By Canadian Press
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, Songbird, Everywhere 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.”
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 Dreams, Go 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.
Before joining Fleetwood Mac, Christine Perfect, seen on April 19, 1969, was a member of Britain’s emerging 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.