Christine McVie, the celebrated co-lead vocalist and keyboardist of Fleetwood Mac, has died at the age of 79, according to a statement provided by the band.
The Fleetwood Mac Twitter account posted the news, writing, “There are no words to describe our sadness at the passing of Christine McVie. She was truly one-of-a-kind, special and talented beyond measure. She was the best musician anyone could have in their band and the best friend anyone could have in their life. We were so lucky to have a life with her. Individually and together, we cherished Christine deeply and are thankful for the amazing memories we have. She will be so very missed.”
Only in June, McVie had released Songbird, a compilation based around her three solo albums, in addition to which she and Mac bandmate Lindsey Buckingham had collaborated on a joint album in 2017.
Brought up in Brum
She was born Christine Perfect in the Lake District village of Bouth, Lancashire in 1943, but was raised near Birmingham, where her musical raising was among and around the local beat groups of the 1960s. Her initial success was with the blues band Chicken Shack, favorites on the live circuit who had a national UK hit with a cover of “I’d Rather Go Blind,” best known by Etta James.
She joined Fleetwood Mac in 1970, marrying bass player John McVie and taking his name, and quickly became a critical element of their celebrated and pioneering pop sound. As the group struggled to maintain their success of the Peter Green era, and their line-up changed several times in the first half of the 1970s, she and American Bob Welch became mainstays of their sound, on ever-underrated albums such as Bare Trees, Penguin and Mystery To Me.
McVie’s distinctive voice and piano style and the tenderness of her writing yielded many trademark tracks for the group, including “You Make Loving Fun,” a Top 10 hit from the multi-million-selling phenomenon Rumours. Her biggest hit as a writer was “Don’t Stop,” which peaked at No.3, but she was admired just as much for ballads such as “Over My Head” and “Songbird.”
‘A new lease of life’
McVie was always forthright and honest about her extensive tenure in Fleetwood Mac. In an interview with Mark Cooper of The Guardian, from May 13, 1988, she explained her relationship to the band. “‘It has been a bit of a soap opera and I don’t mind people calling it that because it’s the truth,’ she explained. “Odd things happen to this band all the time. When you’re right in the middle, you become philosophical. The new members have given the band a new lease of life and we’ve got some momentum going again. We don’t plan on waiting five years between albums this time.’”
She added, “Throughout our career we’ve had so many diverse front lineups. Anything goes in this band; we’ve never rested on one style but everything the group plays comes out sounding like Fleetwood Mac because of the way that Mick [Fleetwood] and John play. There’s a simplicity and underlying quality to everything they do.’”
In a 2022 interview with The Guardian, McVie also remembered her favorite eras of the band. “I would be silly not to say the Stevie [Nicks] and Lindsey [Buckingham] era, because that was pretty sensational. We had our fights here and there, but there was nothing like the music or the intensity onstage. We weren’t doing anything in Britain, so just decamped to America and fell into this huge musical odyssey.
“Stevie and Lindsey had been playing as a duo, made a great record [Buckingham Nicks], which to this day I really love, but hadn’t got very far. I think it was Mick [Fleetwood] who invited them to meet us. We all met in this Mexican restaurant, drank a few margaritas and decided to give it a go. We all got into this little rehearsal room and it just shot off like firecrackers.”