×

Was Lindsey Buckingham Fired From Fleetwood Mac or Not? A Source Weighs In …

Lindsey Buckingham’s latest departure from Fleetwood Mac certainly upheld the group’s longstanding penchant for drama.

No sooner had Variety confirmed that he’d left the band than word came, literally minutes later, that they’d already replaced him — with longtime Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and Crowded House frontman Neil Finn. The confirmation sealed several days of speculation after Billy Burnette — one of two guitarists hired to replace Buckingham last time he left the band 31 years ago — wrote in a hastily deleted tweet on April 4: “Breaking news: Lindsey Buckingham is out but I’m not in. A little pissed off but I’ll get over it.”

While sources told both Variety and Rolling Stone that Buckingham was fired, a source close to the situation says it’s a matter of semantics that requires some backstory.

Even by the quintet’s standards — and Fleetwood Mac is a group in which every member got divorced (legally or otherwise), four of them from each other, at the height of their popularity in the 1970s — the past few months have been dramatic. Last summer, the group coheadlined with the Eagles the “Classic West” and “Classic East” festivals in Los Angeles and New York, respectively. The dates landed smack in the middle of a tour by Buckingham and Mac keyboardist/singer Christine McVie — who were supporting a new album they’d made together after reports that Mac singer Stevie Nicks no longer wanted to make albums with the band.

Asked by the Los Angeles Times about the nostalgic nature of the “Classic” concerts, Buckingham said, “It doesn’t necessarily speak of the aspiration to present anything in the way that Fleetwood Mac would want to present it on its own terms. I was going to put it less diplomatically, but I stopped myself,” he said.

“Do the undiplomatic version,” McVie said. “What were you going to say?”

“I was going to say, ‘Just close your eyes and take the money,'” Buckingham answered.

In January, the band was honored as MusiCares Person of the Year with a concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall during Grammy Week. Former President Bill Clinton inducted the group (pictured above) and a number of acts covered their songs, including Miley Cyrus, Keith Urban, Lorde, Alison Krauss, Imagine Dragons, Little Big Town, Zac Brown Band, Jared Leto and Harry Styles, who not only introduced the band but joined them for “The Chain.” The group then played a short set to close out the night — which apparently was Buckingham’s last performance with them for the time being.

Regardless of his comments, Buckingham was enthusiastic onstage during last summer’s concerts and at the MusiCares event.

So was he fired or did he quit? Or, as is often the case with relationships that stretch back nearly 50 years, was it both and neither?

A source close to the situation tells Variety that although the group was on a high note after the MusiCares event, and had announced last spring that it planned to tour this year, Buckingham was reluctant because he wanted to focus on solo material. The other four bandmembers — Nicks, McVie, bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood — were eager and ready to tour, and after failing to obtain a commitment from Buckingham, told him they were proceeding with plans to tour without him. Suggestions that the group make an announcement along those lines were not acted upon.

Does that mean he was fired, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as being “dismissed from a job”? Well, yes and no.

The parting is at least outwardly amicable, with the group wishing Buckingham “all the best” in its announcement. Yet a Fleetwood Mac tour is not a financial proposition to be considered lightly. The group’s 2014-2015 tour, which sprawled over 13 months and 120 dates, grossed nearly $200 million, according to Pollstar. And while that represented the classic lineup’s first tour together since 1997, the two-day Classic East and West shows, which saw the group headlining with the Eagles, grossed $16 million and $17 million respectively, according to Pollstar.

Clearly, given the speed of today’s announcement and the fact that Burnette announced five days ago that he was not part of the latest incarnation of the band, today’s news has been in the works for several weeks at least.

And it all adds another chapter to a five-decade-long dance that, after drugs, divorce, disillusion and lots of other dramatic words beginning with “d,” continues to unfold.

More Music

  • Matteo BocelliAmerican Icon Awards Gala, Inside,

    Top Music Manager Calls Out American Icon Awards for Failing to Pay Talent

    The centuries-old adage no good deed goes unpunished is a common refrain for star music manager Scott Rodger of late. Rodger, who represents Paul McCartney and Andrea Bocelli at Maverick, says his client Matteo Bocelli, the son of the opera star, was stiffed out of promised expense reimbursement by the American Icon Awards. The event, [...]

  • Gary Clark Jr.Gary Clark Jr.in concert

    Gary Clark Jr. Brings the Austin Flame to a Hollywood Heat-Wave BBQ (Watch)

    When you have Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich, rocker Michael Des Barres and a flock of dancing young women all rushing the stage at a private event, that’s a good sign you’ve got it going on. Even L.A.’s biggest heat wave of the year so far couldn’t keep a mixed music industry audience away from the [...]

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    StubHub Refunds $500,000 to Customers Shut Out by New York Blackout

    Saturday’s blackout in New York had an outsized effect on the city’s nightlife, with Madison Square Garden and the entire Broadway district seeing multiple shows cancelled due to the the power outage. As a result, StubHub has refunded more than $500,000 worth of tickets for cancelled events. According to a statement from the company, the StubHub [...]

  • Spotify logo is presented on a

    U.S. Consumers to Spend $26 Billion on Music, Video Subscriptions This Year

    U.S. consumers are expected to spend a combined $26 billion on music and video subscription services this year, according to new estimates from the Consumer Technology Association. That’s up from $20.4 billion in 2018, and nearly twice the amount spent on such services in 2017. Propelled by the continued success of Apple Music and Spotify, [...]

  • Mary Bailey Steve D'Angelo, Jim Belushi

    Cannabis Industry Tackles Justice Reform With 'Last Prisoner Project'

    Jim Belushi is standing two feet away in the backyard of his spacious Brentwood home, honking a harp like he’s a Blues Brother back in sweet home Chicago accompanied by noted reggae band Rebelution’s Eric Rachmany and Kyle Ahern, who provide a 12-bar shuffle. There’s the sweet smell of skunk – and success — hanging [...]

  • Rihanna House

    Rihanna Seeks Renter for Hollywood Hills Villa

    Not having had any luck selling, Rihanna now seeks a well-heeled renter for a Hollywood Hills residence that is now available to rent at $35,000 per month, after it popped up for sale for late last year at almost $7.5 million. The mono-monikered Barbadian pop superstar and international style icon, also a savvy beauty, fashion [...]

  • Post Malone

    Post Malone Announces Fall Arena Tour With Swae Lee

    Post Malone has announced a fall arena tour, where he’ll be joined by Swae Lee and Tyla Yaweh, kicking off Sept. 14 in Tacoma, WA and running through November, where it’ll wrap up with southern California shows No. 16 at the Honda Center and Nov. 20 at the Forum. The “Runaway Tour” will also make [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content