Fleetwood Mac's Rumours turns 40

Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ Turns 40: How The Iconic Rock Album Kept The Band Sane

Fleetwood Mac’s most famous album, Rumours, is 40-years-old. The landmark album, which made Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, and John and Christine McVie superstars, was released on Feb. 4, 1977. In an interview with ABC News, Stevie Nicks said the making of the album was full of drama, but somehow the music kept the band sane.

“We were having a lot of fun recording those songs, even though we were falling apart,” Stevie said. “If anything was keeping us from falling apart, it was going into the studio every day.”

Fleetwood Mac first formed in England in 1967, but the band didn’t go mainstream until 1975 with the addition of California couple Buckingham and Nicks, who helped the group achieve chart success with the self-titled “White Album.” Two years later, Rumours really put Fleetwood Mac on the map, while doing a number on the band’s personal relationships.

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Fleetwood Mac’s two couples — Buckingham and Nicks, and the McVies — crumbled during sessions for the blockbuster album. John and Christine McVie decided to end their six-year marriage while making Rumours, while Buckingham and Nicks called off their volatile eight-year relationship for good. Nicks soon began an affair with Mick Fleetwood, a relationship she later admitted was “doomed” from the start.

Fleetwood Mac began recording Rumours in February, 1976, at California’s Record Plant, and the band’s personal problems became the inspiration for the songs. Drug use was rampant, and Rumours co-producer Ken Caillat told ABC News that the band “started throwing champagne in each other’s faces and yelling at each other” during recording sessions and that arguments sometimes broke out in response to the real life song lyrics. Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way” is a famous jab at Nicks, while McVie’s “You Make Loving Fun” was reportedly written about her new boyfriend, Curry Grant, who worked as a lighting director for the band.

[Image by Billboard via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain]

Thanks to the single “Dreams,” Rumours hit No. 1 and stayed there for 31 weeks, making it one of the bestselling albums ever recorded. According to Rolling Stone, Nicks later revealed that she wrote “Dreams” in response to Lindsey’s breakup anthem.

“Even though ‘Go Your Own Way’ was a little angry, it was also honest,” Stevie wrote in the liner notes to the Rumours reissue. “So then I wrote ‘Dreams,’ and because I’m the chiffony chick who believes in fairies and angels, and Lindsey is a hardcore guy, it comes out differently. Lindsey is saying go ahead and date other men and go live your crappy life, and [I’m] singing about the rain washing you clean. We were coming at it from opposite angles, but we were really saying the same exact thing.”

[Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]

In an interview on Oprah’s Master Class, Stevie admitted that the couple’s decision to join the already established rock band cost them their relationship.

“Lindsey always blamed Fleetwood Mac for the loss of me,” Nicks said. “That had we not joined Fleetwood Mac we would’ve continued on with our music, but we probably would’ve gotten married, and we probably would’ve had a child. And it would have been a different life.”

Still, Nicks said the bandmates all knew Fleetwood Mac was more important than anything else in their lives.

“The band was way more important than each separate person’s problems and we knew that,” the singer revealed. “So we never, ever, with everything that happened to us, ever, let love affairs break Fleetwood Mac up.”

Songs from Rumours have been an important part of pop culture history. President Bill Clinton used the song “Don’t Stop” on his campaign trail, and Fleetwood Mac later played at his Inaugural Ball.

In 1998, Fleetwood Mac performed at the 1998 Grammy Awards in honor of the 20th anniversary of Rumours. Actor Kelsey Grammer introduced the band, who then performed a medley of “Rhiannon,” “Go Your Own Way,” and “Don’t Stop,” three of their biggest songs from the 1970s.

As for those rocky Rumours sessions, Nicks told ABC it wasn’t awful “at all.”

“It was fantastic!” the rock songstress said. “We were rich, we were young, we were falling out of love with each other, but, hey… there was a lot of other men and women in the world, and we were all moving on.”

Rumours won the Grammy Award for album of the year in 1977. The album has sold more than 45 million copies worldwide and remains one of the Top 10 best-selling albums of all time.

You can listen to Fleetwood Mac’s entire Rumours album below.

[Featured Image by Noam Galai/Getty Images]