Fleetwood Mac Mark III (Part Two) – Rumours

I had thought of just doing a two-part series on Big Mac. But Rumours is too impactful an album not to get a post of its own. So here we go.

“As Fleetwood Mac inched its way to the summit of the charts, our lives were snarled by disharmony and pain. In the year it took us to make our second album with the new lineup, the record that would change all our lives forever, we all got divorced. The whole band.

Chris and John’s seven-year marriage was already over by then. Stevie and Lindsey’s relationship, four years old, dissolved when Stevie walked out. And Jenny (Boyd)* and I … well, the story follows shortly.” Mick Fleetwood from his autobiography.Β 

I’ll save you the sordid details but suffice it to say that the Divine Ms. Boyd felt well and truly neglected by Mr. Fleetwood what with him effectively managing the band touring, rehearsing, etc. So she took the kids and headed back to the UK.

Wikipedia: “The pressure on Fleetwood Mac to release a successful follow-up album, combined with their new-found wealth, led to creative and personal tensions which were allegedly fueled by high consumption of drugs and alcohol.” (Heh. Dear Wikipedia. Musicians will use any fucking excuse to get high, good times or bad – ME.)

According to Mick, breaking up the band was not an option. This despite the fact that they had all fucked up their marriages and the people in the band had mostly all been in relationships with each other. They started recording the new album (working title Yesterday’s Gone) in early 1976 at the Record Plant n the nice little town of Sausalito, just north of San Francisco.

As to the recording process, one of the producers, Richard Dashut, had these insightful comments: “All I can say is that it was trial-by-ordeal, and the craziest period of our lives. We went four or five weeks without sleep (!), doing a lot of drugs. (Ah, the Seventies – ME.) I’m talking about cocaine in such quantities that at one point I thought was really going insane. The whole atmosphere was really tense, with arguments all the time and people storming in and out.

The workdays would drag on for eighteen to twenty hours, and eventually, the amount of cocaine began to do damage. … And yet – I turn on the radio today and they’re still playing that album. Our attitude is if that’s what it took so be it.”

The mix of musicians was interesting and not just because it was a rare British/American band. Buckingham knew more about making a good pop record while the Brits came from more of an improvisational blues background. But they were hardly newcomers. This was Mac’s eleventh studio album.

As to who exactly was running the show, well, according to Mick, “no one.” However control freak Lindsey always had strong opinions about how things should sound. So Mick, still very much the leader of the band, sat him down and said “You’re either in a band or you’re not.” I think Lindsey realized he had a better thing within the band than without so they resolved that as amicably as they could.

By that point in time, Fleetwood Mac had gone platinum and Mick had a good feeling about this new one. He figured it could sell eight or nine million. He was off just a bit as the album has now sold north of 40 million copies.

When the band listened to the recordings, they were “aghast at how awful they sounded.” They found another room to mix it in, overdubbed some stuff, and breathed new life into it. Meanwhile, the band went on tour and played with the likes of Jeff Beck and the Eagles. When they looked out at the crowd, every venue had girls dressed in Stevie’s stage costume of black chiffon dresses, top hats and, I suppose, heels. (Famously, Stevie is barely 5’1 inches or 155 centimeters.)

Finally, in February of 1977, the new album (now called Rumours due to all the ones floating around about the band) shipped. Fleetwood Mac was still selling, their back catalog was selling, the tour had been successful and the band was hot. So hot that they wound up on the cover of the Rolling Stone.

By the end of March ’77, the album had gone platinum (one million copies sold). One month. You couldn’t escape it. But it was a well-crafted pop-rock album with excellent songs.

Stevie Nicks wrote “Dreams” in early 1976 at the Record Plant. “One day when I wasn’t required in the main studio I took a Fender Rhodes and went into another studio that was said to belong to Sly Stone. It was a black-and-red room, with a sunken pit in the middle where there was a piano, and a big black-velvet bed with Victorian drapes.” She wrote it in about ten minutes. The band wasn’t initially crazy about her demo but Lindsey worked his magic on it.

Buckingham “fashioned three sections out of identical chords, making each section sound completely different. He created the impression that there’s a thread running through the whole thing.”

I always had a special fondness for “The Chain.” It is one of the few songs credited to the entire band and started out life as a McVie/Fleetwood jam. Songfacts says the lyrics are Stevie’s about Lindsey. (Can they find no other topic than each other? It could have been a good album!!!!- ME)Β 

Listen to the wind blow
Down comes the night
Run in the shadows
Damn your love, damn your lies
Break the silence
Damn the dark, damn the light

Not one to be outdone, Lindsey’s got one about Stevie! “Go Your Own Way.”

You can listen to the rest on Spotify if you’re now in the mood. Suffice it to say that Mac was now one of the biggest bands in the world. As we head to part three, I’ll leave you with this tantalizing tidbit from Mick’s book – “It was on [the Rumours] tour that some of the accumulated effects of the romance and passion that accrues to life on the road caught up with me. It was in Australia that I fell for Stevie Nicks.”

In 2003, Rumours was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2018, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry, being deemed “culturally, historically, or artistically significant” by the Library of Congress. In 2020, Rumours was rated the seventh-greatest album of all time in Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.

In 1998, Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours was produced by Fleetwood and released. The record contained each song of the original Rumours covered by a different act influenced by it. Among the musicians involved were Tonic, Matchbox 20, and Goo Goo Dolls, Celtic rock groups The Corrs and The Cranberries, and Elton John, Duncan Sheik, and Jewel.

*Jenny is, of course, the sister of Pattie Boyd, the greatest muse in rock history.

Sources: Wikipedia; Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac. William Morrow and Company.

30 thoughts on “Fleetwood Mac Mark III (Part Two) – Rumours

        1. Yes, they’ll need a lot more cocaine to take on that project. Interestingly, Spotify has a Super Deluxe version but it seemed like overkill. I believe it was Mick Fleetwood who kept ‘Silver Springs’ off the album but I forget why.

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        2. I have a version that drops Silver Springs into the middle, making it a 12 song album. Normally it would be sacrilegious to mess with a classic album but that change just makes it better.

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        3. Well there’s another addition to the (I think) relatively small number of albums whose greatness we can agree on. ‘Close to the Edge’ being another

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    1. Sure. I knew them prior to that but for all intents and purposes they might as well have been a different band. I think you know the Peter Green version. (A lot of people do not). Anybody who didn’t and heard them for the first time would say WTF?

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      1. I have some knowledge of the Pete Green stuff and you are right, very different band. I need to get more familiar with it because I like what I hear from that era.

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        1. Yeah, there’s no bad era of Mac. Unfortunately, the clowns who put together the ‘This is Fleetwood Mac’ list on Spotify focus 100% on the Buckingham/Nicks era. A grievous mistake.

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        2. Oooh! Big mistake. And that is why I put my on playlist together rather than listen to one by Apple (or Spotify) as I know better than them usually what is the good stuff.

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    1. Well, sure but that’s like saying everything falls short of “Dark Side of the Moon.” Most bands don’t even create perfect albums and if all the stars align they have a least one “Sgt. Pepper.” So while Mac does not have another one this great, each era has great stuff that I still enjoy tremendously

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      1. I also enjoy some bands second or even fifth album. The comment about Sgt. Pepper is right on; some bands never experience that. The Beatles had three pivitol albums; Rubber Soul, Sgt Pepper and Abby Road. The others had great tunes but those three changed rock music. Chicago’s second album, and Buffalo Springfields first as well as Crosby Stills and Nash first one. Much like Capote never wrote another book after In Cold Blood because it depleted his talent.

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        1. Agree with all of that except I might add Revolver into the Beatle mix. And to your point about some bands never experiencing the Sgt. Pepper moment, true enough. I bet there are more bands that have not then that have. And really, who cares, you know? I can go to some bands’ Spotify and put together a hell of a playlist comprised of a number of their albums and so, there you have it.

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  1. I seem to remember reading somewhere that β€œβ€˜Rumours’ levels” became a reference point for cocaine use amongst other bands for a while.
    It’s an inescapable album – as much as my heart belongs with the earlier blues Fleetwood Mac, this is always a welcome spin. It was still the third best-selling vinyl record here last year (beaten only by those Swedish gits and that moany bint with all the ballads) having the list in 2020 and the previous years as it still finds resonance with new audiences

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      1. Did you stay until the end of the tune?
        A lot of people on this side of the pond knew that song without knowing it was Fleetwood Mac as for donkey’s the final bass line into guitar riff was used for F1 and motor racing coverage on the box

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        1. I stayed through that and about a hundred other songs. Not the fastest service ever. But I can listen to it anytime thanks to the wonder of Spotify. As to what people do and don’t know about music, most of them can’t tell the difference between Fleetwood Mac and Macca.

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        2. Fleetwood Macca sounds like a great idea for one of those cover bands that play the songs of both artists. I’m gonna register that before anyone else does

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        3. Here are the ones that show up on TicketRipoff – Fleetwood Mac Mania, Fleetwood Mac Orchestrated, Rumours of Fleetwood Mac, Rumours: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac, Rumours: The Ultimate Fleetwood Mac Tribute Show, Tusk: The Ultimate Fleetwood Mac Tribute, Fleetwood Mac Tribute, The Fleetwood Mac Experience, Tribute to Fleetwood Mac.

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        4. Fleetingwood Mac are playing behind my house in July – alongside heavyweights like Let There B/DC, Nerdvana and Letz Zep. Not to mention what I assume is an all-female take in Her-Osmith

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        5. Christian goes to see tribute bands on a pretty regular basis. They are certainly keeping classic rock alive. I went to see a (more or less) Eagles tribute band last year rather than shove another buck in Don Henley’s pocket. Although that said, somehow i think he had his hand in this one.

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    1. Is the many bint Adele? If so, dod you ever see the Saturday Night live bit? When that earlier soppy song she had played in the office, everyone – including the window washer – had a good cry and needed a pint of ice cream.

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      1. It is indeed – given how she managed to push back physical record production with her latest it’s all the more bemusing to see it constantly slashed in price across numerous sales. All those pressings when most of her audience streams….
        I haven’t seen the SNL bit but will seek it out

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  2. Isn’t it amazing what divorce can do? πŸ™‚

    Seriously, if you think about how screwed up these guys were in their personal relationships, it borders on a miracle to me that only only did they manage to make any album at all but one of what I would call best pop rock records of the ’70s. I also think it holds up pretty well to this day!

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    1. After writing that post and listening to the music, I would agree that it’s crazy that with all the cocaine and interpersonal bullshit they got so much as one song completed. But somehow bands manage it even when they’re going over a cliff.

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