Perhaps Sheryl Crow said it best about Fleetwood Mac: "The feeling I get when I listen to their records is that what they were going through in their lives was completely catalogued on them. Those feelings weren't edited. And that for me is why those records were the soundtracks to some really important years for so many people."
When the classic lineup of John and Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood reunited in 1993 to play "Don't Stop" at President Clinton's inauguration, Americans were inspired to look ahead while pop music lovers brimmed with the joyful nostalgia of the Rumours era which came to define soft rock in the late 70s.
Long before the Buckingham-Nicks era, circa 1967, the original band was formed by drummer Fleetwood and guitarist Peter Green, who had recently left John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. The later addition of bassist John McVie created a British blues foundation that would eventually attract a revolving door of musical talent, including Jeremy Spencer and Bob Welch. Santana's classic "Black Magic Woman" was originally a Mac song written by Green. Pianist Christine Perfect, who later married John McVie, joined the group on 1969's Then Play On, but was uncredited.
Following the release of the 1974 album Hard to Find, Welch left the band, leaving the door wide open for the guitar brilliance of Buckingham to help shape the Fleetwood Mac that would achieve superstardom; one of Buckingham's conditions for joining the band was bringing along his singer-songwriter partner Stevie Nicks. The new lineup's self titled 1975 debut became the group's biggest hit to date, hitting #1 on the strength of Top 20 singles like "Rhiannon" and "Say You Love Me".
The quintet's next release, Rumours, proved more remarkable still. Despite the collapse of two relationships - the McVies were divorced, Buckingham and Nicks split up - the group completed a remarkable collection that laid bare the traumas within. The hits "Go Your Own Way", "Don't Stop", "Second Hand News" and "Dreams" drove Rumours to #1 for 31 weeks, and at 30 million copies, it remains one of the bestselling albums of all time.
1979's ambitious double album Tusk was another creative masterpiece, but many considered it a commercial disappointment in light of Rumours. "Sara" is the enduring Nicks hit, and the title track, a fascinating instrumental featuring the USC marching band, showed that the band was not above experimentation. An in-concert selection, Fleetwood Mac Live, was released as a stopgap in 1980 as rumors of a complete break-up spread.
By the time Mirage came out in 1982, Nicks and Buckingham were engaged in budding solo careers. Their success delayed the next group project, Tango In The Night, till 1987, after which Buckingham departed and was replaced on tour by Billy Burnette and Rick Vito.
The new incarnation debuted with Behind the Mask in 1990, after which came The Chain, a box set put together by Fleetwood, and the classic lineup's reunion for Clinton's inauguration. Putting their differences aside, they created The Dance, a TV special and live album featuring some new material. After a wildly successful tour, Christine McVie left the group. The band's 2003 album Say You Will was the first FM studio album in years and the first without McVie. The legacy continues. As the liner notes to the double disc The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac explain, "the songs collected here offer us scenes from a musical marriage -a highly charged and productive partnership full of real harmony and real hurt."