Ex-Fleetwood Mac star Lindsey Buckingham suffers vocal cord damage

Fleetwood Mac

Lindsey Buckingham, once a driving force in super group Fleetwood Mac, may never sing again after sustaining serious damage to his vocal cords.

Buckingham played guitar and sang in the band for decades and co-wrote many of FM’s biggest hits including Go Your Own Way and Big Love.

Last week he underwent life-saving heart surgery. While the operation appears to have been successful, he suffered vocal injury during the procedure.

In a message posted on social media, his wife Kristen said: “While he and his heart are doing well, the surgery resulted in vocal cord damage. While it is unclear if this damage is permanent, we are hopeful it is not.”

How can surgery damage vocal cords?

While we don’t know the specifics of Buckingham’s case, in general the biggest risk to singers in relation to surgery comes from intubation.

This involves inserting a tube via the mouth, down the throat and between the vocal folds in order to aid ventilation and administer certain drugs during surgery. The tube may cause trauma to the vocal folds, ranging from relatively minor swelling or bruising to more serious issues such as a tear, granuloma, or even paralysis.

Fortunately, the incidence of vocal fold damage is minimal. Saying that, for those who are undergoing routine surgery there is an alternative to intubation. This involves the use of a laryngeal mask that sits on top of the glottis instead of passing through it. It’s not suitable for all types of surgery, but if you’re a singer facing a general anaesthetic, it’s worth discussing the option with the anaesthetist and surgeon pre-operatively.

Sacking from Fleetwood Mac

Buckingham’s vocal injury comes after a tough year, in which the 69-year-old was unceremoniously dumped from Fleetwood Mac after 33 years.

Officially the split was due to a disagreement over the size and scope of FM’s 2019 tour. However, music industry insiders say it was down to his rocky relationship with Stevie Nicks. (The band are renowned for their bust-ups).

No sooner was Buckingham out than Neil Finn (Crowded House) and Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) were in.

In a statement that must have rubbed salt into Buckingham’s wounds, the band said: “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.”

A legal battle followed but this was settled late last year.

Fleetwood Mac Tour

FM’s 2019 tour will include two much-anticipated gigs at Wembley Stadium in June. Rumours abound that they may also play Glastonbury – festival organiser Emily Eavis has declared that she would love to have them headline – but it remains to be seen if they’ll take to the Pyramid Stage this year.

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