Rock icon Christine McVie dies at 79

Fleetwood Mac singer/keyboard player wrote some of supergroup's most memorable songs

Keyboardist and singer Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac performs on the Today show in New York City in 2014. (Reuters File Photo)

LONDON: Christine McVie, whose songwriting and signature vocals helped make British-American group Fleetwood Mac one of the best-selling rock bands of all time, has died at the age of 79.

McVie passed away “peacefully” on Wednesday at a hospital following a short illness, her family said in a statement posted on the singer’s Facebook page.

“We would like everyone to keep Christine in their hearts and remember the life of an incredible human being and a revered musician who was loved universally. RIP Christine McVie,” the family said.

Fleetwood Mac, in a separate statement, said that there were “no words” to describe the band’s sadness at McVie’s passing. Members of Fleetwood Mac including Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood posted the statement on social media.

“She was the best musician anyone could have in their band and the best friend anyone could have in their life,” the band’s statement said. “Individually and together, we cherished Christine deeply and are thankful for the amazing memories we have.”

Born Christine Perfect in northwest England on July 12, 1943, McVie started making music while in art school and was playing with a band called Chicken Shack before joining Fleetwood Mac in 1970 and marrying its bassist, John McVie.

It was two of Christine McVie’s songs, Over My Head and Say You Love Me, that first led to the band, which started as a blues outfit, being featured on US radio stations.

The band relocated to California and added two new members — Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Their 1977 album Rumours, recorded as John and Christine McVie were divorcing, sold more than 40 million copies and became one of the best-selling albums of all time.

The album, which mainly featured vocals from McVie and Nicks, included such hits as Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow), Go Your Own Way, The Chain, You Make Loving Fun and Gold Dust Woman, and was a fixture on the charts for 134 weeks, spending 31 weeks at No. 1.

McVie left the group in 1998 but rejoined 16 years later for a fleeting reunion tour.

In 2017, she revealed on BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs programme that she had retreated from the world and developed agoraphobia after again quitting the band and moving from California to Kent in southeast England.

Information on her survivors was not immediately available.

Throughout her career, McVie took pride in never being categorised by her gender. “I kind of became one of the guys,” she told the British newspaper The Independent in 2019. “I was always treated with great respect.”

While she always acknowledged the special chemistry of Fleetwood Mac’s most successful lineup, she believed her role transcended it.

“Band members leave and other people take their place,” she told Rolling Stone, “but there was always that space where the piano should be.”

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