Christine Anne Perfect was born on July 12, 1943 in Birmingham, England. Her future in music was literally written in the stars given the fact that her Dad Cyril was a concert violinist and Mom Beatrice was a faith healing psychic.
As was often a familiar rite of passage for frustrated musicians in those days, Chris entered art college in Birmingham. It was there that she was introduced to a couple of future music legends, Spencer Davis and Stevie Winwood, then a fifteen year old student.
Mick Fleetwood recalls;
"Nobody could believe this kid could rasp out the blues this way. His gravel voice gave Chris gooseflesh the first time she heard it...Chris would trail around after them religiously, but soon wanted to play with a band of her own."
It was 1964 and Chris was ready to gig with her first band. They were called Sounds of Blue and she joined them as, of all things, a bass player. Although the band only lasted a year, she did meet future bandmates Andy Sylvester and Stan Webb during that time. Once Sounds of Blue dissolved, she decided to head back to London to give it a go in the big city. Waiting for her big break, she toiled as a window dresser at Dickens and Jones. Chris does not exactly recall this experience as being a good one, dismissing her co-workers as "a lot of bitchy people."
The Chicken Shack fans loved her. She was the immediate breakout star of the band, earning respect as one of the few women in the British blues scene that could interpret the blues with style, mesmerizing audiences wherever they played.
Chicken Shack went on to tour with a band called Fleetwood Mac in 1967. I think you've heard of them. One of their joint gigs was the Windsor Jazz Festival. It was there that Chris met her future husband who was with Mayall's band at the time, bassist John McVie. A few months later, in 1968, Chris showed up at a Mac studio session and played piano on the "Mr. Wonderful" album.
Mick remembers..."One night she was at one of our gigs, with her eye sort of on Peter Green, when John asked her to go for a drink. She knew John had a girlfriend, but they had some laughs together. After the show, John invited her to dinner and Chris said she thought that John was engaged. 'Nah, 'sall over,' John said. And that was it.
They went out for awhile, and then John disappeared to America with Fleetwood Mac. Chris went on to Germany with Chicken Shack for a ten-day stint at the Blow-Up Club in Munich. A crazy German DJ asked her to marry him...She turned him down and, as she says, wrote a long letter to John McVie. When we came back to England, John proposed. Chris was quite mad about John and said yes. They were married ten days later, in August 1968, amid mighty celebration. They probably would have waited a bit longer, but Chris' mother was dying, and the wedding was really for her."
Their togetherness was short-lived. Shortly after the wedding, the bride and groom embarked on lengthy tours with their respective bands. It was 1969, and Chicken Shack had scored their first big hit, Christine's "I'd Rather Go Blind." Almost inexplicably, at the height of her band's success, Christine left Chicken Shack to bask in her role as a housewife, as well as to live the heady existence of being married to the bassist in UK's most popular band..
As she said, "It was extremely romantic...A little bit of the glamour of what Fleetwood Mac was in those days rubbed off. It was almost like someone marrying a Beatle. You married one of the links in the chain, and you were part of them."
The music industry was calling, and Christine was about to change her mind about being a housewife. Peter Green suddenly departed from Fleetwood Mac, leaving room for yet another round of lineup changes. All along, Chris had been an uncredited guest keyboardist and background vocalist with the Mac, not to mention the fact that she painted the "Kiln House" album cover. To no one's surprise, late one evening in July, Mick officially asked Christine to join the band. Shortly thereafter, she went on her first gig with Fleetwood Mac in New Orleans on August 8, 1970. The British music press took notice that Christine had become a part of the band, as well as her request to be known under her new married name, Christine McVie.
But all was not rosy from the start. From the point of Peter Green's departure from Fleetwood Mac, the band was plagued with interpersonal struggles and bizarre behavior.
In 1971, Jeremy Spencer, fresh off the plane in L.A. for a gig, went out one day to check out a corner book store and never came back. He was later found to have joined a cult called The Children of God. In late-winter of the same year, Christine commented on the upheavals;
"Over the past year, it seems as if we have just been battered and beaten about the head with a giant club."
It didn't end there. The morale of the band would continue to be challenged with the departure of Danny Kirwan. It was Christine's turn to emerge as a stalwart of the band and a critical songwriter. Several personal changes later, the decision was made to add Bob Welch to the lineup. Bob was American and the band thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to try to make it over in the States. Christine was less than enthused about the prospect of touring America. Her mother had died a few years back, and she had made a home for her and John in England. Understandably, she didn't want to leave that comfort zone. Convinced by her bandmates that the move would be in everyone's best interest, she and the rest of Fleetwood Mac moved out to California in 1974.
With the songwriting talents of both Christine and Bob Welch, Fleetwood Mac put out some of their best work. Particular stand-outs include Christine classics like "Why", "Emerald Eyes" and "Come A Little Bit Closer." Bob Welch, although a key contributor to the band, grew tiresome of the constant drama within the band and decided to quit. The band was then left with two options, either search for a new guitarist, or return to England.
Little did anyone know at the time, but Christine's go-ahead would change music history. Stevie and Lindsey were both asked to join the band.
Fleetwood Mac's "White Album", was released in 1975 with much success. However, constant touring to promote the album, and the pressure to create an even bigger follow up album put enormous strain on the McVie marriage. John's drinking was out of control and his behavior was said to have been combative. There had been problems before, but this was different. In 1976, John and Christine separated, and by the time Fleetwood Mac moved to Sausalito to record "Rumours", Christine (and Stevie) arrived to the recording sessions as newly single women. During the "Rumours" sessions, Chris, Lindsey and Stevie, are used their current relationship troubles as emotional fuel for their songs. Chris wrote "Don't Stop" for John, who recalls this particular time as "...very clumsy sometimes...I'd be sitting there in the studio while they were mixing 'Don't Stop,' and I'd listen to the words which were mostly about me, and I'd get a lump in my throat. I'd turn around and the writer's sitting right there.' "
During this time, Christine, John, and Mick suffered an immigration scare when they were almost deported back to England. They didn't have green cards. They had been slipping in and out of America for years under tourist visas. Fortunately, a friend of the band happened to know Senator Birch Bayh, a powerful Democratic senator, and as Mick Fleetwood recalls,
"...John and Chris and I attended a nine AM meeting in Senator Bayh's chambers in the Old Senate Office Building in Washington. We were still in our stage clothes, having not been to bed from the previous night. We were ushered into the office and introduced to a brace of nervous and awestruck senior immigration officials. And not long afterward, the green cards came through."
With Dennis, there was never a lack of excitement. Unfortunately it was not the kind of excitement one would want. One night, because Dennis left candles burning in the pool house, or perhaps because of an electrical short, their pool house burned to the ground. There were, of course, intensely romantic moments, as only Dennis could orchestrate them. On a trip to Hawaii with Fleetwood Mac, Dennis bought Christine an unset ruby as an expression of his love. He presented it to her in Rex's restaurant in Honolulu, getting down on his knees in front of the whole band and proposing to Christine in earnest. Back in Los Angeles, when Dennis was showing the stone off to her friends, he carelessly dropped it on the floor. It was recovered by Dennis's long-time assistant Chris Kable, who found it in the vacuum-cleaner bag. In another incident, on Christine's birthday, he hired a team of gardeners to construct a heart-shaped flower bed in the backyard, and even hired a string quartet to play for her. Unfortunately, the bill for the party was sent to Christine. Not a good move Dennis.
During this time, most of the members of Fleetwood Mac had already begun establishing their own solo careers. It was now Christine's turn. In 1984, she released her second self-titled album, "Christine McVie", which included her two old friends from the 60s British blues scene, Stevie Winwood and Eric Clapton (both of whom she had recently met up with again at a party given by Jimmy Page). It also featured keyboardist Eddy Quintela, who Christine later married in 1986. Ironically enough, Christine has said that her 1984 solo album was a happy album, even though she wasn't in love at the time she recorded it. It wasn't until after the album was finished that her relationship with Eddy blossomed..
The next Fleetwood Mac project, "Tango In the Night", was released in 1987. To the dismay of many of fan, it also marked the departure of Lindsey Buckingham. Fleetwood Mac carried on , as they always did, hiring Billy Burnette and Rick Vito for a double dose of guitar to somehow try to make up for Buckingham's departure.
Then came the "Behind the Mask "album in 1990. Christine wasn't very keen on touring to support this album, as she experienced yet another loss with her father Cyril's untimely passing. Understandably, she hesitated to go out on the road during this trying time. Always the trouper, she went on tour with the band anyway. She left the band shortly after the tour to take a break from the Mac to spend some alone time with Eddy.
Then, in 1992, the Democrats called upon the Mac to appear at President Clinton's Inaugural Gala to perform his campaign song "Don't Stop." (An interesting side note, in an interview, Christine quipped that she always imagined "Don't Stop" being used for a commercial for an insurance company, rather than for a political campaign). She returned to the band once more in 1995 to record the ill-fated "Time" album. Although she was a critical part of the band lineup at the time, she chose not to join them on the accompanying tour. Would that finally be the end of the Mac? Fleetwood Mac was to go on hiatus after almost thirty years in music.
In 1997, much to the crazed delight of Fleetwood Mac fans around the world, the Rumours lineup reunited for the release of their live album "The Dance". A sold-out North American tour and video followed soon after. Once again another tour would end leaving Christine to say "never again". But this time to the goodbye would prove to be the final one.
On September 26, 2003 there was a Christine sighting at The first-ever Capital Gold Legends Awards at London's Hilton London Metropole. Many stars, including our very own Songbird, came out in force for the gala dinner auction and awards ceremony. Fleetwood Mac won Legendary album and Christine McVie was there to pick up the award!
On September 7th, 2004 in the U.S. and on June 27th in the UK, Christine's first solo record in twenty years was released. It's called"In The Meantime", and its first single "Friend" is receiving quite a lot of airplay on Adult Contemporary stations. The wonderful new cd is a hot topic of conversation these days. Christine has decided not to tour to support the album. material.
Regardless of what Christine decides to do in the future in her personal or professional life, she will forever be our Songbird . She has an endearing way of striking heartfelt emotional chords with her fans. She may not write her songs in an ethereal mystical style, but she has the amazing ability to tell her stories as a mother would sing her baby to sleep.
Although some may see Christine's lyrics as being all too simplistic, fans of her work relate to her softness and everywoman qualities. Christine brings a distinguished musicality to their lives that enlighten and speak to our own private aspirations. She doesn't pretend to be anyone other than herself. She doesn't pretend to know about any of life's experiences other than the ones she's lived through. She is one of us -- whether we see her as the mother figure we wish we had, or the sister we wished was around to comfort us when we needed a friend.
"...and the songbirds keep singing like they know the score..."
Research: Sarita Molinar, Jan Freedland, Laura Astorian & Dirk Faes
Written by: Jan Freedland
If you have any interesting facts or insights that you'd like to add to Christine's bio, please drop us a line.