Thursday, July 30, 2009

[Four] Reasons Lindsey Buckingham is the World's Most Underrated Guitarist

I'll be forthright. Fleetwood Mac has long been my favorite band, so I'm probably not the most objective authority when it comes to Lindsey Buckingham, the lead guitarist of the aforementioned classic rock group. But I can say, without bias, that he has never gotten the respect and acknowledgment he deserves.
It took two concerts for me to realize just how talented Buckingham really is. The first concert was Fleetwood Mac, live at the Los Angeles Staples Center on their recent "Unleashed: Hits Tour". Even from my nosebleed seat, I was absolutely blown away by the artistry and energy of Buckingham, Nicks, Fleetwood and McVie.
The second concert was Bella Donna, a Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac tribute band, live at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank. While the lead singer's impression of Nicks was flawless, and the rest of the band was serviceable, the lead guitarist paled in comparison to Buckingham.
And I don't just mean the Buckingham of Mac's classic albums, from Rumours to Tango in the Night. I mean the Buckingham I saw less than a month earlier, playing his heart out to a stadium full of fans, young and old.
Without further ado, [Four] Reasons Lindsey Buckingham is the World's Most Underrated Guitarist:

1. He's got blisters on his fingers
Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about Lindsey Buckingham's musical style is that he forgoes use of a pick (or plectrum, if you're a music nerd) in favor of plucking the strings with his bare fingers and nails. While this, in itself, is unremarkable, the blazing speed and flawless precision with which he plays has often led me to wonder just how thick the calluses on his fingertips must be.
Buckingham has admitted to using fingerpicks while in the recording studio, but on stage his hands are as bare as the day he was born. For proof, look no further than his live acoustic performance of Big Love:

2. His solos are amazing, even after all these years
While his solo career isn't particularly remarkable, Lindsey Buckingham's guitar solos never fail to garner applause. Like the other members of Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham writes songs that play to his strengths, and his strengths clearly lie in his steely fingers. Even now that he's pushing sixty, Buckingham rocks harder than ever. Watch the audience go wild in this video of I'm So Afraid from Fleetwood Mac's 2009 tour:

3. He's an accomplished songwriter as well
Being a great guitarist isn't just about having nimble fingers and impeccable timing. Lindsey Buckingham is a versatile and talented songwriter and lyricist, responsible for a great many of Fleetwood Mac's best songs. As previously mentioned, he writes to his strengths, and that fact is no less clear in this fantastic live performance of World Turning from 1976:

4. He's not even in Rolling Stone's top hundred
Okay, so he's a great guitarist, but that doesn't necessarily make him underrated. The fact that he was excluded from Rolling Stone Magazine's 2003 list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, on the other hand, certainly does. While his predecessor, founding Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green, makes the list at #38, Buckingham is nowhere to be found.* Many readers have since commented that Rolling Stone's list is laughable, some citing Buckingham's exclusion as a foremost reason.
*It is worth mentioning that Green probably deserves a higher ranking on Rolling Stone's list. He has been praised by the likes of Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and even B.B. King as one of the most influential and talented guitarists in the history of rock.


  1. How can you not mention his fabulous work on Frozen Love???

    Thanks for the website.

  2. He is and will always be a brilliant and spectacular guitarist.