Christine McVie, legendary voice of Fleetwood Mac, dies at 79

A star of the 1970s iteration of the fabled British blues band, Fleetwood Mac singer and keyboardist Christine McVie has died

Fleetwood Mac, with Christine McVie (second from left)
Fleetwood Mac, with Christine McVie (second from left)

Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie, a defining voice of the 1970s iteration of the fabled British blues band and former wife of bassist John McVie, has died, aged 79.

Her family said on social media that she had passed away peacefully at hospital 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.”

The band paid tribute to the singer-songwriter McVie in a statement on Wednesday night following news of her death. “There are no words to describe our sadness at the passing of Christine McVie. She was truly one-of-a-kind, special and talented beyond measure.”

The statement on Twitter continued: “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.”

Fleetwood Mac was founded in London in 1967 by drummer Mick Fleetwood, John McVitie – themselves deriving from the London blues and jazz scene of bands like the Graham Bond Organisation – and fronted by legendary bluesman Peter Green.

Despite its tumultuous history, losing Green after an unfortunate acid trip that altered his mental health, low record sales at the turn of the decade, and then finding renewed success in America, the band went on to sell over 100 million records worldwide with songs like ‘Dreams’, ‘Go Your Own Way’ and ‘Everywhere’.

Bandmate Stevie Nicks posted a handwritten note on Instagram to pay tribute. “A few hours ago I was told that my best friend in the whole world since the first day of 1975 had passed away,” she wrote. “I didn’t even know she was ill … until late Saturday night. I wanted to be in London; I wanted to get to London – but we were told to wait.”

Mick Fleetwood wrote that McVie had “left us earthbound folks to listen with bated breath to the sounds of that ‘songbird’ … reminding one and all that love is all around us to reach for and touch in this precious life that is gifted to us. Part of my heart has flown away today.”

McVie was born Christine Perfect in 1943 in the Lake District village of Bouth, starting out with blues band Chicken Shack. After marrying John McVie in 1968, she left the band a year later and joined Fleetwood Mac in 1970. By 1974, the new Fleetwood Mac became one of the best-known rock bands comprising Fleetwood, Christine and John McVie, and American couple Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. “We had our fights here and there, but there was nothing like the music or the intensity onstage. We weren’t doing anything in Britain, so just decamped to America and fell into this huge musical odyssey,” McVie had recalled.

Christine and John McVie divorced in 1976 but remained friends and maintained a working relationship. Rumours, released in 1977, became one of the bestselling albums of all time and included hits such as ‘Second Hand News’ and ‘You Make Loving Fun’.

McVie also released solo albums, the second of which, 1984’s Christine McVie, featured the hits ‘Got a Hold on Me’ and ‘Love Will Show Us How’.

She later married the musician Eddy Quintella, who co-wrote songs with her, including ‘Little Lies’ from the Fleetwood Mac album Tango in the Night. They divorced in 2003.

McVie’s death comes two years after the Fleetwood Mac co-founder Peter Green died at the age of 73.