RIP Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie, dead at 79

There isn’t a person alive with a copy of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album that hasn’t sobbed to “Songbird” during a period of heartache. Written and performed by Christine McVie, it’s one of the most poignant and emotional songs ever recorded by the band.

McVie was one of three lead vocalists in Fleetwood Mac and the one with the lowest range. The band used her sparingly as a solo singer but almost always found a way to use her in the mix that allowed listeners to pick out her contributions.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Listen to the blend of her voice with Lindsey Buckingham.

There was also a certain tasteful restraint to both her singing and keyboard parts. Onstage, she was the counterpoint to all the whirling going on with the rest of the band. Here’s another example.

She was responsible for many of Fleetwood Mac hits, once famously declaring that her songs came quickly and that she never felt the need to labour over them for long.

Christine (born Christine Perfect. And her mom was a psychic. Seriously.) She joined her first major band, Chicken Shack, in 1967, and married John McVie the following year. She then followed John into Fleetwood Mac. A series of personnel changes followed, the most crucial being the addition of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. The modern Fleetwood Mac lineup–a far cry from its original blues band beginnings–was settled by 1975.

Despite divorcing John in 1976 (it’s possible that the song “You Make Loving Fun” was inspired by her affair with the band’s lighting director), Christine remained part of the band until 1998 when she retired, partly because she was tired of touring. (She suffered from a fear of flying.) In 2014, she shocked Mac fans by returning to the band

McVie passed away at the age of 79 today (November 30) after a short unspecified illness. She hadn’t been well, suffering from a chronic back problem that made it difficult for her to stand.

Her family released this 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.”

The band had this to say:

 “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.” 

Stevie Nicks posted this.

Here’s the text of the whole thing:

A few hours ago I was told that my best friend in the whole world since the first day of 1975, had passed away. I didn’t even know she was ill… until late Saturday night.

I wanted to get to London but we were told to wait. So, since Saturday, one song has been swirling around in my head, over and over and over. I thought I might possibly get to sing it to her, and so, I’m singing it to her now.

I always knew I would need these words one day (written by the Ladies Haim). It’s all I can do now…

I had a best friend

But she has come to pass

One I wish I could see now

You always remind me

that memories will last

These arms reach out

You were there to protect me

like a shield

Long hair running with me

through the field….

Everywhere,

You’ve been with me all along

Why me?

How’d I get this hallelujah

Why me?

How’d I get this hallelujah –

Why me?

How’d I get this hallelujah

See you on the other sides

~♡ My Love?

Don’t forget me

Always,

Stevie

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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