explainer

Inside the incestuous affairs that nearly destroyed Fleetwood Mac.

In case you haven’t heard, the inimitable Fleetwood Mac have just announced an Australian tour, and people are rightfully excited to see the legendary band play.

But while Fleetwood Mac’s music has inspired, comforted and captivated people for almost five decades, it’s easy to forget the tumultuous and downright crazy sh*t that was going on behind the scenes.

Namely, the fact they spent a heck of a lot of time on cocaine, and they’ve all been embroiled in some sort of scandalous love affair, usually with each other.

The somewhat incestuous affairs of the band members were at their peak when they spent 11 months recording the 1977 album Rumours, which is still one of the most successful records of all time. Mick Fleetwood has admitted recording Rumours, “almost killed us”.

(Fun fact: Bass guitarist John McVie came up with the title of the album because there were so many wild stories circulating about their affairs.)

Band members have chopped and changed over the years, but the ‘classic line-up’ i.e. the line-up who recorded ‘Rumours’ consisted of vocalist Stevie Nicks, guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham, drummer Mick Fleetwood, keyboard player and vocalist Christine McVie and bass guitarist John McVie.

Fleetwood Mac
John McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham

Even they admit it’s a miracle that they’re a) Still alive and b) Still playing together today. (Apart from Lindsey Buckingham, but more on him later.)

Some seriously explosive details have come out of autobiographies and interviews over the years and honestly, it’s still such a lot to unpack. But we’ll give it a good go.

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

Stevie Nicks joined the band in 1975, bringing her ethereal beauty and distinct vocals, not to mention her incredible talent for songwriting. She was brought into the band by then-boyfriend and equally-talented vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, Lindsey Buckingham, who said they came as a package deal. 

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By the time they started to record Rumours, the relationship had broken down. Which must’ve been incredibly awkward living in such close quarters...

Many of the lyrics from the hit songs we know and love are Nicks and Buckingham taking swipes at each other.

Buckingham wrote 'Second Hand News', 'Never Going Back Again' and 'Go Your Own Way' about Nicks who duly responded with 'Dreams'.

Nicks says she was particularly insulted by a lyric in 'Go Your Own Way' which she's continually had to perform during her career, telling Rolling Stone: "I very much resented him telling the world that 'packing up, shacking up' with different men was all I wanted to do. He knew it wasn't true. It was just an angry thing he said.

“Every time those words would come out onstage, I wanted to go over and kill him. He knew it, so he really pushed my buttons through that."

Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood.

Stevie Nicks then fell madly in love with founding band member Mick Fleetwood, two years after she joined the band, which just so happened to be while she was dating the Eagles' Don Henley in 1977. Fleetwood was still married to model Jenny Boyd at the time.

Nicks still calls Fleetwood one of her “great great loves” but has also said their relationship was “a doomed thing and caused a lot of pain to everybody”.

 

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A post shared by Mick Fleetwood (@mickfleetwoodofficial) on

When Fleetwood told Lindsey Buckingham he and Nicks were together, he reportedly said: “Nice of you to tell me. I appreciate it.”

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Fleetwood's marriage finally broke down with Jenny Boyd in 1978. To really confuse things, Jenny previously also had an affair with former Fleetwood Mac member and Fleetwood's former best friend, Bob Weston.

After his marriage breakdown, Fleetwood then embarked on a relationship with one of Nicks' best friends, Sara Recor.

Are you keeping up?

Nicks recalled the hurt she felt recording the 1979 double album Tusk as the affair broke to the Independent:

"Well, here's a big one for ya. I had started to see Mick Fleetwood romantically. I had a very dear friend whose name was Sara [Recor] who just went after Mick. And they fell in love, and the next thing, Sara's husband is calling me to say 'Sara moved in with Mick this morning. And I just thought you might wanna know.'

"That was three months into a 13-month album. So I lost Mick, which honestly wasn't that big of a deal because that was a rocky relationship. But losing my friend Sara? That was a huge blow. Sara was banished from the studio by the rest of the band... No one was speaking, and I wouldn't even look directly at Mick. That went on for months. And it was great fodder for writing! The songs poured out of us."

Fleetwood and Recor eventually wed and the marriage lasted seven years.

Fleetwood Mac
As they were: The 'classic' line-up of Fleetwood Mac.

Christine and John McVie.

“About the only people in the band who haven’t had an affair are me and Lindsey,” John McVie once joked.

Christine McVie began an affair with Martin Birch, Fleetwood Mac's married sound engineer in 1973. The band then got rid of Birch (and Bob Weston, the aforementioned Fleetwood Mac guitarist who’d been having an affair with Fleetwood’s wife).

By the time the band went into the studio to record Rumours, the McVies, though still legally married, weren’t even speaking to each other.

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“We literally didn’t talk, other than to say, ‘What key is this song in?’” Christine later told Uncut. “We were as cold as ice to each other because John found it easier that way.”

The pair officially split after seven years of marriage.

Christine started a relationship with the band’s lighting director, Curry Grant, which they've all admitted caused mega tension for the whole group. 

Now John McVie talks candidly about his struggles with alcohol at the time and how he doesn't blame Christine for leaving him.

 

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The gangs all here :) #TBT

A post shared by Christine McVie (@christinemcvieofficial) on

Who did Fleetwood Mac members marry?

Stevie Nicks briefly married Kim Anderson, widower of her best friend Robin Snyder in 1983. Snyder's baby Matthew had been born two days before she died of leukaemia. Three months later, Nicks and Anderson were married. They split a few months later with Nicks saying she felt Snyder's presence in the nursery.

Mick Fleetwood married his third wife Lynn Frankel in 1995 and they share twin 17-year-old daughters, Ruby and Tessa. They split in 2013.

John McVie has been married to Julie Ann Reubens since 1978.

Christine McVie married fellow keyboard player Eddy Quintela in 1986 but they got divorced in 2003.

Lindsey Buckingham has been married to Kristen Messner since 2000. The pair share three children. Buckingham recently won a lawsuit against his former bandmates after he was kicked out the band in 2018.

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