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Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Irving Azoff all comment on guitarist’s Fleetwood Mac departure

By | Published on Thursday 9 September 2021

Fleetwood Mac

Three years after his latest departure from Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham is still annoyed about how he was ejected from the group. So much so that his comments about it in a new interview have prompted rebuttals from both vocalist Stevie Nicks and the band’s manager Irving Azoff.

At this point, you might say something cynical along the lines of, “well, I guess he’s got a new album to promote”. He’s beaten you to it though, admitting in the interview with the LA Times that dredging up all this stuff again will help to gain attention for his new solo album.

But, he’s seemingly quite proud of this new LP, and a lot has happened to delay him getting it out into the world in the four years since he recorded it. So perhaps you can forgive him wanting to use whatever means necessary to draw people’s attention to it.

Still, marketing plans aside, being kicked out of Fleetwood Mac is clearly something he is yet to get over. Some of the events that preceded that sacking have been revealed before, of course, not least because the whole thing ultimately went legal. Tensions apparently began when he asked the band to delay a tour so that he could promote this solo album.

Then there was an incident where Nicks apparently felt that he mocked her acceptance speech for the MusiCares Person Of The Year award in 2018. Certainly, a week after that event he was out, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell and Neil Finn of Crowded House had been drafted in to replace him.

After that, he sued the band for lost earnings, had a heart attack, had his vocal cords damaged during heart bypass surgery, there was a pandemic and his wife filed for divorce. All of which helped to delay the release of his new solo album until now. It also gave him plenty of time to stew.

That’s not quite how he puts it. “Between the Fleetwood Mac stuff and the heart attack, it’s all been humbling”, he says. “I’ve never suffered from a lack of confidence, and sometimes could get carried away with that in the process of leading the band. But everything has pulled me in a little bit. I’m not as aggressive a person as I was before, which is probably not a bad thing. It made me look around more – and become less self-involved, hopefully”.

Which is all good stuff. Though this statement is then followed by various pronouncements about the shortcomings of his former bandmates, plus criticism about how they failed to stand up for him in behind the scenes disputes. However, he particularly singles out Nicks, and the power she wields as the “figurehead” of the band, and suggests that unrelated feelings about her life have been channeled into animosity towards him.

“You could do a whole analysis on Stevie at this point in her life and what she’s allowed to happen and what she’s allowed to slip away from her”, he says. “Her creativity, at least for a while, it seemed like she wasn’t in touch with that. Same with the level of energy she once had onstage. I think that was hard for her, seeing me jump around in an age-inappropriate way. Also, she’s lonely. She’s alone. She has the people who work for her, and I’m sure she has friends, but you know”.

Nicks has previously almost entirely refused to be drawn into remarking on Buckingham’s departure from the band, although this time she did give a statement via her publicist, saying: “His version of events is factually inaccurate and while I’ve never spoken publicly on the matter, certainly it feels the time has come to shine a light on the truth. To be exceedingly clear, I did not have him fired, I did not ask for him to be fired, I did not demand he be fired”.

“Frankly, I fired myself”, she goes on. “I proactively removed myself from the band and a situation I considered to be toxic to my wellbeing. I was done. If the band went on without me, so be it. And after many lengthy group discussions, Fleetwood Mac, a band whose legacy is rooted in evolution and change, found a new path forward with two hugely talented new members”.

At this point – for all of Buckingham’s claims to be less “aggressive” and whoever may or may not have been in the wrong – the ongoing sparring does all seem a bit personal and unpleasant. What would really help now is a good old “the music industry is cutthroat and only out for profit” narrative. Luckily, Buckingham also still holds a lot of anger for Fleetwood Mac manager Irving Azoff, who he says “threw me under the bus” when the band were negotiating whether or not he should be fired.

“Irving doesn’t need the money, but he’s still driven by the money”, claims Buckingham.

Like Nicks, Azoff has avoided any public comment on all this previously. But, also like Nicks, this particular interview has irked him enough to change that.

“I have historically declined comment on artists, but in the case of Lindsey Buckingham, I will make an exception”, says Azoff. “In speaking with Stevie, her account of events are factual and truthful. While I understand it’s challenging for Lindsey to accept his own role in these matters and far easier to blame a manager, the fact remains that his actions alone are responsible for what transpired”.

“Frankly, if I can be accused of anything it’s perhaps holding things together longer than I should have”, he continues. “After 2018, when Fleetwood Mac evolved with their new line-up, my continued work with the band was due entirely to the fact I’ve been aligned with Stevie Nicks in thought and purpose from the earliest of days. While financial gain was not a motivator for me, it was a delightful bonus that the band scored their highest grossing tour ever without Lindsey”.

So, long story short, Lindsey Buckingham’s not rejoining Fleetwood Mac any time soon. But he does have a new solo album coming out.