1948 – Fleetwood Mac songwriter Lindsey Buckingham is born in Palo Alto, Calif.

Fleetwood Mac

1948 – Fleetwood Mac songwriter Lindsey Buckingham is born in Palo Alto, Calif.

Lindsey Adams Buckingham (born October 3, 1949) is an American guitarist and singer, most notable for being a member of the musical group Fleetwood Mac. Aside from his tenure with Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham has also released five solo albums and a live album. He is married to photographer Kristen Messner and has three children. As a member of Fleetwood Mac, he was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

Early years

Born in Palo Alto, California, Buckingham was the third and youngest son of Rutheda (née Elliott) and Morris Buckingham. He had two older brothers, Jeff and Greg. Growing up in the Bay Area community of Atherton, California, Buckingham and his brothers were encouraged to swim competitively. Though Buckingham dropped out of athletics to pursue music, his brother Greg went on to win a silver medal at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

Buckingham’s first forays into guitar playing took place on a toy Mickey Mouse guitar, playing along to his brother Jeff’s extensive collection of 45s. Noticing his talent, Buckingham’s parents bought their son a $35 Harmony guitar.

Buckingham never took guitar lessons and does not read music, on principle. By age 13, he became interested in folk music and, influenced by banjo methods, practiced the fingerpicking styles of The Kingston Trio. At 15 he joined a small folk group, providing vocals and guitar work.


Buckingham met Stevie Nicks while they both attended Menlo Atherton High School, and later formed The Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band with her and three other friends. Buckingham’s fingerpicking style gave him difficulty playing rock guitar, and thus he moved to bass. After gaining popularity at Menlo-Atherton High School, “Fritz” became a popular local act and even opened for such acts as Santana, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.

After cutting some demos with Fritz for producer Keith Olsen, Buckingham and Nicks struck out on their own, and Fritz disbanded in 1971. Buckingham and Nicks became involved romantically, dropping out of San Jose State to pursue a career making music together. Buckingham was stricken with a case of “mono” (Infectious mononucleosis) and his illness forced Nicks to begin waiting tables and cleaning houses to support the couple, while allowing him the free time to master his guitar techniques.

Buckingham Nicks

Buckingham and Nicks recorded seven demos in 1972 on an analog 4-track. They drove to Los Angeles to pursue a record deal. In 1973, Polydor Records signed the pair. Their album, Buckingham Nicks, was released in September 1973; soon after its release, Polydor dropped the duo due to poor sales.

Despite the record company misstep, Buckingham Nicks has been championed by rock critics since its release. It features gorgeous two-part harmonies backed by notable LA session musicians, including superstar drummer Jim Keltner. Other session musicians include: Ron Tutt, Drums (Elvis Presley TCB Band); Peggy Sandvig, Keyboards; Waddy Wachtel, Guitar; Jorge Calderon, Percussion; Jerry Scheff (Elvis Presley TCB Band), Bass; Monty Stark, Synthesizer; Gary Hodges, Drums; and Mark Tulin, Bass. (from the album jacket)

Although money was tight, the hardworking duo caught the attention of many budding musicians, including Warren Zevon, who is rumored to have been a roommate of Nicks and Buckingham in a Fairfax district apartment.

A short tour promoting the Buckingham Nicks album commenced shortly after the joining of Buckingham and Nicks with Fleetwood Mac. Bootlegs of two concerts in Mobile and Tuscaloosa exist and are widely distributed on peer-to-peer networks and fansites. The touring band included drummers Bob Aguirre (from Fritz) and Gary Hodges playing simultaneously, bassist Tom Moncrieff (who later was featured playing bass on Stevie Nicks’ album Belladonna), and, of course, Buckingham and Nicks.

To help make ends meet, Buckingham toured with Don Everly’s back-up band, singing Phil Everly’s parts. Buckingham and Nicks were eventually forced to move in with record producer Keith Olsen, who helped the pair work on several demos for the next Buckingham/Nicks album, including “I’m So Afraid”, “Monday Morning”, and “Rhiannon”.

Buckingham Nicks has never been released on CD (although a bootleg version exists). Both Buckingham and Nicks have hinted at a possible remix and re-release on CD in the near future. Buckingham has also suggested a tour in support of the collection could be something the two may be interested in. Moncrieff and Hodges, from the original Buckingham Nicks touring band have also expressed interest.

Fleetwood Mac

While checking out the Sound City recording studio in California, Mick Fleetwood heard the song “Frozen Love” from the Buckingham Nicks album. He asked who the guitarist was, and immediately stated that he wanted him to fill a recent vacancy. Buckingham insisted to Fleetwood that he and Nicks were a package deal–if Fleetwood didn’t want Nicks, he wouldn’t get Buckingham. The duo was quickly asked to join Fleetwood Mac on New Year’s Eve, 1974.

Fleetwood Mac released their eponymously titled album in 1975, which became a hit. However it was the second album of this new line-up, Rumours, that propelled the band to superstar status when it became one of the best-selling albums of all time. After the resounding commercial success of Rumours (during the making of which Buckingham and Nicks famously split), Buckingham was determined to avoid falling into repeating the same musical pattern. The result was Tusk (1979), a double album that Buckingham primarily directed. It was during this time that Buckingham moved in with record company secretary and aspiring model, Carol Ann Harris, with whom he lived until 1984. Though by most standards a hit, Tusk failed to come anywhere close to what Rumours had done.

After a large world tour that ended in 1980, the band took a year long hiatus before reconvening to record their next album Mirage, a more pop-friendly work that returned the band to the top of the US album chart. However, by this time various members of the band were enjoying success as solo artists (particularly Nicks) and it would be five years before the release of the next Fleetwood Mac album. By the time Tango in the Night was released in 1987, Buckingham had already made two solo albums and had given up much of the material for what would have been his third solo album for the project, including “Big Love”, “Tango in the Night”, “Family Man”, “You and I”, and “Caroline”. On several of these tracks Buckingham played every instrument. “Big Love”, released as the first single from the album, became a top ten hit in the US and the UK. Many believed (including talk show host David Letterman) the “love grunts” on the track were sung by Stevie Nicks. However, the vocals on the song were all, in fact, sung by Buckingham, who used studio technology to alter the pitch of his voice.

Propelled by a string of hit singles, Tango in the Night became the band’s biggest album since Rumours ten years earlier. However, just prior to embarking on a world tour for the album, Buckingham left Fleetwood Mac as he had been exhausted by producing the album and simply didn’t have the appetite for a world tour. Fleetwood Mac continued without him, and Buckingham was replaced by guitarists Rick Vito and Billy Burnette.

Solo projects
The cover of Law and Order (1981), Buckingham’s first solo album
The cover of Law and Order (1981), Buckingham’s first solo album

During the time he worked on Tusk, Buckingham also produced albums for Walter Egan and John Stewart in the late 1970s as well as beginning work on his own solo album.

In 1981, Buckingham released his first solo album Law and Order, playing nearly every instrument and featuring guest appearances by bandmates Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie. The album pursued the quirky, eclectic, often lo-fi and new-wave-influences of Tusk, and spawned the hit single “Trouble”, a slice of Southern California Beach Boys-inspired pop that reached #9 on the US Charts and #1 in Australia (for three weeks). Two years later, he wrote and performed the songs “Holiday Road” and “Dancin’ Across the U.S.A.” for the film National Lampoon’s Vacation. “Holiday Road” was released as a single, but reached only #82 on the Billboard’s Hot 100. He did other soundtrack work, including the song “Time Bomb Town” from Back to the Future (1985).

In 1984, after ending his 7-year relationship with Carol Ann Harris, he released his second solo album, Go Insane. The title track was a modest hit, reaching #23 on the Hot 100. The last track of the album, D.W. Suite, was a tribute to the late Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson. The next year, Buckingham performed on USA for Africa’s fundraising single, “We Are the World”.

Following his split with Fleetwood Mac in 1987, Buckingham spent much of the next five years in the studio, working on his third solo album, Out of the Cradle, which was released in 1992. Many of the songs seem to deal with the death of his father and the sudden death of his brother Greg in 1990. “Wrong” was a gentle rebuke of former bandmate Mick Fleetwood’s tell-all biography. Out of the Cradle received some favorable reviews but did not achieve the sales levels associated with Fleetwood Mac. However, Buckingham toured throughout 1992-93 for the first time as a solo artist; his band included an army of seven other guitarists (Buckingham himself calls them “the crazy band” on his Soundstage DVD), each of whom he individually taught the entire two-and-a-half hours of music from the concert (Lindsey Buckingham: Behind the Music documentary for VH-1, 2001).

A subsequent solo album, entitled Gift of Screws, was recorded between 1995-2001 and presented to Warner Bros./Reprise for release. Executives at the label managed to persuade Buckingham to hold the CD back and instead take several tracks from Gift of Screws and re-record them with Fleetwood Mac. Thus, seven songs from Gift of Screws (“Murrow Turning Over In His Grave”, “Miranda”, “Red Rover”, “Come”, “Steal Your Heart Away”, “Bleed to Love Her”, and “Say Goodbye”) appear on the Fleetwood Mac album Say You Will and in substantially the same form as Buckingham had recorded them for his solo release. Excellent bootleg copies of Gift of Screws — taken from an original CD-R presented to Warner Bros/Reprise — are known to exist and have been widely distributed among fans through the use of torrent sites and other peer to peer networks. Other songs from Gift of Screws appear on Buckingham’s 2005 Soundstage DVD, and on his 2006 solo album, Under The Skin.

Buckingham contributed the song “Shut Us Down” (co-written with Cory Sipper) to the soundtrack of the Cameron Crowe movie, Elizabethtown. In November of 2005, he released his Soundstage performance (taped in 2003) on DVD, and on his 57th birthday, (October 3, 2006) an acoustic album entitled Under the Skin was released. Under The Skin features Buckingham on almost all instruments, with the exception of two tracks that feature Fleetwood Mac rhythm section John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. The album includes a cover of The Rolling Stones classic “I Am Waiting”. Three days after the album’s release, Buckingham started a tour promoting the album that lasted until the end of June 2007.

Buckingham followed-up Under The Skin with a live release titled Live at the Bass Performance Hall, a CD/DVD combo of his Fort Worth concert in January 2007 that was released on March 25, 2008.

A further US tour has been scheduled for September and October 2008 , as promotion for Buckingham’s new album Gift Of Screws which was released on September 16, 2008.

Rejoining Fleetwood Mac

In 1992, newly-elected president Bill Clinton asked Fleetwood Mac to come together to perform the song he had chosen for his campaign, “Don’t Stop”, at his inaugural ceremony. Buckingham agreed to be part of the performance, but the experience was something of a one-off for the band, who were still very much at odds with one another and had no plans to reunite officially.

While assembling material for a planned fourth solo album in the mid 1990s, Buckingham contacted Mick Fleetwood for assistance on a song. Their collaboration lasted much longer than anticipated, and the two eventually decided to call upon John and Christine McVie. The band’s old chemistry was clearly still there, and plans for a reunion tour were soon in the works. In 1997, Buckingham and all four of his bandmates from the original Rumours line-up of Fleetwood Mac went on the road for the first time together since 1982 in a reunion tour titled The Dance. The tour was hugely successful and did much to heal the damage that had been done between Buckingham and his bandmates. In 2003, the reformed band released the first studio album involving Buckingham and Nicks in 15 years, Say You Will. However, Christine McVie had opted to leave the band in 1998, essentially now making the band a foursome. Buckingham’s song “Peacekeeper” was the first single from the album, and the band went on a world concert tour that would last almost a year and a half.

The band plans to tour and then record a new studio album in 2009, rehearsals begin in Jan ’09 and the tour is expected to start in Apr ’09. Christine McVie will not be involved in this eventual project. Buckingham has stated that he planned to record a song entitled “If You Insist” for his upcoming album Gift Of Screws, but reconsidered once he pondered “the dynamics of Stevie singing backup with me. I can’t hear this song without her so I’m waiting until (Fleetwood Mac) regroup. This is a Fleetwood Mac song if ever I wrote one”

Musical style

Unlike many rock guitarists, Buckingham does not use a plectrum, or a pick. Instead, he uses his fingers and fingernails. By his own admission, Buckingham does use a fingerpick in the studio. Before and initially after joining Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham used a Gibson Les Paul. In 1979, he worked with Rick Turner, owner of Renaissance Guitars to create the Model One. He has used it extensively since, both with Fleetwood Mac and for his solo efforts. He has also used an Ovation Celebrity for acoustic performances and a Fender Telecaster.

His influences include The Beach Boys and The Kingston Trio.


On July 8, 1998, Buckingham’s girlfriend, Kristen Messner, gave birth to their son, William Gregory Buckingham. Buckingham and Messner subsequently married in 2000, and she gave birth to a daughter, Leelee, the same year. Their third child, Stella, was born on April 20, 2004.


As Buckingham Nicks
Year     Album     US     UK     Additional information
1973     Buckingham Nicks     –     –     Debut album featuring duo of Buckingham and partner Stevie Nicks. Both would later join Fleetwood Mac, after this album failed commercially and label Polydor dropped them as they were recording tracks for follow-up LP

With Fleetwood Mac

Main article: Fleetwood Mac discography

Solo albums
Year     Album     US     UK     Additional information
1981     Law and Order     32     –     Featured Buckingham’s biggest charting single outside of Fleetwood Mac – “Trouble”
1984     Go Insane     45     –     –
1992     Out of the Cradle     128     51     –
2006     Under the Skin     80     154     –
2008     Live at the Bass Performance Hall     186     –     –
2008     Gift of Screws     48     59     Release Date: September 15th, 2008

Soundtrack appearances
Year     Song     Soundtrack     Additional information
1983     “Holiday Road, “Dancing Across The USA”     National Lampoon’s Vacation     –
1985     “Time Bomb Town”     Back to the Future     –
1994     “On The Wrong Side”     With Honors     –
1996     “Twisted”     Twister     Duet with Stevie Nicks
2005     “Shut Us Down”     Elizabethtown     Un-Cut Version
2006     “Big Love”     Elizabethtown Vol 2     Live Soundstage Performance

Year     Song     US Hot 100     US Mainstream Rock     UK Singles     AAA Charts     Album
1981     “Trouble”     #9     #12     #31     –     Law and Order
1983     “Holiday Road”     #82     –     –     –     National Lampoon’s Vacation soundtrack
1984     “Go Insane”     #23     #4     –     –     Go Insane
1984     “Slow Dancing”     #23     –     –     –     Go Insane
1992     “Wrong”     –     #23     –     –     Out of the Cradle
1992     “Countdown”     –     #38     –     –     Out of the Cradle
2006     “Show You How”     –     –     –     –     Under the Skin
2008     “Did You Miss Me”     –     –     –     #45     Gift of Screws

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