Fleetwood Mac had been around for 10 years when they hit the road in 1977, but you’d never know that by looking at the set list from their December 5th stop that year at Tokyo’s Budokan. That show featured nine songs from 1977’s Rumours and eight from their 1975 self-titled LP. They had nine albums prior to that one, but none had even close to the commercial impact of their most recent two, which were the first to feature Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.
The only nod to their pre-1975 past came early in the night when they broke out the Peter Green–penned “Oh Well.” It’s a blues-rock standard that’s been covered by everyone from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to Joe Jackson and Haim, and Buckingham rips through it like a man possessed. He never had the opportunity to perform live with his legendary predecessor, but it’s clear he had tremendous respect for Green’s talents.
Green left Fleetwood Mac in 1970 and Buckingham followed 48 years later. The circumstances behind their exits couldn’t have been more different, but both left an enormous imprint on the band. With all due respect to Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, Bob Welch, Bob Weston, and Billy Burnette, they are the two most impactful guitarists in the long, complex history of the band.
Fleetwood Mac never reunited with Peter Green beyond a short run of shows in 1971, and his death on July 25th means it can never happen. Lindsey Buckingham had a health scare of his own in 2018 when he underwent emergency heart surgery, but he recovered and was even planning a solo tour before the pandemic hit and shut down the concert industry.
Fans are hoping that he’ll reconcile with the band in time for their next tour, but Mick Fleetwood recently told Rolling Stone that that wasn’t going to happen. “His legacy is alive and well, and as it should be,” he said in January. “A major, major part that will never be taken away, and never be down-spoken by any of us. Neil [Finn] and Mike [Campbell] have tremendous respect for Lindsey. The situation was no secret. We were not happy. It was not working, and we parted company. And that really is the all of it.”
As any fan of Fleetwood Mac knows, declarations like that have been uttered before and yet the Rumours band always seems to find their way back together. Another Fleetwood Mac tour might not take place until 2023 or so, but when it happens, it’s quite possible Buckingham will be back onstage where he belongs. If that does take place, audiences will get to see one hell of a tribute to Peter Green.