Lindsey Buckingham is no doubt the first member of Fleetwood Mac to list Brian Wilson as a major inspiration. Lindsey's California influence on the band is legitimate too. Born and raised in Palo Alto, Buckingham was "another jock in a family of swimming jocks." His brother Greg won a silver medal in the '68 Olympics. Late in high school Lindsey drifted into a rock & roll band and was sufficiently smitten to spoil family tradition. He quit the water polo team. "My coach went insane," Lindsey says. "He started screaming, 'You're nothing. You'll always be a nothing.'"
And he was nothing for a while, when that band went psychedelic and became Fritz. Buckingham couldn't master mind-blowing lead guitar and was put on bass for the next three and a half years. "I was just a young kid who thought it was really neat that we were in a band," he says. Then he teamed up with Nicks, and finally they joined Fleetwood.
Now, Buckingham lopes into the house of a mutual friend, looking a little dazed. Listening to the radio on the way over he'd finally heard himself singing the just released single, "Go Your Own Way." "It sounded real weird," he shrugs. "I just want it to be so good that I get paranoid. I have to relax, get this whole time behind us . . ."
Ten months devoted to Fleetwood Mac's album has left Buckingham spindly and studio wan. He gives a rundown of how a group can spend so long taping 45 minutes of music: "There's one track on the album that started out as one song in Sausalito. We decided it needed a bridge, so we cut a bridge and edited it into the rest of the song. We didn't get a vocal and left it for a long time in a bunch of pieces. It almost went off the album. Then we listened back and decided we liked the bridge, but didn't like the rest of the song. So I wrote verses for that bridge, which was originally not in the song and edited those in. We saved the ending. The ending was the only thing left from the original track. We ended up calling it 'The Chain' because it was a bunch of pieces."
His face lights up as he realizes that it's all behind him now. "I feel really lucky that I've had the opportunity to go through some of the heartaches and shit we've been through the past year. It's had a profound effect on me. I feel a lot older, I feel like I've learned a whole lot by taking on a large responsibility slightly unaided." Buckingham laughs to himself. "Being in this band," he says, "really fucks up relationships with chicks. Since Stevie, I have found that to be true. I could meet someone that I really like, have maybe a few days to get it together and that's about it. The rest of the time I'm too into Fleetwood Mac."
Buckingham has overcome the breakup with Nicks. "It was a little lonely there for a while," he admits. "The thought of being on my own really terrified me. But then I realized being alone is really a cleansing thing . . . as I began to feel myself becoming more myself again. I'm surprised we lasted as long as we did."
Buckingham doesn't object to the confessional tone of Rumours either. "I'm not ashamed of my personal life," he proclaims. "Just 'cause you're in the public eye doesn't mean you don't go through the same bullshit."
Lindsey Buckingham sets down the guitar. "Tonight I just want to go get drunk," he announces. "I know the exact place too. They let me throw the food . . ."
The two doormen at Kowloon's Chinese restaurant greet Buckingham and his party warmly. They know him as the young gentleman who leaves a big mess and a bigger tip.
"Do you know who he is?" one doorman asks the other.
The other doorman nods casually. "He's an actor or something. I think he plays in a soap opera . . ."
This story is from the March 24th, 1977 issue of Rolling Stone.
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