Fleetwood Mac Attack: The Buzzard and the Penguin
WMMS had an inimitable relationship with Fleetwood Mac. Their self-titled 1975 album, the first with the line-up including Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, received fervent reaction that was made stronger when we scored live, unreleased versions of some tracks. We gave them considerable airplay, and “Rhinannon” and “I’m So Afraid” became two of our most requested and played tracks.
We had played Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks prior to Fleetwood Mac. They had released an album as a duo, Buckingham-Nicks on Polydor Records in 1973. A track from the album, “Long Distance Winner,” was picking up requests and airplay. We did not have a relationship with the Agora at the time so we pitched the label on sponsoring a “WMMS Night Out” with Buckingham-Nicks at the Smiling Dog Saloon on West 25th, the club we did have an affiliation with. The label declined. To them we were a “minor FM rock station” – and our airplay and support meant nothing.
Because of Fleetwood Mac’s unusually strong popularity in Cleveland, music director Shelley Stile pulled off a day-long exclusive with Rumours, released in February, 1977. From first listen, we knew Rumours was something unique and special – product that would cause more defection from AM to FM, and from other stations to WMMS. We cemented our relationship with the band, getting to know everyone in it and connected to it. What gave us a solid edge with the band was our airplay and the Cleveland success of their pet projects – Fleetwood Mac spin-offs, including Bob Welch’s Paris band and solo albums, Walter Egan, former Grassroots lead singer Rob Grill (“Rock Sugar“), and later, former Kingston Trio member John Stewart. (“Gold” and “Midnight Wind“).
We did dozens of promotions with the band over the years. Among them was teaming up to donate two rockhopper penguins to the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo. The second penguin was donated in 1980, when the band was in Cleveland for a two-night stand at the Coliseum.
More on Buzzards and Penguins in The Buzzard, chapter 12