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Home » Christine McVie inside the world of Fleetwood Mac, then and now

Christine McVie inside the world of Fleetwood Mac, then and now

As the band prepares for its UK return in June, Christine McVie talks Glastonbury, rock ‘n’ roll and retirement

June 2019 will be a big month for music fans for two reasons – an under-the-radar, little-known festival called Glastonbury and the return of Fleetwood Mac, the band’s first UK dates in six years. Sadly, this year at least, the two aren’t linked, but lead vocalist and songwriter Christine McVie says any decision to perform at Glastonbury isn’t down to the band itself.

“It isn’t up to me, it’s up to the management,” said McVie. “It’s their decision and down to logistics. I can’t say yes or no to Glastonbury, but I’d like to – so long as I don’t have to wear wellington boots on stage. Or maybe I’d just have to roll with it – wellie boots with mud.”

I’d like to do Glastonbury, so long as I don’t have to wear wellington boots

For now, fans will have to make do with two UK gigs at Wembley (the first time that McVie has performed in the UK with the group since officially rejoining), one of which sold out so fast that the band added a further date. Over 50 years after the band were first formed, appetite for Fleetwood Mac shows no signs of waning.

“Maybe people are just wondering when the first one of us is going to pop off because we’re not youngsters anymore,” laughs McVie. “Maybe people want to see us because they think it’s the last chance. We’re a young band at heart; you’d never think we are the age we are. We’re never static. It’s going to be fantastic.”

Any self-respecting rock ‘n’ roll band has encountered its fair share of drama, and Fleetwood Mac is no anomaly. There have been marriage, divorces and fall-outs, most recently the replacement of guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham after he was unceremoniously fired – a situation McVie described as “untenable”. The new line-up comprises Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Stevie Nicks, and McVie along with newcomers Mike Campbell and Neil Finn.

“In the 70s, we were gods and goddesses,” says McVie. “Rumours was huge. We were a lot of younger and for a time it was brilliant. It’s definitely more sober now. I think we’ve got better as I’ve grown older. We’re the best band we’ve ever been.”

I don’t think I did anything terribly outrageous, except I once threw a cake out the window

For McVie, music was always her one true love. She dabbled with the idea of becoming an art teacher, but let that fall by the wayside (“I obviously didn’t fancy doing my last year of teacher training”) and started working as a window dresser in a department store. In 1967, she joined Chicken Shack where she first came across Fleetwood Mac on tour.

“I’ve never wanted to do anything else,” she says. “The band are like my family. I started writing songs when I was very young, but I wasn’t very good. In fact, I was quite paranoid about it. Then I joined Fleetwood Mac and Mick encouraged me to keep trying. I wrote all the time during that time and my pop developed into more of a blues style. It was Mick who told me to persevere and eventually I wrote a few good songs.”

A few good songs such as “Don’t Stop,” which chronicled how she felt after her separation from John McVie after eight years of marriage; “You Make Lovin’ Fun,” about an affair she had with the band’s lighting director while she was still married to McVie (she told her husband that it was about her dog); and, of course, the perennial “Songbird,” which she wrote in just 30 minutes.

The more I see Stevie perform on stage the better I think she is

Fleetwood had a sound that was pivotal not only to the generation they were first born into, but for generations to come. But it wasn’t and still isn’t just the music that fans gravitate towards; it’s also to do with the chemistry shared between band members. McVie and Stevie Nicks shared a particularly close bond – Nicks calls her a mentor, sister and best friend. They shared and experienced a lot together – bad break-ups and affairs that probably shouldn’t have happened but did – all on a diet of drugs, alcohol and zero sleep. McVie says it was and still is their differences that make them close.

“Stevie is just unbelievable,” says McVie. “The more I see her perform on stage the better I think she is. She holds the fort. She’s a brand. We’re quite different in that way – I have an outside life. I live in London not the States. I like going shopping on my own. I have more of a normal life than her and that keeps me grounded. I have other friends and I do other things. I enjoy going sailing. Stevie is devoted to her career and boy, does she do it well.”

McVie says that, although they were on the road for a lot of the time in a male-dominated industry, she never came across any sexism or misconduct. “But maybe that’s just because we were surrounded by terrific guys,” she muses. “The guys in the band were all gentleman, as were the crew.”

It would be bitterly disappointing if such a legendary band hadn’t indulged in a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle – and Fleetwood live up to expectations. McVie says her relationship with co-founder of The Beach Boys Dennis Wilson was her “craziest time”.

“We all drank a lot and did a lot of cocaine, we partied a lot, I don’t think I did anything terribly outrageous,” she says. “Except I once threw a cake out the window which landed on top of taxi. I was kind of the good girl in the group. That’s who I was. Stevie used to call me Mother Earth because I was always pretty grounded.”

Not many bands have had the same longevity; there is life in the old girl yet

However, being on the road took its toll on McVie and in 1998 – the same years she was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – she quit the band and went into retirement for 15 years. She moved to Kent where she restored a Tudor house and kept a low profile. A fear of flying stopped her from going too far. But Mick Fleetwood has a knack of bringing people together, and he reached out to McVie at the right time.

She had started seeing a therapist to deal with her flying phobia, who – after a few sessions – asked her where in the world she’d most to be if she could fly anywhere.

“I said Maui because that’s where Mick was living at the time,” she said. “So, the therapist said, ‘why don’t you just a buy a ticket. You don’t have to get on the plane, just buy the ticket.’ Then as irony would have it, Mick called me just after and said ‘Look, I’m coming to London, are you around?’ I told him that I’d just bought a ticket to see him and he said, ‘well I’ll meet you in London then and we’ll fly back together.’ So that’s what I did.”

McVie rejoined the band not long after, and, as she says herself, the band has never sounded better – and, thankfully, retirement couldn’t be further away. “Mick Fleetwood is the granddaddy of the band and he will do anything to keep it together.

“Not many bands have had the same longevity; there is life in the old girl yet. It’s about finding new inspiration and enjoyment for each other. As long as we have that we’ll keep going.”

Books tickets for Fleetwood Mac’s UK show dates on 16 and 18 June at Livenation.co.uk

Ella Alexander / Harper’s Bazaar UK / Thursday, March 21, 2019

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FEB 17, 2024
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March 10, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
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March 15, 2023
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March 18, 2023
Las Vegas, NV
T-Mobile Arena

May 12, 2023
Raleigh, NC
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May 16, 2023
Knoxville, TN
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May 19, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Nashville, TN
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May 22, 2023
Atlanta, GA
State Farm Arena

May 25, 2023
Orlando, FL
Amway Center

June 16, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Philadelphia, PA
Lincoln Financial Field

June 20, 2023
Toronto, ON (Canada)
Scotiabank Arena

June 23, 2023
Chicago, IL
United Center

June 27, 2023
Louisville, KY
KFC Yum! Center

August 5, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Columbus, OH
Ohio Stadium

August 8, 2023
Milwaukee, WI
Fiserv Forum

August 12, 2023
Houston, TX
Toyota Center

August 15, 2023
Austin, TX
Moody Center

August 19, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
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September 23, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Foxborough, MA
Gillette Stadium

September 27, 2023
Pittsburgh, PA
PPG Paints Arena

October 1, 2023
New York, NY
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October 4, 2023
Buffalo, NY
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October 7, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Baltimore, MD 
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October 28, 2023
Memphis, TN
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November 1, 2023
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November 4, 2023
Allentown, PA
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November 7, 2023
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November 29, 2023
San Diego, CA
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Inglewood, CA
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December 12, 2023
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December 15, 2023
San Francisco, CA
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2022 Tour

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Jazz Aspen Snowmass
Snowmass, CO
Labor Day 2022

Ravinia Festival
Highland Park, IL
September 8, 2022
September 10, 2022

Pine Knob Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI
September 13, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Sea Hear Now Festival
Asbury, NJ
September 17, 2022

Xfinity Center
Mansfield, MA
September 19, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Maine Savings Amphitheatre
Bangor, ME
September 22, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Sound on Sound Festival
Bridgeport, CT
September 24-25, 2022

Ohana Festival
Dana Point, CA
September 30, 2022

Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles, CA
October 3, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

POSTPONED
Ak-Chin Pavilion

Phoenix, AZ
October 6, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

POSTPONED
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

The Woodlands, TX
October 9, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ameris Bank Amphitheatre
Alpharetta, GA
October 12, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ascend Amphitheater
Nashville, TN
October 16, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Credit One Stadium
Charleston, SC
October 19, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

PNC Music Pavilion
Charlotte, NC
October 22, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
Tampa, FL
October 25, 2022
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iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre
West Palm Beach, FL
October 28, 2022
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Orion Amphitheatre
Huntsville, AL
October 31, 2022

RESCHEDULED SHOWS

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
The Woodlands, TX
November 2, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ak-Chin Pavilion
Phoenix, AZ
November 5, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton