Neil Finn on joining Fleetwood Mac: “Stevie wanted to do it exactly the way Lindsey would have.”

Crowded House leader Neil Finn speaks to MOJO about his surprise move to replace Lindsey Buckingham in Fleetwood Mac in 2018.

Neil Finn and Fleetwood Mac

by John Aizlewood  |
Updated on

Drafted in as a teenager to join older brother Tim’s band, beloved New Zealand New Wavers Split Enz, before breaking America and Europe as leader of Crowded House, Neil Finn’s deep but accessible songwriting has carved out a unique place within the musical landscape over the past four decades, earning him famous admirers ranging from members of Radiohead and Pearl Jam to Elvis Costello and Mick Fleetwood. In this extract from our exclusive interview with Finn in the latest issue of MOJO, he discusses joining Fleetwood Mac in 2018 following the departure of Lindsey Buckingham…

Did joining Fleetwood Mac surprise you?

I was gobsmacked. I was 60 and I’d had a wonderfully diverse musical life when Mick called and said, “We’ve got rid of Lindsey, would you play with us?” I’d just done [2018 album] Lightsleeper with [Finn’s son]Liam so he had a vested interest in my not doing it, but he said, “Give it a shot,” so I auditioned.

What? Neil Finn auditioned?

It’s the only audition I’ve ever done. I went to Hawaii and Mick spent an hour telling me it wasn’t an audition, but it was. I was auditioning them too: I wasn’t sure it was the right thing, I was quite conflicted, but I liked the people and the welcome was universal.

What did you bring?

The naysayers said, “No Lindsey Buckingham, no Fleetwood Mac,” but I brought personality and the ability to sing with Stevie and Christine. I could never be capable of sounding like Lindsey but I put a similar intensity into his songs.

Have you had contact with Lindsey?

No, but I’d really like to have a dinner with him. There’s a lot of ill-will, but I don’t think he bears any towards me and I do think he had prior appreciation of the music I’d made. Hopefully, once he got over the massive disappointment, he’d have thought, “At least someone with something going for them is singing my songs.”

Who’s running Fleetwood Mac these days?

It doesn’t currently exist, but when I was there Mick carried the flag. He always has and he’s the heart and soul. Yet Stevie’s the leader in many ways, because Stevie wants it the way Stevie wants it and that’s the way it’ll be. She couldn’t bear to be in a band with Lindsey any more, but she still wanted to do it exactly the way he would have. It was more difficult for [Heartbreakers guitarist] Mike Campbell: she was really happy with the way it sounded between me and her, but she put a lot of pressure on Mike to be more like Lindsey. Sometimes Mike’s solos would go on and Stevie would get exhausted playing tambourine. She’d be, “Fucking hell, Lindsey only did 12 bars!”

“I took acid and slept in John and Yoko’s bed…” Read our career-spanning interview with Neil Finn in full only in the latest issue of MOJO. More info and to order a copy HERE!

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