Members: John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, Bob Welch, Bob Weston, Dave Walker, Billy Burnette, Rick Vito, Dave Mason
In the late 1960s, Fleetwood Mac was a success among British blues bands. The band was started by guitarist Peter Green, who recruited the rhythm section of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers: drummer Mick Fleetwood and bass guitarist John McVie. Green himself had replaced a departing member, Eric Clapton, as the lead guitarist of the "Bluesbreakers"; Green and McVie had appeared on Mayall's 1967 A Hard Road album. The band employed another bassist, Bob Brunning, until John McVie was persuaded to join the band. Slide-guitarist and Elmore James devotee, Jeremy Spencer, rounded out the lineup.
Its full name was now "Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac featuring Jeremy Spencer." The band released two albums of Chicago-based blues. It also released a single, "Black Magic Woman," which, when re-recorded by Santana in 1970 (on his album Abraxas), became a top five U.S. hit .
Jeremy Spencer's comedic work with the band counterbalanced Peter Green's serious take on the blues. His performances tended towards parodies and loving pastiches of 1950's rockabilly. One of his Fleetwood Mac songs, the B-side "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight," was jokingly credited to "Earl Vince and the Valiants" and later covered by 70's Scottish punk band the Rezillos.
After its second album, Mr. Wonderful, a third guitarist, 18-year-old Danny Kirwan, was added to the lineup. At this point the band began shifting into a more melodic, introspective, and experimental/progressive mode. Most performances were built around the twin leads of Green and Kirwan, and Kirwan's songwriting was featured in nearly equal proportion to Green's. After releasing two successful singles, the instrumental "Albatross" (which remains the band's only #1 hit in the UK), and the ballad "Man of the World" [#2 UK], it produced what is often considered the best album of the band's Peter Green era, Then Play On. Spencer was, for the most part, absent from these recording sessions. The epic 2-part "Oh Well" single followed [#2 UK], and was included in later pressings of the U.S. LP album (and in all CDs).
After recording Then Play On, Green announced that he was leaving the band. Experimentation with various drugs, particularly LSD, accompanied growing frustration with the commercial nature of the music business. The situation was reflected in the tortured single "The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)", which was nevertheless a #10 UK hit. On May 28, 1970 he performed with Fleetwood Mac for the last time on stage.
Remarkably, the band continued, releasing Kiln House late in 1970. The songwriting and vocals were split between Kirwan and Spencer. Without Green, the band was stylistically barely recognizable as the same unit that made Then Play On.
Christine Perfect was the singer and keyboard player of popular British blues band Chicken Shack. She had married John McVie in 1968, and left Chicken Shack in 1969, just as they charted their only UK hit, "I'd Rather Go Blind" (previously recorded by Etta James). She contributed guest keyboards, backing vocals, and cover art to Kiln House. Before the band went on tour to promote the album, she officially joined the band as songwriter and vocalist. 
In the middle of a 1971 tour in California, Spencer disappeared; the band soon discovered that he had joined the religious group Children of God. Peter Green was summoned to fill in, temporarily, for the remainder of the band's engagements.
Fleetwood Mac in the early Seventies
The early 1970s were a turbulent time for the band, which gained and lost members at a troubling rate. American guitarist Bob Welch joined up, at the suggestion of good friend and promoter Judy Wong (subject of Kirwan's song "Jewel Eyed Judy"). 1971's Future Games and 1972's Bare Trees featured Welch's, Kirwan's and Christine McVie's vocals and songs in more or less equal measure.
Welch brought a mellow jazz-rock guitar sound to the band, with songs to match. His contributions included "Future Games" (from 1971's Future Games), "Sentimental Lady" (from 1972's Bare Trees), and "Hypnotized" (from 1973's Mystery To Me). Kirwan's and Welch's tenures overlapped by two albums, but Kirwan's own erratic behavior on tour led to his dismissal in late 1972.
Bob Weston (guitar) and Savoy Brown's Dave Walker (vocals) were also briefly hired during this phase of the band. The firing of Weston during a late 1973 tour led to that tour's abrupt cancellation. This led its manager, Clifford Davis, to send another dummy band out on the road billed as "Fleetwood Mac", but featuring no original members of the band, resulting in a year-long legal battle.
Mainstream American success
In late 1974, Welch indicated that he intended to leave the band, and Fleetwood and John McVie needed to fill the possible vacancy. While Fleetwood was scouting Van Nuys, California's Sound City Studios, house engineer Keith Olsen played a track titled "Frozen Love" (from The Buckingham Nicks, Polydor PD 5058, September 1973), which he had mixed there for an obscure American duo, The Buckingham Nicks . Fleetwood liked what he heard, and he was introduced to the guitarist, Lindsey Buckingham, who just happened to be in the building. When Welch resigned from the band, Fleetwood asked Buckingham to join. Buckingham agreed, on the condition that his musical partner and girlfriend, Stevie Nicks, also become part of the band.
In 1975, under new management by Gabriele Arras, the new lineup released the eponymous Fleetwood Mac. This proved to be a breakthrough for the band and it became a huge hit. The band was catapulted into stardom. Among the hit singles from this album were Christine McVie's "Over My Head" and "Say You Love Me", and Stevie Nicks's "Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)".
But in 1976, with the success of the band also came the end of John and Christine McVie's marriage, as well as Buckingham's and Nicks's longtime romantic relationship. Pressure was put on Fleetwood Mac to release a successful follow-up album, which, when combined with its new-found wealth, led to creative and personal tensions, fuelled by large amounts of drug and alcohol consumption, especially cocaine.
The album the band members created in 1977 was Rumours, in which the band members lay bare the emotional turmoil experienced at that time. It became the best-selling album of the year. By 1998, Rumours had sold over 19 million copies worldwide, and the RIAA certified it as a diamond album.
Rumours marked the height of the band's creativity and popularity. Sales of future albums declined, but the band still enjoyed critical success. This was true of the follow-up album. Buckingham's response to the great popularity of Rumours was to avoid making a carbon-copy sequel. His expanded role as producer for the next album was influenced by the new wave style.
The result the quirky double album Tusk was released in 1979. It spawned three hit singles: Lindsey Buckingham's "Tusk", which featured the USC marching band; Christine McVie's "Think About Me"; and Stevie Nicks's seven minute opus "Sara". The latter was cut to three-and-one-half minutes for both the hit single and the first CD-version release, but it has since been restored for CD reissuance. Tusk remains one of Fleetwood Mac's most ambitious albums to date. The band embarked on a huge 18-month tour to support and promote Tusk. It traveled extensively across the world, including the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. During this time, the band also recorded music for the Live album.
The next album, 1982's Mirage, was a return to the more conventional. Buckingham had been chided by critics, fellow bandmembers and music business managers for the apparent low commercial success enjoyed by Tusk. Recorded at a chateau in France, Mirage was an attempt to recapture the pop success of Rumours. Its hits included: Christine McVie's and Jim Recor's "Love In Store", Christine McVie's "Hold Me", Stevie Nicks' "Gypsy", and Lindsey Buckingham's "Oh Diane", which entered the Top 10 in the UK. A minor hit was also scored by Buckingham for his "Eyes Of The World". Unlike the Tusk Tour, the band only embarked on a short tour of 18 American cities. It also headlined the first US Festival for which the band was paid $500,000.
Following Mirage, the band went on hiatus, which allowed members to pursue solo careers. Stevie Nicks released Bella Donna, Lindsey Buckingham released Law and Order, and Christine McVie released an eponymous album. All three met with success but it was Stevie Nicks who was most rewarded. During this time it was often rumoured that Fleetwood Mac had finally broken up. Buckingham, however, commented that he was unhappy to allow Mirage to remain as the band's last effort.
Tango In The Night
The Rumours lineup of Fleetwood Mac would record one more album for the time being, Tango In The Night, in 1987. The album was popular, especially in the UK where it hit no.1 three times over a year. The album proved that Fleetwood Mac still had selling power and the album spawned four hits: Christine McVie and Eddy Quintela's "Little Lies", Christine McVie's "Everywhere", Sandy Stewart and Stevie Nicks' "Seven Wonders", and Lindsey Buckingham's "Big Love". The band intended to tour to support the album but Buckingham felt that he had fulfilled his commitments to the band, and wanted to leave. The split was not amicable (in fact, Fleetwood claimed it was venomous) but his relationship with the band would heal somewhat in later years.
Behind The Mask
Following Buckingham's departure, Fleetwood Mac added guitarists Billy Burnette and Rick Vito to the band. 1987's "Tango In The Night", or, "Shake the Cage" tour was the first outing for this lineup, and it enjoyed enough success to warrant a venture into the recording studio. Fleetwood Mac recorded Behind The Mask with Burnette and Vito in 1990. With the album, the band ended up with a more adult contemporary than rock 'n' roll style. However, although the album yielded several high-ranking singles, including McVie's "Skies The Limit" and "Save Me" and Nicks's single "Love Is Dangerous", Behind The Mask only achieved gold album status, and it was seen by some music critics as the low point for the band in the absence of Lindsey Buckingham. In 1995, after Nicks and Vito left the band, and Christine McVie retired from touring, the remaining band members added Bekka Bramlett and Dave Mason to their number, publishing the fairly unsuccessful Time album.
Rumours-era band reunited and beyond
During this time, the Buckingham/Nicks/McVie(s)/Fleetwood lineup reunited at the request of U.S. President Bill Clinton for his first Inaugural Ball in 1993. Clinton had made Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" his campaign theme song, and he prevailed on them to perform it live for his guests. Although the five did so, old wounds had yet to heal, and there was no talk of extending the reunion.
The second reunion in the 1990s also came as a surprise to the music world. In late 1996, the McVies and Fleetwood performed session recording work for Buckingham's forthcoming solo album. This eventually led to contact with the semi-retired Stevie Nicks and a full Rumours lineup reunion in the form of a live concert recorded on a Warner Brothers Burbank, California soundstage, which resulted in the 1997 album The Dance. A successful arena tour followed the MTV premiere of The Dance, which kept the reunited Mac on the road throughout much of 1997. This would be the final foray of the 1970s lineup with Christine McVie. The Rumours lineup, plus original guitarists Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in early 1998, and performed at the Grammy Awards program that year.
In 1998, Christine McVie left the band and returned to the UK to retire from touring (though not from the music business entirely as she created a new album In The Meantime in 2004). This left Buckingham and Nicks to sing the vocals for the band's 2003 album, Say You Will. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 2003 chart, and a well-attended world arena tour lasted through 2004. Drummer Mick Fleetwood and bass guitarist John McVie remain the only original members still with the band.
As Fleetwood had promised, even when events reached their nadir, there would always be John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, as long as both shall live.