According to a new lawsuit filed by former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks wasn’t content to have the last laugh by forcing him to play “Silver Springs” with her on a nightly basis — she also allegedly forced him out of the band, causing him to lose an estimated $12 million in touring fees this year.
Band members have come in and out of Fleetwood Mac since the 1970s, when Buckingham and Nicks first joined Mick Fleetwood, and Christine McVie and John McVie as the core group to record the groundbreaking album “Rumours.” Buckingham and Nicks’ infamous relationship — fueled by rampant cocaine use, cheating with other band members, and alleged physical and emotional abuse — ended in the 1970s, but their animus lived on for decades in a series of breakup songs they each wrote and made the other play onstage.
And they seemed content with that for a while, at least until Buckingham received a call in January, which he detailed in a Rolling Stone interview out this month. According to Buckingham, when he asked who was on the phone and what was going on, Fleetwood Mac’s manager Irving Azoff reportedly told him he was never going back again on tour with the Mac, because “Stevie never wants to be on a stage with you again.”
In the suit filed in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Buckingham sued the remaining members of the band for a number of claims including breach of fiduciary duty, breach of oral contract, and not answering his phone calls and texts.
“After 43 years of camaraderie and friendship, not a single member of the Band called Buckingham to break the news to him,” the lawsuit states. “In fact, not a single member of Fleetwood Mac has returned any of Buckingham’s calls to provide him with an explanation for his purported expulsion from Fleetwood Mac.”
It’s not clear what exactly prompted the band to send Buckingham on his own way — despite the rumours, the band has said only that they never meant any harm to him but had reached “an impasse” with Buckingham because he wanted his freedom to promote his solo album on nights when the band wasn’t touring. (According to his complaint, the band agreed not to play more than three nights a week on tour “at the insistence of Nicks,” prompting Buckingham to request either a delay in their start date or time to play solo shows on their off-nights.) But Buckingham says his landslide of requests brought him down: In the days after Nicks was informed of his desire to do solo shows alongside the Mac tour, Buckingham says, he was first told the tour was canceled and then summarily fired two weeks later.
Buckingham insists he made clear that he’d be happy to drop the solo efforts and give the band his world, but they wouldn’t take it from him.
During that time, Buckingham says, he didn’t stop thinking about tomorrow and repeatedly texted the other members to see if the child in their heart would rise above, but the band had already broken the chain, and he received “only two cryptic written responses.” In a February email to Fleetwood outlining his contributions to the band and highlighting that lightning struck for them once, when he first joined them in the 1970s, and maybe twice when he came back in 1997, Buckingham concluded by saying that he loved them. “No matter what, I love you all,” Buckingham wrote, though he also says in the filing that maybe loving them wasn’t the right thing to do: the email, like his other missives, went unreturned, prompting the suit.
As a result, Buckingham said, what he had and what he lost came to about $12 million in the band’s 2018 North American tour profits, plus whatever would come from the 60-city tour’s likely extension to Europe.
Will he ever win in court? The lawsuit seems to hinge on whether a judge would find the band, which Buckingham says never had a written agreement, comprised a partnership, which, under California law, would require a finding of cause before he could be fired.
“And I don’t think there was ever anything that was just cause to be fired. We have all done things that were not constructive,” Buckingham told Rolling Stone. “All of us have worn on each other’s psyches at times. That’s the history of the group.”
But Buckingham told Rolling Stone he doesn’t care about being part of the group anymore — just the lost profits — saying the memory is all that is left for him now. Turns out Fleetwood Mac guitar players really only do love you when they’re playing.
Cover: Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac attends MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Fleetwood Mac at Radio City Music Hall in New York on January 26, 2018. (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)