Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel about a The hedonistic 1970s band is now a television show. The best part? Laura Martin writes about how a fictional group has evolved into a fantastic real one.

They say that if you can remember the 1960s, you weren’t really there, but that adage may be even more applicable to the 1970s. Hedonistic excess reached new heights, from the glamorous debauchery of disco in Studio 54 to the anarchic fever of punk. Given that, older music fans may believe they’ve simply forgotten Daisy Jones & The Six, the best-selling band of that hazy decade. With the group’s seminal album, Aurora, now available internationally, and an accompanying bio-series about the group’s breakup currently airing on Amazon Prime Video, you may be wondering: who are they again?

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In reality, the band never existed. It is a fantastical figment of author Taylor Jenkins Reid’s imagination in her novel Daisy Jones & The Six. The book, which was released in 2019, tells the origin story of the fictional band and its members, including the titular frontwoman Daisy Jones, co-lead singer Billy and his lead guitarist brother Graham Dunne, keyboardist Karen, rhythm guitarist Eddie, and drummer Warren (as well as Billy’s wife, Camila), against the backdrop of 1970s Los Angeles. It chronicles their in-band love affairs and bitter rivalries, as well as their high-living, pleasure-seeking, and addiction – and, of course, the creation of their music, which documented all of their drama.

The novel, like the fictional band, was an instant success. The 2019 best-seller list It has sold over a million copies worldwide, spent nine weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and is a BookTok hit. It has captivated readers’ imaginations for its escapist qualities, as they are happily transported back to a time of rock ‘n’ roll excess, played out in sun-kissed, bohemian 70s California. Now, the new 10-part small-screen adaptation, which premiered its first three episodes a couple of weeks ago and has been rolling out new episodes weekly, may be equally appealing to Amazon Prime viewers; it is captivating from the opening beats. If reading the book transported you to the location,the TV series draws fans even further into the action, bringing viewers along for the wild ride of the band’s genesis, and keeping them hooked until the fateful last gig when the group implodes.

The book’s power

Daisy Buchanan, author and host of the You’re Booked podcast, is one of those who enjoy the book. “I was lucky enough to read an early copy – and I could feel the buzz even before it came out,” she tells BBC Culture. “I read it from cover to cover on a train ride and was completely engrossed. You know something is good when you don’t want to pick up your phone because you’re so engrossed in the reading experience.” Daisy’s voice is just one of many sharp, clear, and compelling voices in the story. Karen, the band member whose personal turmoil – and love story – is simmering quietly in the background, is one of my favourite characters. I believe that the key to great storytelling is to create characters that readers want to spend time with. Taylor Jenkins Reid makes you want to spend every waking moment with the band.”

The novel’s format distinguishes it from other music-themed novels, such as Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments or David Mitchell’s Utopia Avenue. It blurs the lines between reality and fiction by being told in an unusual oral history style. It is made up of mock interviews with the various band members and their associates, and it immerses the reader fully in its made-up history while also adding narrative tension by having the band’s “true” story disputed by the various characters. As the novel’s fictional author of the oral history declares at the start: “It should be noted that, on both big and small issues, accounts of the same event can differ. The truth is frequently found, unclaimed, in the middle.”

I’m really proud of what Daisy Jones & The Six has to say about women in rock, and how they make their way in the world – Taylor Jenkins Reid

“There’s a real sense of urgency, [the testimonies] a cross between gossip and confession,” explains Buchanan, explaining why so many people devoured the book. According to Reese Witherspoon, who read the novel as part of her book club and then successfully bid to make the TV adaptation through her production company, Hello Sunshine, at the time of its release: “Daisy Jones & The Six was devoured in a single day, and I fell head over heels for it. Daisy and the band won my heart.”

Jenkins Reid’s sixth novel, following her 2017 work The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, was published (which is currently also being adapted for TV by Netflix). She has a few theories about what made Daisy Jones & the Six such a smash hit: “It’s always difficult for me to speculate about what I might have done right,” she says, “but I think I’m always trying to tell stories that are really compelling to me in two different ways.” “One, they have something to say: and I’m very proud of what this book – and this TV adaptation – has to say about women in rock and how they navigate the world. Another thing that is important to me is that I have fun. I want to write stories that are enjoyable to read.”

The Fleetwood Mac connection

When it came to wild-living musical inspiration, Jenkins Reid didn’t have to look any further than Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood Mac was one of the bestselling acts of the 1970s, and the eventful history surrounding the creation of their iconic 1977 album, Rumours, is well-documented. At the time of going into the studio, two couples in the band – Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham and Christine and John McVie – had split up and were having affairs with other people, fueling the musicians’ heart-breaking or angry emotions that they channelled into songs about their ex-partners.

Jenkins Reid has previously stated that the inspiration for Daisy Jones came from a memory of watching footage of Stevie Nicks performing the song. Fleetwood Mac’s 1975 album Fleetwood Mac, while Buckingham looked on intently. “It appeared to be two people in love. But we’ll never know what happened between them “She stated. “I wanted to write a story about how the lines between real life and performance can blur, and how singing about old wounds can keep them fresh.”

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