Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac Singer-Songwriter and Keyboardist, Dies at 79

“There are no words to describe our sadness,” the band said in a statement

Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac performs on NBC's "Today" at the NBC's TODAY Show in 2014
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Christine McVie, the Fleetwood Mac keyboardist, singer and songwriter who weathered the bands many iterations and personal melodramas while churning out hits for more than five decades, died Wednesday following a brief illness. She was 79.

McVie became a full-time member of Fleetwood Mac in 1970 – after its founding but before the arrival of American members Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks – having first been a fan of its original, London-based lineup. She would go on to sing and write several of the band’s many top-10 hits like “You Make Loving Fun” and “Don’t Stop.”

McVie’s bandmates — who included Nicks, Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and former husband John McVie — released a statement on Twitter:

“There are no words to describe our sadness at the passing of Christine McVie. She was truly one-of-a-kind, special and talented beyond measure,” Fleetwood Mac wrote. “She was the best musician anyone could have in their band and the best friend anyone could have in their life. We were so lucky to have a life with her. Individually and together, we cherished Christine deeply and are thankful for the amazing memories we have. She will be so very missed.”

Fleetwood Mac
Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

McVie began her career as Christine Perfect, her maiden name. Before Fleetwood Mac, she contributed to Chicken Shack, a British blues and rock band, and her lead vocals on the band’s 1969 cover of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” charted as a No. 14 UK hit.

The bluesy-voiced singer-songwriter married Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie, and collaborated on the band’s sophomore album “Mr. Wonderful,” released in 1968.

She was soon to become a permanent fixture of the band, founded by Peter Green, who departed after recording “Mr. Wonderful” in 1971. The band remained in flux after she joined, losing guitarists and singer-songwriters Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan, but gaining guitarist-singer-songwriter Bob Welch.

Her influence expanded from 1971-1974, in which the London-based band released five albums. By the late 1970s, Fleetwood Mac’s music became a staple in the music scene of the United States with the arrival of the American pair Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

McVie’s vocals grace hits like “Over My Head” and “Say You Love Me” from the self-titled 1975 “Reprise” album.

McVie’s personal life was just a part of the many interconnected personal melodramas swirling around the band leading up to, and heavily influencing, “Rumours” – now among the best selling albums of all time. For her part, her marriage to bassist John McVie crumbled due to her affair with the band’s lighting director – the inspiration for the song “You Make Loving Fun.”