Life and career
1949–1971: Early years
Lindsey Adams Buckingham was born in Palo Alto, California, and was the third and youngest child of Rutheda (née Elliott) and Morris Buckingham. He had two older brothers, Jeffrey and Gregory. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area community of Atherton, he attended Menlo Atherton High School where Buckingham and his brothers were encouraged to swim competitively. Though Buckingham dropped out of athletics to pursue music, his brother Gregory went on to win a silver medal at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Buckingham attended San Jose State University but did not graduate.
Buckingham's first forays into guitar playing took place on a toy Mickey Mouse guitar, playing along to his brother Jeff's extensive collection of 45s. Noticing his talent, Buckingham's parents bought their son a $35 Harmony guitar.
Buckingham never took guitar lessons and does not read music. By age 13, he became interested in folk music and, influenced by banjo methods, practiced the energetic style of the Kingston Trio. From 1966 to 1971, Buckingham performed psychedelic and folk rock with the band The Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band in the San Francisco Bay Area as a bassist and vocalist. Shortly after joining Fritz, Buckingham invited friend Stevie Nicks to join Fritz as a second vocalist. Their romantic relationship began after both left Fritz five years later.
1973–1974: Buckingham Nicks
Stevie Nicks and Buckingham on the Say You Will
Tour in 2003
Buckingham and his then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks recorded seven demos in 1972 on a half-inch 4-track Ampex recorder kept at his father's coffee roasting plant in Daly City, then drove to Los Angeles to pursue a record deal. In 1973, Polydor Records signed the pair. Their album, produced by Keith Olsen and second engineer Richard Dashut, Buckingham Nicks, was released in September 1973; soon after its release, however, Polydor dropped the duo because of poor sales. To help make ends meet, Buckingham toured with Don Everly's backing band, singing Phil Everly's parts.
1975: joining Fleetwood Mac and debut album
While investigating Sound City recording studio in California, Mick Fleetwood heard the song "Frozen Love" from the Buckingham Nicks album. Impressed, he asked who the guitarist was. By chance, Buckingham and Nicks were also in Sound City recording demos, and Buckingham and Fleetwood were introduced. When Bob Welch left Fleetwood Mac in December 1974, Fleetwood immediately contacted Buckingham and offered him the vacant guitar slot in his band. Buckingham told Fleetwood that he and Nicks were a team and that he didn't want to work without her. Fleetwood agreed to hire both of them, without an audition. Buckingham and Nicks then began a short tour to promote the Buckingham Nicks album. The touring band included drummers Bob Aguirre and Gary Hodges (playing simultaneously) and bassist Tom Moncrieff, who later played bass on Nicks' 1981 album Bella Donna. When they played in Alabama, the one area where they saw appreciable sales, they told their fans they had joined Fleetwood Mac.
Fleetwood Mac released their eponymously titled album in 1975, which reached number one in the American charts. Buckingham contributed several songs to the album including "Monday Morning" and "I'm So Afraid" while also singing lead on "Blue Letter". I'm So Afraid and "Monday Morning" were intended for the second Buckingham Nicks LP, but they were instead used with Fleetwood Mac.
Despite the success of the new line-ups first album, it was their second album, Rumours, that propelled the band to superstar status, when it became one of the best-selling albums of all time. Buckingham's "Go Your Own Way" was the lead single, soaring into the US Top Ten; also on the album were Buckingham's "Second Hand News" and "Never Going Back Again". Buckingham also sang co-lead vocal on two of the bands biggest live staples "The Chain", written by the entire band and "Don't Stop" a Christine McVie number.
1979: Tusk and solo work
After the resounding commercial success of Rumours (during the making of which Buckingham and Nicks split), Buckingham was determined to avoid falling into repeating the same musical pattern. The result was Tusk (1979), a double album that Buckingham primarily directed. Once again, Buckingham wrote the lead single, the title track that peaked at #8 on Billboard Hot 100. Buckingham convinced Fleetwood to let his work on their next album be more experimental and to be allowed to work on tracks at home before bringing them to the rest of the band in the studio. It produced three hit singles: Lindsey Buckingham's "Tusk" (US No. 8), which featured the USC Trojan Marching Band, Christine McVie's "Think About Me" (US No. 20), and Stevie Nicks' 61/2 minute opus "Sara" (US No. 7). "Sara" was cut to 41/2 minutes for both the hit single and the first CD-release of the album, but the unedited version has since been restored on the 1988 greatest hits compilation, the 2004 reissue of Tusk and Fleetwood Mac's 2002 release of The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac. Original guitarist Peter Green also took part in the sessions of Tusk, although his playing on the Christine McVie track "Brown Eyes" is not credited on the album. It was during this time that Buckingham moved in with record company secretary and aspiring model Carol Ann Harris, with whom he lived until 1984. Though by most standards a hit, Tusk failed to come close to Rumours record sales, and the album was followed by a hiatus in the band's studio recording efforts.
During the time he worked on Tusk, Buckingham also produced albums for Walter Egan and John Stewart in the late 1970s as well as beginning work on his own solo album.
1981: Law and Order
In 1981, Buckingham released his first solo album, Law and Order, playing nearly every instrument and featuring guest appearances by bandmates Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie. The album pursued the quirky, eclectic, often lo-fi and New Wave influences of Tusk and spawned the single "Trouble" (inspired by Richard Dashut), which reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 in Australia (for three weeks).
After a large world tour that ended in 1980, Fleetwood Mac took a year-long break before reconvening to record their next album Mirage (1982), a more pop-friendly work that returned the band to the top of the US album chart. However, by this time various members of the band were enjoying success as solo artists (particularly Nicks) and the next Fleetwood Mac album was not released until five years later. By the time Tango in the Night was released in 1987, Buckingham had already released two solo albums and had given up much of the material for what would have been his third solo album for the project, including "Big Love", "Tango in the Night ", "Family Man", "You and I" and "Caroline". On several of these tracks Buckingham played every instrument . "Big Love", released as the first single from the album, became a top ten hit in the US and the UK.
1983–1986: Go Insane and other solo projects
In 1983 he wrote and performed the songs "Holiday Road" and "Dancin' Across the USA" for the film National Lampoon's Vacation. "Holiday Road" was released as a single, and reached #82 on Billboard's Hot 100.
In 1984, after ending his 7-year relationship with Carol Ann Harris, he released his second solo album, Go Insane. The title track was a modest hit, reaching #23 on the Hot 100. In 2008, he revealed the title track was about his post-break-up relationship with Stevie Nicks; however, Harris claimed in her memoir Storms that the song was written about her breakup with Buckingham. The last track of the album, "D. W. Suite", was a tribute to the late Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, a close friend of Fleetwood Mac who was briefly engaged to Christine McVie. The next year, Buckingham performed on USA for Africa's fundraising single, "We Are the World". In 1986 he co-wrote "Since You've Gone" for Belinda Carlisle's first solo album. He did other soundtrack work, including the song "Time Bomb Town" from Back to the Future (1985). Buckingham played all of the instruments on the track except drums, which were played by Michael Huey.
1987: Tango In the Night and departure from Fleetwood Mac
Propelled by a string of hit singles, Tango in the Night became the band's biggest album since Rumours a decade earlier. However, following its release, Buckingham left Fleetwood Mac largely because of his desire not to tour and the strain he was feeling within the band. "I needed to get some separation from Stevie especially, because I don't think I'd ever quite gotten closure on our relationship," he said. "I needed to get on with the next phase of my creative growth and my emotional growth. When you break up with someone and then for the next 10 years you have to be around them and do for them and watch them move away from you, it's not easy." Fleetwood Mac continued without him, and Buckingham was replaced by guitarists Rick Vito and Billy Burnette.
1988–1992: Out of the Cradle
Following his split with Fleetwood Mac in 1987, Buckingham spent much of the next five years in the studio, working on his third solo album, Out of the Cradle, which was released in 1992. Many of the songs deal with his relationship with Nicks and his decision to leave the band. "There were things lingering for years having to do with relationships and the band, hurtful things, that were impossible to deal with until I left. If you were in a relationship and split up, then had to see that person every day for the next 15 years, it might keep you from dealing with some of those things. While we made Rumours (in 1977) there were two couples breaking up in the band (Buckingham and Nicks, and John and Christine McVie), and we had to say, "This is an important thing we're doing, so we've got to put this set of feelings on this side of the room and get on with it.'" And when you do that long enough you forget that those feelings are even there. On this album, I'm putting all these feelings in the healthiest possible perspective and that, looking at it broadly, is a lot of what the album is dealing with. It's a catharsis, absolutely." "Wrong" was a gentle rebuke of former bandmate Mick Fleetwood's tell-all biography. Out of the Cradle received some favorable reviews but did not achieve the sales levels associated with Fleetwood Mac. However, Buckingham toured throughout 1992–93 for the first time as a solo artist; his band included an army of seven other guitarists (Buckingham himself calls them "the crazy band" on his Soundstage DVD), each of whom he individually taught the entire two-and-a-half hours of music from the concert (Lindsey Buckingham: Behind the Music documentary for VH-1, 2001)
1992: One-off reunion with Fleetwood Mac
In 1992, newly elected president Bill Clinton asked Fleetwood Mac to come together to perform the song he had chosen for his campaign, the Christine McVie-penned "Don't Stop", at his inaugural ceremony. Buckingham agreed to be part of the performance, but the experience was something of a one-off for the band, who were still very much at odds with one another and had no plans to reunite officially.
1997: The Dance
While assembling material for a planned fourth solo album in the mid-1990s, Buckingham contacted Mick Fleetwood for assistance on a song. Their collaboration lasted much longer than anticipated, and the two eventually decided to call upon Stevie Nicks, John and Christine McVie. The band's old chemistry was clearly still there, and plans for a reunion tour were soon in the works. In 1997, Buckingham and all four of his bandmates from the Rumours-era line-up of Fleetwood Mac went on the road for the first time together since 1982 in a reunion tour titled The Dance. The tour was hugely successful and did much to heal the damage that had been done between Buckingham and his bandmates. However, Christine McVie left the band in 1998 because of her fear of flying and to be with her family in the UK, thus making the band now a foursome.
2003: Say You Will
A subsequent fourth solo album, entitled Gift of Screws, was recorded between 1995–2001 and presented to Warner Bros./Reprise for release. Executives at the label managed to persuade Buckingham to hold the album back and instead take several tracks from Gift of Screws and use them with Fleetwood Mac. In 2003, the reformed band released the first studio album involving Buckingham and Nicks in 15 years, Say You Will. Buckingham's song "Peacekeeper" was the first single from the album, and the band went on a world concert tour that lasted almost a year and a half. Seven songs from Gift of Screws appear on the Fleetwood Mac album Say You Will, in substantially the same form as Buckingham had recorded them for his solo release. Bootleg copies of Gift of Screws—taken from an original CD-R presented to Warner Bros/Reprise—are known to exist and have been widely distributed among fans through the use of torrent sites and other peer-to-peer networks.
2006–2007: Under the Skin
On his 57th birthday, October 3, 2006, Buckingham's fourth solo album, an acoustic album now entitled Under the Skin, was released. Under The Skin features Buckingham on almost all instruments, with the exception of two tracks that feature Fleetwood Mac's rhythm section of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. The album includes a cover of the Rolling Stones classic "I Am Waiting". Three days after the album's release, Buckingham embarked on a tour in support the album that lasted until the end of June 2007. A live album and DVD, Live at the Bass Performance Hall, was released documenting the Fort Worth, Texas show from this tour.
2008: Gift of Screws
In 2008 the Gift of Screws album was finally released, containing three tracks from the originally planned album, as well as seven new recordings. Buckingham then commenced a short tour to promote Gift of Screws in September and October, opening in Saratoga, California and closing in New York City.
2009: Unleashed Tour
Fleetwood Mac toured in 2009, with the first date of the "UNLEASHED" Tour as March 1, 2009, in Mellon Arena (Pittsburgh). Christine McVie was not involved with this project.
2010–2011: Seeds We Sow
On November 3, 2010, Buckingham's website announced that he was working on an untitled album with release planned in early 2011. Buckingham had finished recording the album, titled Seeds We Sow in April, and on April 22, 2011, he filmed a concert for DVD release to support the album. Seeds We Sow was released on September 6, 2011. On September 10, Buckingham kicked off the Seeds We Sow Tour in Reno, Nevada; the tour ended in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on November 14. Buckingham had planned to conduct his first solo tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland in December. However, in early December, Buckingham postponed all UK dates due to his guitarist suffering a back injury. The UK dates were subsequently cancelled.
2012: One Man Show
Buckingham performing at the Neighborhood Theatre, Charlotte, NC, July 31, 2012
Buckingham began a "solo" (no backing band) tour of the United States on May 3, 2012, in Solana Beach, California and in November 2012 released a completely solo live album One Man Show via download at iTunes that was recorded from a single night in Des Moines, Iowa. One Man Show was released on Buckingham's own label Buckingham Records LLC.
2013: Fleetwood Mac EP and world tour
The "Live World" tour commenced on April 4, 2013, in Columbus, Ohio. On April 30, the band released their first new studio material since 2003's Say You Will via digital download on ITunes with the four-track EP containing three new songs from Buckingham and one new song from the Buckingham Nicks sessions ("Without You").
Buckingham with Fleetwood Mac, 2013
2014–2015: On with the Show
On January 11, 2014, Mick Fleetwood announced that Christine McVie was rejoining Fleetwood Mac, and the news was confirmed on January 13 by the band's primary publicist, Liz Rosenberg. Rosenberg also stated that an official announcement regarding a new album and tour was forthcoming.
On with the Show, a 33-city North American Tour opened in Minneapolis, Minnesota on September 30, 2014. A series of May–June 2015 arena dates in the United Kingdom went on sale on November 14, selling out in minutes. Additional dates for the tour were added, extending into November.
In January 2015, Buckingham suggested that the new album and the new tour might be Fleetwood Mac's last act and that the band would cease to operate in 2015 or soon afterwards. He concluded: "We're going to continue working on the new album, and the solo stuff will take a back seat for a year or two. A beautiful way to wrap up this last act". On the other hand, Mick Fleetwood stated that the new album may take a few years to complete and that they are waiting for contributions from Stevie Nicks, who has been ambivalent about committing to a new record.
2016–2017: Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie and Classic Concerts
In August 2016, Fleetwood said that while the band has "a huge amount of recorded music", virtually none of it features Stevie Nicks. Buckingham and Christine McVie, however, have contributed multiple songs to the new project. Fleetwood told Ultimate Classic Rock, "She [McVie] ... wrote up a storm ... She and Lindsey could probably have a mighty strong duet album if they want. In truth, I hope it will come to more than that. There really are dozens of songs. And they're really good. So we'll see."
Buckingham and McVie performing live in 2017.
Buckingham and Christine McVie announced a new album titled Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie, which also features Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. The album was originally planned as a Fleetwood Mac album. Stevie Nicks did not participate due to her preference for a solo tour with The Pretenders. Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie was released on June 9, 2017, and was preceded by the single, "In My World". A 38-date tour began on June 21, 2017 and ended on November 16.
2018: firing from Fleetwood Mac and Solo Anthology
Following Fleetwood Mac's performance at the MusiCares Person of the Year in January 2018 Buckingham was fired from Fleetwood Mac The reason was said to have been a disagreement about the nature of the tour, and in particular the question of whether newer or less well-known material would be included, as Buckingham wanted.
Mick Fleetwood and the band appeared on CBS This Morning on 25 April 2018 and said that Buckingham would not sign off on a tour that the group had been planning for a year and they had reached a "huge impasse" and "hit a brick wall". When asked if Buckingham had been fired, he said, "Well, we don't use that word because I think it's ugly." He also said that "Lindsey has huge amounts of respect and kudos to [sic] what he's done within the ranks of Fleetwood Mac and always will." In October 2018, Buckingham filed a lawsuit against Fleetwood Mac for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of oral contract and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, among other charges; the lawsuit was settled in December of the same year.
Buckingham stated he learned about the firing after receiving a call from Fleetwood Mac manager Irving Azoff with a message for Buckingham from Stevie Nicks. Buckingham stated that Azoff told him: "Stevie never wants to be on a stage with you again." According to Azoff, Nicks had taken issue with, on the evening of MusicCares, the guitarist's outburst just before the band's set over the intro music—the studio recording of Nicks' "Rhiannon"—and the way he "smirked" during Nicks' thank-you speech. Buckingham conceded that "It wasn't about it being 'Rhiannon,' It just undermined the impact of our entrance. That's me being very specific about the right and wrong way to do something." Days later Buckingham called Azoff and asked if "Stevie was leaving the band, or if he was getting kicked out?" Azoff told the guitarist he was "getting ousted" and that Nicks gave the rest of the band "an ultimatum: Either you go or she's gonna go." to which they decided to fire him. Former Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and Neil Finn of Crowded House were named to replace Buckingham. Buckingham has stated since he would be open to rejoining Fleetwood Mac but does not foresee it in the future.
In August 2018, Reprise issued a press release for a new solo anthology Solo Anthology: The Best of Lindsey Buckingham that focuses on Lindsey's solo career since 1981. The anthology was released on October 5, 2018 and was followed two days later by a solo tour throughout North America.