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Rock Magazine (03/29/1971), Christine McVie (She's not perfect anymore...) < Christine McVie < Main Page

Rock Magazine (03/29/1971), Christine McVie (She's not perfect anymore...)

Rock Magazine, March 29, 1971

Christine McVie (She's not perfect anymore...)
by John Halsall

When Peter Green left Fleetwood Mac last summer, many fans, critics, and assorted individuals in the habit of placing odds on such things wagered that the loss meant the inevitable death of the group. Green's vocals and guitar work had been heavily featured in performance and on records, and few believed that he could easily be replaced.

Fortunately, among those who agreed that it would be a mistake to try to find another guitarist were the members of Fleetwood Mac themselves. Instead, they decided to assess what they had-and lo and behold that included Mrs. John McVie, wife of Fleetwood bass player, herself well known to pop audiences as Christine Perfect.

"I was playing with them at the house-there was a piano and I used to muck around on that while they were rehearsing. One day they asked me if I wanted to join; they had all been thinking of asking me individually, but it took awhile for them all to realize they felt the same way."

Christine is playing piano and organ and taking some lead vocals with Fleetwood Mac now. The sound changed a little, but the standard of the music has not dropped. The experience she gained during her time with Chicken Shack, another British Blues band, has helped her slip into her new band without too many hang-ups.

When we met in London recently, I asked her when she actually joined the group.

"I joined five days before they were due to leave for an American tour," she told me. "I can remember the exact dates. I joined on July 21, and we left for America on July 26, following five solid days of rehearsals."

She went on to explain the events that led up to her becoming a fulltime member: "When Peter left the group in the end of May, the rest of the group decided to get a place in the country and get some new material together. They didn't want to do Peter's songs, for obvious reasons; they couldn't get the right sound.

"Well, they did the album as a four-piece (ie. Mick Fleetwood on drums, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan on guitars and her husband, John McVie, on bass guitar). But, even after the album they still weren't happy with the sound; they thought it was a bit empty. Time was getting short and they didn't want to introduce a new member because of the problems of breaking somebody in. So, there I was."

How have things been going since then?

"The American tour was very successful," she said. "Next time we go, all being well, we should clinch it over there. We're happy together, and I'm involved with the music and with them as people. We've all been living in the same house for months..We've (Danny, Jeremy and myself) been writing songs together and then deciding who's going to sing on them. The group is definitely more integrated than before; it used to be three individual people writing and singing their own songs. We will be doing a lot of our own material, but there will be some old songs as well. I enjoy playing and singing blues."

How has the group's sound changed?

"I think it has mellowed out," she replied. "There aren't two wailing guitars any more-there's just one. Jeremy is playing slide guitar, which gives a different sound. I think my piano playing makes the sound thicker, more mellow. Maybe we don't play so loud as the old band."

What has audience reaction been like to the new band?

"At about 20 percent of the gigs there is a definite barrier," she admitted. "That gap is very hard to close-sometimes we just don't make it. I think the audience are wondering what we are going to be like. Before Peter ran the band. Now there is no leader, we just take turns. Obviously, some of the people miss Peter's guitar playing. But then, the sound is different now and other people have said that they don't even notice he's missing."

You mentioned you were all living together-where is the house and how does that work out?

"It's down in Hampshire," she explained, "a big place on a rambling wilderness of land, uncultivated, mostly covered with forest. That was just what we wanted. We are completely cut off; we can enjoy the seclusion.

"We sometimes go down to the local pub. I think it gives the locals a little interest in life when they see a pop group walking in. The village near us is no size-just a couple of shops and a pub. Everyone is terribly nice. Some of the characters in the pub are very posh. I think they regard us as a curiosity, but they are very friendly and interested in how our records are selling.

"The group together own the house; we all live there with our families; it's plenty big enough for all. We've got our own private section, and then there's a communal area downstairs with a dining rooom and a lounge, so you can be completely on your own if you want to be. It's a nice environment to live in.

"We all liked the country anyway and all longed for a big house. It seemed more economical to get one together than to do it alone, It's convenient being together for gigs and recording. We're having our own recording studio built in, too, so we can record when we like. It will be really nice, you know. Just have breakfast and go downstairs and start recording. It won't be ready for a while, so the next album will be done in a studio. The one after that should be done at home. I think it will work out well."

Did the fact that she was working with her husband in the group put any pressure on their private life?

"There is no question of work being a pressure," she replied. "John and I talk about music a lot of the time, but there is no friction, musically, between us at all. I must admit I wondered when we started out, how it would work out. But it soon seemed apparent everything was going to be alright.

"We were married in August 1968. I was in Chicken Shack at that time, and John of course was in Fleetwood Mac. We were always working in different places. We never saw each other."

Christine left Chicken Shack because she wanted to have more time free to spend with her husband. As part of a group she obviously had to think of the others and couldn't turn down gigs because she wanted to be with John. She decided to pursue a solo career, but it was a failure.

"It was mainly bad timing," she said. "Everything had to be done in such a rush and so nothing was done properly. I had to get a band together in a fortnight, and there wasn't enough time to rehearse the numbers properly. When we started working live the band just wasn't together, it was very rough. I'd be the first one to say it.

"At that time we were going out for big money and a lot of people were disappointed. So as the band got better the band was playing well together we were losing money. We just had to jack it in.

"When that all broke up I intended to go into something completely different. I was considering doing painting and illustration-I went to art college for four years. I was going to do some songwriting perhaps...Then the Fleetwood mac thing cropped up."

Did the fact that she was female present any real problems when working in a pop group?

"In this band my personal problem is trying to get in as much work as everyone else, as well as taking care of the more menial tasks like doing the washing and keeping the place tidy. I have to try and do all that and still contribute as much to the group as, say, John. The other guys in the group are looked after by their wives. Danny is the only one who is still single. I don't have much time to sit around with my feet up. But I don't mind-I think it keeps you young. After all-I love what I'm doing, and I'm with my husband too." What could be more perfect?

Thanks to macfan57 for posting this to the Ledge.

Date: 1971-03-29         Number of views: 1892

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