An ME Tribute to Christine McVie

I was driving home the other night and happened to turn to the Classic Rock channel on Sirius. The DJ was about to play a Fleetwood Mac song and all I caught was “Christine McVie, dead at the age of 79.” Total shock. Not only that she was 79 but also that she’d been ill.

I tell you that this one hit me unexpectedly hard. I have been a fan of all versions of Big Mac writing about them here, here, and here. Some people thought that the best version was Peter Green’s blues version and maybe it was.

But times change and Mick Fleetwood was savvy enough to know that the popularity of blues in the Sixties morphed into something else in the Seventies. And he took them from a (not quite) cult band to one of the biggest powerhouse bands ever in popular music.

Wikipedia: “Christine McVie was born on 12 July 1943 in the Lake District village of Bouth, and grew up in the Bearwood area of Smethwick near Birmingham.

Her father, Cyril Percy Absell Perfect, was a concert violinist and music lecturer at St Peter’s College of Education, Saltley, Birmingham, and taught violin at St Philip’s Grammar School, Birmingham. McVie’s mother, Beatrice Edith Maud (Reece) Perfect, was a medium, psychic, and faith healer. McVie’s grandfather was an organist at Westminster Abbey.

Although McVie was introduced to the piano when she was four, she did not study music seriously until the age of 11, when she was reintroduced to it by Philip Fisher, a local musician and school friend of McVie’s elder brother, John. Continuing her classical training until age 15, McVie shifted her musical focus to rock and roll when her brother, John, came home with a Fats Domino songbook. Other early influences upon her included the Everly Brothers.”

McVie (still then Perfect) fell into a band called Sounds of Blue and then in 1967, joined a blues band called Chicken Shack. It turned out that Christine could not only play the piano but could also sing the blues and write tunes. Here’s a nice, shuffly 1968 tune she wrote called “It’s Okay With Me Baby.”

As you doubtless know, blues was THE predominant genre in the late 60s, especially in England. Chicken Shack used to tour and run into Fleetwood Mac frequently. And contrary to any idea you might have that the perfect Ms. Perfect wasn’t associated with Mac till the 70s, she was actually a guest keyboardist on Mac’s second album Mr. Wonderful which was released in 1968.

“I absolutely worshipped them … To me they were the ultimate music that was going around at the time,” she said.

Here’s a tasty blues from that album which includes only Peter Green’s sweet, sweet guitar but also a nice blues piano solo from Christine that comes in about 4:27. If you didn’t know her mad piano skills you have missed something:

Facts are murky but somewhere in here she left Chicken Shack, married Mac bassist John McVie and recorded a 1970 solo album called Christine Perfect. (Since re-released as The Legendary Christine Perfect Album.

Here’s a funky little tune called “Let Me Go (Leave Me Alone).” Present on this album are husband John, Mac guitarist Danny Kirwin and (interestingly) the Yardbirds’ original guitarist, Top Topham:

Christine officially joined the Mac in that same year, 1970. The first Mac album where she’s listed as a member and not “additional personnel” is 1971’s Future Games. Peter Green was by now gone and had been replaced by Bob Welch. They were already transitioning from a blues band to, well, not sure. More of a pop-rock band. Certainly more harmonies in the singing.

You can already hear the difference and future direction in McVie’s “Morning Rain.” Not blues but a really nice rocker:

“McVie agreed to move with the rest of Fleetwood Mac to the United States in 1974. Within a year, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham of Buckingham Nicks joined the band, giving it an added dimension.

Their first studio album together, 1975’s Fleetwood Mac had several hit songs, with McVie’s “Over My Head” and “Say You Love Me,” both reaching Billboard’s top-20 singles chart. “Over My Head” put Fleetwood Mac on American radio and into the national top 20.”

They weren’t yet Big Mac but they were well on their way. I have always loved “Over My Head.” Is there any better song that captures the feeling of being in love?

I’ve already written about the landmark album Rumours here. You know all the hit songs. You can still hear them pretty much everywhere all the time. Let’s do a deeper track here, McVie’s “Songbird.”

Rumours sold about 80 billion copies, the band toured behind it and at the end of it all, McVie and McVie were divorced. Christine said that there was just too much togetherness and the cocaine-fueled Seventies (and Rumours) did not help matters any.

Space prevents me from writing about the rest of the journey but suffice it to say you can read about Mac in those other posts. The band never had another album as big as Rumours but you know, so what? They gave us a lot of good shit over the years and I’m happy to revisit it any old time.

Christine came and went from the band and was still very much with them on their most recent tours. Earlier this year, she confessed to Rolling Stone that she was in “quite bad health” and had back problems.

On her death in November 2022, Stevie Nicks said this: “A few hours ago I was told that my best friend in the whole world since the first day of 1975 had passed away.

“I didn’t even know she was ill… until late Saturday night,” Nicks continued. ” I wanted to be in London; I wanted to get to London — but we were told to wait. So, since Saturday, one song has been swirling around in my head, over and over and over. I thought I might possibly get to sing it to her, and so, I’m singing it to her now. I always knew I would need these words one day.”

Nicks then wrote out the lyrics to Haim’s “Hallelujah,” which was released in 2019. “See you on the other side, my love,” Nicks concluded. “Don’t forget me — Always, Stevie.”

We will all miss her.


10 thoughts on “An ME Tribute to Christine McVie

  1. Nice tribute, Jim. I had contemplated doing something “bigger” as well but didn’t have enough time. Instead, I prepared a smaller post for the next installment of my recurring song feature. I might follow it up with something bigger.

    Like you I was pretty shocked when I got a push notification on my phone about Christine McVie’s death. It seemed to come so suddenly and out of the blue!

    While I since also read she told Rolling Stone a few months ago she wasn’t in great health, apparently, she was referring to severe back issues due to scoliosis. I never heard that condition can kill you, so there must have been something else – perhaps a complication brought on by potent medicines they may have given to treat her pain? Who knows…

    As I told a few other folks, while I feel in Fleetwood Mac Christine tended to be overshadowed by Stevie Nicks, she really was a great songwriter who penned some of the Mac’s most popular tunes. I also liked her vocals. And, as you rightly pointed out, she was a skilled pianist/keyboarder.

    McVie’s untimely passing is another sober reminder that many artists you and I dig are now well into their ‘70s and ‘80s. At least, Christine didn’t become a member of the creepy 27 Club – not a given, considering she was active at the time where drugs were seemingly everywhere. I read somewhere McVie told somebody her only drugs of choice were cocaine and champagne!

    The other consolation is that while McVie is sadly gone, her music will always remain.


    1. Well said. The amazing thing is how many people her- and Mac’s – music touched. I was watching a morning political talk show and they featured it. My wife’s exercise class did all Mac stuff. Look at how many people were influenced by Rumours. You probably know about this tribute album.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t tributes to them at the all the music awards shows. Curious – has the King of All Tribute bands seen Tusk or one of the others?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. While it hasn’t exactly suffered from underexposure, to me, “Rumours” remains an outstanding pop rock album, and I can still listen to these tunes without feeling tired.

        And, yep, I’ve seen TUSK a few times and think they are excellent, especially when it comes to capturing the Mac’s vocals. In fact, in September, TUSK were the headliners of annual tribute music festival and fundraiser here in Jersey. This year was I believe my fifth time I attended. I love the concept of combing great music with a worthy cause.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m at a sub shop and “Don’t Stop” is blaring from the radio. My buddy Steve tells me Tusk is a Philly band. Have to see them at some point. I can’t imagine Mac will try to replace her.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I think you’re right. In fact, after Fleetwood Mac wrapped up their last (world) tour in Nov 2019, Mick Fleetwood seemed to question whether they would tour again. If I recall it correctly, he ruled out another big tour. Of course, that could still mean shorter US tours. I think their last international tour spanned 2018 and 2019.


  2. That came out of nowhere right – I was on the train when I read the news.

    She was always more understated than Nicks and Buckingham but she wrote some great songs. ‘Hold Me’ and ‘Little Lies’ are two of my favourite Mac tunes from the 1980s.

    I didn’t realise her and Nicks were best friends.


    1. Sure did. Couldn’t believe it. As to their friendship, I recall that during the recording of ‘Rumours’ they were sharing an apartment and probably bonded. I never heard of one single cross word between them and by all accounts, McVie had a calm demeanor. Also, think about what it must have been like to be women in the highly male testosterone world of rock, especially in the Seventies. They probably clung to each other for dear life. Buckingham released a statement as well. I assume the other guys did as well, don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice post Jim. Other than Buckingham she was my favorite songwriter of the band. A wonderful singer, songwriter, and musician.


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