Flashback: Fleetwood Mac's 'Chain' Starts to Dissolve in 1987 - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Chain’ Starts to Dissolve in 1987

Watch guitarists Billy Burnette and Rick Vito sub in for Lindsey Buckingham

Fleetwood Mac’s 1987 world tour should have been a triumphant victory lap. The group was one of the few mega bands of the 1970s that continued to thrive in the MTV era, and their newest album Tango in the Night produced the huge singles “Big Love,” “Seven Wonders” and “Little Lies.” This was still, however, a band consisting entirely of volatile ex-couples and it surprised virtually nobody when guitarist Lindsey Buckingham quit before the tour began.

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The Mac had a fluid lineup from day one and they weren’t about to let Buckingham’s departure put an end to everything. They recruited guitarists Billy Burnette and Rick Vito to fill in for Buckingham. They hit arenas all across America, focusing the show around their large catalog of hits, often playing six tracks from Rumours. Cameras were rolling when they played San Francisco’s Cow Palace on December 12th, 1987. Here is “The Chain” from that gig. You can see Vito and Burnette doing their very best to fill Buckingham’s shoes, though the notion that some invisible chain was holding the band together at that point seems a little absurd. 

This lineup of Fleetwood Mac came together in the studio a couple years later to record Behind the Mask, but the disc was a disappointment and Stevie Nicks quit after the tour wrapped. In retrospect, this was a good career move for everyone involved since it paved the way for a reunion tour in 1997. They’ve only managed to produce a single studio album in the past two decades, but later this year they’re touring with Christine McVie for the first time in over 15 years and tickets are selling like crazy. The chain that holds them together now is made out of ludicrous sums of money. 


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