Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac keyboardist and vocalist, dies at 79

Christine McVie performs with Fleetwood Mac at the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Festival at the T-Mobile Arena on September 21, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images/iHeartMedia)

Christine McVie, the keyboardist and songwriter responsible for some of Fleetwood Mac's biggest hits, has died at the age of 79.

In a statement posted on her Facebook page (opens in new tab) today (November 30), McVie's family said that she passed away peacefully, in the company of her family, "following a short illness."

“On behalf of Christine McVie’s family, it is with a heavy heart we are informing you of Christine’s death," the statement reads. "She passed away peacefully at hospital this morning, Wednesday, November 30, 2022, following a short illness. She was in the company of her family. 

"We kindly ask that you respect the family’s privacy at this extremely painful time, and 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."

Fleetwood Mac, with whom McVie toured and recorded on and off for over 50 years, paid tribute to the "one-of-a-kind, special and talented beyond measure" musician in a statement of their own (opens in new tab).

"There are no words to describe our sadness at the passing of Christine McVie," the statement – posted to McVie's social media accounts – reads. "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 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 deeply missed."

Born in Bouth, Lancashire, England in 1942 to a musical family, McVie took up the piano as a child, and fell under the spell of rock 'n' roll as a teen.

In the early and mid-'60s, McVie spent time with a number of figures in the UK's budding blues scene, and performed with two blues bands herself – Sounds of Blue and Chicken Shack, the latter of whom had a minor hit in 1969 with a cover of the Etta James classic, I'd Rather Go Blind.

Through Chicken Shack, McVie – then still known by her maiden name, Christine Perfect – also came to know fellow British blues-rockers Fleetwood Mac, playing keyboards and contributing backing vocals to their 1968 album, Mr. Wonderful.

She went on to marry Fleetwood Mac's bassist, John McVie and – after making contributions to the band's fourth album, 1970's Kiln House – joined the group as a keyboardist and additional vocalist.

McVie's impact on the group was immediate, and even after the addition of singer Stevie Nicks and guitarist/vocalist Lindsey Buckingham in 1975 to Fleetwood Mac – after years of personnel turbulence and mixed commercial fortunes for the band – she remained one of their core songwriters.

To 1975's Fleetwood Mac, McVie contributed the hits Over My Head and Say You Love Me. For 1977's Rumours, which went on to be one of the most successful albums of all time, McVie wrote and sang the mega-hits You Make Loving Fun and Don't Stop, in addition to the delicate ballad Songbird.

Through Fleetwood Mac's well-documented personal turbulence, and meteoric commercial rise and fall, McVie remained a steady presence, producing more hook-filled pop classics (Think About Me, Little Lies, Everywhere) as the band moved into the '80s.

McVie remained with the group until their dissolution in 1995, and subsequently participated in their hugely successful 1997 reunion tour (which marked the return of Nicks and, for the first time in a decade, Buckingham to the group's lineup) before retiring from the band in 1998.

Though she kept a low profile for the first decade of the 2000s, McVie re-emerged in 2014, re-joining Fleetwood Mac's Rumours-era lineup for another massively successful tour and even – shortly before his firing from Fleetwood Mac – recording an album with Buckingham, released in 2017 as Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie.

McVie's final tour with the band concluded in 2019.

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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player (opens in new tab). Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder (opens in new tab) and Unrecorded (opens in new tab). Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.