Late last week, the shocking news arrived that Lindsey Buckingham had undergone emergency heart surgery that caused damage to his vocal cords. “He is now recuperating at home and each day he is stronger than the last,” his wife Kristen Buckingham said in a statement. “While it is unclear if this damage is permanent, we are hopeful it is not.”
The health scare came almost exactly a year after he learned that Fleetwood Mac had thrown him out of the band after Stevie Nicks said she could no longer work with him. They replaced him on the road with Crowded House’s Neil Finn and Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He sued the band over the termination and they reached a settlement outside of court. “The past year has been a very stressful and difficult year for our family to say the least,” Kristen said after Buckingham’s heart surgery. “But despite all this, our gratitude for life trumps all obstacles we have faced at the moment. We feel fortunate he’s alive.”
The last time that Lindsey Buckingham played with Fleetwood Mac was January 26th, 2018, when they were honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year. They played a short set that included “The Chain,” “Little Lies,” “Tusk,” “Gold Dust Woman” and “Go Your Own Way” and things seemed OK from the audience, but there was a behind-the-scenes battle when Buckingham objected to the use of “Rhiannon” as their intro music. Nicks was also enraged when he smirked during her long speech.
“The irony is that we have this standing joke that Stevie, when she talks, goes on for a long time,” Buckingham told Rolling Stone in October. “I may or may not have smirked. But I look over and Christine [McVie] and Mick [Fleetwood] are doing the waltz behind her as a joke.” (Video evidence backs him up on this.)
Nicks has yet to explain her side of the story in any detail, but the Radio City set remains the last time the classic Rumours lineup played together. Here’s video of them doing “The Chain” from the show with Harry Styles. This audience-shot video was obviously created by a Styles fan since he’s often the only one even visible in the frame and there’s a frenzied scream of “Harry’s on stage with them!” throughout the whole thing, but it’s the best version that’s available on YouTube right now.
Buckingham has put all of his solo dates on hold as he continues to recover from the heart surgery and the Fleetwood Mac tour is plugging away with dates on the books through late September. What happens after that is anyone’s guess. This health episode may inspire Nicks to make peace with Buckingham and set the stage for a reunion tour a couple of years down the line. And even if his voice was permanently damaged from the surgery, few fans will care just as long as he’s back on that stage where he belongs.