Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter Lindsey Buckingham finds happiness later in life with solo career
Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter finds happiness later in life with solo career
By Stratton Lawrence Special to The Post and Courier | Wednesday, August 1, 2012
If you go
What: An Evening with Lindsey Buckingham
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: North Charleston Performing Arts Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive
Price: $35-$95; the $95 tickets include front-row seats and a meet-and-greet with Buckingham
For more info: www.northcharlestoncoliseumpac.com
For a man who has lived his life in the public eye, mixing work with pleasure, Lindsey Buckingham seems to have found the balance between music, love and family he’s been in search of for decades.
Raised in California’s Bay Area on a steady diet of folk music, Buckingham began recording with then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks in 1972, calling themselves Buckingham Nicks.
A self-taught guitar player who never uses a pick, Buckingham’s style soon caught the ear of drummer Mick Fleetwood, whose fledgling blues band Fleetwood Mac was in search of new energy.
Fleetwood invited Buckingham to join him and existing members John and Christine McVie (bass and keyboard, respectively), an invitation the guitarist accepted with the caveat that Nicks would have a place, as well.
The new quintet, which included the two couples plus Fleetwood, quickly recorded its self-titled debut; previous iterations of the group had already released nine albums since 1968, enjoying moderate success in the U.K. and in the United States.
It was the next effort, however, that elevated Fleetwood Mac to greatness.
“Rumours,” released in 1977, became one of the best-selling albums of all time on the strength of the single “Go Your Own Way,” a song by Buckingham. The record also turned the group into tabloid fodder, as the McVies, Buckingham and Nicks, and Mick Fleetwood underwent separations during the recording process.
The group soldiered on, following up “Rumours” with another Buckingham-led effort in 1979, “Tusk.”
And somewhere amid the nonstop touring, Fleetwood and Nicks allegedly became lovers, adding to the drama and intrigue among fans.
By the early ’80s, Buckingham and Nicks both began to pursue solo careers, reuniting long enough to record 1982’s “Mirage” and 1987’s “Tango in the Night,” before Buckingham called it quits to focus on his own recordings full-time.
In 1997, Buckingham made amends with his bandmates, rejoining them for an extensive tour dubbed “The Dance.”
Fleetwood Mac recorded a final album together in 2003, “Say You Will,” followed by intermittent touring until 2009. Nicks has since hinted that the band may reunite in 2013, but for now, she and Buckingham seem content to play the role of solo artists.
These days, in Buckingham’s case, he truly is all alone on stage.
For his current tour, which arrives Saturday in North Charleston, Buckingham will perform with no accompaniment, putting his intricate finger-style playing and emotional singing and vocalizations on full display.
For solo versions of songs like Fleetwood Mac’s “Big Love,” Buckingham relies on his wide singing range, even falling into chanting, guttural expressions that build the song to its dramatic climax.
Without any formal training, his trademark finger-style arpeggios flutter between rock, classical and folk, earning Buckingham the final spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists.
In interviews throughout his career, Buckingham has repeatedly explained his interest in performing as a solo act, despite the obvious monetary rewards of staying with Fleetwood Mac.
“It isn’t necessarily for the commerce, it’s for the growth,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program in September. “You cut off a certain number of people (playing by yourself), and that’s the trade-off.”
Buckingham says that “Tusk” is his favorite Fleetwood Mac album because it undermined the brand the group created with “Rumours,” even though that decision cost them the extra money they might have made from pursuing another hit like “Don’t Stop” and “Go Your Own Way.”
“As I’ve grown as an artist, I’ve gotten more and more in touch with my center, and that center is voice and guitar,” Buckingham writes on his personal website. “Over time, it has become increasingly vital to express more with less; that is my touchstone now, and the embodiment of that philosophy is largely represented in the new show. I’ve been thinking of doing this kind of tour for a while, and am quite excited to be doing something new, something outside my comfort zone.”
After his public breakup with Nicks, followed by a seven-year relationship with model Carol Ann Harris, Buckingham has now been married to wife Kristen Messner for 12 years. They have three children, ranging in age from 8 to 14.
He’s open about the role of newfound stability and balance helping him to discover true happiness later in life, far away from the dramatic and constant turns within Fleetwood Mac.
“The only way I’ve been able to keep my sanity is to pull back when I feel like its time to pull back,” Buckingham told PBS talk-show host Charlie Rose last year. “Without that time to regenerate my batteries, taking myself off the treadmill that was the mega-selling machine, that wouldn’t have happened. It’s very easy to confuse fame and success. I think of success as something that you have to keep cultivating as you would a garden, and keep thinking of it in the long term.”
Buckingham’s first solo album, 1981’s “Law and Order,” sparked an independent career that found its biggest success with the songs “Holiday Road” and “Dancing Across the USA,” recorded for 1983’s “National Lampoon’s Vacation” soundtrack.
His most recent release, 2011’s “Seeds We Sow,” is his sixth as a solo artist.
“There tends to be kind of a sense of ‘Where are things going in this crazy world?’ ”Buckingham said of the album’s lyrical content. “Then it’ll turn around and say, ‘Well, wait a minute. It all starts with me.’ Where are things going in my own crazy life, you know?”
Songs such as the title track and “In Our Own Time” deal with the struggle of “keeping in a groove with your personal life,” while “Stars are Crazy” examines the pain of lost opportunity in the past and present.
“If you’ve been hurt, if you’ve been betrayed, what’s important is that you just let things go,” Buckingham said.
For a man who has experienced the extreme highs of gratification in his creative pursuits and the lows of losing love in the public eye, Buckingham, at age 62, appears to be heeding his own advice and confidently stepping back into the spotlight on his own.