Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Ultimate Ex-Files. 35 Years On... by James Nuttall

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the release of one of the greatest albums in the history of rock. 

When Fleetwood Mac released Rumours in 1977, they could hardly imagine the phenomenon it would become.  

The Mac has had 18 different members in it's time. By 1977, its 10th year as a group, it had already featured 12 members. 

In 1975 guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and his singer/songwriter girlfriend, Stevie Nicks, were added to the line up that included drummer Mick Fleetwood, bass player John McVie and his then wife, keyboard player Christine. 

Their first album, Fleetwood Mac hit the number one spot on the Billboard charts, and scored three hit singles, including Nicks' now signature song, Rhiannon.

By the time they got into recording the album Rumours in Sausilito the band's personal lives collectively broke down under the glare of the press.  Stevie dumped Lindsey; Christine began an affair with the bands lighting director and divorced John; Mick's wife left him after affairs on both sides, including a brief affair with Stevie in between her relationship with Don Henley of The Eagles.

Sprinkle this situation heavily with cocaine and it made for one long year of intense recording. Producer Richard Dashut recalled the recording of Rumours as "...lengthy moments of boredom, punctuated with moments of sheer terror." 

However, at the same time their personal lives hit rock bottom, their songwriting abilities peaked. Nick's composition Dreams, which was her way of exiting her relationship with Buckingham, became the bands only number one single in America. 

Buckingham, on the other hand, left the relationship with the bittersweet Go Your Own Way, which has recently become a favourite with Guitar Heroes everywhere.

Christine's Don't Stop was her way of parting on good terms with John. In 1992 it would be used by Bill Clinton for his inauguration, and be the instigator of the first performance by lineup in 10 years, although the world would have to wait another five years to see an official reunion

Another single composed by McVie, You Make Loving Fun, was her opportunity to tell her lighting director that he did just that. 

Top this off with Nicks' cocaine fueled Gold Dust Woman; Buckinghams' foot-stomping Second Hand News, contrasted with his melodic Never Going Back Again; John McVie's killer bass solo on the anthem The Chain and McVie's piano ballad Songbird, you have an album that would stay at the top of the charts for eight months in the US, and sell 200,000 copies a day. It also went to number one in the UK, Australia, Germany, Canada, Netherlands, South Africa and New Zeland. 

Today, Rumours has sold 27,008,000 worldwide, been certified 19x platinum in the US and 11x platinum in the UK. 

Despite Christine McVie leaving in 1997, the Mac is still going. The latest reunion was in 2009 for a greatest hits world tour, and there is talk for another reunion next year... assuming they're still on speaking terms...