There are only a handful of people who haven’t heard the rags to riches story of Fleetwood Mac. The band on the brink of collapse in 1974 gets a much-needed shot in the arm in the form of guitarist/singer/songwriter Lindsey Buckingham and then-girlfriend Stevie Nicks, singer/songwriter.
The addition of these two talented Americans to an evolving British blues band resulted in a remarkable turn in fortunes. It first came in the form of the successful eponymously titled Fleetwood Mac. And then again in 1977, when the band hit California gold.
It is Rumours and its aftermath that is the story of Carol Ann Harris’ Storms: My Life with Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac. Band members John and Christine McVie got divorced, Mick Fleetwood and his wife divorced (later to remarry and divorce yet again), and the Buckingham/Nicks pair split acrimoniously. All the drama made for some epic music.
Harris was the one you never saw on stage. She was the live-in girlfriend of Buckingham, mostly from 1976-1984. And in her book, she candidly recounts meeting Buckingham and becoming a trusted band insider. Her story is one of the few honest perspectives of a firsthand witness.
She was in the studio. She was there on tour. And she partook in the glamour, money, and drugs.
It isn't shocking. The band’s drug use was in line with their peers. But what is shocking is the mental abuse that band members inflicted on one another and their loyal crew. It's a side no one had ever seen before. And it's also why Nicks apparently despised Harris, or so it appeared from Harris’ perspective.
Of course, it could have been something else. Harris desperately wanted to be like Nicks, or at minimum, to be her friend.
While many people could chalk up panic attacks, jealousy, and the trappings of fame as commonplace, the allegations of physical abuse of Harris at the hands of Buckingham are another story all together. And that is what makes Storms shocking as Harris recounts in frightening detail how Buckingham was a mild-mannered guitar virtuoso one minute and a raging lunatic the next. She says she was often the unfortunate victim. Buckingham agreed in 1984.
"She got pulled into this whole little world that maybe she wasn't ready for," Buckingham told Rolling Stone in 1984. "She's a girl from a small town who found herself in a world of people who were not particularly responsible."
Some people will not have much sympathy for her role in the story. She could have walked out on Buckingham (and she did, but she always returned). However, others might conclude she was a classic enabler or perhaps became addicted to being a rock star by association, enjoying the wealth, extravagance, and ability to rub elbows with the richer and more famous.
Carol Ann Harris considered herself one of them. But eventually, she did leave Buckingham for good. In 2003, Buckingham went on to produce his Go Insane album. Many people attribute the success of the album to the technical aspects and introductions of a more world sound. It worked because this solo album was about his relationship with Harris. He dedicated it to her, and had said in interviews then that producing the album was better than going to a shrink.
Storms: My Life With Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac Scores A 3.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
The book is an interesting telling based on Harris’ diaries and notes that she kept for many years. Diehard fans of Fleetwood Mac won't take kindly to the work because Harris presents a side that doesn't sit well with public perception. However, she gets some marks here for exactly that reason, whether it is one-sided or not.
After her breakup with Buckingham, Harris went on to have a successful career as a costume designer for music videos. Storms: My Life with Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac is available on Amazon. For another perspective, consider this 1984 story from Rolling Stone.