The ABCs of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours
Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, the passionate, emotional, and intimate masterpiece that many consider one of the greatest albums of all time turns 43 today. This year at LOCKN’, The Chain Gang, an all-star lineup of artists featuring Devon Allman, Duane Betts, Cody Dickinson, Luther Dickinson, Samantha Fish, John Ginty, and Berry Oakley Jr., will play the album in its entirety. To celebrate the classic album and what we predict will be one of LOCKN’s greatest collaborations, let’s take a look at the ABCs of Rumours.
Album of the Year (20th Grammy Awards)
In a race between five albums that climbed to the top of the Billboard 200 in 1977, Fleetwood Mac took home Album Of The Year gold as the Grammys turned 20.
Billboard Top 100 #1 on charts “Dreams”
“It really was the beginning of the dream…” says the band’s Stevie Nicks. “Dreams,” released in March 1977, became the band’s only number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, reaching the top spot on June 18, 1977.
Christine McVie (Keyboard/Vocals)
McVie is known for her smoky, contralto vocals and her direct but poignant lyrics, which concentrated on love and relationships. “Dra-ma” was how McVie described the making of Rumours to Rolling Stone soon after the album’s release on February 4, 1977. When the band reunited in 2013, Stevie Nicks said that if there is one regret, it’s that Chris McVie won’t be with the band, after quitting in 1998. Nicks said, “We all did everything we could do to try and talk her out of it,” Nicks says, “but you look in someone’s eyes and you can tell they’re finished. It’s like when somebody breaks up with you and says: ‘We’re done.'”
Nicks wrote the song in early 1976 at the Record Plant Studios in Sausalito, California. Steve Nicks said of writing the song, “I sat down on the bed with my keyboard in front of me, I found a drum pattern, switched my little cassette player on and wrote ‘Dreams’ in about 10 minutes. Right away I liked the fact that I was doing something with a dance beat, because that made it a little unusual for me.”
Ex Lovers created the best music when in the worst shape
Fleetwood Mac struggled with relationship breakups before recording started. The Rumours studio sessions were marked by hedonism and strife among band members that shaped the album’s lyrics. The tumultuous and downright crazy relationships between band members were at their peak when they spent 11 months recording the album. Mick Fleetwood has admitted recording Rumours, “almost killed us”.
Fleetwood Mac has sold more than 120 million records worldwide, making them one of the world’s best-selling bands. They formed in London in 1967 at the height of the British blues-rock explosion. One of the biggest stars of the original band was guitarist/vocalist Peter Green. Green was so talented that he’d been picked to replace Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and his innovative style would inspire future generations of rock guitarists. In 1998, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2018, Fleetwood Mac became the first-ever band to receive the MusiCares Person of the Year award in honor of their support for MusiCares, which provides critical financial, health and addiction services to members of the music community.
Go Your Own Way (Track)
Lyrically, “Go Your Own Way” is a breakup song, specifically directed at Lindsey Buckingham’s bandmate and former lover, Stevie Nicks. Buckingham stated in an interview that the song began “almost as a stream of consciousness.” He intended to use the lyrics as the beginning of a conversation with Nick’s in order to digest and move forward through their break up. “Go Your Own Way” is regarded by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest rock songs of all time.
Herbert Worthington (Rumours Album Art Photographer)
Stevie Nicks poses in a dark robe, holding hands with Mick Fleetwood, who rests his foot on a stool and displays two wooden balls dangling in front of him. What does it all mean? Nicks is in character as Rhiannon, the mythical Welsh witch from the band’s hit “Rhiannon.” Fleetwood’s balls were his personal good luck charm.
I Don’t Want to Know (Track)
Nicks wrote “I Don’t Want to Know” much earlier than the Rumours sessions, when she and Lindsey Buckingham were performing as the duo Buckingham Nicks, prior to joining Fleetwood Mac. The other members of Fleetwood Mac decided to use this song as a replacement for a song Nicks had written for Rumours, “Silver Springs,” when they found that “Silver Springs” would not fit on the album.
John McVie (Bass)
John Graham McVie, bass guitarist, is best known as a member of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers from 1964 to 1967 and Fleetwood Mac since 1967. His surname, combined with that of Mick Fleetwood, was the inspiration for the band’s name. Together with drummer Mick Fleetwood, McVie comprises one of the most solid rhythm sections in the history of rock music.
Ken Calliet (Producer)
Only a select few, including record producer Ken Caillat, can say they had a front-row seat for the birth of Rumours. In an interview about his book, Making Rumours, which details the making of the iconic album, Caillat describes Stevie Nicks as being able to summon almost supernatural powers for her songs. He says, “The definitive magical Stevie Nicks vocal would have to be ‘Gold Dust Woman,'” says Caillat, referring to the album’s final track. “She was possibly possessed at the end of that song.”
Lindsey Buckingham (Guitar)
Singer, songwriter, and producer, he’s best known as lead guitarist and co-vocalist of Fleetwood Mac from 1975 to 1987 and 1997 to 2018. The Rumours saga is one of rock’s most famous love stories, where Stevie Nicks had just split with her longtime lover and musical partner, Lindsey Buckingham. Immediately following the album’s 1977 release, Nicks told Rolling Stone she didn’t “care that everybody knows me and Chris and John and Lindsey all broke up. Because we did. So that’s a fact.” Nicks added that the majority of songs she wrote for the album “are definitely about people in the band …. Chris’ relationships, John’s relationship, Mick’s relationship, Lindsey’s and mine. They’re all there and very honest and people will know exactly what I am talking about … people will really enjoy listening to what happened since the last album.”
Mick Fleetwood (Drums)
Best known as the drummer, co-founder, and de facto leader of Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood, whose surname was merged with that of the group’s bassist John “Mac” McVie to form the name of the band. Even Fleetwood was struggling with relationship problems. Before recording began, he discovered that his wife was having an affair with his best friend.
Never Going Back Again (Track)
It is one of several songs on Rumours that Buckingham wrote in the wake of the breakup of his relationship with fellow Fleetwood Mac member Stevie Nicks. He recalls it being one of the last songs written for the album after he had started a rebound relationship with another woman. Buckingham regards it as a sweet and naive song and doesn’t consider the lyrics to be very deep.
“Oh Daddy” (Track)
“That’s probably my favorite Christine song of all time,” Stevie Nicks said in the liner notes to the 2013 reissue of Rumours, “and probably one of the only dark
songs she wrote.” Mick Fleetwood claimed that the lonely ballad was written with him in mind, as he was the only father in the band at the time. McVie described the ease with which she composed her songs on Rumours: “One day in Sausalito, I sat and wrote in the studio, and the four and a half songs of mine on the album are a
result of that.”
Platinum Selling Album
13x Platinum in Australia/ France/Japan/New Zealand/United Kingdom
2x Diamond in United States & Canada
Rumours serves as a quintessential example of how artists can masterfully transform pain into art.
Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours was fueled by giant budgets, sleepless nights, and piles of cocaine. Recorded over 12 months at The Record Plant in Sausalito, California in 1976, the studio owners thought the band were going overboard. Chris Stone said, “They would come in at 7 at night, have a big feast, party till 1 or 2 in the morning. And then when they were so whacked-out they couldn’t do anything, they’d start recording.” If art is suffering, Rumours is a masterpiece.
Stevie Nicks (Vocals)
Rolling Stone called her “the Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll.” Nicks is best known for her work as a songwriter and vocalist with Fleetwood Mac, as well as her chart-topping solo career. She is known for her distinctive voice, mystical stage persona and poetic, symbolic lyrics. Her work both as a member of Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist has produced over forty top 50 hits and sold over 140 million records, making her one of the best-selling music acts of all time.
The Chain (Track)
The Chain, released on their critically acclaimed, best-selling album Rumours is the only song from the album credited to all five members. “The Chain” has become a staple of the band’s live shows, typically the opening song of each performance.
Fleetwood Mac first showcased tracks from Rumours at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. John McVie then suggested the album title to the band because he felt the members were writing “journals and diaries” about each other through music. Among the songs performed included “You Make Loving Fun.”
Created at a time when every romantic relationship in the band was falling apart, Rumours conveys emotional trauma with a rawness that is incredibly vulnerable.
Warner Brothers Records
Rumours was released under Warner Brothers Records on February 4, 1977. Warner Bros. confirmed the release details to the press in December and choose “Go Your Own Way” as a December 1976 promotional single. The label’s aggressive marketing of 1975’s Fleetwood Mac, in which links with dozens of FM and AM radio stations were formed across America, aided the promotion of Rumours. At the time, the album’s advance order of 800,000 copies was the largest in Warner Brothers history.
X – a symbolic notion of “crossing point”
Rumours marked a turning point in Fleetwood Mac’s musical career. The album was the one that transformed them from a hugely respected rock band into a global phenomenon.
You Make Loving Fun (Track)
“You Make Loving Fun” is a song written and sung by Christine McVie. It was released as the fourth and final 45 rpm single from the band’s album Rumours in 1977. It was the record’s fourth top-ten hit, as the song peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. From Rolling Stone: In 1976, Christine McVie’s patience with husband John’s alcoholism reached its end, and she started dating the band’s lighting director Curry Grant. The exaltation of that new relationship can be heard on “You Make Loving Fun,” a buoyantly funk-infused snapshot of a woman availing herself of rock-star sexual freedom. (To protect John’s feelings, Christine told him it was about her dog.) Rumours co-producer Ken Caillat was amazed during the session for “You Make Loving Fun,” when he witnessed Buckingham and Nicks get into a vicious argument while recording backing vocals, then pause and nail their parts perfectly.
Christine McVie of the band recorded her song “Songbird” here in 1976. Producer Ken Caillat loved the track and suggested she record it alone in a concert-style approach. The band booked the Zellerbach Auditorium for March 3, 1976. To create the appropriate ambiance, Caillat ordered a bouquet of flowers to place on her piano. He then requested three spotlights to illuminate the flowers from above. When McVie arrived at the auditorium, the house lights were dimmed so her attention was immediately brought to the illuminated flowers on the piano.