When Christine McVie met Mick Fleetwood

The recent death of Christine McVie, former vocalist and keyboard player for the band Fleetwood Mac, has prompted both sadness and an opportunity to revisit the incredible legacy of the great lady herself and the legendary British band.

© MARKA / Alamy Stock Photo

Perhaps best remembered for her vocal contributions on some of the band’s most iconic hits, her career in music stretches back to the British blues scene of the 1960s. Starting with cult blues band Chicken Shack, the then Christine Perfect was a highly regarded musician and performer on the London scene before she joined Fleetwood Mac.

The beginnings of the band

Formed in 1967 by former John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers guitarist Peter Green, drummer Mick Fleetwood and musician Jeremy Spencer; Fleetwood Mac were later joined by bassist John McVie before releasing their eponymous debut album.

In 1968, Danny Kirwan joined the group, completing the original line-up. Christine Perfect was hired as a session musician in the same year, when she began a romance with her future husband, John McVie. In 1970, Green left the band, and Christine McVie was invited to join on a permanent basis.

Some of the supergroup’s most popular hits include ‘Dreams’, ‘Landslide’, ‘Songbird’ and ‘Go Your Own Way’.

The history and personnel changes of the band have been well-documented and relationships within the group were famously tempestuous. Christine McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood were the most notable figures, with McVie spending three decades recording and touring before taking a 15-year hiatus. In 2019, McVie was featured in the 90-minute BBC documentary Fleetwood Mac’s Songbird.

An intimidating first meeting

Keeping a rocky, disputatious band on the road for five and a half decades is no mean feat. That achievement was at least partly down to the hard work and commitment of Mick Fleetwood, the iconic drummer after whom the band was named. Fleetwood, described as “a social creature who prized community and communication,” was often called upon to mediate between band factions and to help resolve complex disputes.

One such early occasion was when Jeremy Spencer disappeared from a San Fernando hotel when the band was on tour. Spencer was later found living with a religious group, The Children of God, and despite Fleetwood’s best efforts to negotiate his return, Spencer formally left the band.

Christine McVie recalled Mick Fleetwood being the most formidable of the original band when she first encountered them. Fleetwood, at six feet six inches tall, towered over the rest of the band members.

“Mick Fleetwood I was terrified of, so tall and thin and imposing,” she said. “He gave the impression of being quite haughty but he’s just a puppy really.”

It was Fleetwood who encouraged McVie out of semi-retirement to re-join the band in 2014.

The band mourns an icon

Christine McVie was a representative of one of the most iconic periods of British music, as well as one of its biggest bands. Her death prompted the band’s surviving members to issue a warm and fulsome tribute.

“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. 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.”

Strength in difference

McVie and Fleetwood were two different personalities who together formed a strong creative and professional partnership, providing a dependable core for the rest of the band. This proves that from unlikely first meetings, incredible things can happen.

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