Just as thunder only happens when it’s raining, Lindsey Buckingham’s feud with Fleetwood Mac tends to only get stoked when the band’s former guitarist is the one speaking. Hmm! Ahead of Buckingham’s upcoming self-titled album, out September 17, the musician has been using a good chunk of his interviews to relitigate his 2018 firing from the band. It started with a New York Times profile, published on September 8, in which Buckingham claimed his only contact with Stevie Nicks since his firing was an email from her after his emergency triple bypass surgery, in early 2019. “I would like to think there’s a better way for us to finish up than we finished up: Not just for Fleetwood Mac and for the legacy, but just for the two of us,” he told the paper.
But that olive branch wasn’t a precursor of what was to come. The Los Angeles Times published its own profile later that day, in which Buckingham claimed Nicks told the band one of them would have to leave, after disagreements with Buckingham over tour rehearsals (he wanted time to release a solo album) and alleged mockery of her at a MusiCares event (she claimed he made faces during her speech). Buckingham went on to posit that Nicks harbored resentment over their late-’70s breakup, and saw his firing as a way to “cut herself loose” from performing with him and make Fleetwood Mac “more in the Stevie Nicks vein.” In a statement to the L.A. Times — her most significant comment on the firing since 2018 — Nicks confirmed the ultimatum but disputed the rest as “revisionist history.” “To be exceedingly clear, I did not have him fired, I did not ask for him to be fired, I did not demand he be fired,” Nicks said. “Frankly, I fired myself. I proactively removed myself from the band and a situation I considered to be toxic to my wellbeing. I was done. If the band went on without me, so be it.”
Buckingham’s reply? “You could do a whole analysis on Stevie at this point in her life and what she’s allowed to happen and what she’s allowed to slip away from her,” the musician told the L.A. Times, referencing “her creativity” and “the level of energy she once had onstage.” “I think that was hard for her, seeing me jump around in an age-inappropriate way,” he added. “Also, she’s lonely. She’s alone. She has the people who work for her, and I’m sure she has friends, but you know.” Buckingham didn’t mince words in his assessment of the post–Buckingham lineup, now rounded out by Crowded House’s Neil Finn and the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell, calling the current Fleetwood Mac “on the edge of being a cover band.”
And that’s not all! The L.A. Times profile proved to be a veritable landslide of shade, also featuring commentary on Buckingham’s former bandmates Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie, plus former manager Irving Azoff. Buckingham said he understood why his bandmates sided with Nicks, demurring, “I guess the singer has to stay.” He went on to claim Fleetwood has “never quite gotten to the point where he’s financially stable all the time,” implying that he was relying on the paycheck from the upcoming tour with Nicks. (Wonder how that quote’s going to affect their recent reconnection.) Buckingham claimed the same went for McVie, whom he alleged emailed him after his firing, “I’m really sorry that I didn’t stand up for you, but I just bought a house.”
Fleetwood and McVie didn’t comment to the L.A. Times, but Azoff did, refuting Buckingham’s claim that the manager “threw me under the bus” and “doesn’t need the money, but he’s still driven by the money.” Azoff told the paper, “I have historically declined comment on artists, but in the case of Lindsey Buckingham, I will make an exception,” and the statement only ratcheted up from there. “While I understand it’s challenging for Lindsey to accept his own role in these matters and far easier to blame a manager, the fact remains that his actions alone are responsible for what transpired,” with Azoff adding that Nicks’s side was “factual and truthful.” The manager continued that he thought he’d been “holding things together longer than I should have.” And the chaser? “While financial gain was not a motivator for me, it was a delightful bonus that the band scored their highest-grossing tour ever without Lindsey,” Azoff said.
But wait, there’s more! In a Rolling Stone profile, published September 9, Buckingham repeated many of his claims about Nicks and the band, with a few more zingers for good measure. For instance, he said of the recent Fleetwood Mac tour, “What this did was dishonor the legacy that we built.” He went on to compare the band to “Trump and the Republicans” — as in, Nicks is Trump and the other members are scared to stand up to her. Nicks gave an additional statement to Rolling Stone, repeating many of her claims to the L.A. Times, while adding a few more zingers of her own. “Following an exceedingly difficult time with Lindsey at MusiCares in New York, in 2018, I decided for myself that I was no longer willing to work with him,” she said. “I could publicly reflect on the many reasons why, and perhaps I will do that someday in a memoir, but suffice it to say we could start in 1968 and work up to 2018 with a litany of very precise reasons why I will not work with him.” We would like to read that memoir — but for now, these quotes will more than do.