Christine McVie, the songwriter and singer who died aged 79, was the soft-pop genius behind some of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest hits. Her heartbreaking coo is the juggernaut that fuels the band’s 1987 single “Little Lies,” a track she wrote with her new husband, keyboardist Eddy Quintela, but drew on previous relationships, including her tumultuous marriage with Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie.
Catchy and bittersweet, Little Lies encapsulates what McVie brought to Fleetwood Mac. In an outfit dominated by the flaming talents of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, McVie, who was born in the Lancashire village of Bouth on July 12, 1943, brought a dash of English rain – even if her talent for melody and melancholy even got that surpassed her bandmates.
Her story also has an Irish touch. Though essential to the “classic” Fleetwood Mac lineup that spawned 1977’s masterpiece Rumors – whose razor-sharp brilliance united Boomer, Gen Zers and everyone in between – she inspired the group’s reunion in the late 1990s with the founding rejected because of a fear of flying.
Her absence left the reunited Mac severely weakened. Not only did she write some of her best songs—”Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun” from the album Rumors, as well as “Little Lies,” which appeared on Tango in the Night—she was also a counterbalance to the dominant personality of Lindsey Buckingham.
Despite this, she stayed away until June 2013. Fleetwood Mac then flew her to Dublin and she attended backstage rehearsals at tonight’s 3Arena. This was before a performance by the group that night, which McVie sadly didn’t attend. At the sound check, however, she sang Don’t Stop with the band – a moment in pop history that went unnoticed in the largely empty hall.
“I went to Dublin and it was decided that I was going to go on stage and do Don’t Stop with them at the O2,” she told Rolling Stone magazine. “We rehearsed it in Dublin and everyone looked at each other and smiled and thought it was fantastic. For me, I looked back at my family and it was effortless. I do not know. It felt nice. It felt right.”
That it felt right is no surprise. The rest of Fleetwood Mac had hinted – and in one instance more or less openly stated – that something special was about to happen in Dublin. “She’s going to come and do a song on the second two shows,” Nicks said. “I think it will probably be Don’t Stop. I don’t know, but she’s coming to Ireland to rehearse with us.”
McVie returned to Dublin for Fleetwood Mac dates in 2015 and 2019. Buckingham had, paradoxically, split at this last concert at the RDS. He wanted to postpone the tour to make room for his solo work.)
But McVie had no interest in just checking in and picking up a Heritage Act check. In 2017 she and Buckingham released their delightfully autumnal album Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie, recorded in the same studio where Fleetwood Mac dropped Mad Tusk in 1979.
Christine McVie was instrumental in the success of Rumors, considered one of the greatest albums of all time. With her passing, music has lost a songwriter who could distill heartache and boredom into pop of exquisite, hypnotic beauty
“It’s all a fresh start,” she said at the time. “I didn’t know myself that I would be returning to the band after such a long time: 16 years… I think I’ve rediscovered my love for writing and my love for music.”
McVie had joined Fleetwood Mac in 1971, a year after she married John McVie. In 1974, to their great reluctance, the group relocated to California in hopes of reviving their ailing career.
Nevertheless, she soon discovered these new horizons: in 1976 she began an affair with the lighting director of Fleetwood Mac. It inspired her to write You Make Loving Fun, perhaps the cutest song ever composed about infidelity.
She was right at the heart of the maelstrom after Fleetwood Mac recruited Buckingham and Nicks, a combustible romantic and musical couple, and then started rumors sweeping the world in the heady spring of 1977.
Fueled by “cocaine and champagne,” according to McVie, it has sold more than 40 million copies and is widely considered one of the greatest albums ever made. She was crucial to this success. With her passing, music has lost a songwriter who could distill heartache and boredom into pop of exquisite, hypnotic beauty.
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