Part of the fun of Daisy Jones & The Six, now streaming on Amazon’s Prime Video and based on the bestselling novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid, is making connections and comparisons between the fictional band and the series’ real-life rock era of 1968 to 1977.
Fleetwood Mac’s legendary intra-band romantic dynamics are certainly the clearest parallels. Reid has even said that she started her novel “with the germ of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac,” inviting a guessing game among the book’s fans—and, now, the show’s new viewers—over which plot points mirror the juiciest gossip about real-life rock stars.
Other connections in Daisy Jones are more subtle, or wishful stretches of a fan’s imagination. But any good song makes one imagine what made the music.
With the first three episodes of the series now streaming on Prime Video—and, of course, the hit source material available to read—we’ve combed through Daisy Jones & The Six to speculate about moments that are inspired by true events involving Fleetwood Mac, of course, but also superstars like Carly Simon, Donna Summer, and more. Here’s our best explanation of the rock history that inspired TV’s coolest new music series.
(Warning: Some light spoilers ahead.)
The Daisy Jones and Stevie Nicks Parallel
The series begins at Daisy Jones & The Six’s final concert and break-up on Oct. 4, 1977. The band’s journey is told through scenes set in the 1970s, and then present-day interviews for a documentary in which the bandmates show no love lost for each other.
Daisy Jones (Riley Keough) meets The Six for the first time at the end of the third episode, which takes place in about 1974. An aspiring singer-songwriter, Jones is recruited by producer Teddy Price (Tom Wright) to join one of The Six’s recording sessions and try to save a floundering attempt at laying down “Honeycomb,” a song from The Six’s frontman Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin). Price knows the band needs Jones’ confidence to rescue Honeycomb, and its hollow, flailing lyrics about mistakes in Dunne’s marriage to Camila Alvarez (Camila Morrone).
Price doesn’t tell the duo they are working off two different versions. Jones has changed the song’s lyrics from Dunne’s statement, “I know we can get it all back,” to the harsher realism of “we could make a good thing bad.”
Jones can’t accept the original version’s cop-out simplicity. “We can get it all back” is a one-way speech, she tells him, when the song should start a more honest conversation.
Stevie Nicks’ similar anthem about life’s uncertainty, “Landslide,” appeared on Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours in 1977. She wrote it several years prior to that, after her debut album with Lindsey Buckingham failed, and their musical future was in doubt. It’s a song about knowing effort is not always enough.
“If you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills, well, the landslide bring it down,” Nicks wrote.
Making the Band: How Daisy Jones & the Six Came to Life
Dunne’s “Honeycomb” attempts to capture a similar emotion. But Jones knows, like Nicks knew, that wishful thinking like “we can get it all back” is a feeble hope against an avalanche.
The Fleetwood Mac Love Square
As the third episode concludes, Jones and Dunne have just met. It’s no spoiler that sparks will fly, and that their star-crossed emotions will not end well. Fans of the book know that The Six’s keyboardist Karen Sirko (Suki Waterhouse) and guitarist Graham Dunne (Will Harrison) also face a hard-luck relationship.
A five-member band with two failed couples and decades of acrimony compares to Fleetwood Mac. Couples included singer Nicks and guitarist Buckingham, bassist John and keyboardist Christine McVie, and, for a short time, Nicks and drummer Mick Fleetwood. The Six’s drummer Warren Rojas (Sebastian Chacon) provides Fleetwood-style comic relief, and less drama.
The unhappy interviews with Daisy Jones and her bandmates resemble how Buckingham and Nicks’ relationship has broken down, with lawsuits and snide comments. Buckingham told a 2021 interviewer that Nicks was jealous he has a child; Nicks responded with cold ice: “It seems a shame for him to pass judgment on anyone who makes a choice to live their life on their own terms, even if it looks differently from what his life choices have been.”
Creating a ‘Nicotine-Stained’ Homage to the ’70s in ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’
Fleetwood Mac’s primary members are in their mid-seventies; Christine McVie died late last year. Time wins every argument.
The date of Daisy Jones & The Six’s fictional final concert, Oct. 4, 1977, matches Fleetwood Mac’s real-life final U.S. tour date that year, the second of two sold-out shows in San Diego during their Rumours tour. Then they headed to Australia and Japan. Their song “Don’t Stop” had just peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Many albums and tours would follow.
The San Diego concerts featured songs like “Landslide,” “Dreams,” and “Go Your Own Way,” written by Nicks and Buckingham, to each other and the audience.
Daisy Jones & The Six features a strong pedigree of songwriters, including Phoebe Bridgers, Marcus Mumford, and Jackson Browne. Written by Blake Mills and Chris Weisman, “Regret Me’s” lyrics of, “You regret me and I’ll regret you. You couldn’t handle your liquor and you can’t handle the truth,” have DNA from Buckingham’s angry, “Packing up, shacking up is all you want to do,” in “Go Your Own Way,” or Stevie Nicks’ quiet threat in “Dreams”: “Like a heartbeat drives you mad, in the stillness of remembering, what you had and what you lost.” Each song was written about and to the other.
In future episodes, Daisy Jones wears the willowy outfits and channels the full-force stage presence of Stevie Nicks. Jones is established as from a wealthy family, echoing Nicks’ biography: Her father was a vice-president of the Greyhound Bus company. Jones’ constant companion is a writing journal, which mirrors how Nicks has described her own writing process.
“If my journal entry has a romantic tinge to it, I might thumb through it and go ‘This entry would make a really good poem,’ which could then be made into a good song,” Nicks told The New Yorker.
Many times during Daisy Jones & The Six, Jones picks up her own journal to write down the ideas or observations that become parts of future songs, just as Nicks describes.
“Because, for me, anything that gives me an idea, it strikes me in the good part of my heart, right?” Nicks said. “I have little things written everywhere, and I try to tear them out immediately and stick them in my journal.”
The Linda, Carly, and Donna Influence
But it is limiting and not as entertaining to see the band’s drama only through the lens of Fleetwood Mac, a band at the peak of their powers on Oct. 4, 1977. The 1970s were filled with drama and superstars at every turn.
At the start of the series, Daisy is excited to join the Sunset Strip scene around the Whisky a Go Go and Troubadour clubs. Like women before and since, she is not seen as a peer by the men who take advantage of her, first sexually and then creatively. She is angry how her ideas are stolen and used to create male singers’ big hits instead. She tells one of these men, “I am not somebody’s muse; I am the somebody.”
These guys rip off Jones’ actual lyrics, sometimes taking them right from her journal. On the other hand, repurposing someone else’s stray observations is not as unacceptable in the artistic field. Carly Simon, the singer-songwriter superstar of the mid-1970s, lifted the “clouds in my coffee” imagery for “You’re So Vain” from an offhand comment by her friend Billy Mernit.
Simon, Nicks, and that era’s artists like Linda Ronstadt and Donna Summer are all part of Daisy Jones’ cultural recreation. All four women have traits, strengths, styles, and backgrounds that show up in Keough’s performance.
‘Daisy Jones & the Six’ Is the Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits Phenomenon We Crave
Simon’s single “Nobody Does It Better” peaked at #6 that week of Oct. 1, 1977. Simon’s sexuality is more New York City sophisticated than Keough’s Californian witchy woman, but it’s ever-present in the way they both move and talk. Just as Jones commands the stage, no man can resist Simon’s breathy huskiness and XXX-rated compliment of the high note at “nobody does it half as good as you.”
In interpreting a writer’s words, Jones captures how Linda Ronstadt’s voice transcends songs like Roy Orbison’s original “Blue Bayou.” Ronstadt didn’t write the words “Some sweet day gonna take away, this hurting aside,” but she believed them. “Blue Bayou” reached its Hot 100 peak of #51 on Oct. 1, 1977.
Like Daisy Jones shored up an established group, Donna Summer’s first band was Crow in Boston, when members of the guitar-horn ensemble let her audition and join on a spur of the moment. The group lasted for a little time in 1968, before a record company wanted Summer alone, not the rest of them. Summer’s super-stardom was on the rise; on Oct. 1, 1977, her “I Feel Love” had reached #14. Summer and disco are represented in the series by the character of Simone Jackson (Nabiyah Be), Daisy’s friend and mentor.
Bruce Springsteen Is in the Mix, Too
In how The Six first gets together, there is not as much comparison to Fleetwood Mac, a British band of the late ’60s psychedelic era. After a 1974 shift in membership and move to California, Fleetwood and John McVie reached out to Buckingham and Nicks, established musicians who hadn’t caught their big break.
In the show, The Six (five + Camila) are mostly close friends from Pittsburgh who have had good success on the local circuit. After a club show opening for a traveling band, they had recruited keyboardist Karen Sirko—similar but not as pivotal as the Fleetwood Mac merger. They take visiting tour manager Rod Reyes’ (Timothy Olyphant) offhand advice and move to California on a whim and a prayer. Showing up at Reyes’ house unannounced, they unrealistically expect a meeting with a top producer and a record contract.
The better comparison is Bruce Springsteen’s early bands The Castiles or Steel Mill, which had success in the local clubs of Asbury Park. They were big fish in their small pond, with lots of local attention. It’s a grind in real life and fiction. The Six try to recruit a singer through a want-ad; Springsteen advertised in the Asbury Park Press for piano players and country violinists. There was a time Bruce could be called direct.
It’s the search for that break that drives the first three episodes of the series. Daisy Jones & The Six will be successful, but the “how” is not established… yet. Up till now it’s been about confidence in the face of long odds.
Bruce and Donna and Why ’70s Music Packed Such a Punch
Daisy’s faith in herself hits several rough patches in the first episodes. She boosts herself with a stop at a dark piano bar and plays one of her songs to minimal applause—but there is some applause. The scene is not a far cry, not really, from the Executive Room bar on Wilshire Boulevard, where Billy Joel played for bread in his jar, and kept playing because he believed he could. To be a rock star in 2023 doesn’t seem reasonable, but in our nostalgia for 1977, it seems like a dream that could come true.
On Oct. 4, 1977, there was no such thing as “classic rock.” Bands like Fleetwood Mac toured for $8.50 a ticket. The Supreme Court had just refused to overturn a lower court decision that a public school teacher could be fired for acknowledging that he was gay. The #1 song on Billboard’s Hot 100 for the week of Oct. 1 was not Fleetwood Mac, or Carly Simon, or Bruce Springsteen—45 years before the new season of The Mandalorian, the #1 song was Meco’s disco version of the Star Wars theme.
Some things change, some things don’t. Some things are fiction, some things aren’t. What makes a show like Daisy Jones & The Six interesting is wondering which is which.
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