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 out of the group. Rolling Stone and Variety confirmed the departure Monday afternoon, saying that the 68-year-old was, in fact, fired.
Representatives for the band did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
The news comes on the eve of a planned global tour for Fleetwood Mac. TMZ reports that, 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.”
Rolling Stone received a statement from Mick Fleetwood, the group’s co-namesake and drummer, expanding on the change. “Fleetwood Mac has always been about an amazing collection of songs that are performed with a unique blend of talents,” drummer and founding member Mick Fleetwood told the publication. “We jammed with Mike and Neil and the chemistry really worked and let the band realize that this is the right combination to go forward with in Fleetwood Mac style. We know we have something new, yet it’s got the unmistakable Mac sound.”
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.”
Buckingham first joined the band in December 1974 at the request of 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.
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