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Book Review: Storms – My Life with Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac by Carol Ann Harris

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At last – a glimpse behind the scenes of Fleetwood Mac, the mega group of the 1970s. As fans know, the writing and recording of the band’s 1975 album Rumours won its members international fame and enormous wealth. It also shattered the relationship of guitarist/songwriter Lindsey Buckingham and long-time girlfriend/collaborator Stevie Nicks, as well as the marriage of band members John and Christine McVie.

While gossip about the group has been rampant from the release of Rumours until now, insiders’ accounts have been few. Enter Carol Ann Harris, ex-long-time girlfriend of guitarist/songwriter Lindsey Buckingham, who had a front row seat on day to day life in “The Mac” for almost nine years.

Harris tells it all, from her eye-locking flirtations with Buckingham just prior to Rumours’ release, to his proclamation that a night spent with another woman was chaste due to his longing for Harris, right through the consummation of their relationship and the resulting cocaine-fueled nights, anger-filled recording sessions, and tearful accusations of sexual betrayal.

The tales, while not unbelievable, make Elvis Presley’s reported indulgences seem almost modest.

The stories not only involve Harris and Buckingham but the entire “Mac” family, including managers and technicians plus the band’s A-List cast of intimates such as Dennis Wilson, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, and Eric Clapton. One thing you can say — Harris doesn’t hold back.

Although she professes to have made peace with Nicks through the years, this book portrays the singer as a bubble-headed, self-absorbed nymphomaniac who never felt genuine affection or compassion for others. Mick Fleetwood is cast as a dull-witted old addict and a rampant womanizer who drives Jenny Boyd (sister of model Pattie Boyd, who is also the ex-wife of Clapton and George Harrison) to near insanity, Although John and Christine McVie come off as halfway intelligent, their purported excesses and failings are recounted in painstaking detail.

What’s interesting is while Harris tsk tsks at the antics of the Mac family, she takes on a fairy-tale like vision of her own life. Time and time again, Harris said she returned to the physically and emotionally abusive Buckingham because he needed her as his muse. Despite seemingly endless accounts of strangling, hair-pulling and other torture, Harris proclaims she never saw the mistreatment coming.

Yet for all her tales of how she sought to be just a normal influence leading a regular life in this chaotic world, Harris' glee at the abundent cocaine, 5-star hotels, limos, and luxury living bubbles just below the surface.

Her tales of her kindness and self sacrifices fall a bit flat in some scenarios such as when she vividly recounts mocking an ex-love of Fleetwood’s – whom she calls “The Blob.” The woman’s major sin was that she wore a size 12. Oh, wait, maybe she was “mentally ill” too, Harris says later in the book. That’s just a glimpse into the superficial status and values in this woman’s life.

Everyone makes mistakes, especially as young adults. But generally as one grows older and reflects on those blunders they feel regret and sadness. What’s stunning is that Harris tells of her “fairy tale” life and times without a shred of self awareness or remorse. Even now, she doesn't seem to realize that this "fairy tale" is a nightmare.

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About Nancy Dunham

  • Sherry

    Wow sounds like a page turner even if it’s distorted by the subject.

  • Nancy

    It is fairly incredible, the stories she tells. Thanks so much for your comment!

  • Cathy

    Thanks for the fair & level-headed review, Nancy. I’m sure many of the tales Ms. Harris recounts are true, but certainly they’re all colored by her personal opinions of the various members of Fleetwood Mac. Interesting that she’d paint Stevie Nicks as, to quote you, a “bubble-headed, self-absorbed nymphomaniac who never felt genuine affection or compassion for others,” given that Ms. Nicks seems to be the only member of Fleetwood Mac who’s had a very close-knit group of longstanding friends over the last 35 years. She’s also the only Mac member who regularly performs benefit concerts for various charities, and makes regular visits to the Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval hospitals to visit wounded soldiers. I doubt someone who lacked compassion would give of their time and money in such a way. Perhaps, even after all of these years, Ms. Harris can still only see Ms. Nicks as her rival.

  • Nancy

    I found the portrayal of Ms. Nicks at odds with what I know about her as well. I actually interviewed Lindsey Buckingham not long ago. He had very warm things to say about Ms. Nicks. Again, I’m not saying that Ms. Harris didn’t write this book for her perspective– but it seems the perspective seems a bit colored in various respects.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Cheryl

    I just finished reading this book. My overall feeling was annoyance at Carol Harris. She claims that she was put through the inner cirlce family test and was questioned about her piracy as a career. She seemed insulted to be asked if she had any ot those intentions with FWM. And in the end, this whole book is an invasion to thier privacy – from Carol. I was embarassed for FWM when I read some of the band member’s private information that Carol was too eager to share. And her accounts of not knowing why Lindsey would be upset with her, were unbelievable to me. She was not forthcoming of her own private info., holding back the truth on what SHE did (except for all of her sacrifices).
    I purchased this book by mistake, I thought it written by Stevie, about her song ‘Storms’ – I had no idea it was written by a poser who thought she was part of the amazing FWM band. I would love to hear their takes on this book!

  • Kaydee

    I was going to buy this book. But every body who’ve read it say the samething. That its so one sided. Which makes you think its total BS.

  • Giove

    I can’t believe she didn’t even mention the Stevie Nicks’ song “Sara” inspired by the woman who became Harris’ best friends. This is really disappointing. How can that be??
    Also, it’s really absurd how the writer depicts herself as the “poor victim” of it all, when she must have had her own faults. The first one that comes to my mind: she was so collusive with Lindsey’s pathological behaviour, constantly protecting him and treating him like a child, that she never let him grow and take his own responsibility.

  • Bev

    I refuse to read this book because of people commenting about the unfavourable things she says about Stevie Nicks. Clearly she was jealous of Stevie’s previous relationship with Lindsey Buckingham, otherwise she wouldn’t have felt the need to write anything nasty about her. I love Stevie Nicks and her music has always touched me on a deep level. I doubt very much that someone who was supposedly “bubbleheaded” and “self-absorbed” would be able to do that.

  • Rob

    I am guessing some of the facts are 3rd hand. Lindsey talking trash about Stevie who is hooking up with a bunch of Musicians while on drugs 24/7. I also think we want celebrities to be more than they actually are. I’d take the songs as they are and not worry about the inner details of the FWM life styles.

  • knw

    I just fininshed this book and can’t believe what I’m reading from your review and the commenters. I guess it is all about the reader’s perspective, but I don’t think she portrayed Stevie Nicks, who I adore btw, as a bubble head. She seemed in awe of her and anyone who has seen or read anything of Stevie has to laugh at her “crystal vision” ways, so I think it was more loving than malicious. She says many times that she wanted to be her friend and even spoke of Stevie’s grief at the loss of her friend Robin, so I don’t think anyone can say she portrayed her as unfeeling. I’m not saying that Harris was entirely open, or faultless, she was obviously an enabler, and I thought that she admitted that in not so many words. She also admitted that she used a lot of drugs and did not try to minimalise that fact and all in all, I don’t think she did any damage to the reputations of the members of Fleetwood Mac, certainly not in my eyes. I was not shocked by much of what I read except the abuse that she says she suffered at the hands of LB. The picture she paints of him was only an extension of what I already thought of him. She writes lovingly of everyone she knew and is even very kind to LB in most respects, so I don’t know what you are all so riled about. Like I say though, I guess it comes down to perspective, and this book was written by her, and there are many sides to every story, yada, yada, yada. I will agree that she was not entirely forthcoming about herself and her possible flaws, but the commenter who says that it is an invasion of the band’s privacy should never have read the book. What were they wanting? I think you are just unhappy that this book wasn’t written by Stevie Nicks. If Stevie had of said the same things about the band it would have been ok I guess???

  • Cathleen

    I was there. Very much of what was written was true. Her sequence of events sometimes were out of order. It was a fun time but also it was a sick time. Hopefully we have all grown from this experience. I believe she has every right to express how this time affected her. We were young and on drugs. Perspectives differ. I saw the best and the worst of all people involved. I have my own memories of what went down. Although I read this book out of curiousity, It drained me but some how was theraputic.

  • tk

    I read this book. Carol Harris HATES Stevie Nicks and is totally jealous of her and I’m suprised at how many people can’t see through her (lame) writing. Yes, she compliments Stevie-but it’s because she wants to make herself look like a good, sweet,and wide eyed bumpkin.I’m not saying Stevie Nicks is perfect, and sometimes she does come off as an airhead-but Carol Harris’s “oh my goodness I can’t believe people would think I am prettier/more talented/better than Stevie Nicks” act is a really BAD one.

  • Tish

    I am halfway through the book and feel that it was written by a saint who is also a martyr. She is obviously jealous of Stevie Nicks and cannot be blamed for that, who wouldn’t be? Not sure if I will finish it, it is a little depressing.

  • James

    I just finished the book from cover to cover. Going by what she says in the book is one thing; but there are little dribs and drabs of facts that I knew for years from other sources. Carol Ann Harris may have been jealous of Stevie Nicks, I don’t know-I wasn’t there; but Carol Ann really doesn’t dig the knife into Stevie in this book. I don’t know why so many of you percieve it that way. Stevie really doesn’t get trashed in this book. In real life she’s a bit flighty; but in a good way, and the band would kid and tease her often about that( not mentioned in the book). Carol Ann doesn’t portray Stevie as a nympho per se either. All those people; Stevie really did sleep with: Lindsey, Mick Fleetwood, Jimmy Iovine, Don Henley, Kim Anderson etc.. Carol Ann doesn’t use the word “Nympho” but she does make sure you know the facts about who Stevie slept with. So. It’s true isn’t it?….On another note, I believe Lindsey slaped Carol Ann around and lost his temper with her at times. I know because of the time in Chirstine’s house in 1987 when band had to pull Lindsey off Stevie (not mentioned in the book), after Stevie attacked him first. I do know Lindsey had a temper and probably cracked Carol Ann a couple times here and there, which is 100 percent wrong; but it wasn’t for NO reason. Their relationship in real life was not even close to Ike and Tina Turner’s. That’s how Carol Ann makes it sound. She always says she could never figure out the reasons for him losing his temper. That’s bullshit. Carol Ann knew why he lost his temper in each of those cases. She would be missing for days on end spending thousands of his dollars on cocaine, sleeping around, and then would come home all strung out. She doesn’t admit her own faults in the book, at all. She was no angel…… The part I loved about the book where she goes into gross detail about Lindsey, calling the shots in the studio with the music. She doesn’t use these words; but Fleetwood Mac became Linsdey’s band. Carol Ann hints at real factual truths by saying Stevie just wrote the words to her songs on paper and Lindsey LITERALLY did the rest. Arranged, organized, engineered, produced, mixed down tracks, added guitars, harmonies etc. Lindsey got zero credit (from the fans) for the music he added to Stevie’s songs. Christine could do SOME of what Lindsey did but could’t compete with his ingenious either. Lindsey often used his best ideas on Stevie’s and Christine’s songs and didn’t receive a drop of credit for it on the rights. That is the most truthful part of everything written in the entire book, and I’m glad it’s included in the book,because thirty some years later, SO MANY fans still have no clue how much more work he did than the other 4 members. Lindsey is still waiting for his due credit that can put him in the elite catagory with Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend, and Eric Clpaton. I wanted everyone to know that there would have been no reincarnation of Fleetwood Mac from a blusey mediocre British rock band to a top notch superstar fresh Fleetwood Mac without Lindsey Buckingham being involed. At least the the people who read the book know that, and for that I’m grateful.

    -James

  • James (again)

    Nancy: the curiosity is killing me. I have two questions for you…..1.) Why, in your opinion, did Carol Ann Harris wait over twenty years to tell her story? 2.) Do you think Lindsey, Stevie, Christine, or Richard Dashut read this book? I have to know, I just have to.

  • Einez

    As a longtime fan of the Mac it won’t surprise me if there was lot of decadence and drugs. After all it is an unfortunate side to rock and roll. What was disturbing is Lindsey’s volatile anger and the fact that Carol Ann stayed with him for such a long time. Now I can’t really comment too much on the physical abuse because Lindsey had not said anything publicly refute the book. It’s really between both of them. All in all Storms is well written and a juicy read for the fans of the band. Makes Mick Fleetwood’s autobiography seem childish written in comparison.

  • jenny

    im confused, why would anyone write negative things about a band they claim to love, and destroy the reputation of a man who is loved by millions, and who spent his money getting high. seems to me we have the right to form our own opinions on this band that we have all came to love. dont read the book

  • vegetarian430

    It can be hard to see rock idols’ personal failings when you’ve been a fan your whole life. I read the book and was saddened to see how much self-destructive behavior was going on. I do believe Carol Harris’ account of the physical and verbal abuse by Lindsay Buckingham. He fits the pattern of someone with explosive rage disorder. I’m glad she got out when she did. He should never have hit her even once.

  • Einez

    I’m gonna add my voice to knv regarding how Carol has written about Stevie that got some people ticked off. First off the book is not about Stevie Nicks despite the title nor was it about Fleetwood Mac. It was an insider’s view who was part of the inner circle of the band and her life with Lindsey Buckingham. If any other the band member wrote their memoirs they would have their versions of what life and the situations was all about. Mick Fleetwood’s memoirs is an example. So did the author trash Stevie? I don’t think so. In fact Carol did paint the singer in a sympathetic light despite some cattiness. What is ironic is that Carol thought Stevie’s decision to marry Kim Anderson was a moment of insanity which Stevie herself admitted in her “In her Own Words,” website. There were touching moments between them and Carol did say that she wished them to be friends which more or less happened so why the dislike among the commentators here? If there are any Nicks fans out there, it’s best to read this book with an open mind and please put away the rose colored glasses. Fantasy is not reality. Even rock stars have flaws.

  • http://cindeye4daveeye.blogspot.com/ Cindy Considine

    I just finished reading the book, and like many others, harbour doubts as to the truthfulness of many of the incidents Carol Ann describes. The point someone else raised-that Carol Ann shows little self-awareness, regret, or responsibility throughout this tale certainly rang true for me. I found it quite distracting actually, as while reading I would constantly feel questions rising within me, such as, “well what part did you play in this Carol Ann? What aspects could you have dealt with better, done differently, seen from another perspective?”. Instead, Carol Ann’s apparent lack of ability to empathise with other people, get over her own insecurities and petty jealousy, have an opinion of her own at the time and state it, were also sore points for me personally. It seems incredulous-and not a little dishonest-that someone could claim to have been there, yet not show any insight or honest reflections about themselves or others about this time. Many inconsistencies throughout the book also made it difficult to believe the story in it’s entirety, despite some of the incidents having since been verified by other credible sources. From the moment I began reading until the end, I found the author’s personality to be very unlikeable and as such I felt little sympathy for her during her descriptions of some stressful events in this book. That is, apart from the incidents of violence in which Carol Ann describes herself as the victim. If these were in fact, actual events, then I do feel sympathetic toward her-no woman deserves to be assaulted or abused like this, regardless of Lindsey’s reasons for feeling anger toward her. Despite this though, it still seems at odds that after all these years, Carol Ann did not dedicate the book to a women’s cause or pledge some of the revenue towards one. Lastly, another sticking point for me was the self-absorbed nature Carol Ann consistently demonstrates from beginning to end. She begins the story stating her reason’s for adopting her child out were to give the child a ‘better’ life, yet all the while Carol Ann goes into detail about how while she was with Lindsey, Carol Ann wanted for nothing and how lavish the lifestyle was as a non-contributing member of the ‘Fleetwood Mac family’. With each page turn I waited for her to remember the child she gave away and realise that she now had the ability to provide for her daughter adequately, and then some. Yet, it never came…Finally, I would like to know the source of many conflicting reports I’ve read that insist Carol Ann was forcefully evicted from Lindsey’s Bel Air home because of problems relating to her drug addiction. As a drug and alcohol counsellor myself, I found the omissions by Carol Ann on this subject very telling, and this contributed to yet another cause for doubt as to the truthfulness of her version of events. Oh, and I just have to say, the blatant plagiarism of Stevie’s song title’s and lyrics peppered throughout the book, whilst every opportunity to ridicule Stevie was taken, was also disconcerting and added to the author’s ‘unlikeability’ factor for me.

  • Sadie Frost

    Thank you thank you thank you for so vividly enunciating all the things I have felt whilst reading this book. I couldn’t believe the rising level of contempt I felt as I moved through it, culminating in realising that in 16 chapters there was not one, not ONE expression of self deprecation nor one incidence that was described as hysterically funny that wasn’t cruel and insensitive. The lady appeared to roam from egomaniac schoolgirl with a victim mentality through to complete self delusion. Not sure how one can live for 50 odd years without developing at least a little self insight.
    Cheers for the review. Very helpful.

    • Cathy

      Although the writer, Carol Ann, gives harsh portrayals of everyone else she came in contact with, she makes herself out to be a perfect angel. In her writing, Carol is an innocent, giving waif surrounded by egotistical, self serving people. Since no human is that perfect, it makes her story seem biased and unbelievable.

      After nine chapters, I had enough. It is unlike me to not finish a book I start reading, but I didn’t buy the book to learn all about her and how cruel the world was to her. I