On Aug. 19, Reprise Records will commemorate the 20th anniversary of Fleetwood Mac’s landmark Rumours recording with The Dance, a live album culled from an MTV special that reunites the band’s classic lineup of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, and John McVie. The set will trigger a 40-city U.S. fall tour that will put the group on the road together for the first time since 1982.
The 17-track collection, which combines four new songs with familiar tunes, was gathered from three performances on a Warner Bros. Studios soundstage in June. The 90-minute MTV special, which will begin airing on Tuesday (12), will be issued Aug. 26 on h ome video via Warner Reprise Video, with a DVD release planned for Sept. 23. A laserdisc version of the show will be handled by Image Entertainment and will be offered Sept. 23.
“This has become a monumental event that pays long-overdue tribute to a band that continues to have immeasurable influence on new musicians,” says Craig Kostich, senior VP of artist development/creative marketing (U.S.) at Reprise. “These songs sound as strong now as they did when they were first released. Judging from early interest in this project, people are still clearly very turned on by them.”
The extensive marketing strategy behind The Dance started to unfold July 22, when Reprise issued the album’s first emphasis track, “Silver Springs,” to pop, AC, and mainstream rock radio formats. Since then, the Nicks-fronted tune–which was originally recorded for Rumours but did not make the final track listing–has gathered airplay on 47 stations, with audience impressions of 3.8 million, according to Broadcast Data Systems.
WNOK, a top 40 station in Columbia, S.C., played “Silver Springs” more than a dozen times its first week out, but PD Jonathan Rush says it’s too early to determine the ultimate fate of the song. “I think the album will do very well, but will the single do well? I don’t know. It doesn’t jump off the radio quite like we’d like it to,” he says.
However, Rush believes it was a good choice for a first single as a way to bridge the gap between the past and the present. “I think it’s kind of neat that it was an old song that was never on an album, and here’s a revised edition recorded by the same p arty in a new era.”
Reprise widened the radio scope of The Dance by issuing a promotional CD pressing of “The Chain” Aug. 4.
“We’re planning to go several cuts deep into this album,” Kostich says, noting that the label will eventually focus on the set’s new songs, which hark back to the sound of the band’s heyday.
Since word of the Fleetwood Mac reunion has circulated for months, retailers are anticipating a strong consumer response to The Dance. “We’re already getting a strong buzz on this; the word has been out for a long time,” says Eric Keil, buyer for Compact Disc World, a New Jersey chain. “People have been asking about it and when is it coming out, when can they get it.
“We put Fleetwood Mac albums in a [summer] promotion, and the Greatest Hits and Rumours flew out of the stores. We know there are people out there who still love this band. This has the potential to be big, not as big as [the Eagles’] Hell Freezes Over, but it could approach that. That was a monster for us.”
Television exposure beyond MTV–which has already begun airing clips of “Silver Springs” and “The Chain” from the special–will play a vital role in the marketing of the album. VH1 will air a condensed, 60-minute version of the special in September and has designated Fleetwood Mac as the network’s artist of the month in October.
VH1 has also recently featured Rumours in a recent episode of its “Classic Albums” series.
Additionally, various members of the band are tentatively slated for a string of high-profile stints on shows, including “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” “Good Morning America,” and “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” Most of these appearances will be made before Fleetwood Mac begins its tour in mid-September. Dates for the trek were still being confirmed at press time.
The seeds of the band’s reunion were sowed earlier this year. Fleetwood and Buckingham had been working together on Buckingham’s solo project, so for Fleetwood, the reunion seemed like a natural progression.
“I was really excited,” he says. “I felt we had already met musically somehow, because I had been working with Lindsey for over a year, or being there and being supportive. I knew the creative light was alive. It was not like a business manager called up and said, ‘You’ve been offered $20 billion to reconvene.’ It was not like that.”
Fleetwood had disbanded the group two years ago, only after different permutations failed to ignite. “I was a person that very much tried to keep Fleetwood Mac together at any cost, literally,” he says. “It has been my life, and the letting go was a decision John [McVie] and I made. Every brick wall, people would say this is the end, but keeping it going was the only thing I knew.
“We’d had such a cycle of reinventing ourselves as a band. After the  album with Billy [Burnette] and Bekka [Bramlett], we realized that we weren’t going anywhere, and that was a major thing for me to admit, and it took me a little time to absorb t hat.”
For Fleetwood, it was a chance to realize that he could survive in a world without Fleetwood Mac. “I truly had let go, and that was good. I sobered up and changed my life; there was a different life to be had, and it was a good one. I know now that I can function without the [band].”
But to Nicks, functioning without Fleetwood Mac was never a question. “We can all go our separate ways for periods of time, but we always seem to come back to each other,” she says. “There’s a connection between each of us that has nothing to do with business. When I got the call about doing this, I took a deep breath, and then I said yes.”
Because Buckingham was recording a new solo album, he was the hardest member to convince to come back; however, no reunion would have happened without his participation. His decision was based somewhat on the clout a reunion would give him when it came time to return to his solo work.
“A lot of people seem to think that if you make an album every four years or so, as I do, there was nothing to be lost in doing the reunion, and possibly a great deal to be gained in terms of visibility and opening political doors,” he says.
“The hardest part was thinking about putting down [an album] I’d been working on for two years plus and just leaving it on the back burner,” he continues. “[Warner Bros. Records chairman/CEO] Russ Thyret called me and said, ‘Are you doing this [reunion]? ‘ And I said, ‘Give me until the first of April,’ and I just took a chance, and I can’t say I’m sorry. I’m a different person now. It’s a great thing for everybody in the group. I mean, I feel like I’m giving something to these people who have contribute d to my life.”
After Buckingham agreed to the reunion, the band began rehearsing immediately on April 1 for the MTV taping. “We thought MTV was Fleetwood Mac adverse, but they weren’t,” says Buckingham. “We rehearsed for six or seven weeks, which wasn’t quite enough. I think there was a general view that this thing may disintegrate in a week, and I was gonna do my best to make sure it wasn’t me that made that happen.
“But, you know, Stevie is in a really good place, and there was something good about it. You just have to keep watching yourself to make sure that you don’t get petty. I went in and I tried to make nice, and it wasn’t hard. It’s sweet, it’s nostalgic; yo u could cry over it if you let yourself.”
Nicks says there were actually quite a few tears shed during the last of the three shows the band played for the special. “In my heart, I knew that final show was the one that we would use, and I paced myself emotionally. Something clicked as we started to play that night. The magic was there again, only we weren’t mad at each other anymore. I looked into Lindsey’s eyes during so many of the songs, and the tears came. It was uncontrollable. And it was a beautiful night for us and everyone in the audience.”
Buckingham was pleased with the wide demographics the taping attracted. “There really was a nice element of a younger, 20s and 30s crowd, which was great, because a lot of those people learned about us from their parents, or from the rekindled interest in the band since Billy Corgan and a few others have said, ‘Fleetwood Mac is not the enemy.’ ”
Nicks agrees, noting the previously untapped young audience that “Gold Dust Woman” reached after Courtney Love covered the Rumours cut with Hole late last year. “She claims to know more about me and my music than I can even remember–which is terrifying but probably very true,” Nicks says with a laugh. Love will interview Nicks for Spin magazine this fall.
Buckingham confesses it’s been “surprisingly pleasurable” reuniting with his bandmates. “It’s been kind of a trip, because we’re getting along really well. There’s very little of the baggage left that was there when I left in 1987,” he says.
Like Buckingham, Fleetwood’s antennae were up, checking for signs that the reunion might not work.
“I would always be looking; that’s my nature,” he says. “We know each other so well. You know what to do to upset someone, and you know what to do to make the situation good; that’s what I do with anybody. I would be watching for what anyone would construe as the danger signal. The reality is that these five people have the capability of managing themselves, and we did for years. Basically, we were always very successful, and part of that success was because it was an unusual animal, this thing called Fleetwood Mac. And it came from within.”
The live forum of the MTV special created the perfect environment for the band to reconvene, because, as Fleetwood says, creating a new studio album would have been “too stressful. This is a great way of celebrating who we are and then reinventing some o f the songs and just saying, ‘Shit, we haven’t played for years’ and have it be really good. I truly think the band is playing 40% better than it ever has before.”
While there are no announced plans other than The Dance and a 40-city tour, Buckingham doesn’t know if the reunion will end after the last date is played. “Well, if you’d asked me a year ago whether I would be doing this, I would have said ‘absolutely not,’ but here I am, so I’m not going to discount anything.”
Nicks is equally guarded about the band’s future–but admittedly optimistic. “Fleetwood Mac will never die. Whether any of us will ‘fess up to it or not, the spirit of this band will live in each of us forever. And that’s a good thing. Some people only d ream of the magic we’ve made–and then we get to revisit it and to build upon it. That is truly a blessing.”
PHOTO (BLACK & WHITE): Stevie Nicks, left, and Lindsey Buckingham are shown performing during the taping of their forthcoming MTV special, which will be released on video and DVD.
Larry Flick And Melinda Newman / Billboard (Vol. 109 Issue 33, p11. 2p.) / August 16, 1997