Happy 40th birthday to Rumours, the classic second album from the most successful Fleetwood Mac line-up.
Release date: February 4, 1977
Credits: Lindsey Buckingham (guitar, vocals, production), Mick Fleetwood (drums, percussion), Christine McVie (keyboards, synthesizer, vocals), Stevie Nicks (vocals), John McVie (bass), Ken Caillat (engineering, mastering, producing), Richard Dashut (engineering, producing)
Backstory: Wild, plentiful rumors fueled the aptly titled Rumours, Fleetwood Mac’s 11th studio album — and its most successful to date. The tour that followed the group’s eponymous 10th record, released in 1975, saw mounting tension between the five musicians, the band’s most successful of an oft-changed lineup, with drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie prevailing as the only original members.
Pressures from that tour and the skyrocketing fame resulting from the track “Rhiannon”’s climb up the charts peaked during Rumours’ intense, nine-month-long writing and recording sessions. John and Christine McVie ended their eight-year marriage, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks broke up and sparred often, and Mick Fleetwood reeled after learning of his wife’s affair with his best friend.
Take this walking soap opera; stir in hearty doses of cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana; and add five parts talent — and the rocky formula resulted in 11 songs whose canonical place in modern pop music/rock ‘n’ roll are largely undisputed.
Buckingham penned the lyrics to “Never Going Back Again” and “Go Your Own Way” about his on-again, off-again relationship with Nicks; she retorted by writing “Dreams” on a solo day in Sly Stone’s studio. Christine wrote “You Make Loving Fun” about her new lover (Fleetwood Mac’s lighting director), surely only adding to John’s much-documented drinking problem. Somehow, as rock ‘n’ roll magic goes, personal tragedy, hedonism, and determination culminated in a compelling piece of art.
On the Charts: The record’s release was hugely delayed (due in part to the drama and also aided by a long mixing process), but once it hit shelves, that didn’t matter. It sold 800,000 copies in its first week, knocking The Eagles’ Hotel California out of the top slot. From there, the Mac stayed at the top of the Billboard 200 for 31 nonconsecutive weeks, won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1978, and would eventually sell more than 40 million copies of the record.
You Would Never Break the Chain: “The Chain” is the only song on the album credited to all five members of the band. This powerful number, which kicks off the record’s second side, begins with only a bass progression courtesy of Mick and John, soon met with Stevie’s lyrics, Christine’s input and additions, and an introduction put together by Lindsey. It’s an anthem of the times and a symbol of the band’s unwavering commitment to each other and to the music, despite the personal turmoil each experienced during the creation of Rumours.