Who is Lindsey Buckingham?
Lindsey Adams Buckingham is an American musician, vocalist, lyricist, and music producer primarily known for being a former member of the British-American rock group, Fleetwood Mac. He served as the group’s lead guitarist and one of the vocalists from 1975 to 1987, and then from 1997 to 2018. Buckingham has also made music outside Fleetwood Mac, both as a solo artist and in collaboration with other artists. A native of California, his passion for music developed early. However, he received no formal training on how to play the guitar and still cannot read music. When he was a teenager, he developed an interest in folk music and subsequently became a member of The Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band. After leaving the Fritz, he briefly worked with his then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks before they both joined Fleetwood Mac. Since its formation in 1967, the band has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the world's best-selling bands of all time. As a solo artist, Buckingham has released six studio albums and three live albums. Besides these, his collaborations with his then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks and former Fleetwood Mac colleague Christine McVie have produced the albums ‘Buckingham Nicks’ and ‘Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie’, respectively. With Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham received the Grammy Award for the Album of the Year for ‘Rumours’.
Childhood & Early Life
Lindsey Buckingham was born on October 3, 1949, in Palo Alto, California, as the youngest among three sons of Rutheda (née Elliott) and Morris Buckingham. One of his older brothers, Gregory, was a competitive swimmer and silver medallist at the 1968 Summer Olympics. He passed away of a heart attack in 1990. His other brother, Jeff, is an insurance broker.
Like Gregory, Lindsey initially received training in competition swimming but later quit athletics when music became a priority. As a child, he had a Mickey Mouse guitar that he played along with his brother’s large collection of singles. His parents soon realised that their youngest son had inherent talent for music and purchased him a $35 Harmony guitar.
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Lindsey Buckingham never received training on playing the guitar or learned how to read music. At the age of 13, he developed a serious interest in folk music and after being exposed to banjo methods, started making music in the energetic style of Kingston Trio.
In 1971, he joined the psychedelic and folk-rock band The Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band as their bassist and vocalist. He brought in friend Stevie Nicks as a second vocalist soon after. In 1971, they both quit the group and began a romantic relationship that would last until 1976.
Buckingham released his career’s first album in collaboration with Nicks. Aptly named ‘Buckingham Nicks’, the album was released in September 1973 through Polydor Records. On the album cover, Buckingham and Nicks appeared nude together, something with which Nicks was reportedly uncomfortable. The album registered poor sales and as a result, Polydor retracted their contract with the duo.
Mick Fleetwood, the drummer and co-founder of Fleetwood Mac, became interested in hiring Buckingham as the guitarist in his group after he heard the song ‘Frozen Love’ from ‘Buckingham Nicks’ while he was in California. Buckingham told him he would not join the group unless Nicks also joined. Fleetwood agreed and made them part of the group without auditioning them.
In 1975, Fleetwood Mac put out their second eponymously titled album and 10th album overall. This was also the group’s first album with Buckingham as their guitarist. A year after its first appearance on the US Billboard 200, it became the number one album on the chart. In 1986, it received 5x platinum certification from the RIAA.
From 1975 to 1987, during Buckingham’s first tenure with Fleetwood Mac, they released three more albums: ‘Tusk’ in 1979, ‘Mirage’ in 1982, and ‘Tango in the Night’ in 1987. They also put out two live albums: ‘Live’ in 1980 and ‘Greatest Hits’ in 1988.
While ‘Tusk’ and ‘Tango in the Night’ topped the UK music album chart, ‘Mirage’ did the same in the US. Following the release of ‘Tango in the Night’, Buckingham decided to leave the band due to his reluctance for touring and poor relationships with other members.
While Buckingham was still part of Fleetwood Mac, he released his first solo album, ‘Law and Order’ in 1981. One of the songs from the album, ‘Trouble’, which also featured Mick Fleetwood on the drums, became a hit and climbed to the #9 spot on the US charts. He released his second solo album, ‘Go Insane’, two years later.
After quitting the band, Buckingham worked predominantly towards releasing his third studio album, which materialised in 1992 as ‘Out of the Cradle’. Between that and his next solo studio album, ‘Under the Skin’, there was a 14-year gap as all members of Fleetwood Mac from the ‘Rumours’ era reunited in 1997.
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The live album ‘The Dance’ was released in 1997 to commemorate the reunion of the band. It became the first Fleetwood Mac album since ‘Mirage’ to reach the top spot in the US album charts.
The group went on to release one studio album titled ‘Say You Will’ in 2003 and one extended play in 2013. They also put out two more live albums: ‘The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac’ in 2002 and ‘Live in Boston’ in 2004.
Despite the group’s success in the new millennium, Buckingham’s old problems with touring and poor relationships with other members persisted. On April 9, 2018, Fleetwood Mac fired Buckingham.
Christine McVie and Buckingham collaborated in their 2017 joint album, ‘Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie’. It originally started off as the eighth studio album of Fleetwood Mac but was turned into an independent project as there were several delays hindering with the completion of the album.
In 1977, Fleetwood Mac released their 11th and the second album with Buckingham as the guitarist, titled, ‘Rumours’. It turned out to be their greatest album to date. Not only it sold over 40 million copies worldwide, but it also won the 1978 Grammy Award for Album of the year and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003.
Lindsey Buckingham has gained much notoriety for his relationships. During the years he was with Nicks, he was emotionally abusive towards her. After the relationship ended, the attacks became more prominent. In 1976, Buckingham wrote the track ‘Go Your Own Way’, which was full of accusations towards Nicks. The fact that she had to help him perform the song made it that much worse.
During a tour in 1980, he reportedly attempted to trip her, and at some point, kick her while they were on stage performing. He once even threw a Les Paul guitar at her head. Responding to these accusations, Buckingham stated that he does not remember such incidents. Interestingly, as the tension grew, it only stoked up their creative output.
His relationship with the next prominent woman in his life, Carol Ann Harris, was equally bad. Buckingham would try to control her and not even allow her to talk to other members of the band.
In her memoir, Harris gave details about every harrowing experience she had with Buckingham. She wrote that he would often take cocaine and verbally and physically abuse her afterwards. Eventually, she left Buckingham after a doctor urged her to do so for her own safety.
Buckingham first met Kristen Messner during his tenure with Fleetwood Mac. She was the group’s official photographer and about 21 years younger than him. They began dating years later.
Their first child, a son whom they named William Gregory, was born on July 8, 1998. The couple married two years later, in 2000. Their first daughter, Leelee, was born in the same year while their second daughter, Stella, was born on April 20, 2004. Buckingham composed and sang the track ‘It Was You’ (from the album ‘Under the Skin’) as homage to his three children.
In 1998, Buckingham, along with the rest of the members of Fleetwood Mac, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.