Lindsey Buckingham has peacefully gone his own way — with a stop at the bank, presumably — now that he and the four other longtime members of Fleetwood Mac have reached an out-of-court settlement about his dismissal from the group.
The agreement was reached “only a couple of weeks” ago, Buckingham said in an interview with “CBS This Morning” co-host Anthony Mason, “but now we’re all signed off on something.” Asked if he was happy about the undisclosed terms of the settlement, Buckingham answered, “I’m happy enough with it. I’m not out there trying to twist the knife at all. I’m trying to look at this with some level of compassion, some level of wisdom.”
The singer/guitarist wasn’t exactly about to give his blessing, though, to the current incarnation of the group, which is out on tour with Neil Finn and Mike Campbell singing and playing guitar in his stead. “I’m not particularly disappointed not to be out on the road doing another Fleetwood Mac tour doing all those hits,” he said. “What I am disappointed in is that we built this beautiful legacy that was about rising above all this kind of stuff. I feel that that legacy, in what the band is doing now, is being somewhat dishonored, and that does bother me.”
Buckingham had filed suit in L.A. Superior Court in early October, asking at least $12-14 million from his four former bandmates, saying that’s how much he’d been told he’d earn from participating in a 2018-19 North American tour — which, the lawsuit maintained, he’d agreed to do before being summarily fired.
Upon announcing that Buckingham was out of the group and Finn and Campbell were in, the remaining members of the classic lineup — Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie — had jointly declared that Buckingham was unwilling to tour at a time the others had agreed to, and that was the reason for the ouster. Buckingham has disputed that account in and out of court, saying he had finally acceded to the schedule (with the stipulation that he could do solo shows on nights off from the group tour) and that the band could have hit the road even sooner if he hadn’t been kicked out.
On “CBS This Morning,” he elaborated on that narrative, saying his ousting came as a direct result of events at the band’s MusiCares tribute show in January, when Nicks allegedly believed that he was smirking and snickering during her acceptance speech.
“Irving told me a couple of days later that she’d given the band an ultimatum and either I had to go or she was going to go,” Buckingham told CBS’s Mason. “He was screaming at me on the phone saying, ‘You’ve really done it this time.’ And I had no idea what he was talking about. He said, ‘Stevie never wants to be on stage with you ever again.’ And I’m going, why? … It appeared to me that she was looking for something to hang on me in order to instigate some kind of a coup. … None of it makes sense to me. Fleetwood Mac, the five of us together, in my mind is a very sacred thing.”
He added, “And it would be like something as absurd as Mick Jagger saying, ‘Either Keith goes or I go.’ ‘Well, I guess we need the singer.’”
Buckingham discussed his long and sometimes tortured relationship with Nicks with the morning show host, saying they’d enjoyed friendly relations outside of the group as recently as 2011, when he spent a good deal of time at her home while recording a solo album. But, looking back to the mid-‘70s days when they were a couple, Buckingham said, “My relationship with Stevie is fragmented. I think there’s still a lot of love there, but you have to begin with the fact that to get through those early days, it was kind of an exercise in compartmentalization for everyone, emotionally — and for me in particular. I mean, I was not the one doing the leaving; she left me. There was never really any chance to get anything like closure, because that takes perhaps some distance. So that kind of is how we got along. And I think you cut to 20 or 30 years later, and that leads to a kind of a fragmented relationship.”
Addressing the underlying psychology of their contemporary relationship, Buckingham opined: “I think sometimes she might find it difficult that I was lucky enough to find my soulmate late in life and got married and had my first child when I was 48 and have three beautiful children, and that was something she never did. You know, she basically is living her professional life. And so maybe… I don’t know if that plays into it or not. I honestly don’t know.”
Buckingham told CBS there was recently a break in the logjam of no communication from his estranged bandmates. “I have not actually spoken to any of the band, and it’s been almost a year now. Nobody.” But, he added, “Only in the last couple of weeks, I have gotten an email, which I expected to get, from Christine McVie. She wrote me an email and basically said, ‘Dearest Lindsey, know that I had nothing to do with any of this. Know that I miss you so much.’ She said, ‘I believe deep in Stevie’s heart that she would like you to come home.’” He took that to mean “that maybe underneath everything, Stevie would like to see me back, already — that maybe she feels ambivalent about what’s gone on. This could be just Christine expressing wishful thinking, or expressing something that she thinks will make me feel better.”
Asked if he would consider a reunion down the road, Buckingham said, “Oh, sure. Again, I’m not assuming anything at all. But nothing would make me happier than if we were going to do something like a farewell tour. So maybe they’ll get this out of their system, and maybe they’ll realize that this wasn’t really the right thing. And if you’re asking me would I be open, yes, of course, I would say ‘Yeah, let’s do it’ — absolutely.”
But he put a big asterisk on that hope by expressing his doubt that he’ll ever be asked to rejoin. “I’m pretty much figuring that I won’t,” Buckingham told Mason. “A lot of people who know how convoluted Fleetwood Mac’s politics have been will say ‘Two years from now, they’re gonna (be back together).’ And I’m like, ‘Ah, I’m not so sure.’ Something’s a little different this time.” “What is that?” Mason asked. “I’m not sure,” Buckingham responded.
In an interview with Billboard in August, Mick Fleetwood had seemed to back off from the firing just being about disagreements in tour scheduling, saying, “The reality was, in simple language, we weren’t happy… It wasn’t working for us and we made the decision as a band to continue, and that’s what we’ve done with open heart.” Following the filing of Buckingham’s lawsuit, a statement from the band said the band “looks forward to their day in court” — but, obviously, an elongated case would not have served a group that’s on the road hoping fans don’t come to the shows spending a great deal of time pondering where their loyalties lie.
Fleetwood Mac’s tour continues with dates currently scheduled through June 2019, including a hometown stop Tuesday at L.A.’s Forum. Buckingham just wrapped up a two-month tour Sunday, promoting his new multi-disc retrospective, “Solo Anthology: The Best of Lindsey Buckingham.”
After admitting earlier in the CBS interview that “It hurt for a while — I did walk around for a few months with a very visceral reaction” to the firing, Buckingham added, “I’m not someone who likes to look back. I like to look forward. And that certainly served me well this year.”