Born Christine Anne Perfect on July 12, 1943, in Grenodd, Lancashire, England; daughter of Cyril (a concert violinist and music professor) and Beatrice (a.k.a. Tee; a psychic, faith healer, and medium) Perfect; married John McVie (a musician), 1968; divorced, 1976; married Eduardo (a.k.a. Eddy) Quintela (a musician), 1986; divorced, 1998. Education: Graduated from Birmingham Art College, Birmingham, England, with a degree in teaching sculpture. Addresses: Record companies--Koch Entertainment, 22 Harbor Park Dr., Port Washington, NY 11050, website: http://www.kochent.com; The Sanctuary Group plc, Sanctuary House, 45-53 Sinclair Rd., London W14 ONS England, website: http://www.sanctuarygroup.com. Website--Christine McVie Official Website: http://www.christinemcvie.com.
An English songwriter, vocalist, pianist, and synthesizer player who has worked both in bands and as a solo artist, McVie is one of the most highly regarded female musicians in the genres of pop/rock and blues/rock. She is considered a pioneer, and was one of the first female musicians to enter the British blues scene of the 1960s, as well as one of the first to release a solo album. Her soulful alto, keen melodies, sensitive lyrics, and grounding presence were a focal point for nearly 30 years in Fleetwood Mac, a blues band that became a highly successful mainstream rock act.
McVie was born Christine Anne Perfect on July 12, 1943, in Lancashire, England. Her father, Cyril, was a music professor at Birmingham University and a concert violinist who played with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra until he was in his eighties. Her mother, Beatrice, was a psychic, faith healer, and medium. McVie started playing the piano at the age of four and also played the cello. Noting her talent for art, McVie's teachers suggested that she transfer to Mosley Junior Art School, which she did at the age of 13. When McVie was 15, her older brother John brought home a Fats Domino songbook; after that, as she told The Penguin, it was "Goodbye Schubert, hello rock 'n' roll."
Inspired by the Blues
McVie began playing in duos and bands with other students. She became the bassist for the R&B group Shades of Blue, which featured guitarist Stan Webb and bassist Andy Sylvester, and did some street busking with guitarist Spencer Davis. After graduating from Mosley, McVie earned a degree in sculpture from Birmingham Art College. She showed no interest in a teaching profession, and after a friend told her that Webb and Sylvester needed a keyboard player for their new blues band, McVie moved to Birmingham and joined the group, called Chicken Shack. Knowing that she had never played blues piano before, Webb gave McVie an album by Freddie King, which featured Sonny Thompson on keyboards. McVie has said that Thompson's playing inspired her love for the blues and greatly influenced her musical style.
From Shack to Mac
After a long residency at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany, a place where the early Beatles honed their craft, Chicken Shack was signed to the English independent blues label Blue Horizon. In 1968 they released their first album, Forty Blue Fingers Freshly Packed and Ready to Serve. That August, Chicken Shack played at the prestigious Windsor Jazz and Blues Festival with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. The Bluesbreakers featured Eric Clapton on guitar, John McVie on bass, and Fleetwood Mac, a group named for McVie (who was contracted to Mayall at that time) and drummer Mick Fleetwood. Chicken Shack often played the same clubs as Fleetwood Mac, and the latter asked Christine to play keyboards on their second album, Mr. Wonderful (1968). For a while, she was interested romantically in the band's lead guitarist, Peter Green. However, when John McVie asked her out, she consented; the couple were married in August of 1968.
A "Perfect" Record
After releasing the album OK Ken? in 1969 with Chicken Shack, Christine retired from the music business to become a homemaker. However, the album yielded two hit singles, both sung by her: "I'd Rather Go Blind" (a cover of the Etta James song) and "Tears in the Wind." The influential English music magazine Melody Maker voted McVie the Best Female Vocalist in their readers' poll. Thus encouraged to come out of retirement, she formed the Christine Perfect Band, which featured ex-Yardbirds' guitarist Top Topham, and released her first solo album, Christine Perfect in 1970. Although McVie now dismisses the record, which included both originals and covers by artists such as Jimi Hendrix and the Mac's Danny Kirwan, it has developed a reputation for being ahead of its time. In 1976 Sire Records issued the LP in the United States as The Legendary Christine Perfect Album. Joe Viglione of All Music Guide called it "classic and tremendous," noting its "phenomenal sounds," and concluded that when fans of Fleetwood Mac "need a fix for their obsession, this is the album."
The Heart of the Group
Christine McVie played keyboards and sang background vocals (sometimes uncredited) on several records by Fleetwood Mac, and she even painted the cover for their album Kiln House (1970). In August of 1970 she was asked to join as a permanent member, replacing guitarist Peter Green as the band's main songwriter. The early 1970s was a difficult period for Fleetwood Mac: they lost several band members and released critically acclaimed but generally unsuccessful records. In addition, John McVie had begun to drink heavily, and his behavior strained his marriage.
In 1974 Fleetwood Mac relocated to Los Angeles. After Fleetwood heard a recording by the California duo Buckingham Nicks in a Los Angeles studio, he invited the pair---guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and vocalist Stephanie "Stevie" Nicks---to join his band. The quintet's first recording, Fleetwood Mac (1975), was a huge success, becoming the top-selling album produced by Warner Brothers up to that point. Three of the four songs that Christine wrote for the record---"Over My Head," "Say You Love Me," and "Warm Ways"---were hit singles, and she also began a fruitful collaboration with Buckingham with "World Turning." Writing in The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Colin Larkin called Fleetwood Mac "a promise fulfilled. The newcomers provided easy, yet memorable compositions while the British contingent gave the group its edge and power."
Although they enjoyed the success of their record, the McVies continued to have personal problems. Christine had affairs with record producer Martin Birch and lighting director Curry Grant, while John continued to abuse alcohol. The couple finally divorced in 1976. Despite its internal struggles, the band continued to record and perform together. The songs on their next album, Rumours (1977), directly addressed their personal lives. Christine's compositions reflected her affection for her ex-husband ("Don't Stop"), for Grant ("You Make Loving Fun"), and for Fleetwood ("Oh Daddy"). "Songbird," one of her most popular numbers, was "a song and a prayer for everyone," as she told Cath Carroll in the book Never Break the Chain.
Rumours, which sold more than 25 million LPs, became one of the best-selling albums of all time; in fact, until Michael Jackson released Thriller in 1982, it was the biggest-selling record in history. Writing in the Guardian, Will Hodgkinson called Rumours "one of the most significant records in the history of pop music." Christine told Nigel Williamson of Uncut, "We knew we had something pretty powerful, to a point that transcended everybody's misery and depression. I think we knew that if we'd been getting on like a house on fire, the songs wouldn't have been nearly as good."
Love Had a Hold on Her
After the release of Rumours, Christine had a passionate affair with Dennis Wilson, the drummer/vocalist of the Beach Boys, but the romance was marred by Wilson's addiction to cocaine and alcohol, and the couple broke up in 1982; Wilson's death from drowning occurred the following year. During their relationship, Christine contributed songs to Fleetwood Mac's experimental album Tusk (1979) and to its pop record Mirage (1982). The band's "Everywhere" and "Hold Me," both McVie compositions, were hit records.
In 1984 she recorded her second solo album, Christine McVie, assembling a band that included guitarist Todd Sharp, bassist George Hawkins, and drummer Steve Ferrone, and enlisted Buckingham, Fleetwood, Clapton, Elton John, and Steve Winwood to contribute. Another musician who appeared on the album was Eduardo (Eddy) Quintela, a Portuguese keyboardist twelve years her junior; Christine and Quintela married in 1986, but were divorced in 1998. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide called Christine McVie "a collection of soft-rock pop and ballads that are pleasantly melodic and ingratiating." A reviewer in People called the album's songs "snappy and full of rhythmic rock and roll hooks." Christine had two hits from the LP, "Got a Hold on Me" and "Love Will Show Us How."
Songbird Spread Her Wings
In 1986 Christine recorded a version of Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love" for the soundtrack of the movie A Fine Mess. In 1987 Buckingham decided to leave the Mac for a solo career. However, he stayed long enough to record Tango in the Night (1987), which is considered one of the group's best latter-day works. Christine's "Little Lies" and "Anyway" are considered the highlights of the record. Fleetwood Mac re-formed with vocalist/guitarist Billy Burnette and guitarist Rick Vito as Buckingham's replacements, and the group released Behind the Mask (1990). In 1993 Christine and the rest of the Rumours-era Mac reunited at the request of President Bill Clinton, who asked them to play his campaign theme, "Don't Stop," at his inauguration celebration. The group replaced Nicks, who had become a solo artist, with Bekka Bramlett, and Vito with seasoned guitarist Dave Mason.
The band's next album Time (1995) is generally considered to be the low point of their career. In 1997 the Rumours-era Mac again reunited to do a live broadcast for MTV; the result was the live album The Dance. In 1998 Christine McVie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That same year, she left Fleetwood Mac---and Los Angeles---and returned to England, settling in Canterbury, Kent.
Working as a quartet, the Rumours-era Mac released Say You Will (2003) without Christine McVie, though she did contribute to two songs. Her work in her home studio with nephew Dan Perfect led to a third solo album, In the Meantime (2004). She has performed solo material and songs co-written with Perfect, Hawkins, Burnette, and Quintela. She told Jan Freedland of Fleetwood Mac Legacy that her current songwriting is "tougher and not as soft as in the past-more brash and less careful." Noting the album's "polished adult-contemporary sound," a reviewer in People stated that some of her songs, such as "Northern Star" and "Calumny," "sound like Fleetwood Mac at its laid back best." Erlewine of All Music Guide noticed that she sounds "at ease for the first time in years." Though some observers have criticized Christine for the lightness of some of her material, most consider her to be an underrated artist, one who deserves wider recognition for her exceptional musicianship. Writing in Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac, Mick Fleetwood concluded, "The healer's daughter will always be my sister and inspiration."
by Gerard J. Senick
Christine McVie's Career
Sang and played keyboards with blues band Chicken Shack and released two albums, 1968-69; retired and then returned to music business, 1969; released first solo album, Christine Perfect, 1970; joined Fleetwood Mac, 1970; relocated to Los Angeles with Fleetwood Mac, 1974; contributed three hit singles to successful self-titled Mac album, 1975; released album Rumours,1977; released second solo record, Christine McVie, 1984; reunited with the band for MTV special and live album The Dance, 1997; inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1998; quit Fleetwood Mac to return to England, 1998; released third solo album, In the Meantime, 2004.
Christine McVie's Awards
(As Christine Perfect) Melody Maker Readers' Poll, Best Female Vocalist, 1969, 1970; (as Christine McVie) Rolling Stone magazine Critics' Awards, Band of the Year, Album of the Year, for Rumours, 1977; Grammy Award, Album of the Year, for Rumours, 1977; BRIT Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution to the British Music Industry, 1998; induction, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1998; Capital Gold Legends Award, Legendary Album, for Rumours, 2003; VH1, listed among 100 Greatest Women, 2004.
- Selected discography
- Solo albums
- (As Christine Perfect, with Chicken Shack) Forty Blue Fingers Freshly Packed and Ready to Serve Blue Horizon, 1968.
- (As Christine Perfect; contributor; with Fleetwood Mac) Mr. Wonderful Columbia/Blue Horizon, 1968.
- (As Christine Perfect, with Chicken Shack) OK Ken? Blue Horizon, 1969.
- (As Christine Perfect; contributor, with Fleetwood Mac) English Rose Epic, 1969.
- (As Christine McVie; contributor, with Fleetwood Mac) Then Play On Reprise, 1969.
- (As Christine Perfect) Christine Perfect Blue Horizon, 1970; reissued as The Legendary Christine Perfect Album Sire, 1976.
- (As Christine McVie; contributor; with Fleetwood Mac) Kiln House Reprise, 1970.
- Christine McVie Warner Brothers, 1984.
- In the Meantime Sanctuary Records/Koch Records, 2004.
- With Fleetwood Mac
- Future Games Reprise, 1971.
- Bare Trees Reprise, 1972.
- Penguin Reprise, 1973.
- Mystery to Me Reprise, 1973.
- Heroes Are Hard to Find Reprise, 1974.
- Fleetwood Mac Reprise, 1975.
- Rumours Warner Brothers, 1977.
- Tusk Warner Brothers, 1979.
- Mirage Warner Brothers, 1982.
- Tango in the Night Warner Brothers, 1987.
- Behind the Mask Warner Brothers, 1990.
- Time Warner Brothers, 1995.
- The Dance Reprise, 1997.
- (Contributor) Say You Will Reprise, 2003.
- Carr, Roy, and Steve Clarke, Fleetwood Mac: Rumours n' Fax, Harmony, 1978.
- Carroll, Cath, Never Break the Chain: Fleetwood Mac and the Making of "Rumours," A Cappella/Chicago Review, 2004.
- Fleetwood, Mick, with Stephen Davis, Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac, Avon, 1990.
- Harrison, Nigel, Songwriters: A Biographical Dictionary, McFarland, 1998.
- Larkin, Colin, The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, 3rd edition, Muze Ltd., 1998.
- Lewry, Peter, Fleetwood Mac: The Complete Recording Sessions, 1967-1997, Blandford, 1998.
- Entertainment Weekly, October 15, 2004.
- Guardian, June 18, 2004.
- People Weekly, March 19, 1984; September 27, 2004.
- Uncut, May 2003.
- "Christine McVie," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (January 5, 2005).
- "Christine McVie," Fleetwood Mac Legacy, http://www.fmlegacy.com (January 5, 2005).
- Christine McVie Official Website, http://www.christinemcvie.com (January 1, 2005).
- "Fleetwood Mac Biographies: Christine McVie," The Penguin, http://www.fleetwoodmac.net/penguin (January 1, 2005).