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Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham stopped speaking after Fleetwood Mac fired Buckingham in 2018. However, it’s a wonder they didn’t stop talking throughout many decades of performing together. While Buckingham controlled Nicks in the studio, he also controlled her on stage.

Performances had to be perfect. That’s why Nicks said he would have yelled at her if she ever started playing guitar in the band. He knew she wasn’t good and that she’d mess things up.

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham performing with Fleetwood Mac in 1979.
Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham | Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

Stevie Nicks had a few guitar lessons but it never stuck

Nicks’ grandfather, Aaron Nicks, taught her to sing harmonies at age five. They performed together for a while until Nicks’ mother stopped it. Having a five-year-old on the road before she could even read wasn’t practical.

When Nicks wouldn’t drop music, even after her mother tried to get her into acting, her parents got her a Goya guitar and a couple of guitar lessons. She wrote her first song, “I’ve Loved and I’ve Lost,” which was about her ex-boyfriend who left her for her best friend.

However, the guitar didn’t stick with Nicks. She liked singing more.

Nicks told High Times, “I was into singing but not into being trained. I never studied music. I took a few guitar lessons.”

The singer admired the guitar playing of one of her biggest influences, Joni Mitchell, but she knew she couldn’t be a guitar player like her. Mitchell inspired Nicks’ singing.

Nicks explained to BAM Magazine, “I didn’t want to play music like her. I couldn’t if I’d wanted to–I can’t play the guitar worth s***, and Joni’s a great player. I just loved the way she was a very personal writer yet easy to relate to. She was doing what I wanted to do.”

When Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac, she wasn’t the guitar player, Buckingham was, and he wouldn’t have liked it if she played too.

Nicks said Lindsey Buckingham would have yelled at her if she ever started playing guitar

After High Times asked Nicks if she ever played guitar onstage, she replied, “I’m not good enough.” In fact, she said she’d be too scared to play the instrument live with Fleetwood Mac, mostly because Buckingham would yell at her if she ever messed up.

“There’s no reason,” she continued. “If I was terrific, then maybe they’d find a part for me, but I’m not, so it would be for the look of it, and I’d be too nervous. I’d be so nervous, it wouldn’t look or sound good and then everybody would be mad at me, and Lindsey would be screaming at me that it was out of tune. And I don’t need that for sure.”

Buckingham even threw a guitar at Nicks on stage once, so we don’t doubt that he would have yelled at Nicks for bad guitar playing or anything else. Guitar playing is his strong suit. He once had to restring his guitar every 20 minutes to record the guitar parts in “Never Going Back Again.”

So, for Buckingham, the guitar has to sound perfect on and off the stage.


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Buckingham controlled a lot of Nicks’ songs

During Fleetwood Mac’s peak, Nicks had bigger priorities than playing the guitar and potentially upsetting Buckingham with her guitar playing. She dealt with him controlling her songs.

Nicks told BAM Magazine she liked being in control of her music. In Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham always changed and arranged Nicks’ songs. Not that Nicks didn’t trust Buckingham, but still.

“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to see if I could do it myself,” Nicks said about starting her solo career. “When you work with somebody who is that much in control, and who has always been that much in control–from, like, 1970 on–you forget that you’re even capable of doing something yourself.

“I’d write my song and then Lindsey would take it, fix it, change it around, chop it up and then put it back together. Doing that is second nature to Lindsey, especially on my songs.

“He does better work on my songs than on anybody’s because he knows that I always give them to him freely. It’s a matter of trust. So it was interesting to work without him, because my songs pretty much stayed the same.”

Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac saw Nicks as a baby sister of the group. They didn’t think she could do things on her own. So, maybe if they didn’t think so little of her, Nicks would have been able to be a guitar player if she wanted to.