Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks have always been that good looking couple from high school who we all thought would be together forever, but never made it past senior year. We always root for that couple. If they can make it, then maybe we can hold on to some of our unrealistic, romantic dreams a little while longer.
They first met at a party where Stevie saw Lindsey sitting alone, playing "California Dreaming." She thought he was "beautiful," so she walked over and sang the harmony, which impressed Lindsey. Soon after, her family moved to Chicago and they would not see each other for two years when they met up in college, and Lindsey asked Stevie to join his band, Fritz.
Fritz was a popular local band that would go on to open for Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, CCR and Chicago, but they couldn't secure a record deal. Frustrated, Lindsey and Stevie quit the band in 1971 and forged ahead as a duo.
Lindsey used his inheritance to buy an Ampeg 4-track tape machine; they locked themselves in a small office space at a coffee plant where his father worked, and recorded all night, every night for about a year.
They recorded seven songs and headed to Los Angeles to score a record deal. They were turned down by every record company in town except for Polydor Records, who eventually signed the duo in 1973.
Keith Olsen, who was Curt Boettcher's whiz kid engineer and collaborator, was brought in to produce the album. He showed up with a gaggle of session players, including legendary drummer Jim Keltner, Waddy Wachtel on guitar and Elvis Presley's famed TCB band. But make no mistake, the album is dominated by Lindsey Buckingham's unique guitar sounds and the duo's strong vocals. They were seasoned pros by the time they recorded their debut record and it shows.
What makes Buckingham Nicks special, however, are the songs. "Crying in The Night," which has Stevie already warning Lindsey about the dangers of other women, could have been the lead track on the album Fleetwood Mac. Buckingham's "Without a Leg to Stand On" would have felt right at home on Rumours, while "Don't Let Me Down Again," is a long time Fleetwood Mac concert staple. Nicks' "Crystal" packs a bigger wallop here than it does on the Mac version, and "Races Are Run" is Stevie's first kiss-off song, a mean little middle finger to her old Fritz bandmates. This album could have been titled Rumours, the Prequel.
The critics loved the record, but the early sales figures were poor and Polydor dropped the duo. Within weeks they were living in Richard Dashut's house; Stevie began cleaning Keith Olsen's apartment and waitressing to make ends meet, whereas Lindsey raised some cash, touring with Don Everly. Meanwhile, they began recording a second Buckingham Nicks album. The songs included such Fleetwood Mac hits as "Rhiannon," "Monday Morning," and "Landslide."
Fate stepped in when Mick Fleetwood stepped into Sound City Studios, looking for a place to record the next Fleetwood Mac album. He was also looking for a new guitar player to replace Bob Welch. Olsen played Fleetwood a copy of the Buckingham Nicks' track "Frozen Love" to demonstrate the studio's and his capabilities. Fleetwood loved the guitar work and offered Buckingham the gig but had no interest in Nicks (good call, Mick).
Buckingham told him they were a package deal. After talking it over with John and Christine McVie, they agreed to let them both join. They rehearsed for a month, recorded the Fleetwood Mac album in three months and went on the road. By the end of 1975 they were superstars.
Before the venom, the affairs and the mountains of cocaine, there was Buckingham Nicks. Their sole record has never been released in any digital format; it's a “classic” album we’re not sick of yet, like your old high school sweetheart, showing up after so many years, looking exactly the same, without the baggage, without thirty years of life's bruises. Still fresh-faced, filled with hope, dreams of the future, before everyone went their own way.
And you had nothing but time.
(Jim Pace can usually be found directing music videos in and around NYC. He will begin production on his first feature film in 2013. He spends his spare time writing songs, screenplays and getting involved in anything that will give him an excuse to listen to more music.)