Entertainment

Christine McVie, co-lead singer of Fleetwood Mac, dead at 79

Christine McVie, who was a co-lead vocalist and keyboardist for Fleetwood Mac, has died at 79, the band said Wednesday.

Family said McVie died in hospital Wednesday following a short illness

Christine McVie, of Fleetwood Mac, performs during the iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena in September 2018 in Las Vegas. McVie died Wednesday after a short illness, her family said. She was 79. (Kevin Winter/ Getty Images)

Christine McVie, the British-born Fleetwood Mac vocalist, songwriter and keyboard player whose cool, soulful contralto helped define such classics as You Make Loving Fun, SongbirdEverywhere and Don't Stop, has died at 79.

Her death was announced on the band's social media accounts.

No cause of death or other details were immediately provided, but a family statement said she "passed away peacefully at hospital this morning" with family around her after a "short illness."

The band also posted a statement about her death.

"There are no words to describe our sadness at the passing of Christine McVie," the statement said. 

"She was truly one-of-a-kind, special and talented beyond measure."

From left, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie pose backstage before a show in New Jersey on Jan. 1, 1982. (Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

A steady presence in an ever-changing group

McVie was a steady presence and personality in Fleetwood Mac, a band known for its frequent lineup changes and volatile personalities — notably fellow singer-songwriters Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

During its peak commercial years, from 1975 to 1980, the band sold tens of millions of records and was an ongoing source of fascination for fans as it transformed personal battles into melodic, compelling songs.

McVie had been married to Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie, and their breakup — along with the split of Nicks and Buckingham — was famously documented on the 1977 release Rumours, among the bestselling albums of all time.

Fleetwood Mac, co-founded by drummer Mick Fleetwood in 1967, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. The group's many other hit singles included DreamsGo Your Own Way and Little Lies.

One of McVie's most beloved works, the thoughtful ballad Songbird, was a showcase for her in concert and was covered by Willie Nelson, among others.

A black and white portrait of a woman with short hair and prominent eye makeup.
Before joining Fleetwood Mac, Christine Perfect, seen on April 19, 1969, was a member of Britain's emerging blues scene. (P. Floyd/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

A member of Britain's blues scene

McVie, born Christine Perfect in Bouth, Lancashire, had been playing piano since childhood, but set aside her classical training once she heard early rock records by Fats Domino and others.

While studying at the Moseley School of Art, she befriended various members of Britain's emerging blues scene and, in her 20s, joined the band Chicken Shack as a singer and piano player.

Among the rival bands she admired was Fleetwood Mac, which then featured the talents of blues guitarist Peter Green along with the rhythm section of Fleetwood and McVie. By 1970, she had joined the group and married John McVie.

Few bands succeeded so well as Fleetwood Mac, against such long odds.

Green was among the many performers who left the group, and at various times Fleetwood Mac seemed on the verge of ending, or fading away.

More recently, Buckingham was kicked out, replaced on tour by Mike Campbell and Neil Finn.

McVie herself left for years, only to return for good in 2014.

With files from CBC News

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now