In a little over a week, Fleetwood Mac will begin yet another chapter in their tumultuous saga when they launch a U.S. tour without Lindsey Buckingham. Handling his guitar parts will be Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and taking on his vocals will be Neil Finn of Crowded House. The group has been unwilling to explain in any detail why Buckingham left the band, though Stevie Nicks did say that he was unwilling to commit to a tour in a timetable that agreed with everyone else.
“Not to hedge around, but we arrived at the impasse of hitting a brick wall,” drummer Mick Fleetwood told Rolling Stone. “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.”
The thought of watching Fleetwood Mac play songs like “Go Your Own Way” and “Tusk” without Lindsey Buckingham may be a bit weird for some fans, but it is not without precedent. He left the group for the first time in 1987 and was replaced by Billy Burnette and Rick Vito. That lineup went into the studio to record Behind the Mask, which they supported with a world tour. Here’s video of them playing “Go Your Own Way” at a Gainesville, Florida, tour stop. The video quality is far from great, but it gives you a pretty idea of what the show looked and sounded like.
Lindsey Buckingham made a surprise appearance a couple of times during the tour, but don’t expect that to happen this time around. He has yet to say much about the parting of ways, but it’s pretty clear they aren’t on very good terms right now. “They’ve lost their perspective,” Buckingham told the audience at a California political fundraiser in May. “What that did was to harm — and this is the only thing I’m really sad about, the rest of it becomes an opportunity — it harmed the 43-year legacy that we had worked so hard to build, and that legacy was really about rising above difficulties in order to fulfill one’s higher truth and one’s higher destiny.”
The Buckingham-free Fleetwood Mac split further apart after the 1990 tour when Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie quit the band. When they went out the next time with replacement singers, they found themselves in the humiliating position of opening up for REO Speedwagon, but in 1996 the complete Rumours lineup returned for a highly lucrative reunion tour. If the band has proven one thing over the years, it’s that no separation is ever permanent.