Members of the British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac were devastated to learn of the passing of their singer-songwriter Christine McVie at the age of 79. In a Facebook post, her heartbroken family wrote: “It is with a heavy heart that 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.”
The statement continued by asking for the family’s privacy to be respected at “this extremely painful time” and for everyone to remember the “revered musician who was loved universally”. Band mates led tributes from across the music industry, who recognised that they had lost one of the very best.
One of most successful bands ever
The group were founded in London in 1967, and they would go on to sell over 100 million records across the globe, making them one of the most successful bands ever and much of that success was down to Christine McVie. She was responsible for some of their biggest hits such as: Little Lies, Everywhere, Don’t Stop, Say You Love Me, and Songbird.
Remarkable talent for song-writing
She had modest success with a band called Chicken Shack before in 1970, she was invited to join Fleetwood Mac, which included her husband at the time, bassist John McVie. She said later that she did not have to think twice about it and mightily pleased the others were that she didn’t, because she was largely responsible for taking them in a different direction, which ultimately was decades of success.
Her soulful, delicate voice, coupled with her terrific ability as a keyboard player, made her quite brilliant; but it was her incredible talent for writing timeless pop songs that set her completely apart from the rest. In particular, she was able to find a fabulous chorus; indeed she actually described herself as “the hook queen”.
The perfect fit
The band relocated to Los Angeles in 1974, and were joined by US singer and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and his girlfriend of the time, singer Stevie Nicks and suddenly the classic Fleetwood Mac line-up, which many grew to love, was born. The trio found that they complimented each other perfectly and were able to put together one of the best selling albums of all time in “Rumours”, which sold over 40 million copies.
As with many bands of the era, there were legendarily messy personal relationships, and the almost obligatory drink and drug excesses. Christine attributed a helping of cocaine and champagne to her writing of one of their all-time favourites “Songbird”, and bandmate Mick Fleetwood confirmed in his autobiography that “Rumours” was written with “white powder peeling off the walls of every room in the studio.”
15 years to realise where she belonged
In 1998 she left the band blaming it on her worsening fear of flying, which she said was deeply debilitating. It came only a short time after being one of eight members of the band to be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
Then after what she described herself as “15 years of semi-hibernation”, she managed to overcome her flying fears, with the help of a therapist. She was then able to visit Fleetwood at his home in Hawaii, which led to a reunion with the rest of her bandmates, and the classic line-up went back on the road in 2014, to the delight of their legions of fans.
She said sometime later that even after all that time it felt like she had never been away. “I now know where I belong, it just took me 15 years of not being with them to realise it.”
Her death has drawn tributes from many in the industry, first of all from the band themselves as a whole. A statement read: “We were so lucky to have a life with her, both individually and together; we cherished Christine deeply and are thankful for the amazing memories we have. She will be so very missed.”
Stevie Nicks was particularly devastated telling her Instagram followers that she had lost her best friend since the first day of 1975. She said: “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 tweeted that part of his heart had flown away, saying that Christine had an ability to change people’s lives.
Crowded House lead singer Neil Finn, who played with Fleetwood Mac in Lindsey Buckingham’s place on their last tour in 2018, wrote: “She was a unique and soulful musician, supremely gifted songwriter and a warm and wonderful friend and I am so grateful to have shared some hours in her beautiful presence.”
Sheryl Crow said: “The world feels weird without her here. What a legend and an icon and an amazing human being”
Merck Mercuriadis, owner of the Hipgnosis Songs Fund, which bought her back catalogue, described her as “arguably the greatest female English songwriter of all time.”
The great Bette Midler added on Twitter: “#ChristineMcVie has left us. What memories, what joy, and what a legacy…”