Throughout the various personal troubles for which members of Fleetwood Mac are known, one relationship has sustained the band for decades: the friendship between its two vocalists, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks.
McVie joined the band in 1970 during one of its first lineup changes and for years was its only wife. When Nicks was added to the roster in 1975, the two quickly became friends.
It was not a competitive relationship, but a sisterly one – both women were gifted songwriters responsible for crafting many of the band’s best-known songs. Although the two broke up in the 1980s amid Nicks’ worsening drug addiction and growing internal band tension, they got back together when McVie returned to Fleetwood Mac in 2014.
During a gig in London, shortly before McVie officially joined the band, Nicks dedicated the song “Landslide” to his “mentor”. Older sister. Best Friend.” And when the show ended, McVie was there, accompanying his bandmates for “Don’t Stop.”
“I never want her out of my life again, and that has nothing to do with music and everything to do with her and me as friends,” Nicks told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2015. .
On Wednesday, McVie, the band’s “songbird”, died after a brief illness at the age of 79. Below, relive McVie and Nicks’ years-long relationship as bandmates, best friends and “sisters.”
The story of Nicks joining Fleetwood Mac is now legendary: band founder and drummer Mick Fleetwood wanted to recruit guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, who stipulated that he would only join if his girlfriend and musician Nicks could also join. McVie cast the deciding vote, and the rest is history.
“It was essential that I get along with her because I had never played with another girl,” McVie told the Guardian in 2013. “But I liked her instantly. There was also no competition. We were completely different from each other on stage and we wrote differently too.
Throughout the band’s many personal complications – McVie married and divorced Fleetwood Mac bassist John McVie and had an affair with the band’s lighting director, while Nicks had roller coaster romances with Buckingham and Fleetwood – they were in the center of each other.
“Being in a band with another girl who was this amazing musician — (McVie) instantly became my best friend,” Nicks told The New Yorker earlier this year. “Christine was a whole different ball game. She liked hanging out with guys. She was just more comfortable with men than I had ever been.
The two protected each other, Nicks said, in a male-dominated industry: “We made a pact, at the very beginning, that we would never be treated with disrespect by any male musicians in the community.
“I would say to him, ‘Together, we’re a serious force of nature, and that will give us the strength to maneuver the waters ahead of us,'” Nicks told The New Yorker.
“Rumors” was the band’s biggest hit to date when it was released in 1977. But the band’s relationship was souring, except for that between McVie and Nicks. As the couple went through breakups with loved ones, Nicks and McVie spent their time offstage together.
The Guardian asked McVie if she tried to offset the band’s uproar with her songs on “Rumors,” including the lighthearted “You Make Lovin’ Fun” and the upbeat “Don’t Stop.” She said she probably had been.
As several members’ drug use escalated, the group dynamic became strained. McVie distanced herself from the band in 1984 amid her bandmates’ addictions, telling the Guardian she was “just fed up”. Nicks, meanwhile, was becoming addicted to cocaine.
McVie told Rolling Stone that year that she had grown away from Nicks: “She seems to have developed her own fantasy world, one way or another, which I’m not a part of. We don’t socialize much.
In 1986, Nicks went to the Betty Ford Center to treat her addiction, though she later became addicted to Klonopin, which she says cost her years of her life. She quit the prescription drug in the 1990s.
After recording a few solo works, McVie returned to Fleetwood Mac for their 1987 album “Tango in the Night”, and two of her songs on that record – “Little Lies” and “Everywhere” – became major hits. But Nicks left the band soon after, and the band’s best-known lineup wouldn’t officially reunite until 1997 for “The Dance” tour and the live album that followed.
The reunion was short-lived: After the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, McVie officially left Fleetwood Mac, citing fear of flying and exhaustion from life on the road.
In the 2010s, after more than a decade of retirement, McVie toyed with returning to the stage. She officially joined Fleetwood Mac after calling Fleetwood himself and assessing what her return would mean for the band.
“Fortunately, Stevie was dying for me to come back, like the rest of the band,” she told the Arts Desk.
In 2015, a year after joining Fleetwood Mac, McVie hit the road with his bandmates. Touring with the band was tiring but fun, the first time they had performed together in years.
“I’m only here for Stevie,” she told The New Yorker that year.
Nicks agreed: “When we went on the road I realized what an amazing friend she had been that I had lost and I hadn’t realized the full consequences of that until now,” she told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2015.
During this tour, McVie wore a silver chain given to him by Nicks — a “metaphor,” McVie told The New Yorker, “that the band’s chain will never be broken. Not by me, anyway. Not yet by me.
McVie told the Arts Desk in 2016 that she and Nicks were “better friends now than they were 16 years ago.”
A tour with Buckingham and Fleetwood could quickly become tumultuous for Nicks, McVie said, due to their shared history. “But with me in there, it gave Stevie a chance to catch her breath and not have that constant thing with Lindsey: her sister was back,” she said.
Their mutual praise continued: In 2019, McVie said Nicks was “just amazing” on stage: “The more I see her perform on stage, the better off I think she is. She’s holding on strong.
At the end of their 2018-2019 tour, however – minus Buckingham, who was fired – the band “sort of fell apart,” McVie told Rolling Stone earlier this year. She added that she doesn’t speak with Nicks as often as when they tour together.
As for a reunion, McVie told Rolling Stone that while it wasn’t out of the question, she didn’t feel “physically ready for it.”
“I’m getting a little long in the teeth here,” she said. “I’m pretty happy to be home. I don’t know if I want to tour again one day. It’s damn hard work.
The news of McVie’s death rocked Nicks, who wrote that she had only found out that McVie was sick a few days earlier. She called McVie her “best friend in the whole world since day one in 1975.”
On his social media accounts, Nicks shared a handwritten note containing the lyrics to Haim’s song “Hallelujah”, some of which are about heartbreak and the loss of a best friend.
“See you on the other side, love,” Nicks wrote. “Don’t Forget Me – Always, Stevie.”