How did the most popular band of the ’70s get utterly lost a decade later? Ridiculous drug use is a good guess, but no. Fleetwood Mac were on drugs in the ’70s and they did just fine.
The answer is the music video. Sure, there were videos in the ’70s, but a lot of them were performances on Burt Sugarman’s The Midnight Special or disco videos featuring a boot-scooting Andrea True that were pretty lenient on production quality. When the ’80s rolled around and boom went the MTV, videos were taken much more seriously as their own formidable animal. As video evolved, as artists challenged each other and continued to push the boundaries of video conventions, it became clear that in order to succeed in music in the ’80s, you needed a video to represent who you were as a musician, and who you were had better be sexy. Edgy sexy, pretty sexy, nerdy sexy, scary sexy—whatever. Sexy. The advent of the MTV music video placed much more of an emphasis on an artist’s sex appeal, and whether that artist was not only comfortable in front of a camera, but knew how to Madonna that camera until the viewer on the other side was rendered a quivering pile of twitchy, uncontrollable desire.
And let’s face it. That was not Rush.
But of all the bands that had a hard time making the transition from the “heard and mostly unseen” ’70s to the “gimme face, gimme body” ’80s, Fleetwood Mac stood a fairly solid chance. Here were five fairly attractive people (some more than others) whose whole thing was sex. [...]