"Mick knows I would come back like a shot," Buckingham says about returning to Fleetwood Mac

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Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham
| Credit: Chelsea Lauren/WireImage

Lindsey Buckingham thinks a Fleetwood Mac reunion with all five of its most recognized members would be the right thing to do.

In an interview with PEOPLE in this week's issue, Buckingham, 71, expressed his discontent with how he was let go from Fleetwood Mac in 2018 but reveals that he is not closing the door to a reunion with his bandmates. However, it'll take a reconciliation with Stevie Nicks whom he says he hasn't spoken to since she texted him following his 2019 open-heart surgery — for that to happen.

"Mick knows I would come back like a shot," he tells PEOPLE. "But I'm not hanging my hat on that at all."

In 2018, Buckingham was kicked out of the group — in its prime, comprising Buckingham, Nicks, Mick Fleetwood and Christine and John McVie — following an in-group disagreement after a performance at MusiCares. At the time, many speculated that it was Buckingham's behavior at the event that led to a rupture while Buckingham maintains it's because he asked for three months to promote his solo album before the group was set to tour. (He's now releasing said album on Friday.)

Whatever the reason, he pins the blame of his removal from the group on Nicks, his former longtime love and muse. "It was all Stevie's doing," he says. "Stevie basically gave the band an ultimatum that either I had to go or she would go. It would be like [Mick] Jagger saying, "Well, either Keith [Richards] has to go or I'm going to go.'"

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"But that could be seen as something almost predictable at some point given the fact that we were slightly on different planets for so long," he adds. (Nicks and Buckingham met when they were in high school in the late 1960s and remained in a relationship through 1976 at the peak of the group's success. John and Christine McVie would also divorce around the same time.)

Nicks disagrees with the guitarist's account of his departure from the group. In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, the singer, 73, calls Buckingham's take "revisionist history," adding that, "I did not demand he be fired. Frankly, I fired myself. I proactively removed myself from the band and a situation I considered to be toxic to my well-being. I was done. If the band went on without me, so be it."

Buckingham maintains that the rest of his bandmates didn't want him to leave in the first place but "there was not a lot they could do about it."

"I think they felt they might have been threatening their own financial livelihoods at that point, and that's a tough one," he says. "It was a tough one for Mick especially, but for Christine too. I mean, Christine texted me and said, 'I'm really sorry I didn't stand up for you when that happened.' She said, 'I had just bought a house,' so that was the tradeoff that they made."

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Although he holds no animosity for his groupmates after they left him off a tour and replaced him with Mike Campbell and Neill Finn, he says he's upset that the group couldn't work through a "minimal" issue he finds "almost comical." After all, the group survived breakups, divorces, affairs and all sorts of issues during the group's prime in what Buckingham calls "the musical soap opera" of Fleetwood Mac.

"We rose above really, really significant difficulties personally in order to fulfill our destiny," he says. "For the 43 years I was in Fleetwood Mac, that was our legacy in many ways. It wasn't just the music but the fact that we were always able to rise above difficulties to follow through on the bigger picture."

"It dishonored our legacy," he adds candidly. "It wasn't being excluded from the tour but the fact that the legacy of the five was being harmed."

Despite that, he says he'd be open to returning to the group as it would be "the right thing to do for the five us to reconvene," but it'll take making up with Nicks — whom he says he "was harboring a lot of hurt and disappointment and a sense of alienation" during the group's peak in the 1970s — for that to ever happen.

"It's one thing to have Christine and Mick want that. That has nothing to do with what Stevie is or isn't willing to do," he says. "Stevie was doing what she did, in my opinion, out of weakness."

"You have to forgive," he adds. "You have to let things go and move on and just remember that we're all doing the best we can."

For more on Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.