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Murray: I've told you, when you're in a band, you don't get with your bandmate's girlfriend — past or present... You get a love triangle, you know? Fleetwood Mac situation. Well, there— there was four of them, so more of a love square — but you know, no one gets on... Mind you, they did make some of their best music back then.
Bret: (nodding his head) Rumours.
Murray: No, it's all true.

Fleetwood Mac have had about as many musical lives as a cat through their long and varied career, being as famous for their stylistically-varied-yet-catchy music as their troubled, chaotic behaviour, marked by heavy drug abuse, violence, break-ups, more personnel changes than you can shake a stick at, tell-all bios and more.

Having had so many incarnations and such a tumultuous history since its formation in 1967, for the sake of readability this page will be split according to periods.

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    The Blues Era (1967–1970)
From left to right: Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, and Peter Green.

Fleetwood Mac was formed by Peter Green after leaving John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers in 1967, alongside his Bluesbreakers band-mate Mick Fleetwood. Bob Brunning was their initial bassist, as John McVie initially refused. Once McVie changed his mind, Brunning stepped down. Green named the band after them, which proved kind of prescient in a way since they turned out to be the band's only constant members. Green completed the line-up by recruiting talented slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer.

The band's style so far was straightforward, no-frills blues-rock largely similar to what Green had been doing with John Mayall. This proved to be okay with the British public, which sent its debut album Fleetwood Mac up to #4 on the charts in early 1968 and provided them with a hit single in "Black Magic Woman" (later covered by Santana). Their second album, Mr. Wonderful, followed on the heels of the self-titled debut (literally: it came out in summer 1968), boasting a more vintage production and the first appearance of Christine Perfect, future member of the band and John's wife, as a session keyboardist.

Frustrated by Spencer's creative apathy, Green added 18-year old guitarist Danny Kirwan to the line-up after Mr. Wonderful, whose signature vibrato complemented the band's blues-rocking very well and helped them gain their first #1 single in Europe, the mellow instrumental "Albatross". Around this time, the band suffered some predictable discography-hacking through the release of the compilation English Rose in the USA (half of Mr. Wonderful + new songs with Kirwan), and then they put out another compilation, this time of singles and B-sides in Europe named Pious Bird Of Good Omen.

After a quick holiday in the USA where they recorded many blues songs at Chess Studios with some legendary Chicago bluesmen (Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, Otis Spann), Fleetwood Mac moved from the small blues-only label Blue Horizon to Reprise Records, where they've remained sincenote , and began diversifying away from pure blues-rock. Once again with Christine around as a session musician, the band recorded Then Play On, a critically-acclaimed album that gave them their early Signature Song: "Oh Well", a heavy riff-driven blues-rocker that transitioned into a Ennio Morricone-styled sparse instrumental for a grand total of 9 minutes runtime.note  All the songs on Then Play On were recorded solely by Kirwan and Green, with Spencer barely present since he was working on a solo album of fifties-style retro-rock 'n roll songs. They also scored another non-album hit a year later with "The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown), later covered by Judas Priest.

Despite being popular in Europe, all was not well within the band. Green's experimentation with LSD had contributed to the onset of his schizophrenia, and his mental stability steadily deteriorated. After a conflict over finances, Green left the band, playing his last show on May 20, 1970.

Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Bob Brunning - bass (1967, died 2011)
  • Mick Fleetwood - drums (1967–95, 1997–present)
  • Peter Green - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, bass, percussion, cello (1967–70, died 2020)
  • Danny Kirwan - lead vocals, guitar (1968–72, died 2018)
  • John McVie - bass (1967–95, 1997–present)
  • Jeremy Spencer - lead vocals, guitar, piano (1967–71)

Studio and Live Discography:

  • 1968 - Fleetwood Mac note 
  • 1968 - Mr. Wonderful
  • 1969 - Then Play On
  • 1985 - Live In Boston
  • 1995 - Live At The BBC
  • 1999 - Shrine '69 (recorded in 1969)

Non-album singles:

  • 1967 - "I Believe My Time Ain't Long" / "Rambling Pony"
  • 1968 - "Black Magic Woman" / "The Sun Is Shining"
  • 1968 - "Need Your Love So Bad" / "Stop Messin' 'Round" note 
  • 1968 - "Albatross" / "Jigsaw Puzzle Blues"
  • 1969 - "Man Of The World" / "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite"
  • 1969 - "Oh Well" / "Oh Well, Pt. 2"
  • 1970 - "The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)" / "World In Harmony"

    The Transition Era (1970–1974)
From left to right: Bob Weston, Christine McVie, Bob Welch, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood.

Green's departure proved to be the first sign of the later line-up chaos that Fleetwood Mac would become infamous for. The band seemed to cope well enough with his departure at first, releasing Kiln House in 1970. Kiln showed a big divide between the two now-band leaders, with Kirwan pushing the band towards folky, mellow blues-rock while Spencer devoted his songs to Homages and parodies of fifties rock 'n roll.

In the meantime, John McVie had married Christine, who was officially brought on board as a member shortly after Kiln's release. However, while on tour in February 1971, Jeremy Spencer said he was going out to "get a magazine", but never returned. After several days of frantic searching, the band discovered that Spencer had joined a religious group, the Children of God. The band-members convinced Green to come on board temporarily to finish the tour, and a new guitarist was recruited, an American named Bob Welch.

Future Games proved to be a New Sound Album - sans Spencer, Fleetwood Mac drifted further and further away from their blues roots and into a mellow, folky pop-rock sound that they would in time transition to and fully embrace. Christine began establishing herself as a songwriter here, writing her first trademark pleasant ballads and catchy pop songs, while Welch and Kirwan did their folk-rock thing. Their followup, Bare Trees, continued the formula but with better reception and a hit single, Welch's ballad "Sentimental Lady".

It wouldn't last - Kirwan left the band in 1972 due to alcohol dependence and strained relationships with Welch and the McVies. For two and a half years afterwards, the band entered some of its toughest times, suffering from constantly shifting lineups, reflected in the poorly-received, tepid Mystery To Me (which still managed to get some U.S. FM airplay with the track, "Hypnotized"), internal tension (John and Christine's stressful marriage, John's alcohol abuse, Weston's affair with Fleetwood's wife) and found itself on the receiving end of probably the weirdest event in rock history (and considering the history of both rock and Fleetwood Mac, that's saying a lot).

The band's manager claimed that he owned the name Fleetwood Mac and put out a "fake Mac". Nobody in the "fake Mac" was ever officially in the real band, although some of them later acted as Danny Kirwan's studio band. Fans were told that Welch and John had quit the group and that Fleetwood and Christine would be joining the band at a later date, after getting some rest. Fleetwood Mac's road manager, John Courage, worked one show before he realised that the line being used was a lie. Courage ended up hiding the real Fleetwood Mac's equipment, which helped shorten the tour by the fake band. A lawsuit soon followed over who owned the name "Fleetwood Mac" that dragged out for almost a year but eventually was solved in the band's favour. Interestingly, the fake band renamed themselves Stretch, and had one hit in 1975 with "Why Did You Do It?", the lyrics of which accused Mick Fleetwood of being involved with putting the fake band together, but had failed to join them on tour.

During their forced hiatus, Fleetwood Mac relocated to Los Angeles at Welch's suggestion and recorded Heroes Are Hard to Find with the pared-down lineup of Welch-the McVies-Fleetwood. Welch resigned shortly afterward, burned out by the touring and the lawsuit. Still, Heroes reached higher on the US charts than any previous releases and the band was in a very good position, having cleared up all the mess and eager to get back to music.

Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Mick Fleetwood - drums, percussion (1967–95, 1997–present)
  • Danny Kirwan - lead vocals, guitar (1968–72, died 2018)
  • Christine McVie - keyboard, lead vocals, synthesizer (1970–95, 1997–98, 2014–22; died 2022)
  • John McVie - bass (1967–95, 1997–present)
  • Jeremy Spencer - lead vocals, guitar (1967–71)
  • Dave Walker - lead vocals, harmonica (1972–73)
  • Bob Welch - lead vocals, guitar, bass, vibraphone (1971–74, died 2012)
  • Bob Weston - guitar, banjo, harmonica, vocals (1972–73, died 2012)

Studio Discography:

  • 1970 - Kiln House
  • 1971 - Future Games
  • 1972 - Bare Trees
  • 1973 - Penguin
  • 1973 - Mystery to Me
  • 1974 - Heroes Are Hard to Find

Non-album singles:

  • 1971 - "Dragonfly" / "The Purple Dancer"

    The Pop Era (1974–1987)
From left to right: Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, John McVie, Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham.

While searching for somebody to replace Welch, Fleetwood heard a song by the American duo Buckingham Nicks courtesy of a studio engineer in Van Nuys. Impressed, Fleetwood met guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and asked him to join. Buckingham said he would if his girlfriend Stevie Nicks could also join, something which Fleetwood quickly agreed to.

With the new line-up in place, the band made another New Sound Album, Fleetwood Mac. The new album showcased the band re-imagined as a Californian pop-rock band filled with catchy hooks and lush vocal harmonies, slightly mellow overall but kept away from outright soft-rock by Buckingham's restlessness (which saw the band sneaking blues, folk and country influences into their sound) and a straightforward production, sounding closer to a relaxed Beatles circa Abbey Road than the smooth, lifeless sound that made the term "soft-rock" so hated by many. Buckingham by now had completely seized creative control of the band and became one of the three main songwriters besides Nicks and Christine, leading to a very clear group dynamic: Buckingham being the driven, sort-of experimental weirdo, Christine providing the catchy pop songs/ballads and Nicks being the mystical, slightly Cloudcuckoolander but charming folkie (proto-Kate Bush?).

The band was rewarded for the change with a blockbuster album that went up to #1 in the USA and a few big hits like Christine's "Over My Head" and "Say You Love Me" and Nicks' "Rhiannon" and "Landslide". They never got around to celebrating it due to messy personal troubles - John and Christine ended their marriage in 1976, Buckingham and Nicks split up and Fleetwood divorced from his wife. All this combined with pressure to produce a successful follow-up and huge consumption of drugs and alcohol.

Fleetwood Mac recorded a new album for around a year in five separate studios with Record Producers and engineers Richard Dashut and Ken Caillat, a process marked by personal tensions, long working hours and cocaine abuse - Caillat admitted that he found cocaine littered across the mixing board or thrown under it on at least one occasion. The resulting album, the emotionally stark Rumours, became their biggest success both critically and commercially, staying at #1 for 31 weeks in a row and spawned bigger hits with "Go Your Own Way", the optimistic "Don't Stop", and "You Make Loving Fun," as well as the band's only US number one hit, "Dreams." Another song, "The Chain", credited to all five band members, won fame in another context as the theme song for the BBC's Formula One TV program Grand Prix.

Drained by the production of Rumours, the band's follow-up was the weirder double album Tusk. Once again produced by the band with Dashut and Caillat, Tusk split its time between mellow Christine and Nicks songs and weird, paranoid Buckingham experiments with New Wave and Punk Rock (he notoriously recorded several songs in his own bathroom), all wrapped in a complex yet messy production. Greeted with general confusion that not even an 18-month tour and the singles "Tusk" (a weird, tribal song featuring the USC Trojan Marching Band), "Think About Me" and "Sara" could redress, Tusk has since been Vindicated by History as a coked-out insane yet compelling and catchy pop album. Founder Peter Green also showed up in the studio to play guitar on "Brown Eyes", but wasn't credited at the time. Tusk's initial sales may also have been hurt by a legendary goof Warner (Bros.) Records committed when they released the album to be played in its entirety by radio stations the day before release, providing a golden opportunity for home tapers.

After some time off to recover and for Nicks and Buckingham to release solo albums (Nicks would eventually release four solo LPs and Buckingham two over the course of the decade, with Fleetwood also releasing two and Christine McVie putting out one), Fleetwood Mac returned with Mirage, their first album of The '80s. Replacing the whacked-out-on-coke-insane-paranoia with accessible pop melodies and replacing the simple, muscular sound Dashut and Caillat gave to previous efforts with a shiny production, Mirage sold better than Tusk, propelled by a few successful singles - Christine's "Hold Me", "Love In Store", Nicks' poppier offering "Gypsy" and Buckingham's "Oh Diane". The band celebrated this by partying hard, shovelling more cocaine up their noses and continuing their excessive lifestyle, which came back to bite them in the arse – Nicks had to go into rehab to get rid of her addictions (and had to go into rehab again in the early 1990s to get rid of an addiction to the medication she had been prescribed to help overcome her cocaine addiction), John suffered a seizure due to his alcohol abuse but got better and Fleetwood declared bankruptcy.

Dissatisfied with Mirage and wanting to close on a high note, Buckingham initially began working on some solo material before bringing it to the band and making it a group effort after all. Adding synthesisers to the mix but managing to avoid bland Synth-Pop hell or soft-rock anaemia, Tango in the Night turned out to be another massive success which spun off hit singles like Christine's "Little Lies" and "Everywhere", Nicks' "Seven Wonders" and Buckingham's "Big Love"; it ultimately became their second biggest-selling album after Rumours. With the band in very good standing, Buckingham then left the band after an acrimonious confrontation over his reneging on a commitment to tour, which led to a fight with Nicks (Fleetwood claimed in his 1990 autobiography that Buckingham and Nicks physically assaulted each other).

Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Lindsey Buckingham - lead vocals, guitar, banjo, dobro, bass, percussion, piano, drums (1974–87, 1997–2018)
  • Mick Fleetwood - drums, percussion, harpsichord (1967–95, 1997–present)
  • Christine McVie - lead vocals, keyboard, organ, clavinet, piano, accordion (1970–95, 1997–98, 2014–22; died 2022)
  • John McVie - bass (1967–95, 1997–present)
  • Stevie Nicks - lead vocals, tambourine, keyboard (1974–91, 1997–present)

Studio and Live Discography:

Non-album singles:

  • 1982 - "Gypsy" note  / "Cool Water"
  • 1987 - "Seven Wonders" note  / "Book Of Miracles"
  • 1987 - "Little Lies" note  / "Ricky"
  • 1987 - "Family Man" note  / "Down Endless Street"

    The Audience-Alienating Era (1987–1995)
From left to right: Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Billy Burnette, Stevie Nicks, John McVie and Rick Vito.

Fleetwood Mac brought in two guitarists to replace Buckingham: Billy Burnette, who was chosen for his vocal skills, and Rick Vito, who was chosen for his lead guitar skills. Unfortunately, these didn't show much on the new line-up's first album, Behind the Mask. Another New Sound Album, Behind the Mask saw the band move away from the mellow-yet-catchy pop-rock sound that they had been steered towards by Buckingham, instead achieving a bland adult-contemporary sound that did them no favours and earned them a big trashing from critics, who still see it as probably the band's lowest point. This may be somewhat unfair to Burnette and Vito, who, while not at Buckingham's level, were charming, accomplished live performers and developed a following among the band's more dedicated fans. The band received a further blow when Nicks and Vito left in 1992.

The old line-up with Buckingham and Nicks reunited to play "Don't Stop" at the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1993, who had made it his campaign song and personally requested the band's one-off performance. After this, they went back to business and brought in new members: legendary Traffic and Derek and the Dominos guitarist Dave Mason and vocalist Bekka Bramlett (Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett's daughter). The resulting album, Time sank without a trace - it didn't even make the Billboard charts, a telling sign of its abysmal quality given that Fleetwood Mac had been mainstays on the charts the past two decades. Fleetwood Mac would subsequently break up for the next two years.

Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Bekka Bramlett - lead vocals (1993–95)
  • Billy Burnette - guitar, vocals (1987–93, 1994–95)
  • Mick Fleetwood - drums, percussion, lead vocals, guitar (1967–95, 1997–present)
  • Dave Mason - guitar, vocals (1993–95)
  • Christine McVie - lead vocals, keyboard, synthesizer (1970–95, 1997–98, 2014–22; died 2022)
  • John McVie - bass (1967–95, 1997–present)
  • Stevie Nicks - lead vocals (1974–91, 1997–present)
  • Rick Vito - guitar, vocals (1987–91)

Studio Discography:

  • 1990 - Behind the Mask
  • 1995 - Time

    The Revival Era (1997–Present (?))
From left to right: Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie and John McVie.

The 1974–87 line-up reunited in 1997 and released the live album/film The Dance to much fanfare, with lead single "Silver Springs" finally getting its time to shine. Following this, they started a successful tour and managed to see themselves get in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before Christine retired from the band in 1998. Her retirement was notably free of the bad blood that marked earlier line-up changes, and she retained good relations with the band (we're just as shocked as you are). They've recorded a new album, Say You Will, and have been chugging along pretty well ever since, free of all the insanity they were known for in the past and going on sold-out tours once every few years. Nicks and Buckingham have kept their solo careers active on the sidelines as well, and have even become good friends again (yes, we're just as stunned as you are about that too).

They worked on a new album in the first part of the 2010s, which ended up as an EP, and as of 2014, Christine came out of retirement to rejoin the band. Fans speculated whether they had mellowed out James Cameron-style with old age or were just waiting for someone to press the right Berserk Button.

In 2017, Buckingham and Christine McVie released an collaborative album together titled Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie note . The album features Fleetwood and John McVie on several tracks, which has led to some speculation that it was intended to be a new Fleetwood Mac album, but Stevie Nicks declined to participate.

As of 8 April 2018, it was reported that Fleetwood Mac and Lindsey Buckingham would part ways once more, this time with Buckingham being allegedly fired. Whatever the reason, it was an acrimonious split, with Buckingham filing a lawsuit against the rest of the band. Mike Campbell, the former lead guitarist for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Neil Finn of Australian/New Zealander rock groups Crowded House and Split Enz subsequently joined the band to take Buckingham's place.

On November 30, 2022, it was reported that Christine McVie had died at 79. A little more than two months later on February 5, 2023, Mick Fleetwood told the Los Angeles Times from the red carpet at the Grammy Awards that the band was likely done. He hedged his bets by remarking "I'd say we're done, but then we've all said that before." At the time, all of the present and past surviving members were busy with outside projects, and Fleetwood made a tongue-in-cheek pitch for members for his own separate band.

Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Lindsey Buckingham - lead vocals, guitar, banjo, percussion, keyboard (1974–87, 1997–18)
  • Mike Campbell - guitar (2018–present)
  • Neil Finn - lead vocals, guitar (2018–present)
  • Mick Fleetwood - drums, percussion (1967–95, 1997–present)
  • Christine McVie - lead vocals, keyboard, piano, accordion, tambourine, maracas (1970–95, 1997–98, 2014–22; died 2022)
  • John McVie - bass, vocals, piano (1967–95, 1997–present)
  • Stevie Nicks - lead vocals, tambourine (1974–91, 1997–present)

Studio and Live Discography:

  • 1997 - The Dance
  • 2003 - Say You Will
  • 2004 - Fleetwood Mac: Live in Boston
  • 2013 - Extended Play note 

"I can still hear you saying, you would never break the tropes":

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: In "Dreams":
    But listen carefully to the sound
    When the rain washes you clean you'll know
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Despite his guitar skills, Lindsey Buckingham is unable to read music.
  • The Band Minus the Face: They've had this a few times, to the point that it's difficult to tell what their Face even was at those moments.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Mick Fleetwood is always giving it 240% while making some of the most bizarre faces ever witnessed by audiences.
  • The Bermuda Triangle: "Bermuda Triangle" is about this.
  • Boxed Set: 25 Years: The Chain, a four-disc set released in 1992.
  • Break-Up Song: Actually, a whole break-up album with Rumours.
  • Broken Record: The chorus of "When I See You Again":
    What's the matter, baby?
    What's the matter, baby?
    What's the matter, baby?
    Baby, baby
    What's the matter, baby?
    What's the matter, baby?
    What's the matter, baby?
    • And "The Ledge"
      You can love me baby, but you can't walk out
      Someone oughta tell you what it's really all about
      Someone oughta, someone oughta
      Someone oughta, someone oughta
      Someone oughta, someone oughta
      Someone oughta, someone oughta
  • Conveyor Belt Video: "Big Love" turns the trope sideways — rather literally: instead of tracking sideways, the camera trundles steadily backward through several spliced scenes.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Although he got a co-writing credit on some of the earlier, more jam-based material, "These Strange Times" from Time is the band's only song to have lyrics (co-)written and sung (well, more narrated) by Mick Fleetwood.'
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The blues era, for those used to the Buckingham/Nicks pop era.
  • '80s Hair: Especially noticeable on Christine and Stevie during the Tango In The Night era music videos and tour. Stevie's late-70s perm was a prototype.
  • Epic Rocking:
    • "Oh Well" as it appears on Then Play On is almost 9 minutes.
    • "Sara" goes 6 and a half minutes,note  with the deluxe version of Tusk featuring a 9-minute version. According to Nicks, the "real" version of the song was over 15 minutes long and had many extra verses.
    • "I'm So Afraid" and "World Turning" are also often extended to this live.
  • Special mention to "Rattlesnake Shake". There are TWO versions on Live at the Boston Tea Party that are 24 minutes. Each. (They were from separate evenings, and they included other songs and jams).
  • The original studio version of "Silver Springs" ran over 8 minutes, which is why it initially got flagged to be left off Rumours, since for optimal mastering in that era an album couldn't run longer than 22:00 on each side. Nicks painstakingly agreed to trim it to slightly under 5 minutes, with the understanding that this would keep it on the album. When it got left off anyway and was relegated to the B-Side of "Go Your Own Way", she understandably wasn't happy.
  • Face on the Cover: Zig-zagged throughout their career. Besides Mr. Wonderful which had Mick on the cover, none of their pre-Buckingham/Nicks albums show any of the members. Then, several of their albums from 1975 onwards feature multiple band members on the front cover, but never all of them at once. Quite a few of their compilations and live albums do show the whole band though.
    • Fleetwood Mac (the White Album) shows only John and Mick.
    • Rumours shows Mick and Stevie.
    • Mirage shows Christine, Lindsey and Stevie.note 
    • Say You Will shows Lindsey and Stevie.
    • Tusk, Tango in the Night, Behind the Mask and Time don't feature any band member on the cover.
  • Fake Band: The "fake Mac" fabricated by the band's manager in the early 70s.
    • During the Peter Green era, one Jeremy Spencer-penned B-Side (The '50s Musical Pastiche "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite") was credited to Earl Vince And The Valiants.
  • Free-Handed Performer: Stevie Nicks, who was solely a lead vocalist for the group despite being self-taught on the piano and guitar.
  • Garfunkel: Fleetwood and John, ironically enough. Fleetwood's "These Strange Times" is the only song either have a writing credit on since "The Chain".
  • Greatest Hits Album: The band released two of them, both confusingly titled Greatest Hits. The first one was released in 1971 and covered the Peter Green era, while the second was released in 1988 and covered the more popular pop-rock era. The latter was also the only place at the time to find the full-length version of "Sara" on CD, as the CD version of Tusk used the edited single version. The new tracks on the compilation also were the studio debut of the Billy Burnette-Rick Vito lineup. The band also released the double-CD The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac in 2002.
  • The Grunting Orgasm: The rhythmic male and female grunts in "Big Love" seem to indicate this.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: At 6"5" Fleetwood is nearly a foot and a half taller than 5"1" Stevie Nicks, a fact that photographers often have to work around. (Nicks' iconic platform-soled boots may also be, in part, a practical way to deal with the problem.)
  • Important Haircut: For Tusk, Lindsey Buckingham shed his afro for a shorter hairstyle, which coincided with the stronger Punk Rock and New Wave Music influence over his songs.
  • Incredibly Long Note: Lindsey Buckingham holds one for twenty seconds in title track from Tango in the Night.
  • Intercourse with You: The second half "Big Love" features a male and female voice trading suggestive moans. note 
  • Ironic Echo: The first verse of "Oh Well" features Peter blowing someone off by saying, "Don't ask me what I think of you / I might not give the answer that you want me to." In the second verse God says the same thing, word for word, to Peter.
  • Large and in Charge: Mick Fleetwood has been the leader of the band since Peter Green's departure and absolutely towers of his bandmates.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "Tusk" is fairly minimalist lyrics-wise:
    ''Why don't you ask him if he's going to stay
    Why don't you ask him if he's going away
    Why don't you tell me what's going on
    Why don't you tell me who's on the phone
    Why don't you ask him what's going on
    Why don't you ask him who's the latest on his throne
    Don't say that you love me!
    Just tell me that you want me!
  • Long-Runners: They've been recording and/or touring in some form or another for over 50 years.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: The second classic line-up lasted from 1974 to 1987, plus various shorter-lived revivals.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Go Your Own Way" is a very energetic and catchy pop-rock song about the aftermath of a rather nasty breakup.
    • It's also pretty difficult to notice how depressing are the lyrics for "Second Hand News" among those bow-bow-bow noises.
  • Miniscule Rocking: Most of Lindsey's songs on Tusk are rather short, but "That's Enough for Me" stands out at just 1:50 in length.
  • New Sound Album: Then Play On, Kiln House, Future Games, Fleetwood Mac (the 1975 one), Tango In The Night, and Behind The Mask.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist - Averted with John McVie. The band was partly named for him before he joined.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. Bob Brunning was in the band briefly, and Bob Weston was in during Bob Welch's tenure.
  • One-Woman Song: Several, all from either Lindsey or Stevie - with the exception of Rumours, every album with them in the band has a song like this from one of them.
    • From Lindsey: "Oh Diane", "Caroline", "Miranda"
    • From Stevie: "Rhiannon", "Sara"
  • Perspective Flip: Peter Green sang "Black Magic Woman" as if he were the victim of the titular woman's magic. After bringing the song back for the most recent tour, Stevie Nicks sings it as if she were the woman in question.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • Live versions of "Rhiannon" are longer and much more intense than on the album version, with additional lyrics.
    • The live version of "Big Love" has become a solo showcase for Lindsey Buckingham, playing the song stupid-fast on Spanish guitar. Fans frequently cite it as one of the highlights of any concert.
  • Revolving Door Band: The band went through a lot of guitarists between Peter Green and Lindsey Buckingham.
    • The band is actually an interesting variation on the usual version of this. In most bands, a creative member, usually the singer and/or guitarist, becomes the band's face, and the band goes through a succession of bassists, drummers, and other non-writing members. The Mac had a stable rhythm section and shuffled singers and guitarists throughout their career.
  • Rewind Gag: The video for "Big Love" starts with the video playing forwards, and then at the end rewinding its way back to the near beginning, stopping only at the close-up of Lindsey Buckingham's face.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: Some of the last songs Green performed with the band, most notably "The Green Manalishi" and "Jumpin' At Shadows", come across as this in retrospect.
    God have mercy, but I believe I'm goin' insane...
  • Self-Plagiarism: "Bleed To Love Her" reuses a verse from Buckingham's solo "You Do Or You Don't".
  • Self-Titled Album: Twice. To differentiate it from the 1975 version (which is probably better known worldwide) the 1968 one is referred to as Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Stevie gives one to the Velvet Underground in "Gypsy".
      • The "Velvet Underground" she's referencing is actually to a clothing store in San Francisco, where legends like Janis Joplin and Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane would shop
    • "Rhiannon" is a Shout-Out to (and directly inspired by) Evangeline Walton's retellings of various Celtic legends.
    • The song "Life In The Fast Lane" by Eagles is a particularly unflattering look at the highly dysfunctional Buckingham/Nicks relationship.
  • Solo Side Project: Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie and even Mick Fleetwood have released solo albums while still remaining part of Fleetwood Mac.
  • Something Blues: "Show-Biz Blues", and surprisingly few others (apart from some covers) for a blues band.
  • Spiritual Successor: Many critics have compared the Buckingham/Nicks era of the band to The Mamas And The Papas, due to both bands employing tight male-female vocal blends.
  • Step Up to the Microphone:
    • Fleetwood narrates "These Strange Times"
    • On The Dance, John McVie sings backing vocals on "Say You Love Me", noted by both Christine and Mick as his first time on vocals.
    • Christine McVie sings lead vocals on "Little Lies" (a song she co-wrote), with Stevie Nicks providing the more recognizable Fleetwood Mac sound as backing vocals during the chorus along with Lindsey Buckingham.
  • Take That!: Rumours is absolutely loaded with Take Thats from one band-member towards the other.
    • Lead single "Go Your Own Way" is probably the most obvious - the Packing up, shacking up is all you want to do line is Buckingham insulting Nicks. Nicks responded with the single's B-side "Silver Springs" - which features the line I'll follow you down 'till the sound of my voice will haunt you/you'll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you. The last-named song was, for many years, one of the rarest and most sought-after of Fleetwood Mac tracks because it appeared only on the B-side of the single of "Go Your Own Way"; it had been left off the album because of lack of space, much to Nicks' displeasurenote , and wasn't officially released on a Mac album until their 1992 retrospective box-set. It's also been added to the reissued and remastered editions of Rumours, for what that's worth.
    • "Gold Dust Woman", which did make the final cut, is a Take That! at the groupies who hung around the male members of the band, particularly Mick and Lindsey.
  • Textless Album Cover: Then Play On, their only studio album without the band name and album title on the cover.
  • Tomboyand Girly Girl: Christine and Stevie. Christine admitted this in a 2015 cover story on Stevie: “I’m a tomboy. I love men. I love hanging around with men. And Stevie is kind of a girly girl.”
  • Vocal Tag Team: Done often with Lindsey and Stevie, as well as Lindsey and Christine.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Nicks and Green could do this occasionally. Tried making sense of "Oh Well"? "Rhiannon"? The whacked-out half of Tusk?
    • Nicks is famous - or notorious - for her Word Salad Lyrics in general. Interpreting the meanings of her lyrics has long been a popular pastime among her fans; she's helped the process along by commenting on more than one occasion that virtually all her songs are autobiographical in one way or another, so fans have long amused themselves by matching up Nicks' often-cryptic lyrics to events and people in her life.
  • Buckingham's lyrics can be even more cryptic, and downright minimalist. This is in part due to the fact that he often prefers perfecting the instrumental parts of a song to writing lyrics.
  • Working with the Ex: Around the time of the Rumours album, consisted of two broken relationships and a drummer (who had a fling with the singer). The McVies were able to hash out a working, professional relationship almost immediately after their divorce. Nicks and Buckingham, however, had a famously contentious and volatile love-hate relationship with one another until their mid-90s reunion, when their feelings towards one another eventually cooled down...until Buckingham's second acrimonious departure from the band in 2018.