“It was much of the attraction, and much of the fuel for our material. It was also the subtext of heroicism that lead us to be able to follow our destiny despite all the emotional and social difficulties we were having,” he told the crowd at Radio City Music Hall as he took the podium to thank audience of revelers on hand to celebrate as the band was honored as the first ever band to be named the MusiCares Person of the Year. “Not very far below that level of dysfunction is what really exists and what we are feeling even more now in our career, which is love. This has always been a group of chemistry.”
It is that drama that resulted in some classic songs, from “Don’t Stop” (a song that special guest President Bill Clinton noted has been played more for him than “Hail to the Chief”) to “Landslide” to “Gypsy,” which were all performed and then some by scheduled performers Alison Krauss, Lorde, Miley Cyrus, Little Big Town, Imagine Dragons, Zac Brown Band, Keith Urban, Haim, Jared Leto and Harry Styles, who not only introduced the band but joined them for “The Chain.”
While the group – Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Christie McVie and John McVie — walked the carpet posing for pictures, there were a few surprises as Buckingham and Nancy Pelosi had a chance encounter, and a quick smile and handshake, before the show.
Speaking to Variety on the red carpet, Grammy Award winner, songwriter (“We’ve Only Just Begun,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,”Evergreen”) and president and chairman of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Paul Williams compared the group to his own first marriage.
“You know they’re a little bit like my first wife. We had kids and when we couldn’t stand each other we went off in different directions and at a certain point we become great friends,” he said. “I think that’s what Fleetwood Mac is like. You look you look at Stevie. You look at these guys lined up with the kind of music that they’re making together is really soulful.”
For Haim, performing “Gypsy” at Radio City Music Hall was special for several reasons—not only were they happy to perform honoring Fleetwood Mac, but just a few short hours before show time they learned that the group’s upcoming show at the venue had sold out, with another date quickly added. Plus, it was the first time all three sisters set foot in the Hall.
“This is a lot of people,” laughed Este, but doing it for Fleetwood Mac is personal, as their father used to play the songs to them and the live version of “Landslide” inspired them as live performers.
“This is for you Daddy,” Este said, channeling her inner Stevie before heading into the show.
Speaking to Variety, “Madame President” star Erich Bergen said besides being great songwriters, Fleetwood Mac is among the greats of live acts.
“To see them live, to quote one of their songs, is like seeing the seven wonders of the world. There are so many artists you have to see live — there is Bruce Springsteen, there is Neil Diamond and there is Fleetwood Mac,” said Bergen.
Singer Brandi Carlile, who is weeks away from the Feb. 16 release of her new album “By the Way, I Forgive You,” said she originally had another song in mind to perform.
“I wanted to sing ‘The Chain,’ but then I found out that they were singing ‘The Chain,’” she said. “So, I was like, yeah, I don’t want to do ‘The Chain,’ anymore I want to hear Fleetwood Mac do it.”
Portugal. The Man lead singer John Gourley – proudly wearing a “F—k Mike Love” button as he continues his trend of memorable red carpet looks — said his love of the band stretches back to the Peter Greene era.
“It’s a band that we all listen to, and this is something that we talk about quite a bit—is they are the one group we all agree on. They have so much music,” he said. “I love all the early records.”
Grammy nominee Lisa Loeb, who is up for Best Children’s Album, said when she was a child, the songs of Fleetwood Mac represented a magical world.
“Fleetwood Mac means so much to me as singer-songwriter, because when I was a kid, I saw them as this image of magic, and harmonies and songs, and as I’ve gotten older and I look back, I see there was so much style there, but the songs were at the heart of everything and their performance,” she said. “It makes the perfect rock star.”
It is that magic that Nicks said she aspires to hold on to with every performance. Prior to taking the stage, Styles had asked if she was “all right?” Nicks said the nerves are what makes performing great, and artists should never lose that feeling.
“When it goes away, you’re in trouble, because the butterflies are what makes you walk out on the stage and be magical,” she said.
Proceeds from the annual MusiCares gala support members of the music industry in times of financial and medical need, as well as offering assistance in recovery.
After the show, which raised some $7 million for MusiCares, according to Recording Academy chairman Neil Portnow, guests attended an after-party at the New York Hilton bidding on auction items, including VIP meet and greet packages with Imagine Dragons and an autographed tambourine signed by Stevie Nicks, which will add to the tally.