There are plenty of wild Fleetwood Mac stories, but none of them top the tales that swirled around the recording of the 1977 juggernaut Rumours. Some of that resulted from the lineup that created the album; the band had been around for a decade by the time Rumours was released, but new members had been brought into the fold just a few years earlier. The addition of volatile couple Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham in 1975 brought Fleetwood Mac incredible success but almost tore the band apart.
Nicks and Buckingham, along with on-the-outs spouses Christine and John McVie and soon-to-be-divorced Mick Fleetwood, put together one of the best-selling albums in music history by making Rumours. The title proved apt, too, considering all the whispers of scandal involving the musicians. Even today, the songs on the record read like a diary of Fleetwood Mac behind-the-scenes drama. In the end, the band had a Grammy-winning album on their hands, complete with a harmonious undertone of adultery, divorce, in-fighting, and so, so many drugs.
The McVie Marriage Finally Dissolved
Despite efforts to restore their marriage, John and Christine McVie broke up for good in the middle of the 1975-1976 tour. Christine later admitted that she hadn't handled it well:
"I broke up with John in the middle of a tour. I was aware of it being rather irresponsible. I had to do it for my sanity. It was either that or me ending up in a lunatic asylum."
McVie, who was already drinking heavily, displayed odd behavior on the tour because of the stress of his marriage dissolving. He would pace up and down hotel corridors at night, yelling Christine's name while she hid in her room.
Christine McVie Dated The Lighting Director And John McVie Hooked Up With Groupies
Immediately after finally calling it quits with John McVie, Christine entered into a relationship with Fleetwood Mac's lighting director, Curry Grant. John started hooking up with groupies at the band's house, which Mick Fleetwood described as "a bordello with blacked out rooms, thick shag carpets, deprivation tanks, and a very liberal sprinkling of assorted drugs."
Christine McVie And Stevie Nicks Felt They Could Only Rely On Each Other
For the female members of Fleetwood Mac, life in the band was full of sexism and isolation. Interviewers pressed Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks in attempts to get them to reveal some sort of rivalry, but none existed.
They turned to each other often, particularly as Christine's relationship with John McVie got worse and worse. Each woman considered the other their "only friend."
They Had A Velvet Bag Of Cocaine On Hand While Recording
After Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac, the classic lineup was in place.
This latest iteration put out an eponymous album, Fleetwood Mac, in 1975, and went on a multi-month tour. The album and the tour were both massive successes – musically, at least. Offstage, Buckingham and Nicks's relationship was strained, and the McVies continued to struggle with their rapidly dissolving marriage. Adding to all of this was the drinking and drug use that accompanied their daily lives. John McVie continued to drink, and cocaine was a drug of choice for Nicks:
"At that time, everybody around me was doing it... Drug-taking was methodical when we got to LA. It was, ‘Here, try this.’ Everybody was so willing to give you stuff and tell you you’d like it. ‘Gold Dust Woman’ was about how we all love the ritual of it, the little bottle, the diamond-studded spoons, the fabulous velvet bags. For me, it fitted right into the incense and candles and that stuff. And I really imagined that it could overtake everything, never thinking in a million years that it would overtake me."
The drug use worsened while the band recorded Rumours. The musicians stashed a black velvet bag of cocaine under the mixing desk, and would periodically take hits while working. Fleetwood snorted a staggering amount over his career – an estimated seven miles of cocaine.