FLEETWOOD MAC on March 3, 2009 in St. Paul, MN at the Xcel Energy Center. Left to right: John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood. Source: Weatherman90, Wikimedia Commons.

Learn about one of the greatest selling bands: Fleetwood Mac

What are they famous for?

Fleetwood Mac are famous for being a British-American rock band who first formed in London in 1967. Fleetwood Mac is one of the best-selling bands in history, they have sold more than 120 million records across the globe. Many of the members of the band have been inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame.

The band initially consisted of guitarist Peter Green, drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie and guitarist Jeremy Spencer. Christine Perfect, the later wife of McVie was a Keyboardist for the band. Most of the original guitarists returned and were replaced by Bob Welch, Bob Weston and vocalist Dave Walker. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks later joined the band. .

Career Beginnings

Group advertising photograph of Fleetwood Mac for their album Rumours. From left to right: Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Source: Warner Bros. Records, Billboard, 25 June 1977, p. 86, Wikimedia Commons.

Fleetwood Mac was first formed in 1967 after Peter Green left the blues band John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. He had been in two bands in the past with Mick Fleetwood and decided to form a new band with Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and John Mayall, they recorded five songs together before Green suggested forming the band Fleetwood Mac, which they named to encourage McVie to play bassist however he refused so they teamed up with Jeremy Spencer and Bob Brunning. However Bob Brunning was only with the band for a short time until John McVie joined. The band released a self-titled debut album in 1968. The album reached number four on the UK charts. They later released the singles ‘Black Magic Woman’ and ‘Need Your Love So Bad’.

The band released their second album ‘Mr.Wonderful’ the following year. Following the release of their second album the band added the guitarist, Danny Kirwan to their line-up. Shortly after the band released their first number one single in the UK, ‘Albatross’. The band came out with a compilation album ‘English Rose’ and followed up with another compilation album titled ‘The Pious Bird Of Good Omen’.

Fleetwood Mac Mr Wonderful
Mr. Wonderful (Fleetwood Mac album)

The band began touring the US in 1969 and recorded a Blues album along the way. Shortly after they signed with Immediate Records and released the hit single ‘Man of the World’. They also recorded the song ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite’. The band went look for a new record deal and eventually settled on Warner Bros. Records. The band released their third album ‘Then Play On’ in 1969. By 1970 Peter Green was dabbling in LSD and had a bad acid trip, he was never the same again and his mental stability quickly deteriorated.

The band released their fourth album ‘Kiln House’ in 1970. The band released the single ‘Dragonfly’ with Christine Perfect now in the band. The band released their fifth compilation album ‘The Original Fleetwood Mac’ which included a number of previously unreleased songs. In 1971 Jeremy Spencer said he was going to get a magazine in 1971 and never returned. He joined a religious group and did not come back to the bad. The band asked Peter Green to step in to replace Jeremy Spencer.

Fleetwood Mac Kilnhouse
This is the front cover for the album Kiln House by the artist Fleetwood Mac.

In 1971 the band began auditioning for a new guitarist. They ended up choosing Bob Welch who played with the band on their fifth album ‘Future Games’. The band released their sixth studio album ‘Bare Trees’ six months later. By 1972 Danny Kirwan developed an alcohol dependency and he was fired after an incident where he smashed a guitar and refused to go onstage. The line-up changed regularly for a period of time whilst the band was developing their seventh studio album ‘Penguin’.

The band’s eight album was released six months later, titled ‘Mystery to Me’ the album contained the track ‘Hypnotized’ which received a lot of airplay on the radio. Around this time personal issues within the band where starting to emerge, including the breakdown of McVies marriage because of McVie’s alcohol abuse. Whilst touring in 1973, Weston had an affair with Fleetwood’s wife.  When it was discovered Fleetwood couldn’t continue on with the tour and Weston was fired. The tour was cancelled and some of the team were told that the band was splitting up. The band was legally obligated to tour and their manager Clifford Davis was facing potential multi-million dollar lawsuits. In desperation Davis asked a number of other musicians to tour under the name Fleetwood Mac. Fans enjoyed the tour at first until it was discovered that the band wasn’t the real Fleetwood Mac, the lawsuits over the ownership of the band’s name then kept the band out of the studio for almost a year.

Career Breakthrough

Fleetwood Mac Peter Green
Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green. Source: W.W.Thaler – H. Weber, Hildesheim, Wikimedia Commons.

In 1974 the band signed a new contract with Warner Bros. and released their ninth studio album ‘Heroes Are Hard To Find’. For a short period of time Bob Wlech joined the band but he did not prove to be a long term addition. After he left the band they began looking for a replacement member. During their search, Keith Olsen played Fleetwood a track by Lindsey Buckingam who Fleetwood was introduced to. He asked him to join and Buckingham agreed on the condition that his girlfriend Stevie Nicks would also join.

In 1975 the band released their tenth studio album, which reached number one in the US. There were a number of hit singles on the album including ‘Over My Head’, ‘Say You Love Me’ and ‘Rhiannon’. In 1976 the band was suffering from the personal issues of its members due to the end of John and Christine’s marriage and the breakdown of Buckingham and Nick’s relationship. Fleetwood was also divorcing his wife, Jenny. The group were under pressure to release a new album and were suffering from drug and alcohol related issues.

The band released their eleventh studio album, ‘Rumours’ in 1977 the album was a success and won a Grammy Award for album of the year. The album included the top ten singles, ‘Go Your Own Way’, ‘Dreams’, ‘Don’t Stop’, ‘You Make Loving Fun’, the song ‘Second Hand News’, ‘Gold Dust Woman’ and ‘The Chain’ were also popular on the radio. The album sold more than 40 million copies around the world and was certified diamond. The album is one of the world’s best-selling albums and was promoted by a popular worldwide tour.

The bands next album ‘Tusk’ was more experimental. The album was released in 1979 and included the hit singles ‘Tusk’, ‘Think About Me’ and ‘Sara’. The album only sold four million copies worldwide which was blamed on the album being played in its entirety on the radio which allowed for it to be taped at home. The band went on an 11 month worldwide tour to promote the album and recorded music for a live album during the tour.

Their thirteenth album ‘Mirage’ was released in 1982. The albums contained the hit songs ‘Hold Me’, ‘Love In Store’, ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Oh Diane’. The band went on a short North American tour and then went on hiatus so that band members could pursue solo careers. The band recorded their fourteenth album ‘Tango in the Night’ following their hiatus, it was released in 1987. It contained the hit songs ‘Little Lies’, ‘Everywhere’, ‘Seven Wonders’ and ‘Big Love’.

Continuing Career

Fleetwood Mac continuining career
Source: Steffane Lui, Wikimedia Commons.

The band had a ten week tour schedule but the pressure was mounting and after a physical altercation between Buckingham and Nick’s, he left the band. The band released a Greatest Hits album in 1988. In 1990 they released the album ‘Behind the Mask’ which received mixed responses. During the tour for the album, Stevie Nicks decided she would leave the band.

Buckingham, Nicks, the McVie’s and Fleetwood reunited in 1993 for the Inaugural Ball for Bill Clinton. The band released the album ‘Time’ in 1995, the album made no impact in the US. The band reformed again in 1997 and created the live album ‘The Dance’. The album was highly successful and the band toured throughout much of 1995.

The band released the album ‘Say You Will’ in 2003; it debuted at number three on the charts and included the hit ‘Peacekeeper’.

The band reunited again for a tour in 2009 and they released the song ‘New Orleans’. In 2012 the band confirmed they would be touring again in 2013. They premiered the song ‘Sad Angel’ during their 34 city tour. In 2014 it was confirmed that Christine McVie would be rejoining the band. Buckingham left the band after a disagreement about an upcoming tour. The band officially embarked on their ‘An Evening With Fleetwood Mac’ tour began in 2018.

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