There are few bands which define a time and a place, but Fleetwood Mac managed this when they released Rumours on February 4th, 1977. Recorded in Los Angeles California, this Anglo-American rock band created a masterpiece that caught the zeitgeist, and sold in enormous numbers as a result. Forty million copies have been sold, making it one of the best selling albums in the USA ever. It was the top selling album in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom for many months, and sold in vast quantities in Europe and Japan too. The band's most famous fan is Bill Clinton, who chose their hit song Don't Stop as the official theme tune for his 1992 Presidential campaign.
Rumours struck a chord with nineteen seventies music lovers for its beautiful vocal harmonies, superbly crafted guitar work and sweet, smooth easy-listening sound. More than this, its lyrics were an intensely personal document of the relationships within the band, giving an unexpected insight into the band’s private and complex world. “In that tiny little recording studio, there were five people that were totally breaking up”, confessed Stevie Nicks. The songs – including Go Your Own Way, Dreams and You Make Loving Fun – were like a fly-on-the-wall documentary about their emotional trails and tribulations. “The bottom line was, this is what we do, we make music, and accept this as an unfortunate situation”, remembered John McVie.
The band had come a long way since the early days, when they started as a blues outfit in London, 1967. They repeatedly experimented with styles, with many band members coming and going in the process – only drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie remained, which was fortunate because their names formed the group’s name. American guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and his girlfriend, the singer Stevie Nicks, and keyboard player and singer Christine McVie joined to make Rumours, just as the relationships between various band members faltered. “I don’t think I have ever been so tired in my whole life, as when we were recording that. It was shocking me, the whole rock and roll life was really heavy, it was so intense”, remembered Christine McVie.
The founder of the band was a virtuoso guitarist called Peter Green who is still performing Blues music in his seventies now. Early albums such as Fleetwood Mac (1968) and Mr. Wonderful (1968), were heavily blues-oriented, but Green eventually left due to illness. By the time band recorded Rumours, the line-up was highly talented and durable, because as well as being great singers, Buckingham, Nicks and Christine McVie were proven songwriters. The follow-up album, the darker and more experimental Tusk, saw this talented team taking the band in a less commercial direction. Amazingly, it failed to chart when it was released, and didn’t sell anywhere near as much, to the anger of the record company – but it’s a beautiful, ethereal sounding album that deserves repeated listening. “At that time, we were probably doing our best music of all”, says McVie.
Rumours and Tusk have just been re-released as special editions, with extra songs and special mixes of the albums – both of which are essential for fans of the band. In 1997, Fleetwood Mac’s classic lineup set aside their differences for a reunion that marked the thirtieth anniversary of the original group’s founding and the twentieth anniversary of Rumours’ release. A full reunion tour followed, and the band have now rediscovered their creative spark, and are reportedly working on a new album.