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Profile: Christine McVie


By the time Christine McVie joined Fleetwood Mac in 1970, she had already recorded two albums as a member of Brit blues band Chicken Shack, recorded a solo album, and married Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie. She had also been hired as the keyboardist on one Fleetwood Mac album and backup vocalist (and album cover artist) for another.

Christine McVie's musical gene pool

Christine McVie in 1974
Christine McVie in 1974, photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images
Born Christine Perfect near Birmingham, England in 1943, her musical talent was at least partially genetic. Her father was a concert violinist and music teacher, her grandfather an organist at Westminster Abbey. Her formal training began when she was 11, and, as with so many musicians, her early training was in classical musical. Thus it continued to be until she was 15. That was when her brother brought home a Fats Domino songbook, which made something click for the young pianist, whose musical interest, and eventually her career, turned to blues rock.
Despite her musical background, she went to college with the goal of becoming an art teacher, but didn't abandon music. She met some members of a band called Sounds of Blue, which led to her becoming the band's bass guitarist. She also dated, and played folk music with another soon-to-be well known musician, Spencer Davis.
Watch Christine McVie perform "Everywhere" during her final tour with Fleetwood Mac in 1997

McVie and The Mac

Christine McVie's cover art for 'Kiln House'
Christine McVie's cover art for 'Kiln House' courtesy WEA
In 1967, McVie and her former Sounds of Blue band mates re-formed as Chicken Shack. They recorded two albums, had a hit single ("I'd Rather Go Blind") and enjoyed the notoriety that came from their lead singer (McVie) being named Melody Maker magazine's female vocalist of the year twice, in 1969 and 1970.
While they were out touring, Chicken Shack often bumped into Fleetwood Mac, and based on that exposure, McVie was hired to play piano on Fleetwood Mac's second album, Mr. Wonderful in 1968 and to provide backup vocals (and, using her art training, the album cover) on Kiln House in 1970. It was also in 1970 that she recorded her first solo album, Christine Perfect (later reissued with the title, The Legendary Christine Perfect Album,) married John McVie, and joined Fleetwood Mac fulltime as keyboardist, backup vocalist, and songwriter.
Watch the "Got a Hold on Me" music video from McVie's 1984 solo album, Christine McVee

The power years

Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie at the American Music Awards in 1978
Nicks and McVie in 1978, photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images
In a 2013 interview with BBC Radio 4, Stevie Nicks painted a picture of her relationship with McVie. "Both of us in a man's world, from the very beginning, we made a pact that we would be a force of nature together. And we were," Nicks said. "We had a lot of power when there were two of us. That wasn't really so noticeable to us because we just had it until she left. And then when she left I realized how much power we had when she was there, and how when she left she took 50% of the power with her… I felt powerless in many ways."
In addition to her keyboard and vocal skills, McVie wrote many of the band's songs, including some of their best known, like "Don't Stop," "Over My Head," "Little Lies," "You Make Loving Fun" and "Say You Love Me." In 1984, she parlayed her high profile into her second solo album, Christine McVie.
Watch McVie and Nicks in a 1979 Warner Brothers anniversary promotion video

Off the road again

Christine McVie during her final Fleetwood Mac tour in 1997
Christine McVie during her final Fleetwood Mac tour in 1997, photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
Although her years with Fleetwood Mac brought professional success, they also were a time of personal turmoil. She divorced husband John, had a fling with Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys) and married (and later divorced) a fellow keyboardist, Eddy Quintela.
McVie never did like the grind of performing on the road. In the early '90s she begged off of touring, but continued writing and performing for the band's studio albums. She reluctantly agreed to tour again in 1997, but in 1998 she pulled the plug and retired from Fleetwood Mac permanently.
In 2003 she recorded her third solo album, In the Meantime. In 2013, she did a one-off performance with the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, and was persuaded to perform one song at each of two Fleetwood Mac concerts in London.
Although she left Fleetwood Mac on good terms with her band mates, McVie has steadfastly refused repeated invitations to rejoin the band for full blown tours. Besides her well known dislike of touring, says Nicks, "She doesn't want to fly. She doesn't want to come back to America."
Watch Christine McVie performing "Songbird"

Christine McVie's non-Fleetwood Mac discography

Christine McVie - In the Meantime
Sanctuary UK
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