In his first television interview since being fired in the spring, Buckingham, 69, opened up about why he believes he was ousted from the band decades after he was asked to join in December 1974.
“It appeared to me that she was looking for something to hang on me, in order to instigate some kind of coup,” he tells CBS This Morning: Saturday, adding that he first learned of the trouble when the band’s manager Irving Azoff called him and told him that Nicks was furious at him.
“Irving told me – a couple of days later – that she’d given the band an ultimatum, and either I had to go or she was going to go,” he recalls.
Buckingham first joined the band in December 1974 at the request of drummer Mick 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 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.
Buckingham previously told a similar anecdote about his conversation with Azoff. In October, the musician quoted a message from Azoff, telling Rolling Stone: “Stevie never wants to be on a stage with you again.” In the same interview, Buckingham said Azoff told him that he was “getting ousted” and that Nicks gave the rest of the band “an ultimatum: Either you go or she’s gonna go.”
Also during the CBS sit-down, Buckingham says he has yet to talk directly with anyone in Fleetwood Mac.
“I actually have not spoken to any of the band. And it’s been almost a year now,” he shares. “Nobody. I have had, only in the last couple of weeks, I have gotten an email, which I expected to get, from Christine McVie,” he says of the songwriter and keyboardist, with whom he released an album in 2017.
Buckingham’s first TV interview comes nearly two months after he leveled a lawsuit against his former Fleetwood Mac bandmates following his sudden dismissal. In the suit, filed in October in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by PEOPLE, the guitarist accused his ex-band of seven offenses, including breach of fiduciary duty, breach of oral contract and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.
In the suit, Buckingham claims that he had signed on for a 2-year run of 60 shows with Fleetwood Mac, for a fee of $14 million. However, he says he requested that they postpone their 2018 dates three months to allow him to tour with his solo band; a request that was apparently refused.
Buckingham explains he rescheduled his solo trek, only to be notified of his termination from the group shortly before the tour announcement.
“Fleetwood Mac strongly disputes the allegations presented in Mr. Buckingham’s complaint and looks forward to their day in court,” the band’s publicist Kristen Foster said in a statement to PEOPLE at the time. “The band has retained Dan Petrocelli to handle the case.”
Buckingham’s spot would ultimately be filled by Mike Campbell — formerly of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers — and Neil Finn.
Buckingham’s interview with CBS This Morning: Saturday airs Dec. 8.