- 01 Dec 22
Christine McVie – nee Perfect – began her career as a blues singer, fronting the band Chicken Shack and scoring a major hit with 'I'd Rather Go Blind'. She joined Fleetwood Mac in 1970. and the band went on to become one of the biggest in the world, selling well in excess of 100 million records and releasing – in Rumours (1977) – one of the greatest rock records of all time, which happened also to be one of the biggest selling. Her death today is being mourned by fans all over the world...
Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac has died. She was 79.
The sad news was confirmed today by her family, who issued a statement via Facebook.
“On behalf of Christine McVie’s family, it is with a heavy heart we are informing you of Christine’s death,” the statement said. “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.”
Founded in London in 1967, Fleetwood Mac initially made their name as a blues band, with Peter Green on guitar. They had a number of major hits, including ‘Albatross’ and ‘Oh, Well’ – which was later adopted as the theme tune for the Dave Fanning Show in RTÉ 2fm.
But it in their second incarnation that cemented the group’s status as global superstars. They sold more than 100m records worldwide, with Rumours – released in 1977 – still ranked by many among the greatest rock records of all time. Christine McVie – who first came to prominence as the lead singer in the British blues revival outfit Chicken Shack – was central to Fleetwood Mac’s extraordinary, and at the time unprecedented, success. Among the band's best-known songs are ‘Dreams' – successfully covered by The Corrs – 'Go Your Own Way' and ‘Everywhere'.
In a statement issued on Twitter on Wednesday night, following news of her death, the band expressed their affection in moving terms.
“There are no words to describe our sadness at the passing of Christine McVie,” the band said. "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.”
Her fellow female Fleetwood Mac vocalist Stevie Nicks posted a specially handwritten note on Instagram to pay tribute.
“A few hours ago I was told that my best friend in the whole world since the first day of 1975 had passed away,” Stevie wrote. “I didn’t even know she was ill … until late Saturday night. I wanted to be in London; I wanted to get to London — but we were told to wait.”
Mick Fleetwood said that Christine McVie “left us earthbound folks to listen with bated breath to the sounds of that ‘songbird’ … reminding one and all that love is all around us to reach for and touch in this precious life that is gifted to us. Part of my heart has flown away today.”
"I remember falling in love with Christine Perfect the first time I saw her," Niall Stokes, editor of Hot Press said. "She was beautiful and exuded a wonderful grace. And she was a great singer. Her cover of Etta James' 'I'd Rather Go Blind', which she recorded with Chicken Shack, was such a huge track. It captured the unique power of an emerging British musical icon brilliantly. It was next to impossible for any mere mortal to follow the ups and downs of her personal life in the years that followed – but her calibre as a musician and a songwriter was never in doubt.
"She always cut a dignified figure, and it was no surprise that the songs she contributed to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours were so integral to the success of the album. But it wasn't just the songs she wrote. That album is an astonishing example of pop music at its best, with a brilliant combination of great songs, marvellous vocals, superb harmonies and fine musicianship adding up to a record that is immensely powerful and utterly timeless – and she was absolutely central to all of that. Her involvement in Rumours alone would have enough to cement Christine McVie's position in the pantheon – but she enjoyed a remarkable career, lasting over 50 years, and remained a formidable singer, songwriter and performer till the very end. She will be hugely missed by fans of great music all over the world."
Christine McVie was born in 1943, in the Lake District village of Bouth. Originally known as Christine Perfect, she started out with the blues band Chicken Shack, who – with Christine on vocals – had a hit in 1969 with a cover of Etta James’ powerful 'I’d Rather Go Blind'. Having married John McVie in 1968, she left Chicken Shack a year later and joined Fleetwood Mac – of which her husband was already a member – in 1970.
In 1974, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined the band, sparking one of the most extraordinary soap operas in the history of rock music.
“We had our fights here and there,” Christine McVie reflected later, "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.”
Huge is an understatement. The album Fleetwood Mac, released in 1975, did well, with hits written by McVie to the fore, including 'Say You Love Me’ and 'Over My Head'. The fun was only starting. Christine was divorced from John McVie in 1976 but they stayed in the band together, and remained friends.
Fleetwood Mac's next record, Rumours, released in 1977, was an astonishing album, which topped charts all over the world and went on to become one of the best-selling releases of all time, shifting more than 40 million copies worldwide.
Christine McVie subsequently said that her drugs of choice at the time were “cocaine and champagne.” How greatly that influenced the record is a moot point. What can be said without fear of contradiction is that Christine McVie’s contribution to that record was immense.
'Go Your Own Way', ‘Dreams', 'Don't Stop', and 'You Make Loving Fun' were released as singles. All of them reached the US top 10, with 'Dreams’ leading the charge by reaching No.1. While the songwriting credits were shared across different members of the band, ‘Don’t Stop’ was a Christine McVie song, with – in all – four of the songs credited solely to her.
“The sessions were like a cocktail party every night,” Christine McVie said later, "people everywhere. We ended up staying in these weird hospital rooms ... and of course John and me were not exactly the best of friends.”
Christine McVie took a long hiatus from Fleetwood Mac, from 1998 to 2014.
“I just wanted to embrace being in the English countryside and not have to troop around on the road,” she told The Guardian. “I moved to Kent, and I loved being able to walk around the streets, nobody knowing who I was.”
She released a number of solo albums, the second of which, Christine McVie – released in 1984 – included the hits 'Got a Hold on Me' and 'Love Will Show Us How'.
TWO STRONG WOMEN
Christine had a chequered love life, later marrying the musician Eddy Quintella who co-wrote songs with her, including the gorgeous 'Little Lies' from the Fleetwood Mac album Tango in the Night. However, they divorced in 2003.
In 2014 she returned to Fleetwood Mac, and the band’s definitive lineup toured together.
McVie’s death comes just two years after Fleetwood Mac co-founder Peter Green died at the age of 73.
Sheryl Crow also reacted on Twitter: “I am so sad to hear of Christine McVie going on to heaven. The world feels weird without her here. What a legend and an icon and an amazing human being.”
US hit-makers Haim, whose song 'Hallelujah' was quoted by Stevie Nicks in her tribute to Christine McVie, said: “The sisterhood Stevie and Christine had was so vital to us growing up. Seeing two strong women support each other in our favorite band has had such a huge impact on us throughout our lives.”
On their Twitter account, the Scottish band Garbage – led by Shirley Manson – tweeted: “Gutted to learn about the passing of Christine McVie. Just gutted. Songbird forever.”
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