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Detroit News (10/02/1997), They've never stopped thinking about tomorrow < Fleetwood Mac < Main Page

Detroit News (10/02/1997), They've never stopped thinking about tomorrow

Detroit News, 10/2/97

They've never stopped thinking about tomorrow

A No. 1 album and reunion tour renew the balance in Fleetwood Mac by Tom Long

The woman once known as Christine Perfect is on the phone from California, and she's excited. Her band's latest album has just debuted at No. 1.

"If I sound a bit conky myself it's because I've just had two glasses of champagne," she says with a laugh. "We're all celebrating."

It's not the first time her band has hit No. 1, of course. And Christine Perfect has known rock's ups and downs over the years.

But this high seems especially sweet since it marks a comeback for a band that was once almost as famous for its stormy relationships as for its music. The album's success - joined with a live VH-1 special and the band's current reunion tour - may surprise some. But the timing is, well, perfect.

"I think we all just grew up," she says. "It's just like having a blood transfusion, really, healing those old wounds and celebrating each others' music."

It is certainly another success well-earned for this veteran of close to 30 years in the pop music business. In 1969, she was voted Melody Maker's Female Vocalist of the Year in Britain, although she was virtually unknown in the United States. In 1970, she released her self-titled debut album.

And that same year she decided to chuck her flourishing solo career to join a semi-successful British blues band in which her new husband played bass.

Her new husband was named John McVie, the band's name was Fleetwood Mac, and Christine Perfect became Christine McVie.

For most of the past three decades she has been the stable, central songwriter for a band that has sold in excess of 70 million albums.

A rocky road

Fleetwood Mac's story has been nothing if not chaotic. Formed 30 years ago, the band in its first decade of existence went through a string of frontmen/guitarists/singers, from fiery founders Peter Green (who wrote "Black Magic Woman") and Jeremy Spencer, to add-on and replacements Danny Kirwan and Bob Welch. After initial success, the band found itself digging in the rock trenches during the early '70s, winning a legal battle to keep its name and constantly touring to stay alive.

By the mid-'70s the band was back down to the core of drummer Mick Fleetwood and Christine and John McVie. Then Fleetwood ran into a struggling singer-guitarist named Lindsay Buckingham and his singer girlfriend Stevie Nicks in L.A. They were soon enlisted to fill out the band.

That lineup went on to sell tens of millions of records, hitting No. 1 in 1976 with its first release, Fleetwood Mac, then hitting the top again with Rumours in 1977, which went on to sell 25 million copies worldwide and stayed atop the U.S. charts for 31 weeks. Rumours remains the No. 3 best-selling album of all time 20 years after its release.

This, of course, is the band most people think of as Fleetwood Mac, even though there were even more permutations of the group after Buckingham departed in 1987 and then Nicks and Christine McVie left in 1990.

At this point even McVie isn't sure how many different versions of Fleetwood Mac she's performed in.

"Quite a few, quite a few," she says. "And they've all had their moments. If I had my druthers I wouldn't change a thing. I've enjoyed all the years ... some more than others."

Soap opera success

This has to be one of the more enjoyable years. The band's new album, The Dance, isn't quite a live best-of compilation, simply because Fleetwood Mac has had too many hits to fit on one CD. But it offers a nice balance of the three songwriters' work.

And balance has always been what made this band special, even during the late '70s, when Christine and John were splitting up at the same time that Buckingham and Nicks were.

"I think the balancing act came natural to us," McVie says now. "I think all the rest of it (the changing relationships in the band) was garbage. But musically, the balance was something we didn't have to strive for."

The result of that musical balance and romantic imbalance was Rumours, which made Fleetwood Mac a household name. And as ugly as some of the emotions were back then, McVie realizes the breakups probably helped the music.

"You don't know what the music would have been if we'd all been happy in those days," she says. "It might have been a lot of silly little ditties."

And how did the soap opera that was known as Fleetwood Mac turn out?

"Well, I married Lindsay...," she says with a laugh.

But not really. She married Portuguese composer Eduardo Quintela de Mendonca in 1986. John McVie remarried as well. Fleetwood is married and Buckingham has a girlfriend. Nicks is currently "uninvolved," according to McVie.

And now that everybody's comfortable with one another? "Now all we have is the lovely juggling act," McVie says.

"I think that's why people find us entertaining," McVie says. "Because you don't get bored with one person all the time. You have three very distinctive writers, it makes for a very unique experience.

"We haven't tied ourselves down," McVie says. "We can write folk songs, we can write blues. All things are acceptable - that's the beauty of it."

Indeed, the diverse directions of the band's songwriters might have left lesser units drowning in confusion. Nicks has built a career around her pop-witch love songs, and Buckingham's brilliant, angst-ridden flights of paranoia sometimes seemed too far gone for commercial success.

But McVie was always dead center between them, tying the two together and grounding the band with hits like "Over My Head," "Say You Love Me," "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," "You Make Loving Fun" and "Everywhere." And somehow it all worked.

A sense of closure

Christine McVie is a somewhat rare creature in rock - she blends in. Her keyboard work, her vocals, even her songwriting, all seem to work best in a band context. She released one successful solo album in 1984 and then promptly never released another. Ask her what she's been doing since leaving Fleetwood Mac in 1990 and the answer is, not all that much.

"I bought a house in England, and I've spent my time restoring it," she says.

"I've been trying to put together a solo album, but I don't regard myself as a solo artist. I don't enjoy that kind of attention," she says. "I like my place behind the keyboards. In that regard, I struggle with a solo career."

And it's why she seems completely happy to be back with Fleetwood Mac, sharing time on stage. "You hand the reins to somebody else and there's that balancing act again," she says. "That I prefer to me-me-me-me all the time."

How long will the balancing act last this time? McVie says she doesn't know. The lineup got back together once before, to play President Clinton's inaugural concert in 1993 (Clinton used McVie's "Don't Stop" as his re-election campaign song).

But this time around the motivation was different. And McVie says it wasn't just a matter of cashing in on past fame.

"This is kind of putting a positive closure on all those bad days," she says. "There's no amount of money that could induce us to do this if there wasn't joy in it.

"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts," she says. "There's something about the five of us together that we recognize now.

"We're like a family now, we are part of each other's lives," says McVie. "We can't be anything else."

Music Preview

Fleetwood Mac
8 p.m. Saturday
Palace of Auburn Hills
Tickets $45-$65
Call (248) 377-0100

Thanks to Jeff Kenney for sending this to us.

Date: 1997-10-02         Number of views: 1365

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