In retrospect, 1977 looks like the end of an era and the start of a period whose features still resonate over 30 years later. Apple incorporated and Star Wars was released. INTERPOL issued a mandate against the piracy of VHS cassettes and other media. EMI fired the Sex Pistols and Led Zepplin’s last American concert ended in a brawl and criminal assault charges for Jon Bonham perhaps signaling that the cultural pendulum was swinging in a direction that might allow for a California pop band with a new line-up to make big waves.
The whole history of rock music is strewn with sad songs about the broken-hearted but rarely have the broken hearts themselves united with their estranged others to make a classic album the way Fleetwood Mac did on 1977’s breakout hit Rumours. When Mick Fleetwood invited Lindsey Buckingham to join the band, Buckingham did so on the condition that Fleetwood also hire his girlfriend Stevie Nicks. “Rhiannon” and “Landslide” on the new line-up’s eponymous first album were testament to good decision-making on Mick’s part but by the time they got around to recording their next album, the wages of fame were beginning to take their toll. Like Francis Ford Coppola on the set of Apocalpyse Now two years later, Fleetwood Mac “had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little [they] went insane.”
Drugs and alcohol fueled the dissolution of several relationships within the band. John and Christine McVie’s marriage crumbled while the relationship between Buckingham and Nicks teetered and fell apart, sending Nicks into the arms of Fleetwood, whose wife Jenny Boyd was in the process of leaving him for his best friend. Instead of self-destructing, the band used their self-implosion as creative fodder for one of the most beloved rock albums of all time.
In an interview with CNN, Rumours producer Ken Caillat summed up the band’s journey to rock stardom:
“That day in Sausalito, when we walked into the studio to start recording, they were an established band, but you could hardly say they were rock stars. Before we even released ‘Rumours,’ that had changed dramatically.”
Rumours received Record of the Year honors at the 1977 Grammys and the hit single “Don’t Stop” went on to fuel Bill Clinton’s epic presidential run 25 years later. 2013 Fleetwood Mac tickets are on sale now. North American Fleetwood Mac reunion tour dates kick off on April 4th, 2013.