Lindsey Buckingham, the guitar virtuoso whose prolific songwriting and precision fretwork helped launch Fleetwood Mac into the rock stratosphere as one of the best-selling acts in history, is reportedly leaving the band. Variety confirmed the departure Monday afternoon.
The news comes on the eve of a planned global tour for the group. According to TMZ, Mike Campbell — formerly of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers — and Neil Finn will handle guitar duties on the trek. “Lindsey Buckingham will not be performing with the band on this tour,” a source close to Fleetwood Mac told the outlet in a statement. “The band wishes Lindsey all the best.”
Finn spoke out about the new role in a statement shared by his publicist and obtained by EW. “Two weeks ago I received a wonderful invitation to be a part of a truly great band,” he begins. “A few days later I was standing in a room playing music with Fleetwood Mac. It felt fresh and exciting, so many great songs, a spectacular rhythm section and two of the greatest voices ever. Best of all, we sounded good together. It was a natural fit. I can’t wait to play.”
Representatives for the band did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
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Buckingham first joined the band in December 1974 at the request of the band’s drummer — and co-namesake, Mick Fleetwood. “Mick actually asked me to join first,” Buckingham told PEOPLE last year. “And I said, ‘Well, you’ve gotta take my girlfriend too.’”
The girlfriend in question was Stevie Nicks, who became the band’s bewitching front-woman and creative powerhouse during the group’s mid-’70s glory years. Nicks and Buckingham’s tumultuous personal life inspired what would become the band’s most famous album, the chart-busting Rumours, which remains one of the best-selling albums of all time.
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The tension that fueled their greatest work would also lead to explosive fights, and ultimately line-up changes. Buckingham first left the group in 1987, before returning for the high-profile reunion project, The Dance, in 1997. During the decade interim, his role was filled by guitarist Billy Burnette.
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Ironically, it was Burnette who hinted at this most recent fracture with a tweet on April 4.
“Breaking news: Lindsey Buckingham is out but I’m not in,” he wrote in a since-deleted post first spotted by Variety. “A little pissed off but I’ll get over it.”
•With additional reporting by SARAH RODMAN