This rock guitarist is rich. He lives in Bel Air. President Bill likes him. Stevie Nicks used to like him. He doesn't need the money, but he'll still be playing at the Ventura Theatre Tuesday night.
Lindsey Buckingham used to be in Fleetwood Mac, the band he left four years ago. Now he is touring in another of those thinly veiled efforts to coerce members of the record-buying public to purchase a copy of his first solo album in eight years, "Out of the Cradle."
Fleetwood Mac re-formed recently (and briefly) to serenade the President at his recent inaugural. It wasn't a real heavy workload; if you went to the bathroom you would have missed it. The band performed one song, "Don't Stop," then they did.
The Mac used to play a lot more. Back in the '60s when every British band was a blues band, so was Fleetwood Mac. So were the Yardbirds, the Rolling Stones, Ten Years After, Savoy Brown, and lots of others.
Always a guitar band, the Mac at one time had the kind of problem other bands only dream of--three primo players, Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwin. As these guys dropped out and the band relocated to America, Bob Welch joined as the new guitar dude, followed in 1973 by Buckingham.
As great as the Mac was with albums such as "Then Play On" and "Kiln House," the band never really made any money until Buckingham joined. "Rumours," on the other hand, made zillions, making this Mac almost as lucrative as the golden arches Mac. On the eve of his tour, Buckingham spoke by phone from his ritzy pad:
So how did "Out of the Cradle" do?
Well, you know it was so-so. The road may put some life into it. I'm fairly confident about the tour. We did a couple of warm-up shows recently at the Coach House. Instead of people shouting to hear Fleetwood Mac songs, they had listened to the solo stuff. I don't have a set list in front of me, but I'll probably do about five Fleetwood Mac songs.
Back in the old days of rock, albums came out rather quickly. Why does it take so long now?
Well, you know, way, way back, some acts put out three albums a year. Now, a lot of it has to do with the technology--it presents more freedom but also more choices, which can be a slowing process. I did a couple of solo albums when I was in Fleetwood Mac. "Big Love" and a couple of other songs ended up on the band album "Tango in the Night" but were originally supposed to go on a solo album. When I left the band, I didn't do anything for a year. When I did embark on a Phase II, I feel I did so from a position of strength.
How did you end up in Fleetwood Mac?
Well, let's see . . . I think Mick Fleetwood was looking for a recording studio. Stevie and I had just finished an album, and Keith Olsen, our engineer, put something on tape to show his work as an engineer. It turned out to be our song "Frozen Love," which had a searing guitar solo. At that time, Stevie and I just happened to be in the back room, and when we walked in, there was this really tall guy stomping his feet to our song. Bob Welch was leaving the band, so Mick Fleetwood asked me to join. At first, he didn't want both of us, but I told him we were sort of a package deal.
Peter Green, Danny Kirwin, Jeremy Spencer, Bob Welch, yourself--it's a long list of great guitarists in Fleetwood Mac, why?
That was just one of those things. The band was known as a guitar band in the beginning.
All the ex-Fleetwood Mac guitarists would make quite a band.
There's too many egos with all those guys. My current band has four other guitarists.
"Then Play On" and "Kiln House" were great albums, but Fleetwood Mac never really made any money until you joined.
That's true. I brought a certain pop sensibility to the whole thing. My contribution to the group was not so much as a guitarist, a singer and a lyricist, but as someone who could take raw material from Christine (McVie) and Stevie and forge it into something.
Fleetwood Mac had a million albums even before you joined. How did they stay together for so long?
Stupidity? I don't know.
Besides having a different drummer, how is your music different than Fleetwood Mac music?
Well, I have no drummer. It's a different approach. I was always left to bridge the gap between Christine's and Stevie's material. I'm able to cover a wider range of emotions now. There's certainly more of an aggressive guitar style interpreted into a pop format. I think my current stuff is a little more mature, but it's still a continuation of my Fleetwood Mac days.
Why did you split from the band?