Fleetwood Mac has seen it all and set the bar for many of their successors. Forming in London in 1967, the band has undergone numerous changes in both its members and music direction throughout the decades. In total, the band has sold over 100 million records and selected members have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But although Fleetwood Mac has become a household name, there are countless stories and rumors about the band that are not as well-known as their albums. From scandalous affairs to life-changing psychedelic trips, discover the lesser-known history and facts of the band that helped to define a generation.
"Black Magic Woman" Was Originally A Fleetwood Mac Song
Contrary to popular belief, the track "Black Magic Woman" isn't a Santana original, but instead a Fleetwood Mac single written by Peter Green and released in 1968. Although the song was not as popular as Santana's version, it still peaked at No. 32 on the UK British Singles Chart.
It was featured in Fleetwood Mac live setlists even after Green had left the band (it was often sung by Danny Kirwan instead). During the 1970s, it laid the foundation for long mid-concert jam band sessions and is rumored to have evolved out of Green's other song "I Loved Another Woman."
Peter Green Left For "Religious" Reasons
Peter Green was one of the original founders of Fleetwood Mac. He along, with Mick Fleetwood, were originally part of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers until they decided to split and create Fleetwood Mac which Mayall eventually joined as well. Over time, band members came and went until the band had their first commercial album success Then Play On.
However, only a few month after its release, Green ended up leaving the band. On his leaving he told Rolling Stone, I want to lead a freer and more selfless life along Christian principles." A lot of people, as well as other Fleetwood Mac band members, believe that this decision had something to do with substances taken at a party in Munich, Germany that may have sparked a mental illness.
The Inspiration Behind "Gypsy"
The song "Gypsy" was written by Stevie Nicks and was inspired by the lifestyle that she lived before she became the rock star that she is now. More specifically, it was a song about when she and Lindsey Buckingham slept on a single mattress on the floor together. She remembered that the mattress was decorated in lace, with a vase and flower next to it.
In an interview, she said that whenever she felt her fame get to her in a negative way, she would humble herself by taking her mattress off the frame and sleeping with it directly on the floor. She would even decorate it with some lace and paper flowers too.
Jeremy Spencer Left Suddenly Too
In 1971, founding member Jeremy Spencer was nowhere to be found before a show at the Whiskey a Go-Go in Los Angeles. He wasn't found until days after the show. Upon discovery, they learned that he had joined the Children of God cult and refused to rejoin the band. This put the band in a serious situation since Spencer was one of the lead frontmen of the group.
One of the other founding members, Jeremy Green, came back and substituted in Spencer's place, but refused to play anything except extended jams and often insulted the audience which wasn't the biggest help.
Danny Kirwan Went Off The Deep End
Clearly, Fleetwood Mac had some trouble keeping their band members. Danny Kirwan is yet another member that had to step away from the band for personal reasons. Kirwan unexpectedly quit Fleetwood Mac and the music industry altogether after having an episode before a show.
While tuning their instruments, he wildly ran offstage to the bathroom where he smashed his head into the wall before breaking his guitar. Other members attribute this breakdown and his later struggles with mental illness to the same event that resulted in Peter Green leaving the band.
"The Chain" Was The Only Song With Full Band Credit
The group's track "The Chain" was the only song credited to all five members of the original Fleetwood Mac lineup. It was created by merging three songs together written by all members of the group. The songs were: "Lola (My Love)," which is a Buckingham and Nicks outtake written by Buckingham, the unfinished track "Keep Me There" written by Christine McVie, and song the song melody developed by John McVie and Mick Fleetwood.
There is also a Stevie Nicks acoustic version of the song that has the same chorus but is otherwise an almost entirely completely different song.
Buckingham & Nicks
Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were recruited into Fleetwood Mac by chance. Mick Fleetwood visited the Sound City recording studio where Buckingham and Nicks were recording a duet album. He asked the studio owner Ken Olson to hear the most recent album recorded there.
Olson put on "Frozen Love," a sample for their album, and Fleetwood found Buckingham's playing to be incredible. When he asked Buckingham to join Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham denied the offer unless Nicks could join too, and the rest is history.
There Was A "Fake" Fleetwood Mac Tour
In 1974, after one of the first major splits in the band caused by internal troubles with the band, a fake Fleetwood Mac appeared after Fleetwood Mac manager Clifford David claimed ownership of the band name. After John McVie and Bob Welch quit the band, a new group appeared that went out to fulfill the tour obligations, promising that Fleetwood and Christine McVie would be joining the rest of the band in a few weeks.
However, after a few shows, road manager John Courage figured out what was going on and quit. He also hid all of their equipment so they couldn't perform as Fleetwood Mac. The fake group then went on to form a band called Stretch.
The Lineup We All Know And Love
The "classic" lineup of Fleetwood Mac was actually the tenth lineup. It contained Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Lindsay Buckingham, and Christine and John McVie. Although there had been many other variations of the band before this point, it was this group that was by far the most successful and solid of all the other combinations.
This group came out with five studio albums between 1976 and 1987 and reunited for Dreams in 1997. For the most part, this lineup is still together except for Christine McVie who retired from music.
Your Parents Probably Have A Copy Of Rumors
It's been estimated that more than one in every six households in the United States owns a copy of the Fleetwood Mac album Rumors. It is the eleventh studio album by the band and was released in February 1977. It reached the top of the Billboard charts in the United States and the United Kingdom Albums Chart.
It was their most successful release and won Album of the Year at the 1978 Grammys. It sold over 40 million copies and is one of the best-selling albums of all time. Rumors also went on to receive diamond certifications in several different countries.
Rumors Was Recorded During A Time Of Turmoil
Although Rumors was and is still one of the most successful records of all time, that doesn't mean it was the result of perfect harmony within the band. On the contrary, the album was recorded during a period of serious tension.
The friendship between Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks was turning sour, Christine McVie was breaking up with John for a lighting director, and Mick Fleetwood was scrambling to pick up the pieces while in the process if a divorce with his wife. It looks like they all used this energy to put out the album that defined them as a band.
Christine McVie Was Not Impressed With "Dreams"
Originally, Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie didn't like the first draft of Stevie Nicks song "Dreams," which turned out to be the band's biggest hit. In an interview with Q, in 1997, McVie admitted that "When Stevie played it for me on the piano, it was just three chords and one note in the left hand...I thought this is really boring."
However, Lindsay Buckingham came to the rescue and spruced up the song by making it seems as though there's a connecting theme throughout the entire song. The track went on reach the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and sold over 1 million copies.
"Landslide" Had A Late Start
Fleetwood Mac's hit "Landslide" was surprisingly never released as a single, and its popularity can mostly be attributed to The Smashing Pumpkins who covered in on their 1994 compilation Pisces Iscariot. After the Pumpkin's cover achieved radio success, Fleetwood Mac then decided to bring the song back when they recorded their reunion live album The Dance in 1997.
This time, the song was released as a single on the album and became recognized as a Fleetwood Mac hit. The song is incredibly popular today and has been covered numerous other times by bands such as the Dixie Chicks as well as the television show Glee.
One Of Nicks' Songs Got Dropped From Rumors
Before the release of their hit album Rumors, Stevie Nicks' ballad "Silver Springs" was dropped from the album because there wasn't enough space on the LP and the rest of the band felt it didn't mesh with the other songs. Instead, it was used on the B-sides for their album Go On Your Way.
This didn't sit well with Nicks who was offended by the band's disdain for her song. it also didn't help that they prevented her from releasing it on any of her own solo albums either. However, the song eventually became a hit when they re-released in The Dance in 1997.
Tusk Was Unsuccessful Compared to Rumors
After their smashing success with the album Rumors, the band released the album Tusk which did not do anywhere near as well as the previous album. This is partly because the album had no discernable singles to hype up the album and was priced higher than most other albums being released at the time for a steep $15.99 for the double vinyl set.
It was also played all the way through on the Westwood One radio network so sneaky fans just taped the airing instead of spending their money on the vinyl. However, it's still recognized as a classic Fleetwood Mac album today.
Fleetwood Mac Struggled In The Mid-'90s
During the mid-1990s, both Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks had left the band. With two of the key figures of the band gone, Christine McVie refused to tour. So, Fleetwood and McVie attempted to keep the band alive by playing gigs with artists such as Billy Burnette, Dave Mason, Steve Thoma, and Bekka Bramlett.
However, looking from the outside in, Buckingham recalls it being depressing when he saw that Fleetwood and McVie were playing as the middle act for a Pat Benatar and REO Speedwagon tour. Buckingham recalls that it looked a little desperate on their part and was hard to watch.
Stevie Nicks Was Accused Of Plagiarism
At one point, Stevie Nicks was sued for plagiarism over her song "Sara." Songwriter Carol Hilton had claimed that "Sara" was a rip off of a song that she had submitted to Warner Brothers before Nicks had. However, she backed out of the lawsuit after Nicks proved that she did not plagiarize and had a demo of the track from months earlier.
The song "Sara" was about Nicks' best friend Sara Recor, who became involved with Mick Fleetwood and eventually married him, even though Stevie and Fleetwood were romantically involved at one point and whom she had cared greatly about.
The Truth Behind "You Make Loving Fun"
The song "You Make Loving Fun" is a song written and sung by Christine McVie and was released on rumors in 1977 and peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. Although it may not completely clear, the song is inspired by McVie's affair with one of the band's lighting directors, Curry Grant.
In order to cover up any suspicion, she told her husband, John McVie, that the song was about her dog. Of course, John later found out what it was really about which caused a rift in their relationship.