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Fleetwood Mac Halts Airplay

New album released early due to radio leaks

Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, rolling stone archive, old, photo

Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac performs on stage circa 1979 in New York.

Michael Putland/Getty

Only a dozen days before the scheduled release of Fleetwood Mac‘s Tusk, copies of the long-awaited album were leaked on RKO radio stations in seven major markets. Warner Bros, the group’s label, immediately obtained preliminary injunctions to halt further airplay. But Warners officials remained mystified as to the source of the leaked album – which aired October 3rd in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, San Francisco, Chicago and Memphis – since, as one spokesman said, “there were no test pressings or tapes in general circulation.”

RKO officials had no comment about the leak beyond the statement: “We will observe the injunction.” By that point, though, the damage had been done – so many poor-quality tapes of the album began showing up that Warners decided to rush-release the actual Tusk (which had been due out October 15th) to radio stations on October 8th. As the Warners spokesman observed, “The bootlegs made Fleetwood Mac sound like some kind of garage band.” At press time, Warner Bros, was still contemplating further legal action against RKO.

This is a story from the November 15th, 1979 issue of Rolling Stone.


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