April 1987: Fleetwood Mac's Classic Lineup Bows Out Big with TANGO IN THE NIGHT

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Fleetwood Mac was in pretty rough shape when the band got together to record what would become the group's 14th studio effort, Tango in the Night. The record was originally conceived as a Lindsey Buckingham solo project; it was Mick Fleetwood who coerced the guitarist into morphing it into a full Fleetwood Mac release.

"That was in my estimation when everybody in the band was personally at their worst," Buckingham recalled years later. "If you take the whole subculture that existed in the 1970s, and what it led to -- and how it degraded -- by the time we did Tango in the Night, everybody was leading their lives in a way that they would not be too proud of today. It was difficult for everybody."

That included singer Stevie Nicks, who was on the road promoting her third solo album, Rock a Little, during the same time Fleetwood Mac was making Tango in the Night. Ultimately spending only two weeks at Buckingham's home studio over the course of the recording sessions, Nicks customarily indulged on brandy before singing her vocal takes. Many of them were left on the cutting room floor.

Once the dust settled, Fleetwood Mac released Tango in the Night on April 13, 1987. Much like Rumours, the behind-the-scenes drama was the genesis for big hit records. Lead single "Big Love" cruised up the charts, peaking at #5 on the Hot 100 for the week of May 21, 1987. The song was also a hit on the dance floor, with an extended remix of the track twirling all the way to #11 on the Billboard Dance Sales chart in June 1987.

The second single from Tango in the Night was another radio winner: "Seven Wonders." The Stevie Nicks showcase made a formidable chart run, breaking into the top 20 to peak at #19 on the Hot 100 for the week of August 15, 1987. It was Christine McVie who shined on third Tango in the Night single, "Little Lies." Peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 in November 1987, the song soared all the way to #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart for the week of October 10, 1987. 

Christine McVie again took the spotlight with the album's fourth single, "Everywhere." The song followed "Little Lies" up the Adult Contemporary chart, hitting #1 on January 15. 1988. Over on the Hot 100, "Everywhere" broke into the top 20 to peak at #14 in February 1988.

Tango in the Night was a massive success for Fleetwood Mac, reaching #7 on the Billboard 200 chart over the week of May 23, 1987. The #1 album in America that week: U2's The Joshua Tree.

"The album was well received," Mick Fleetwood told Classic Rock in 2013. "Somewhat sadly, the kudos of that was never really fully attributed to Lindsey because he wasn't present... He was coerced and persuaded to do that album - mainly by me. And, to his credit, he put aside everything that he'd dreamt of doing, including making his own album, for Fleetwood Mac; but then realized that he'd made a mistake... Lindsey was not being heard. We just didn't get it."

Tango in the Night is the last Fleetwood Mac studio album to date that features the classic lineup of Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, and John McVie. Selling more than 15 million copies worldwide, it stands as group's second-most successful release behind Rumours.

Lindsey Buckingham quit Fleetwood Mac after the release of Tango in the Night. The band recruited guitarists Billy Burnette and Rick Vito to make up for his absence on the subsequent tour. It wasn't until 1997 live album, The Dance--released 10 years after Tango in the Night--that Buckingham would return to the fold.