Fleetwood Mac’s hitmaker Christine McVie dies at 79

Christine McVie, the singer, songwriter and keyboard player who became a popular frontman with one of the music industry’s most beloved bands, Fleetwood Mac, died Wednesday. She is 79 years old.

Her family announced her death on Facebook. The statement said she died at a hospital, but did not specify where or how she died. In June, Ms. McVie told Rolling Stone that her “health is in terrible shape” and that she has been suffering debilitating problems with her back.

Mrs. McVie’s commercial potential, which peaked in the 1970s and 80s, was on full display in Fleetwood Mac’s “Greatest Hits” anthology, released in 1988, which sold more than 8 million copies: she wrote or co-authored half of it 16 tracks. Her total is twice that of the next most prolific member of the band’s three singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks. (Lindsey Buckingham, the third, has three major Billboard chart-topping hits in the series.)

Top hits Miss Sister McVie created the bouncy beats and snappy melodies he loves, such as “Say You Love Me” (it swept Billboard’s top 10), “You Make Love Fun” (just broke it) , “Hold Me” (No. 4), and “Don’t Stop” (her top smash, which peaked at No. 3). But she can also relate to elegant ballads like “Over My Head” ( 20) and “Little Lies” (which broke into the publication’s top five in 1987).

The melodies of all these songs are clear and easy to sing, with a hint of soul and blues at their core. Her work has a simplicity that reflects its structure. “I don’t struggle with my songs,” she said. McVie (pronounced mc-VEE) told Rolling Stone magazine in 1977. “I write very quickly.”

In just half an hour, she wrote one of the band’s most popular songs, “Songbird,” a sensitive ballad that has served as the band’s closing encore at concerts for years. In 2019, the band’s frontman, Mick Fleetwood, told the New Musical Express that “Songbird” was the song he wanted to play at his funeral, “and it took me away.”

Mrs. McVie’s lyrics often capture the more intoxicating aspects of romance. “I’m definitely not a pessimist,” she told Bob Brunning, author of the 2004 book “The Fleetwood Mac Story: Rumors and Lies.” “I’m basically a love song writer.”

At the same time, her words speak to the longing and disappointment that lurks beneath the exciting surface. “I’m good at sentimentality,” she told Mojo Magazine in 2017. “I’ve written a lot about romantic hopelessness, but it’s all positive.”

Mrs. McVie’s vocals convey a range of subtle feelings. Her soulful contralto sounds both maternally wise and sexually alive. Her tawny base has an intoxicating effect of bourbon, rich bouquet and a smooth finish. It finds a place of elegance, in harmony with the lady’s voice. Nicks, Mr. Buckingham, together form the iconic Fleetwood Mac sound.

“It’s just that chemistry,” she told Mojo. “The two of them just chirped into perfect three-way harmony. I just remember thinking, ‘This is it!'”

Formidable instrumentalist Ms. McVie played a range of keyboards, often gravitating towards the soulful sound of a Hammond B3 organ and the form of a Yamaha grand piano.

With Fleetwood Mac, she has five gold records, one platinum record and seven multi-platinum albums. The band’s biggest hit, “Rumor,” released in 1977, was one of the strongest thrusts in pop music history: it was certified Double Diamond and sold more than 20 million copies.

In 1998, Ms. McVie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the various lineups of Fleetwood Mac, reflecting the frequent (and dramatic) personnel changes the band has undergone throughout its labyrinthine history. Mrs. McVie had a role on the 1971 incarnation, but she also had some undisclosed keyboardist and backing vocal roles as early as the band’s second album, released in 1968. Before joining Fleetwood Mac, she had a No. 14 hit with the British and blues group Chicken Shack on a cover of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind”, in which she was lead vocals.

Christine Anne Perfect was born on July 12, 1943 in the Lake District, England, to classical violinist and university music professor Cyril Perfect, and psychic Beatrice (Reece) Perfect.

Her father encouraged her to take classical piano lessons when she was 11 years old. Four years later, her focus took a radical shift when she stumbled across the sheet music for some Fats Domino songs. At that moment, she told Rolling Stone magazine in 1984, “It was goodbye Chopin.”

“I started playing boogie bass,” she told Mojo. “I was hooked on the blues. Even today, I write songs with that left hand. It’s rooted in the blues.”

Mrs. McVie studied sculpture at Birmingham College of Art and for a while considered becoming an art teacher. At the same time, she briefly formed a duet with Spencer Davis, who later rose to fame with the teenage Steve Wynwood in The Spencer Davis Group. Along with several future members of Chicken Shack, she helped form a band called Shades of Blue.

After graduating from university in 1966, McVeigh moved to London to work as a window designer for a department store. A year later, she was invited to join the already formed Chicken Shack as keyboardist and vocals. She wrote two songs on the band’s debut album, 40 Blue Fingers, Freshly Packed and Ready to Serve.

She was twice voted Best Female Vocalist in Melody Maker readers’ polls, but she left the group in 1969 after marrying John McVie, the bass player for Fleetwood Mac, which formed in 1967 In 2008, three albums have been recorded. That same year, she recorded a solo album, The Legendary Christine Perfect Album, which she later described to Rolling Stone as “too wimpy”.

“I just hate listening to it,” she said.

Her disappointment with that record, combined with her reluctance to perform, led to Ms. McVie put the music on hold for now. But, in 1970, when Fleetwood Mac lead guitarist Peter Green abruptly quit the band after a devastating acid tour, Mick Fleetwood invited her to join them.

Initially, she found being invited to join her favorite band “a nerve-wracking experience,” she told Rolling Stone. But she came to the fore with two of her most catchy songs on her first official release with the group “Future Games” (1971). The release found the band moving from British blues to progressive Southern California folk-rock, with the help of American virtuoso, singer, songwriter and guitarist Bob Welch.

The band fine-tuned the sound on their 1972 album “Bare Trees,” which sold better and featured a woman. McVie’s most soulful song, “Give Me a Little of Your Love”. The band’s 1973 release “Penguin” went gold. The next album, Heroes Are Hard to Find, was the band’s first US Top 40 hit. Welch and hired the team that fell in love with the ladies. Nix Mr. Buckingham, for a 1975 album simply titled “Fleetwood Mac,” the band began to show its full commercial vigor.

Mrs. McVie’s song “Over My Head” started to explode by breaking into the Billboard Top 20; her “Say You Love Me” reached No. 1. 11. After a slow build, the “Fleetwood Mac” album eventually reached the top of the Billboard.

Just a year and a half later, the group released “Rumors,” which became a hit not only for its four top 10 hits (two of which were written by Ms. McVeigh) but also for its several highly dramatic behind-the-scenes events. interest in the ranks of the band, they aired in the lyrics and were openly discussed in the media.

During the writing of the album, two of the couples in the band – Ms. Nix and Mr. Buckingham and the married McVese – split up. Mrs. McVie’s song “You Make Loving Fun” celebrates an affair she had with the band’s lighting director at the time. (At first, she told Mr. McVie that the song was about her dog.) The upbeat-sounding “Don’t Stop” was meant to guide her ex-husband toward a new life without her.

“We wrote those songs without thinking about ourselves,” she said. McVie told Mojo. “It’s a therapeutic move. The only way we can get these things out is to say them, and it comes out in a difficult way. Imagine trying to sing these songs on stage with the people you’re singing with. “

It helps with pain, she told Mojo, “We’re all very excited,” adding, “I don’t think there’s a single day of sobriety.” The album’s massive success gave the members different heights. “Realizing the buzz that you wrote about one of the best albums ever made; it was a phenomenal time,” Ms. McVie told Attitude magazine in 2019.

But the team is eager to get creative. The result was the less commercial sound of the double-album follow-up, Tusk, released in 1979. While not a success on the scale of “Rumor,” it sold more than 2 million copies and spawned three hits, including “Think About Me” by Ms. McVie.

The group entered the new decade well with the release of “Mirage” in 1982, which reached number one in the US. 1 With Lady Assist McVie’s “Hold Me” was a top five hit inspired by her tumultuous relationship with Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson . Two years later, Ms. McVie released a top 30 solo album, and her biggest single, “Got a Hold on Me,” broke the top 10.

In 1987, the reconvened Fleetwood Mac released “Tango of the Night,” featuring two hits written by Ms. McVie, “Everywhere” and “Little Lies.” (“Little Lies” was co-written with Portuguese musician and songwriter Eddie Quintra, whom she had married the year before. They would divorce in 2003.) Buckingham left the band shortly after, shaking for the energy that made their records the stars. The 1990 album “Behind the Mask” barely went gold, producing only a Top 40 single (“Save Me,” written by Ms. McVie), while “Time,” released five years later, was the band’s first unsuccessful album in 20 years. ‘s album.

Mrs. McVie did not tour with the band in support of “Time.” But in the early 1990s, her hit single “Don’t Stop” attracted widespread new attention when it became the theme song to Bill Clinton’s successful presidential campaign. In 1993, Mr. Clinton persuaded the five musicians who performed the hit to reunite to perform the song at the inaugural ball.

In 1997, they reunited for a tour, producing the live album “The Dance”, one of the best-selling concert recordings of all time. By the following year, however, she was inspired by a growing fear of flying and a desire to return to the UK from the band’s adopted home of Los Angeles. McVie retired to the English countryside.

Five years later, she agreed to add some keyboard parts and backing vocals to a largely neglected Fleetwood Mac album, “Say You Will,” and in 2006 produced a little-known solo album, “In the Meantime.” , which she recorded and co-wrote with her guitarist nephew Dan Perfect.

Finally, in 2014, driven by boredom and a growing sense of isolation, she reunited with the main Mac lineup for the massive “On With The Show” tour. And with that, ma’am. McVie began writing a lot of new material, Mr. Buckingham Palace, leading to the release of an album under both of their names in 2017 and a joint tour. The whole band played that year too; though Mr. Ms. Buckingham was fired in 2018 and McVie continued to tour with the band, which included Crowded House’s Neil Finn and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell. 2021, Ms. McVie sold the publishing rights to her entire 115-song catalog for an undisclosed sum.

Information about her survivors was not immediately available.

Throughout her career, Ms. McVie prides itself on never being categorized by gender. She told the UK’s Independent newspaper in 2019: “I kind of became part of it. I was always treated with great respect.”

While she’s always acknowledged the exceptional chemistry of Fleetwood Mac’s most successful lineup, she believes her character transcends it.

“Band members leave and others take their places,” she told Rolling Stone, “but there’s always room for a piano where it should be.”

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