We are dipping into the Far out Magazine vault to look back at a searing moment of inter-band tension as Fleetwood Mac perform ‘Rhiannon’ and ‘Go Your Own Way’.
The tension that resonated throughout Fleetwood Mac has often been cited as the reason for making such a wonderful record with 1977’s Rumours. That tension is seen perfectly as the band took to the fabled stage of The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1976 to perform two of their most dramatic and utterly brilliant songs of heir catalogue.
It’s not often that the whole band is going through troubling times when recording an album. It’s not necessarily unique to Fleetwood Mac that a lot of the member of the band were struggling romantically but it is unusual for all of those relationships to be contained within the group. While all the members of the band were struggling with personal problems during the recording of Rumours, the collapse of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks’ relationship—arguably the new heart of the band—was beginning to threaten the band’s very existence.
Yet somehow, for a while at least, the fraught relationships hung on—if only for the music’s sake and Fleetwood Mac made one of the greatest labums of modern music history.
After the introduction of Nicks and Buckingham in 1975, Fleetwood Mac were going from strength to strength creatively and musically. Their self-titled record was stacked full of hits like ‘Rhiannon’ and ‘Landslide’, proving the two new additions to be worth their weight in gold discs. But with professional success for the band came personal failures for those within it as Christie and John McVie divorced while Nicks and Buckingham’s relationship also rapidly deteriorated.
Somehow the band managed to trudge along and record some of their best work as they readied recordings for the most prestigious of their albums, Rumours. Creating songs from their personal experiences with one another was one thing, having to sing the lines in the studio allowed one to find some alone time afterwards. But those feelings and songs were given extra weight when performing live for an audience, with nowhere to run.
The album sessions were undoubtedly some of the most chaotic rock and roll has ever seen with all members working almost entirely separately aside from a few go-betweens. The album was near completion and now they had to make sure all the stress and pain was worth it and ensure they promoted the LP properly.
Despite their now-honeyed Hollywood pairing of Buckingham and Nicks at the front of the stage, their roots were in the Blues clubs of London. Drummer Mick Fleetwood understood that the growing popularity of music TV show, The Old Grey Whistle Test, meant it provided another huge audience for Fleetwood Mac ahead of their LP release—it was an opportunity he would not give up.
The show, which ran from 1971 – 1988, was famed for brokering new and exciting alternative acts into the mainstream. Huge performances from Joy Division, David Bowie, plus so many more had all found the show as a steadfast stepping stone to commercial success without compromise. This was what Fleetwood Mac needed; a devoted audience with a craving for something different.
The band certainly deliver that as they perform one song from their self-titled 1975 record with a stellar performance of ‘Rhiannon’ —the song given an extra tone of quality with Nicks’ ever-impressive vocal—as well as a short anecdote on how she wrote it. The footage below is actually of a rehearsal the group conducted, something someone neglected to tell Nicks who gives a rousing performance.
There was also the debut of their new single, the Lindsey Buckingham-penned song ‘Go Your Own Way’. The track would go on to become not only synonymous with the band’s huge talent and success but also of the increasingly fractious relationships of Fleetwood Mac. The track was a pointed arrow aimed squarely at the figure of Stevie Nicks, with Buckingham making many suggestions about her character in the process. It would not end there.
It’s unsurprising then that in the opening moments of ‘Go Your Own Way’ you can see the scathing scowl of Stevie Nicks even with the seventies-quality film. The singer clearly troubled by the sentiment of the song still manages to give a thunderous performance when needed and shows why Nicks would go on to become a double rock and roll hall of famer.
Watch the drama of Fleetwood Mac in all it’s glory, as they take to the studios of The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1976 to perform ‘Rhiannon’ and ‘Go Your Own Way’.