Christine McVie Dies: Fleetwood Mac Singer-Songwriter Was 79

Christine McVie, the honey-voiced singer, songwriter and keyboard player of the massively popular Fleetwood Mac, died today following a short illness. She was 79.

Sharing both vocal duties and hit-writing with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham during the band’s 1970s and ’80s heyday, McVie carved out a niche for herself with such songs as “Don’t Stop,” “Over My Head” and “Say You Love Me.”

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Her death was announced by her family and the band.

Her family released the following statement: “On behalf of Christine McVie’s family, it is with a heavy heart we are informing you of Christine’s death. She passed away peacefully at hospital this morning, Wednesday, November 30th 2022, following a short illness. She was in the company of her family. We kindly ask that you respect the family’s privacy at this extremely painful time, and we would like everyone to keep Christine in their hearts and remember the life of an incredible human being, and revered musician who was loved universally. RIP Christine McVie.”

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Fleetwood Mac’s statement said: “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.”

Born Christine Anne Perfect on July 12, 1943, in England’s Lake District village of Bouth, Lancashire, McVie studied music in school and by the 1960s was singing in various groups and for band leader Spencer Davis. In 1967 she joined a blues band called Chicken Shack, playing piano and singing backup. Her vocal talents soon took a central place with the band, and in 1969 she received the first of her awards from the influential UK music periodical Melody Maker.

McVie left the band in 1969 after having married Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie. She joined his band in 1970, just as Fleetwood Mac was exiting its first era and incarnation under the leadership of guitarist Peter Green. Her first album with the band was 1971’s Future Games, which also included another new member, Bob Welch.

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The band relocated to the United States in 1974, sans Welch, and within a year was joined by two relatively unknown singer-songwriters who had recorded an album under the band name Buckingham Nicks. With McVie, Nicks and Buckingham in place alongside John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood, Fleetwood Mac soon would emerge as one of the most popular pop-rock bands of the 1970s, and one of the best-selling recording artists of all time.

In 1975, the retooled group released the album Fleetwood Mac, which featured such McVie standouts as “Over My Head” and “Say You Love Me”, both hitting the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.

A year-plus later, with the band members personal lives in utter disarray — McVie, still married to the bassist, had begun an affair with the group’s lighting director, while Buckingham and Nicks were going through the romantic upheavals that would become rock ‘n’ roll legend — the group recorded and released Rumours. Filled with the tension and heightened emotion of the musicians’ personal lives, the album was a masterpiece and global smash. McVie’s contributions included “You Make Loving Fun” — an ode to her new lover — as well as “Don’t Stop,” which Nit No. 3 in the U.S. and later became the theme song for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Rumours also included McVie’s lovely piano ballad “Songbird.”

Rumours held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 for an amazing 31 nonconsecutive weeks, and is tied for No. 11 in all-time U.S. album sales with 20 million-plus. It won the Album of the Year Grammy in 1978 and is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Driven by the classic ’70s lineup, Fleetwood Mac is the 22nd-best-selling act ever in U.S., with more than 54.5 million albums sold.

By the end of the mega-successful Rumours tour, Christine and John McVie had divorced, and Buckingham and Nicks no longer were an item. The group remained together as a band, though, and in 1979 released the double album Tusk, featuring Buckingham’s title song, Nicks’ “Sara” and McVie’s “Think About Me.” Although generally well-received, and held in even higher esteem in subsequent decades, Tusk — which was said to be the most expensive rock album to date with a $1 million production cost — could not match commercial success of the landmark Rumours. It topped the UK album chart but only hit No. 4 stateside.

The band’s popularity continued well into the MTV era, however, and in 1982 Fleetwood Mac released Mirage, which featured Nicks’ smash hit “Gypsy” and McVie’s “Hold Me.” The disc was No. 1 in the U.S. for five weeks. The LP topped the U.S. chart for five weeks and went double platinum.

McVie released a self-titled solo album in 1984, which included hits “Got a Hold on Me” and “Love Will Show Us How,” and Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night arrived in 1987, and the McVie co-penned “Little Lies” was another Top 5 single in the U.S. and UK.

After years of separation and solo projects, Fleetwood Mac famously reunited for the 1997 live album The Dance. Fueled by live versions of their most beloved songs, the album was a chart-topping smash and spawned a successful tour and DVD. The album also earned the group its second Grammy for the live version of “Silver Springs,” originally a B-side to Rumours‘ single “Go Your Own Way.”

The disc’s success led Warner Bros to do a similar live project for then-resurgent singer-songwriter John Fogerty. Premonition was recorded in the same Burbank Studio in late 1997.

In 1998, Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and later that year McVie announced her exit from the group for semiretirement. She released a solo album in 2004, and nine years later joined her ex-bandmates for a reunion concert at he O2 Arena in London. She occasionally performed with Buckingham in subsequent years.

A 2019 BBC documentary directed by Matt O’Casey titled Fleetwood Mac’s Songbird – Christine McVie chronicled her life and career.

Ten years after her divorce from John McVie in 1976 — unlike Buckingham and Nicks, they remained friends — McVie married Portuguese keyboardist and songwriter Eddy Quintela, divorcing in 2003.

Information on survivors was not immediately available.

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