Remembering Christine McVie: One Year Later


Alexandra Pullen (she/her) reflects upon the life and legacy of legend Christine McVie

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By Alexandra Pullen

When I heard the news about the passing of Christine McVie, I was devastated. I had always admired her as a musician and since the age of 12 had wanted to see Fleetwood Mac live, but knew this would not be possible without her. McVie’s fellow band member, Stevie Nicks, confirmed this: “When she died, I figured we can’t really go any further with this. There’s no reason to.” But, one year on it is crucial that we remember the legacy of the ‘Songbird’, and how she truly was the glue that kept the band together during all of their turmoil.

Christine McVie passed on 30 November 2022 following what was said to be “a short illness”, and was later confirmed to be an “ischemic stroke”. While she is mostly recognised for her role in Fleetwood Mac, singing and writing some of their biggest hits such as ‘Little Lies’, ‘Everywhere’ and ‘Don’t Stop’, her musical career started long before joining the band.

Born Christine Perfect, she first entered the musical world very early on as her father was a music teacher and violinist. It was during her time at the Moseley School of Art in Birmingham, after meeting Stan Webb and Andy Silvester, that she really got involved in it. Some years later, she joined their blues band named Chicken Shack and featured on vocals on their hit cover of ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ by Etta James. However, after marrying Fleetwood Mac’s bassist John McVie in 1969, Christine left Chicken Shack, and shortly after was invited to replace Peter Green as pianist for her husband’s band.

She first worked with them fully on their 1971 album Future Games, then moved to California with John and Mick Fleetwood three years later, which led to Stevie and Lindsey Buckingham joining the band. This is where things started to take off for Fleetwood Mac, and it’s safe to say that Christine and Stevie were the perfect duo of female voices from the very beginning. The two were inseparable; speaking to Vulture after Christine’s death, Stevie said “Christine was my best friend. When I think about Taylor Swift’s song ‘You’re on Your Own, Kid’ and the line ‘you always have been’, it was like, that was Christine and I. We were on our own in that band. We always were. We protected each other.”

The release of the first album featuring the new lineup, Fleetwood Mac, made Christine’s songs ‘Over My Head’ and ‘Say You Love Me’ big hits, and it only went up from there. Within the next decade, the band released their most well-known album Rumours which included her slow ballad ‘Songbird’, followed by Tusk and Mirage then in 1987, Tango in the Night. While the former two are more Buckingham-Nicks dominated, Christine still contributed greatly to the writing of the albums. However, it is Tango in the Night where she really stands out, with lead vocals on several songs and writing credits on even more.

Arguably, when we think of Fleetwood Mac we instantly think of the drama: the drugs, the lawsuits, the affairs, and Christine was certainly a part of this. Before the release Rumours, she had an affair with the band’s lighting director which was the inspiration behind her song ‘You Make Loving Fun’. By the end of the tour for this album, she and John had divorced.

Throughout all of the chaos, Christine stuck with the band, even in the ‘90s when Stevie had left and many members were working on solo projects. By 1997, Fleetwood Mac were back on tour and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but the next year Christine left due to a phobia of flying. She spent the next couple of decades focusing on her personal life and solo music but still maintained musical links with Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham.

Then, 2017 saw the moment everyone had been waiting for, the announcement of a tour with the most successful lineup of the band (Christine, Stevie, Mick, Lindsey and John). Unfortunately, some disagreements meant that Lindsey was replaced by guitarist Mike Campbell.

Five years later, her death shook the world of music, but it is clear that she leaves a powerful and unforgettable legacy behind her. She helped make Fleetwood Mac one of the most successful bands in the world, and her songs are some of the most recognisable. Christine will be remembered by fans as Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Songbird’, but by her bandmates as “the best musician anyone could have in their band and the best friend anyone could have in their life.”