Christine McVie, the co-lead singer and keyboardist of Fleetwood Mac, has died at 79.
“On behalf of Christine McVie’s family, it is with a heavy heart we are informing you of Christine’s death,” reads a new post on McVie’s Instagram. “She passed away peacefully at [the] hospital this morning, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022, following a short illness. She was in the company of her family. We kindly ask that you respect the family’s privacy at this extremely painful time, and we would like everyone to keep Christine in their hearts and remember the life of an incredible human being and revered musician who was loved universally. RIP Christine McVie.”
Fleetwood Mac paid tribute to McVie with a statement of their own, shared on social media. “There are no words to describe our sadness at the passing of Christine McVie,” the band wrote. “She was truly one-of-a-kind, special and talented beyond measure. She was the best musician anyone could have in their band and the best friend anyone could have in their life. We were so lucky to have a life with her. Individually and together, we cherished Christine deeply and are thankful for the amazing memories we have. She will be so very missed.”
Born Christine Perfect on July 12, 1943, in the Bouth village of Lancashire, England, McVie began playing piano as a child and made inroads in the British blues scene while attending the Moseley School of Art in Birmingham. It was there that she joined her first band, Sounds of Blue, which fell apart by the time she graduated. McVie, along with Sounds of Blue members Stan Webb and Andy Silvester, then formed the blues band Chicken Shack, with whom McVie recorded two modestly successful albums and scored the Top 20 U.K. hit “I’d Rather Go Blind” in 1969.
That same year, McVie married Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie and joined the band the following year. She concurrently pursued a solo career and released her debut solo album, Christine Perfect, in 1970. (It was re-released in 1976 under the title The Legendary Christine Perfect Album, in light of her Fleetwood Mac success.) The first Fleetwood Mac album to feature McVie was 1971’s Future Games, which reached No. 91 on the Billboard 200 and failed to chart in the U.K. The band struggled to find an audience over the several years and albums, and in 1974, McVie and her bandmates moved to the United States.
Upon relocating, Fleetwood Mac quickly added Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham to their ranks. The new lineup’s 1975 eponymous album topped the Billboard 200 and spawned several Hot 100 hits, including the McVie-penned “Over My Head” (No. 20) and “Say You Love Me” (No. 11). The multiplatinum success of Fleetwood Mac would prove a mere preview of 1976’s diamond-selling Rumours, which featured McVie’s biggest hit ever, the No. 3-peaking “Don’t Stop,” as well as the No. 9-peaking “You Make Loving Fun” and the concert-staple piano ballad “Songbird.” Christine and John McVie split the same year.
Several Fleetwood Mac albums followed over the next decade to varying degrees of success, including 1979’s Tusk, 1982’s Mirage and 1987’s Tango in the Night. McVie also released her second solo effort, Christine McVie, in 1984; the album reached the Top 40 in the U.S. and generated the Top 10 hit “Got a Hold on Me.” In 1998, Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The same year, McVie announced her departure from the band, beginning a 15-year period of seclusion that was punctuated by a third solo album, In the Meantime, released in 2004 to little fanfare. McVie later revealed that she had developed a flying phobia, which influenced her decision to bow out of the band and stop performing live.
McVie made her return to the stage in 2013, performing in Maui with the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, marking her first live performance in 15 years. She appeared onstage with her former Fleetwood Mac cohorts later in the year, and in 2014 she announced her full-time return to the band. Fleetwood Mac embarked on the On With the Show Tour, marking the first performances by the band’s most popular lineup — Nicks, Fleetwood, Buckingham and both McVies — since 1998. The set lists ended, fittingly, with “Songbird.”
In 2017, McVie and Buckingham released the joint album Lindsey Buckingham / Christine McVie and embarked on a supporting tour. Fleetwood Mac fired Buckingham in early 2018 and enlisted Neil Finn of Crowded House and Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The new lineup embarked on an extensive tour that ran through 2019, marking their final shows to date.
Back in June, McVie discussed the future of Fleetwood Mac. “We have a great time with [Finn and Campbell], but we’ve kind of broke up now, so I hardly ever see them,” she said. She cited a “chronic back problem” as an obstacle to touring, and with respect to joining her longtime bandmates again, she said, “I don’t know. It’s impossible to say. We might get back together, but I just couldn’t say for sure. … So I’ll just leave it open and say that we might.”
Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums Ranked
There have been more than 40 of these outside projects, which deepen and add to the band’s legacy.