We’ve lost another of our Classic Rock artists…singer-songwriter & keyboardist Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac. She died at the age of 79 on November 30th, 2022. Christine herself had recently revealed in an interview that she was not healthy, and she died while hospitalized. Later it was revealed that she died of a massive stroke brought on by an aggressive form of cancer.
Since Fleetwood Mac had such strong personalities…Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and Mick Fleetwood…the general public might not realize how important the quieter Christine McVie was to the popularity of the group.
Christine McVie (whose birth name was Christine Perfect) was already well known in England when she joined Fleetwood Mac in 1970. The group was successful in the U.K., but had trouble really breaking through in the U.S. It was when Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the band (just as 1975 began) that everything clicked.
McVie met with Stevie Nicks prior to the new lineup being approved, and the two women hit it off. They knew how unique it was for a Rock & Roll band to have two strong women as primary singer-songwriters, and they were happy to join forces.
Christine McVie also gained the arranging and production expertise of Lindsey Buckingham, and she started writing hits. McVie wrote the first U.S. Top 20 hit for Fleetwood Mac, “Over My Head” from the group’s 1975 Fleetwood Mac album. McVie also wrote their third hit, “Say You Love Me” (#11), and the album track “Warm Ways”, which was also played on FM radio.
The phenomenal 1977 album, Rumours was #1 for an amazing 31 weeks. Two of the four Top-10 hits on the album were written by Christine McVie…”Don’t Stop” (#3) and “You Make Loving Fun” (#9).
As Fleetwood Mac continued through the ‘80’s and beyond, Christine McVie provided their two biggest hits of that time…”Hold Me” (#4) and “Little Lies” (#4), plus Mac’s last big hit “Everywhere” (#14).
It wasn’t just the hits, Christine wrote some great album tracks, including a song that she says came to her in the middle of the night, “Songbird”. In an interview in 2016 she said “I played it on a little piano I have in my room. I sang it from beginning to end, everything. It was as if I’d been visited. It was a very spiritual thing.” It’s a beautiful ballad that Fleetwood Mac often used to close their shows…just Christine McVie and a grand piano. Even though it was never released as a single, “Songbird” became her signature song.
Tributes poured in from around the world and from multiple generations of musicians who admired McVie. From those closest to her…Stevie Nicks said Christine was her “best friend in the whole world since the first day of 1975. See you on the other side my love.” Lindsey Buckingham called her passing heartbreaking, and said her spirit will live on through her body of work. Mick Fleetwood said, “Part of my heart has flown away today. I will miss everything about you.”
Bonus Material: A key to the great success of Fleetwood Mac was that they had three excellent songwriters. Since Christine McVie’s songs are being highlighted in the media, I’m also including the main songs written by Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham to provide a fuller picture of the band. The lists include singles and album tracks that made Fleetwood Mac so popular.
Stevie Nicks: “Rhiannon” (#11), “Landslide”, “Dreams” (#1), “Gold Dust Woman”, “The Chain” (co-written from her demo), “Silver Springs”, “Sara” (#7), “Gypsy” (#12), “Seven Wonders” (#19), and some solo hits that were performed live by Fleetwood Mac.
Lindsey Buckingham: “Monday Morning”, “Go Your Own Way” (#10), “Second Hand News”, “Never Going Back Again”, “Tusk” (#8), “Big Love” (#5), “Tango In The Night”, and some solo hits that were performed live by Fleetwood Mac.
Christine McVie: “Over My Head” (#20), “Say You Love Me” (#11), “Warm Ways”, “Don’t Stop” (#3), “You Make Loving Fun” (#9), “Songbird”, “Think About Me” (#20), “Hold Me” (#4), “Little Lies” (#4), “Everywhere” (#14), and “As Long As You Follow”.