Lindsey Buckingham is eccentric. Or at least that's what fans and critics think, thanks to his kinetic stage performances, unorthodox pop songs and artsy videos. But Buckingham has a secret they don't know about.
"I'm boring like everyone else," says the FM guitarist and vocalist. "I think you'll find with any entertainer," he explains, "that what they project may be an alter ego. And if you talk to them, they're mostly the opposite of that real boring. That's me; I'm just real boring. In a sense, the music is like seeing a shrink: You're working out all these things. My being seen as eccentric is pretty much only relative to everyone else in FM."
Buckingham has always been a bit of a loner and he perfers to work by himself both within FM and as a solo artist. "Working with FM is like making a movie, because it's a conscious process," he says. "The decisions have to be filtered through many links in a chain just to get from A to B. Working on your own, especially when you play everything yourself (which he does), is more like painting. You've got a canvas that's blank, and you do this and you do that," he says, gesturing as if painting, "and it's far more intuitive and personal. There's no politics involved."
His latest solo venture, "Go Insane", gives his alter ego another chance to be heard (and seen, courtesy of the often played video of the title track). Despite his claims to the contrary, he's still the musical mad scientist he was on his first solo album, "Law & Order," and on Fleetwood Mac's controversial 1979 opus, "Tusk."
Although Buckingham makes it clear that he would be quite content as a solo act, he says FM does plan to record again in the no too distant future. "I really don't know what's happening with FM at this point," he states. "We certainly haven't broken up, and we will do another studio album at some point. Everything is on hold for the moment though."
Oddly enough, despite his well publicized breakup with Stevie Nicks several years ago, Buckingham continually encounters people who ask him about her, assuming their romance is still alive. "We don't see each other at all, really," he says, settling the matter once and for all. "I think there's an inherent care and love there that will never really go away, but it's not practiced at all. There is very little common ground anymore," he concludes, without bitterness.
Buckingham's relationship with Nicks is old news but he's just broken up with another girlfriend, making him a "bachelor" for the first time in many years. He now pursues his hobbies (drawing and photography), goes to movies a lot (Albert Finney and Woody Allen are his two favorite actors) and reads. "I just finished Gore Vidal's "Lincoln", which I thought was pretty good as a historical novel. I like to read biographies because other peoples' lives quite often have inspiration for me."
Buckingham, who lives in L.A.'s swanky Bel Air community, occasionally finds time to return to his old stomping grounds in California's Bay Area. He grew up in Atherton, a woodsy, upper middle class community in the shadow of Stanford University, and learned to play guitar at age six, when his brother brought home a copy of Elvis' "Heartbreak Hotel." He and his brothers were all competitive swimmers (Greg Buckingham won a sliver medal in the '68 Mexico City Olympics as a member of the US water polo team), but that was the extent of his athletic interests. He preferred to spend time on his own listening to music. Though his parents encouraged his passion for music, the younger Buckingham never thought of it as a potential career. "For a long time," he says, "I thought I'd probably be a guitar playing commercial artist or something."
For the present, says the intense, loquacious Buckingham, "I want to learn to rely on myself as much as possible. I've always had a discipline musically; I want to establish more of a discipline in my day to day life." He has also been contacted recently about starring opposite Linda Ronstadt in a Broadway production of the opera La Boheme this fall.
"I've always been fairly altruistic about my duties with Fleetwood Mac. Right now, I'm being a little less altruistic."