The Mysterious Meaning Of Fleetwood Mac's Album Title 'Tusk'

Released in 1979, per AllMusic, Fleetwood Mac's 12th studio album, "Tusk," is widely considered to be among the band's very best and — as a double album — among the group's most ambitious efforts to date. Following the band's wildly successful album "Rumours" just two years prior, "Tusk" was a moodier and more experimental turn for the band, and even though it would never be as commercially popular as "Rumours" (few things are), it ranks near the top of the English-American group's discography according to sources like Ultimate Classic Rock, and many others.

At the point "Tusk" was released, several cornerstone romantic relationships within Fleetwood Mac (led by Mick Fleetwood, pictured above) had fallen apart, setting the stage for the record's more serious and darker tone. One of the most enduring mysteries about the album, though, is exactly what the title means. No one involved in the making of the record seems to agree, but the most common explanation proves the overall tone of the project might not be quite as serious as you'd expect.

It's a reference to the male anatomy

According to Rolling Stone, one popular theory about the reason Fleetwood Mac named their album "Tusk" was in reference to the album artwork, featuring the photography of Peter Beard, and prominently referencing elephants. This theory is backed up by the band's own art director from this period, Larry Vigon, and Beard himself agreed, stating, "The album was named 'Tusk' because of all my photographs with tusks in them."

Another explanation for why the album is called what it's called, though, has to do with something far more juvenile. According to some reports, bandleader Mick Fleetwood referred to one particular part of his male anatomy as a "tusk," and the album title otherwise came about from that nickname. Band member Steve Nicks (pictured above) even threatened to quit because of it, according to GQ. And based on what record producer Richard Dashut has to say, there's some truth in both those stories. In the end, though, the album title ended up called "Tusk" because it simply suited the album's overall creative concept, as best he can recall.