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On tour in the US in January 1969, the band recorded Fleetwood Mac in Chicago (released in December as a double album) at the soon-to-close Chess Records Studio with some of the blues legends of Chicago, including Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy and Otis Spann. These were Fleetwood Mac's last all-blues recordings. Along with the change of style the band was also going through label changes. Until that point they had been on the Blue Horizon label, but with Kirwan in the band the musical possibilities had become too diverse for a blues-only label. The band signed with Immediate Records and released the single "Man of the World", which became another British and European hit. For the B-side Spencer fronted Fleetwood Mac as "Earl Vince and the Valiants" and recorded "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonite", typifying the more raucous rock 'n' roll side of the band. Immediate Records was in bad shape however, so the band shopped around for a new deal. The Beatles wanted the band on Apple Records (Mick Fleetwood and George Harrison were brothers-in-law), but the band's manager Clifford Davis decided to go with Warner Bros. Records (through Reprise Records, a Frank Sinatra-founded label), the label they have stayed with ever since.
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By 1970, Green, the frontman of the band, was using LSD. During the band's European tour, he experienced a bad acid trip at a hippie commune in Munich. Clifford Davis, the band's manager, singled out this incident as the crucial point in Green's mental decline. He said: "The truth about Peter Green and how he ended up how he did is very simple. We were touring Europe in late 1969. When we were in Germany, Peter told me he had been invited to a party. I knew there were going to be a lot of drugs around and I suggested that he didn't go. But he went anyway and I understand from him that he took what turned out to be very bad, impure LSD. He was never the same again." German author and filmmaker Rainer Langhans stated in his autobiography that he and Uschi Obermaier met Green in Munich and invited him to their Highfisch-Kommune, where the drinks were spiked with acid. Langhans and Obermaier were planning to organise an open-air "Bavarian Woodstock", for which they wanted Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones to be the main acts and they hoped Green would help them to get in contact with The Rolling Stones.
In the summer of 1971, the band held auditions for a replacement guitarist at their large country home, "Benifold", which they had jointly bought with their manager Davis for 23,000 (equivalent to 378,500 in 2021) prior to the Kiln House tour. A friend of the band, Judy Wong, recommended her high school friend Bob Welch, who was living in Paris, France, at the time. The band held a few meetings with Welch and decided to hire him, without actually playing with him, after they heard a tape of his songs.
In the three albums they released in this period they constantly changed line-ups. In September 1972 the band added guitarist Bob Weston and vocalist Dave Walker, formerly of Savoy Brown and Idle Race. Bob Weston was well known as a slide guitarist and had known the band from his touring period with Long John Baldry. Fleetwood Mac also hired Savoy Brown's road manager, John Courage. Fleetwood, The McVies, Welch, Weston and Walker recorded the band's seventh studio album, Penguin, which was released in January 1973. After the tour the band fired Walker because they felt his vocal style and attitude did not fit well with the rest of the band.
While the other band had been on tour, Welch stayed in Los Angeles and connected with entertainment attorneys. He realised that the original Fleetwood Mac was being neglected by Warner Bros and that they would need to change their base of operation from England to America, to which the rest of the band agreed. Rock promoter Bill Graham wrote a letter to Warner Bros to convince them that the real Fleetwood Mac was, in fact, Fleetwood, Welch, and the McVies. This did not end the legal battle but the band was able to record as Fleetwood Mac again. Instead of hiring another manager, Fleetwood Mac, having re-formed, became the only major rock band managed by the artists themselves.
The band's thirteenth studio album, Mirage, was released in 1982. Following 1981 solo albums by Nicks (Bella Donna), Fleetwood (The Visitor), and Buckingham (Law and Order), there was a return to a more conventional approach. Buckingham had been chided by critics, fellow band members, and music business managers for the lesser commercial success of Tusk. Recorded at Château d'Hérouville in France and produced by Richard Dashut, Mirage was an attempt to recapture the huge success of Rumours. Its hits included Christine McVie's "Hold Me" and "Love in Store" (cowritten by Robbie Patton and Jim Recor, respectively), Nicks's "Gypsy", and Buckingham's "Oh Diane", which made the Top 10 in the UK. A minor hit was also scored by Buckingham's "Eyes of the World" and "Can't Go Back".
In October 2018, Buckingham filed a lawsuit against Fleetwood Mac for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of oral contract, and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, among other claims. He stated that they eventually came to a settlement, which he would not share the terms of, but claimed he was "happy enough with it". Buckingham also told his version of what had led to his departure from the band. Two days after their performance at the MusiCares event, he had a phone call from the band's manager, Irving Azoff, who had a list of things that, as Buckingham put it, "Stevie took issue with" that evening, including the guitarist's outburst just before the band's set over the intro music for their acceptance speech being the studio recording of Nicks's "Rhiannon" and the way he "smirked" during Nicks's thank-you speech. Buckingham conceded the first point. "It wasn't about it being "Rhiannon". It just undermined the impact of our entrance. That's me being very specific about the right and wrong way to do something." As for smirking, "The irony is that we have this standing joke that Stevie, when she talks, goes on a long time", Buckingham said. "I may or may not have smirked. But I look over and Christine and Mick are doing the waltz behind her as a joke." At the end of that call, Buckingham assumed Nicks was quitting Fleetwood Mac. He wrote an email to Fleetwood assuring the drummer that the group could continue. There was no reply. A couple of days later, Buckingham said, "I called Irving and said, 'This feels funny. Is Stevie leaving the band, or am I getting kicked out?'." Azoff told the guitarist he was "getting ousted" and that Nicks gave the rest of the band "an ultimatum: Either you go or she's gonna go."
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