Christine McVie, the singer, keyboardist, and songwriter who was a cornerstone of Fleetwood Mac, has died. She was 79. In a statement on Facebook, McVie’s family said she died “peacefully” alongside family “following a short illness.” “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,” her family said. Born Christine Perfect, McVie grew up learning piano. After college, she played piano in the band Chicken Shack, labelmates to Fleetwood Mac. She started playing sessions with Fleetwood Mac for their second album, Mr. Wonderful, but did not join the band until after founding guitarist Peter Green left. By then, McVie had married guitarist John McVie — a relationship that would become extremely influential to the band. Troubles in their marriage played into the infamous recording of Rumours, the band’s biggest album, after McVie had an affair with the band’s lighting director; she and John McVie eventually divorced after the album’s tour, but continued performing together.
McVie took breaks from performing with Fleetwood Mac throughout the 1990s before eventually retiring in 1998. She did not perform again until 2013, when she took the stage with the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, and later Fleetwood Mac. A new Fleetwood Mac tour followed in 2014, and McVie had been an official member of the band since. “There are no words to describe our sadness at the passing of Christine McVie,” the band said in a statement on social media. “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 lucky to have a life with her.”
As a member of Fleetwood Mac’s classic (if tumultuous) lineup, McVie wrote and performed some of the band’s most enduring songs, including “Don’t Stop,” “Little Lies,” “Everywhere,” “You Make Loving Fun,” and “Songbird.” (She also painted the cover for 1970’s Kiln House.) She also had a career as a solo artist, releasing the album Christine Perfect before her time in the band and two albums since, and finding a hit in “Got a Hold on Me.” In 2017, she released Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie with her bandmate. Earlier this year, she released a solo compilation, Songbird.
Earlier this year, McVie reflected on joining Fleetwood Mac to The Guardian in one of her final interviews. “I couldn’t believe my luck. I said: ‘Are you serious?! I’m just a girl who plays piano,’” she said. “The style had to change because I was a keyboard player, and it developed a more commercial bent. It was thrilling, and I have to say to this day it still kind of is, knowing that I did that. Then it just got better.”