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Random Thoughts on Fleetwood Mac

The list would have to be pretty long for Fleetwood Mac to make my “favorite bands” list. I’ve always been lukewarm on their music at best. However, the (second) self-titled album Fleetwood Mac does have the distinction of being the first 8-track tape I ever owned.

You may be wondering what a 13-year-old kid would be doing with an 8-track deck in the first place and why he would choose to buy such a tape to start his collection. If that’s what you’re thinking, you’ve already assumed way too much. Not only did I not purchase Fleetwood Mac; I didn’t even have an 8-track deck to play it on.

It was Christmas season of 1975. I was out Christmas shopping or trying to sneak peeks at dirty magazines or whatever in downtown Jamestown, NY. It was cold and snowing. I ducked into Woolworth’s to call my mom for a ride. Back then, that required an actual phone booth. Much to my surprise, my phone booth contained a bag with a Fleetwood Mac 8-track in it. I’ve always been big on “finders keepers, losers weepers,” so of course anything in my phone booth belonged to me. That’s how I came to own my first 8-track.

I always assumed (correctly) that the band was named after Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. However, I eventually came to know that John McVie was not, in fact, a founding member. How could that possibly be? It turns out that Mick Fleetwood and co-founder Peter Green really wanted McVie to join the band and named the band Fleetwood Mac as an enticement. It worked, because McVie joined the band in time for its first self-titled album in 1968.

Between 1968 and 1974, Fleetwood Mac released 10 albums that you probably never heard of. They were primarily a blues band at the time. Then the band decided to recruit guitarist Lindsey Buckingham to spice things up a little. He agreed as long as he could bring his girlfriend Stevie along for the ride. And the rest, as they say, is history. Fleetwood Mac got a new pop sound, they hit #1 with their second self-titled album, and I got a free 8-track tape. I don’t think Lindsey Buckingham always gets the credit he deserves for turning Fleetwood Mac from a relatively obscure blues band into an international pop/rock powerhouse.

One last thing about Fleetwood Mac. In 1979, the recording industry was struggling. I don’t exactly remember why because I was only 17 at the time, but I remember the entire industry had pinned its hopes on the release of Tusk to turn things around. Tusk was released in October of 1979 and, as best I remember, did not save the record industry. But of course, the record industry was eventually saved – by lots of bands making lots of good music and lots of fans paying for that music.

Okay, that “one last thing” bit was a lie. This is really the one last thing. It kinda cracks me up that when the band finally gave Lindsey Buckingham the boot, they had to bring in two guys to replace him. That tells you everything you need to know about Buckingham’s contribution to the band.


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