Pros: Well-written; jives with stories heard from good sources; never boring; doesn't drag
Cons: Author takes on innocent by-stander role; no info on state of subjects' current relationship
Over the course of many years of being a crazy, die-hard, dyed-in-the-wool Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks fan, there are things you hear from other fans, things you read in tabloids, things you hear radio DJ's say, and there are things you read about on the Internet. One of the people I saw quite a bit of on a few bootleg backstage footage videos and heard a bit about over the years is a woman named Carol Ann Harris. In Internet fan groups, we just always referred to her as Carol Ann. We knew she was the girlfriend of Lindsey Buckingham after he and Stevie Nicks broke up. I had always dismissed her as a nobody, as someone who didn't matter in the world of Fleetwood Mac and as someone who had come and gone quickly. What I learned by reading this book is that she was none of those things - and quite a bit more.
Who Is Carol Ann Harris?
In a nutshell, she was a music production intern when she met Lindsey Buckingham at a recording studio in 1976. She quickly became his girlfriend and would spend the next seven years with him. She and one of Mick Fleetwood's wives, Sara Recor (who was also Stevie Nicks's good friend and one of the subjects of the Fleetwood Mac song Sara) would keep audio diaries that would later help Carol Ann in the writing of this book. She had never before publicly spoken about her relationship with Lindsey or about the things that happened in the "inner circle" of Fleetwood Mac.
I bought Storms: My Life With Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac only to add one more item to my vast collection of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks books and other memorabilia. If it's published, most of us dyed-in-the-wool fans buy it. I didn't even think I'd read it. But shortly after its publication on July 1, 2007, word quickly started to spread around the internet fan base that this book was not just another book written to make a buck off Fleetwood Mac. Fans that had bought the book as soon as it was released and read it quickly let the rest of us know that the stories told in this book were jiving with stories we'd heard about for years. Even the most skeptical fans were saying "Either she did a hell of a lot of research on the internet over the past 12 or so years, or she's telling the truth." While Carol Ann probably did write this book in part for money, she almost certainly did it to tell the stories that went on behind the scenes. My guess is that she also wanted the world to know that Lindsey Buckingham can be a real jackass. As soon as Storms: My Life With Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac hit my front porch from Amazon.com, I dove into it.
The book starts in 1976, right after the Rumours album is finished. Carol Ann Harris is in a bad relationship with a guy who treats her badly and the relationship is basically over. She is desperate to start a new life and to leave her bad relationship behind her. She soon meets Lindsey Buckingham in the recording studio where she works. She then leaves her boyfriend and moves in with Lindsey almost immediately.
As the Rumours album takes off, songs are released to radio stations and songs such as Go Your Own Way and Dreams are on every radio in every household and every car in the country. Carol Ann says that she and Lindsey would pull up to stoplights and would hear a song from Rumours blaring out of the car on the right of them and another song from the album blaring out of the car on the left of them. They would see people darting out of record stores in the rain with their coats protecting their albums and would wonder if it was a Rumours album that they were carrying.
The book takes us from the brutal, non-stop Rumours tour and into the recording of the Tusk album by the time we are a little less than halfway through the book. By this time, the band (all of them) were doing cocaine in major quantities. They were smoking joints. They were drinking. And sex was another indulgence - roadies were sleeping with assistants, lighting guys were sleeping with backup singers. And Stevie Nicks and a married Mick Fleetwood were about to embark on an affair.
I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I hung on Carol Ann Harris's every word in this book. I read it slowly and savored all the stories. She doesn't give too much information and not once while reading this book did I find myself wanting to skip sentences, pages and chapters. I'm an impatient reader - I want short chapters and I don't want tons of background details. Carol Ann told the stories with just enough description to keep me interested.
One thing that I learned by reading this book is that the members of Fleetwood Mac did not start ingesting cocaine just because they wanted to - or because they could afford it. Or because they wanted to become "druggies". They did it because the record company supplied it at first to give the members of groups more energy to keep up with the exhausting pace of recording, publicity appointments, costume fittings, touring, etc. It worked - everyone got more energy to stay awake. But as we all know, it also got them addicted. I don't think I ever stopped to think about how and when they all went from being waitresses and struggling musicians not on drugs to being world-famous, household-name musicians on drugs. This book spelled it out and it made sense. But they soon became insane partyers who stayed up all night partying, partied into the next day and ignored entire tables of food and instead cleared out tables of alcohol and cocaine.
One of the things that is prevalent in this book is that Carol Ann Harris takes on a definite innocent by-stander role. She makes it seem as though she was sweet, innocent and perfect - the perfect girlfriend, the perfect person. She seemed to cater to Lindsey's every whim. Throughout the book, it was a bit annoying to read her practically breathless "Oh, Lindsey!" dialogue. She quotes a lot of conversations in the book. Of course she doesn't remember the dialogue word-for-word, so she does improvise quite a bit. I could have definitely done without this improvising. She could have just summed up the conversations instead of trying to give word-for-word dialogue - not because it was too long and descriptive, but because what she quoted in the book probably wasn't word-for-word as it was actually said.
Carol Ann takes us into describing how Lindsey was a jerk and treated her badly. The first incident she describes is about two years into the relationship when she got her first modeling photos printed and she tried to show them to Lindsey. He got mad and threw them on the floor. He didn't want to discuss her modeling career and he basically wanted her to make being his girlfriend her full-time job. But she could feel her own sense of identity slipping away and needed something more for herself, like her own career. His behavior of this type keeps getting worse throughout their relationship, and she cites it many times in the book. She states that she had been in past relationships where she had put up with bad behavior with men because she thought that was love was. She comes across as very humble in the book - she knows where she's been and isn't ashamed to tell us where she came from and where she went by the time she and Lindsey broke up.
Definitely, if you have Lindsey Buckingham on a pedestal, this book will make you think twice. Stevie Nicks has hinted at his chauvinistic, moody, jealous and borderline abusive behavior in past interviews - so I wasn't that surprised to read most of the things in this book. One particular incident that shocked me a bit was when Lindsey drove to Christine McVie's house in 1979, ran into her house where Carol Ann was visiting and tried to choke her. He then went to his car to leave, and Carol Ann followed him out to the car - he stepped on the gas and dragged her several feet. There were several incidents of this type described in the book and there were times when it made me wonder why a breathtakingly beautiful woman like Carol Ann put up with a jerk like Lindsey Buckingham.
As for Stevie Nicks, she doesn't get bashed too badly in this book, although I thought she would. Stevie's affair with a married Mick Fleetwood, her posse of friends (Carol Ann calls them "girl fans" in the book) that she takes everywhere with her and her excess clothing and boot shopping is discussed, but she never really actually "bashes" Stevie. Midway through the book, Stevie and Carol Ann become friends, although never "best" friends. As a big Stevie Nicks fan, I was glad that she didn't paint Stevie too poorly.
The book goes through the Mirage album and tour and the recording of Lindsey's first solo album, and his jealousy of Stevie's huge success with her own solo album, Bella Donna. The past several years had really taken a toll on everyone in the Fleetwood Mac "inner circle" - the drugs, alcohol, band infighting, etc. Carol Ann had become pregnant by Lindsey and had a miscarriage. His selfish reaction mixed with the fact that he didn't want her to have a life outside of being his girlfriend and being in the world of Fleetwood Mac made her realize that she was no longer happy and needed her own life. Their relationship had been sucked into the rage that had become commonplace among the members of Fleetwood Mac and she realized that she couldn't be with Lindsey any longer. She asked Lindsey for a separation and got her own place. They still didn't separate all the way, and Carol Ann slowly began to build a life without Lindsey. He eventually came back and proposed, but she declined. Carol Ann and Lindsey ended up breaking up completely in 1984.
One thing that bothered me about the book is that Carol Ann never really tells us the current status of the relationship at the end of the book. I was left to assume that they have no contact, and I also assume that he would not be happy if he read this book - but I would have liked to have known if she contacted him and told him she was writing the book.
All In All:
Overall, this is a well-written, juicy book. If you are a big Fleetwood Mac fan, you'll absolutely love this book. For me, it was getting a little time-traveling ride back to the 1970's and watching the best movie on earth. (I was a kid in the 1970's and this is just another example of how I feel cheated because the 1970's would have been a wonderful time to be an adult!) The whole Fleetwood Mac story has always intrigued me and as I read this book, I pictured it all in my head - the clothes, the cars, everything. Fans of classic rock will probably love this book too - there are quite a few Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys stories (he was Christine McVie's boyfriend for a time), and there are a few stories involving Eric Clapton, Pattie Boyd (Mick Fleetwood's ex-sister-in-law, who was married to Eric Clapton and was the subject of the song Layla), Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne and a few other stars. The book flows well and is an easy read. I found myself sad when the book ended. It was 400 pages of delicious reading for me. Personally, I believe what Carol Ann wrote in this book.
Price and Purchasing Information:
Storms: My Life With Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac can be found at most bookstores such as Borders and Barnes & Noble. Online, it can be found at Amazon.com for $16.47.