Daisy Jones and the Six premiered March 3, introducing fans to the drug-fueled disco drama of a fictional rock band. So far, the series has been a fun trip back in time to the cultural revolution of rock ‘n’ roll. The series follows a young singer-songwriter named Daisy (Riley Keough) on her journey from a shy girl to a musical icon. Told in flashbacks through a fictional behind-the-scenes interview, the members of the band recount their turbulent rise to stardom as they deal with the immense pressures and conflicts that come with success in the music industry.
The series is based on the book of the same name, but what you might not know is that the book is inspired by the real-life story of one of history’s greatest bands: Fleetwood Mac. The author, Taylor Jenkins Reid, was first inspired by the band when she saw them perform in the 1990s. She was confounded by Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham‘s performance, and their ability to act like they were in love after a brutal breakup. She stated that she “wanted to write a story about that, about how the lines between real life and performance can get blurred, about how singing about old wounds might keep them fresh.” So, what is the real story behind the iconic band that inspired the series?
From Humble Beginnings
Stevie Nicks, the inspiration for Daisy, grew up moving around the American Southwest, where her grandfather taught her to sing duets as she fostered an appreciation for music. After receiving a guitar for her 16th birthday, she joined a folk band from her high school. Soon after, she found Lindsey Buckingham, the inspiration for Billy (Sam Claflin) in the series, playing piano at a local venue and joined him in singing. The pair began their relationship and soon high school was over. Similar to the events of the show, Buckingham’s band was breaking up because some of its members were leaving for college. So, he and Nicks became a musical duo, dropping out of university to pursue their dreams. After the failure of their first album, they worked odd jobs while continuing to write. It was at this point the pair first started using cocaine, unaware of its addictive nature and the role it would play in their lives to come.
Meanwhile across the pond, a small blues band, Fleetwood Mac, was looking for a guitarist when they heard a track from Nicks and Buckingham’s album. When they invited Buckingham to join, he insisted that the two of them were a package deal, so they had an initial rehearsal and the rest is history!
In 1975, the band released their album, Fleetwood Mac, and quickly skyrocketed to fame. With several hit singles from a single album, the band gained worldwide recognition, and one of Nicks’ songs, “Rhiannon” quickly became one of the top five-hundred songs of all time. For a while, the gang was riding high, with two couples in the band: Nicks and Buckingham and John and Christine McVie. Record sales were through the roof and their label was eager to see what they would do next. However, things began to rapidly deteriorate. The newfound pressures of fame and the need to produce a new album created tension between everyone in the group, fueled by drugs and alcohol. The McVie’s marriage ended, as did drummer Mick Fleetwood‘s, followed by Buckingham and Nicks’ split, and her subsequent affair with Fleetwood.
The group channeled the chaos and conflict around them into a new, and even more successful record: Rumors. This album elevated them even further as their fame reached new heights with the album eventually becoming the eighth-highest-selling record in history. Like Fleetwood Mac, Rumors also had several massive hits. Many of the songs dealt with the realities of the complex struggles the musicians were facing as they sang about the loss of love, fame, and addiction. The romantic conflicts between band members were heightened by their use of cocaine, which had become a staple of their lives due to their new wealth and inability to cope with their sudden fame. Nicks recalls that during the production of their second album, she and Christine McVie wore “little beautiful coke bottles” around their necks. Although the whole band was addicted, Nicks had the hardest time shaking her addiction, to the point where her bandmates asked her to visit rehab, where doctors replaced cocaine with Valium and other drugs meant to curb her addiction. After almost losing her eyesight due to a 48-hour bender, she finally realized that sobriety was the only way she would survive her battle with drugs.
The End of An Era
At this point, things were grim, with Fleetwood filing for bankruptcy and half the band dealing with serious medical side effects of their heavy drug use. It was rumored that Fleetwood Mac had disbanded. After the release of another album, Buckingham felt his creativity had been stifled, and after a tumultuous group meeting in which there was a physical altercation between Buckingham and Nicks, Buckingham left the band. Over the next few decades, Nicks pursued a solo career while staying in the band as members came and went, but they would not capture lightning in a bottle twice.
It is clear to see why the history of Fleetwood Mac served as perfect fodder for Daisy Jones and the Six. Buckingham and Nicks’ relationship is the beautiful yet heartbreaking story of two artists, torn apart by the pressures of fame and the pitfalls that come with it. Their story is one of dreams, both achieved and broken as they shared their stories with the world, for better or for worse. So far, the series has done a fascinating job of reinterpreting their story and bringing it to the screen, and although we know how the book ends, it will be interesting to see how the series unfolds in the episodes to come as it continues to explore themes of addiction, loss and of course: great music.