Who: Two-time Grammy-winning musicians and Fleetwood Mac members Lindsey Buckingham, 71, and Stevie Nicks, 73.
How They Met: Like everything Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham and Nicks met in an appropriately cinematic way. As the story goes, both musicians attended the same high school party in San Francisco in the late '60s. Nicks spotted Buckingham in the living room, singing "California Dreaming," and she joined in.
"I didn't really see him again until two years later," Nicks told Courtney Love in a 1997 interview for Spin, "when he called me and asked me if I wanted to be in his rock 'n' roll band." The band in question was named Fritz, and the members had a rule: no one could date Nicks.
"I think there was always something between me and Lindsey, but nobody in that band really wanted me as their girlfriend because I was just too ambitious for them," Nicks told Rolling Stone in 1977. "But they didn't want anybody else to have me either. If anybody in the band started spending any time with me, the other three would literally pick that person apart. To the death."
Once Fritz broke up a few years later, Buckingham and Nicks formed their own duo, both personally and professionally. As Nicks would tell Rolling Stone in 1997, Polydor Records was interested in the duo, not the band.
"Why it happened between me and Lindsey was because we were so sad that we had to tell the three guys in the band that nobody wanted them, only us," she explained.
"We had other problems," Nicks went on, "didn't have a lot of money, alone in L.A., didn't have our families, no friends, didn't know anybody. But we had each other."
The cover of their now-iconic self-titled debut album, Buckingham Nicks, featured both singers topless, a decision Nicks later said she was coerced into making. "I hated it," she told CBS Sunday Morning in 2007. "I really was cajoled into doing it by Lindsey and by the photographer. It was like, you know, 'Come on, don't be a baby, this is art.'"
Though the couple saw some success on tour, they were ultimately dropped by their label before they had the chance to release a second album.
Then, in 1975, Buckingham and Nicks joined a little band called Fleetwood Mac.
Why We Loved Them: Before they joined the band that would make them household names, Buckingham and Nicks were just a boxspring-less twentysomething couple struggling to make ends meet.
Nicks told Rolling Stone that she lived with Buckingham from '71 to '75 and during that time they were "absolutely married. In every way [but for the ring]. I cooked, I cleaned, I worked. I took care of him."
It was this period that inspired one of the band's greatest hits, "Gypsy."
"Lindsey and I had no money, so we had a king-size mattress, but we just had it on the floor," Nicks told Entertainment Weekly in 2009. "I had old vintage coverlets on it, and even though we had no money it was still really pretty … Just that and a lamp on the floor, and that was it — there was a certain calmness about it. To this day, when I'm feeling cluttered, I will take my mattress off of my beautiful bed, wherever that may be, and put it outside my bedroom, with a table and a little lamp."
"That's the words: 'So I'm back to the velvet underground' — which is a clothing store in downtown San Francisco, where Janis Joplin got her clothes, and Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane, it was this little hole in the wall, amazing, beautiful stuff — 'back to the floor that I love, to a room with some lace and paper flowers, back to the gypsy that I was.' So that's what 'Gypsy' means: it's just a search for before this all happened."
When They Peaked: Have two people ever better embodied the energy we speak of when we utter the phrase "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll?" The discord that Buckingham and Nicks sowed in the mid-'70s and then continued to nurture for the next 46 years (and counting) is nothing short of aspirational — it's Ryan Gosling in the pouring rain calmly but assertively telling Rachel McAdams "it still isn't over."
In fact, in 1997, more than two decades after the musicians' Rumours-era breakup, Buckingham told Rolling Stone that hey, perhaps they will get back together, one day, maybe …
Nicks had a less ambiguous outlook. "Over my dead body," she told the magazine. "See, I don't want to be part of that darkness. He knows that. When we're up there singing songs to each other, we probably say more to each other than we ever would in real life. If you offered me a passionate love affair and you offered me a high-priestess role in a fabulous castle above a cliff where I can just, like, live a very spiritual kind of religious-library-communing-with-the-stars, learning kind of existence, I'm going to go for the high priestess."
The Breakup: Buckingham and Nicks's breakup wasn't the only one to rock the very fabric of Fleetwood Mac during the recording of Rumours. Christine and John McVie were in the process of divorcing after eight years of marriage and namesake drummer Mick Fleetwood was in the midst of divorce proceedings with then-wife Jenny Boyd. In a word: chaos.
"I don't even remember what the issues were; I just know that it got to the point where I wanted to be by myself," Nicks told Rolling Stone of the split. "It just wasn't good anymore, wasn't fun anymore, wasn't good for either of us anymore. I'm just the one who stopped it."
"In Sausalito, up at the little condominium. Lindsey and I were still enough together that he would come up there and sleep every once in a while. And we had a terrible fight — I don't remember what about, but I remember him walking out and me saying, 'You take the car with all the stuff, and I'm flying back.' That was the end of the first two months of the recording of Rumours."
Then came the vindictive vocals.
"I very, very much resented him telling the world that 'packing up, shacking up' with different men was all I wanted to do," Nicks said of Buckingham's lyrics on "Go Your Own Way."
In 1977, toward the end of the Rumours tour, Nicks and Fleetwood began an affair.
Nicks said she and Fleetwood "were absolutely horrified that this happened" and kept it under wraps until it "blew up and was over." She and Buckingham "never, never talked about Mick. Ever."
Surprisingly, Buckingham later told The Independent that he "didn't feel betrayed" when he heard about Fleetwood and Nick's affair. "Quite honestly, I'd have been surprised if it hadn't happened," he added.
In 2011, Nicks told The Guardian that had Fleetwood Mac (and the drugs and fame that came with it) not entered their lives, she thinks she and Buckingham would have gotten married and had children, "'cause we were headed that way," noting that "we didn't really mess up till we moved to Los Angeles. And that was when the whole world just ripped us apart." Still, she believes "Fleetwood Mac was our destiny."
The composition of Fleetwood Mac would shift through the decades, with both Buckingham and Nicks leaving at different times, but both eventually made their way back.
In 2002, Nicks compared working with Buckingham in the studio to Big Brother. "If we could vote each other out, we'd all be fine!" she told Rolling Stone. "My vote would come up 'Lindsey.' Lindsey's would say 'Stevie.'"
Still, their working relationship thrived — well, relatively speaking …
"Instead of treating me like his miserable old ex, he's treating me like his difficult but beloved older daughter," Nicks told Rolling Stone in 2009. "He's been very sweet."
Familial allusions aside, Nicks told MTV in 2009 "that electric crazy attraction between Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks never dies, never will die, never will go away."
That said, she admitted that their romantic journey was over for good. "We're beauty and the beast," she said. "It means that the love is always there but we'll never be together, so that's even more romantic."
"The day his first child was born [in 1998 with wife then-girlfriend Kristen Messner]. I knew that was it … that was the definitive thing," she continued.
In 2018, the long, cold Buckingham-Nicks war grew fiery once more. Just as the band was about to announce a new North American tour, Buckingham was fired. Not one to go quietly, Buckingham ended up suing (and later settling with) the band — and, of course, doing lots and lots of interviews. Though the true reasons are murky, Buckingham blamed Nicks for his forced departure.
"I think others in the band just felt that they were not empowered enough, individually, for whatever their own reasons, to stand up for what was right," Buckingham told Rolling Stone in reference to Nicks's perceived influence on the other Fleetwood Mac members in his firing. "And so, it became a little bit like Trump and the Republicans."
Nicks finally broke her silence on the matter in September 2021, telling Rolling Stone, that "following an exceedingly difficult time with Lindsey at MusiCares in New York, in 2018, I decided for myself that I was no longer willing to work with him."
"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," she went on. "Frankly, I fired myself. I proactively removed myself from the band and a situation I considered to be toxic to my well-being. I was done. If the band went on without me, so be it. I have championed independence my whole life, and I believe every human being should have the absolute freedom to set their boundaries of what they can and cannot work with. 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."
Where They Are Now: Nicks went on to date founding Eagles member Don Henley for about two years. Then, in 1983, after her best friend Robin Snyder passed away from leukemia, she married Snyder's husband, Kim Anderson.
"It was just because I had this crazy, insane thought that Robin would want me to take care of [her baby] Matthew," she told The Guardian. "But the fact is, Robin would not have wanted me to be married to a guy I didn't love. And therefore accidentally break that guy's heart, too."
They divorced after three months together.
Buckingham wed Messner in 2000. They share three children: William, 23, Leelee, 21, and Stella, 17. Messner filed for divorce this summer, but Buckingham recently told Rolling Stone that they're "still trying to work it out."
The musician's self-titled solo album, Lindsey Buckingham, released last week.
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