Fleetwood Mac Detail New Tour and Talk Life After Lindsey Buckingham

In their first interview since firing their longtime guitarist, the group discusses balancing lingering tensions with an expanded live palette

A little over a month ago, the majority of Fleetwood MacStevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood – quietly gathered at a little theater in Maui with their future in doubt. The band had secretly parted ways with Lindsey Buckingham, the longtime guitarist and voice behind many of their most enduring songs. According to the group, the split came down to a scheduling conflict surrounding a world tour. “We were supposed to go into rehearsal in June and he wanted to put it off until November [2019],” says Nicks. “That’s a long time. I just did 70 shows [on a solo tour]. As soon as I finish one thing, I dive back into another. Why would we stop? We don’t want to stop playing music. We don’t have anything else to do. This is what we do.”

So instead, they invited Mike Campbell, the former guitarist of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Crowded House frontman Neil Finn and spent a few days workshopping tunes from their vast catalog to see if this new lineup had the right chemistry. “I immediately felt like I’d known them for years,” says Christine McVie, “even though we’d only just met.”

The new lineup will embark on a massive 52-date tour beginning October 3rd in Tulsa and criss-crossing the country before wrapping up in Phladelphia in April 2019. Tickets for the tour go on sale Friday, May 4th at 10 a.m. local time. (A complete itinerary is listed below.) The group also announced the launch of a SiriusXM channel devoted to the band beginning Tuesday, May 1st.

Nobody in the group is quite willing to say Buckingham was “fired,” but they don’t completely object to the term. “Words like ‘fired’ are ugly references as far as I’m concerned,” says Fleetwood. “Not to hedge around, but we arrived at the impasse of hitting a brick wall. This was not a happy situation for us in terms of the logistics of a functioning band. To that purpose, we made a decision that we could not go on with him. Majority rules in term of what we need to do as a band and go forward.” Buckingham did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.

“Majority rules in term of what we need to do as a band and go forward” – Mick Fleetwood

Buckingham’s ousting marks the latest messy chapter in the ongoing 50-year Fleetwood Mac story – or, as drummer Mick Fleetwood tells it, business as usual. When key early members like Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer left the group in the early 1970s, Fleetwood got right on the phone and recruited new ones. The group never stopped working, even when Nicks left in the early 1990s and a new lineup found themselves opening up for the likes of REO Speedwagon on the state fair circuit. “There’s no doubt that my instincts, for better or worse, have always been to gravitate towards going forward,” Fleetwood tells Rolling Stone. “Having said that, I’d be lying if I didn’t literally say to myself, ‘This one needs a lot of thought.’”

One of the first people that came to mind was Campbell, who was at his home on the Hawaiian island of Kauai when the call came. It happened to be his 68th birthday. “I was sitting in my yard by my pool contemplating my future without my partner [Tom Petty], which was going to be a dark place in a lot of ways,” he says. “ I said, ‘Give me a day to think it over.’ The more I thought about it, the more I though it could be great. I’ve known Stevie for years and we’ve always been very creative together.”

Not long after getting a commitment from Campbell, Fleetwood called up Finn at his New Zealand home. The singer had enormous success in the 1970s and 1980s with his bands Split Enz and Crowded House, but he was now earning a comfortable living as a solo artist with a devoted cult following. Getting back in the arena rock game was the last thing on his mind. “I was stunned when I got the call from Mick,” he says. “I was enjoying my life and my music, but I have a restless nature and now I’m relishing this beautiful gift that’s been given to me.”

The group has yet to begin formal rehearsals – which they say will last two months working five days a week – but they’ve already decided that this tour will feature songs from the entire history of Fleetwood Mac, not just the original Buckingham/Nicks run from 1975 to 1987. “We were never able to do that since 1975 because certain people in the band weren’t interested in doing that,” says Nicks. “Now we’re able to open the set with a lot; a raucous version of [1969’s] ‘Rattlesnake Shake’ or something. I’d also like to do [1970’s] ‘Station Man,’ which has always been one of may favorites. We’re definitely doing [1970’s] ‘Oh Well.’”

How does this all feel to bassist John McVie, the guy that put the “Mac” in Fleetwood Mac but speaks so infrequently that most fans don’t even know what his voice sounds like? “I felt very comfortable when we rehearsed,” he says. “It seemed to fit. It’s another exciting chapter in the book, in the saga.”

The expanded set, however, doesn’t mean they’ll be neglecting the big radio hits like “Gold Dust Woman” and “The Chain.” “There are 10 hits we have to do,” says Nicks. “That leaves another 13 songs if you want to do a three-hour show. Then you crochet them all together and you make a great sequence and you have something that nobody has seen before except all the things they want to see are there. At rehearsal, we’re going to put up a board of 60 songs. Then we start with number one and we go through and we play everything. Slowly you start taking songs off and you start to see your set come together.”

“This is sad for me, but I want the next 10 years of my life to be really fun and happy” – Stevie Nicks

The band realizes that a Fleetwood Mac tour without Buckingham will be a different experience, but they soldiered on without him on the 1987 Tango In The Night tour and didn’t see a big decline in attendance. They also had 16 years of successful road work without Christine McVie when she left in 1998. She came back for the 2015 On With The Show tour, and last year recorded an album with Buckingham that they supported with a long tour that wrapped up just five months ago. “I had a great time with him on the road and making that record,” she says. “I was surprised to hear the news because it happened after I went back to London that the decision was made. But life moves on and I wanted to carry on with these guys.”

For Nicks, carrying on without Buckingham is bittersweet. “Our relationship has always been volatile,” she says. “We were never married, but we might as well have been. Some couples get divorced after 40 years. They break their kids’ hearts and destroy everyone around them because it’s just hard. This is sad for me, but I want the next 10 years of my life to be really fun and happy. I want to get up every day and dance around my apartment and smile and say, ‘Thank God for this amazing life.’”

Fleetwood Mac North American Tour

October 3 – Tulsa, OK @ BOK Center
October 6 – Chicago, IL @ United Center
October 10 – Louisville, KY @ KFC Yum! Center
October 12 – Lincoln, NE @ Pinnacle Bank Arena
October 14 – Des Moines, IA @ Wells Fargo Arena
October 16 – Indianapolis, IN @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse
October 18 – Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center
October 20 – St. Louis, MO @ Scottrade Center
October 22 – St. Paul, MN @ Xcel Energy Center
October 26 – Cleveland, OH @ Quicken Loans Arena
October 28 – Milwaukee, WI @ Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center
October 30 – Detroit, MI @ Little Caesars Arena
November 1 – Pittsburgh, PA @ PPG Paints Arena
November 3 – Ottawa, ON @ Canadian Tire Centre
November 5 – Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre
November 7 – Columbus, OH @ Nationwide Arena
November 10 – Edmonton, AB @ Rogers Place
November 12 – Calgary, AB @ Scotiabank Saddledome
November 14 – Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena
November 17 – Tacoma, WA @ Tacoma Dome
November 19 – Portland, OR @ Moda Center
November 21 – San Jose, CA @ SAP Center at San Jose
November 23 – Sacramento, CA @ Golden 1 Center
November 25 – Oakland, CA @ Oracle Arena
November 28 – Phoenix, AZ @ Talking Stick Resort Arena
November 30 – Las Vegas, NV @ T-Mobile Arena
December 3 – Denver, CO @ Pepsi Center
December 6 – Fresno, CA @ Save Mart Center
December 8 – San Diego, CA @ Viejas Arena
December 11 – Inglewood, CA @ The Forum
December 13 – Inglewood, CA @ The Forum
February 5, 2019 – Houston, TX @ Toyota Center
February 7 – Dallas, TX @ American Airlines Center
February 9 – Austin, TX @ Frank Erwin Center
February 13 – Birmingham, AL @ Legacy Arena at The BJCC
February 16 – New Orleans, LA @ Smoothie King Center
February 18 – Tampa, FL @ Amalie Arena
February 20 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ BB&T Center
February 22 – Columbia, SC @ Colonial Life Arena
February 24 – Charlotte, NC @ Spectrum Center
February 27 – Nashville, TN @ Bridgestone Arena
March 3 – Atlanta, GA @ Philips Arena
March 5 – Washington, DC @ Capital One Arena
March 9 – Atlantic City, NJ @ Boardwalk Hall
March 11 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden
March 13 – Newark, NJ @ Prudential Center
March 15 – Hartford, CT @ XL CENTER
March 20 – Albany, NY @ Times Union Center
March 24 – Baltimore, MD @ Royal Farms Arena
March 26 – Buffalo, NY @ KeyBank Center
March 31 – Boston, MA @ TD Garden
April 5 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center