebody else. That's the way the band works.''

 

Lindsey Buckingham is standing in the ''rain room.'' This is his favorite room in the house – other than the recording studio. The room has a glass ceiling. Flip a switch and a gentle shower of water begins pitter-pattering against the roof – as if it were raining. ''It's great for freaking people out,'' he says, smiling. ''You just turn it on without saying anything, and you're in here talking, and suddenly they think it's raining.'' The room also contains an immense pine tree growing right out of the floor and up through a hole in the ceiling.

As he stands in the kitchen, there is a knock on the door. A moment later Mick Fleetwood breezes in, followed by a couple of guys lugging boxes of recording tape. Fleetwood wants to use the studio to listen to live recordings of his band, Mick Fleetwood's Zoo. The two members of Fleetwood Mac greet each other warmly, but there is a slight undercurrent of tension. Fleetwood finds himself a beer. Lindsey doesn't ask Fleetwood about those Pete Townshend rumors.

The phone rings, and as Lindsey answers it, Fleetwood wanders out of the room. He returns a moment later with a novelty item, a life-size rubber hand with a wire running from it to a button. When the button is pushed, the fingers move. ''I've got to have this,'' says the drummer. Then he unzips his pants and arranges the rubber hand so that it sticks out of his fly like a mutant phallus. Pushing the button, Fleetwood grins like a maniac as the fingers wiggle.

Chatting on the phone, Buckingham appears oblivious to Fleetwood's antics. Eventually, the drummer and his entourage move back to the studio and the Zoo tape is played. The music is bluesy, meat-and-potatoes rock & roll. Lindsey stays in the studio for just a few minutes, then slips away. The next day he says, ''I didn't feel comfortable with the music they were playing. I was almost getting embarrassed. So soon we forget. You see Mick, and all the chemistry comes back, and then all the downside comes back, too.''

As it turned out, Mick Fleetwood and his buddies kept Lindsey up until five a.m. ''Finally I had to say, 'Mick, I have to go to sleep now. Mick!' It brought back being in the studio and wanting to leave,'' said the lonesome rock star. ''Only I really had nowhere else to go. I mean, this is my house.''

This story is from the October 25th, 1984 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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