Throughout the various personal turbulences that the members of Fleetwood Mac are known for, one relationship propelled the band forward for decades: the friendship between its two leaders, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks.
McVie joined the band in 1970 during one of its first lineup changes and for years was the only woman. When she added Nicks to the lineup in 1975, the two became fast friends.
Theirs was not a competitive relationship, but a sisterly one: both women were gifted songwriters responsible for creating many of the band’s best-known songs. Although the two broke up in the 1980s amid worsening Nicks’ drug addiction and growing internal tension within the band, they got back together when McVie returned to Fleetwood Mac in 2014.
At a concert in London, shortly before McVie was officially rejoined the band, Nicks dedicated the song “Landslide” to her “mentor. Big sister. Best friend.” And at the end of the show, McVie was there, backing her bandmates on “Don’t Stop.”
“I don’t want her out of my life ever again, and that has nothing to do with the music and has nothing 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 age 79. Below, take a look at McVie and Nicks’ years-long relationship as bandmates, best friends, and “sisters.”
MCVIE AND NICKS MEET FROM THE BEGINNING
The story of Nicks joining Fleetwood Mac is the stuff of legend by now: the band’s 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 join as well. McVie cast the deciding vote and the rest is history.
“It was critical that I got along with her because I had never played with another girl,” McVie told The Guardian in 2013. “But I liked her instantly. She was fun and likeable, but there was no competition either. We were completely different on stage between us and we write 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), both were the center of each other.
“Being in a band with another girl who was an 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 to hang out with the guys. She was more comfortable with men than I ever was.”
The two protected each other, Nicks said, in a male-dominated industry: “We made a pact, early on, that we would never be treated with disrespect by all the male musicians in the community.
“I would tell him, ‘Together, we are a serious force of nature, and it will give us the strength to maneuver the waters ahead of us,'” Nicks told the New Yorker.
THE BAND TRIUMPHS BUT MCVIE AND NICKS FALL AWAY
“Rumours” was the band’s biggest hit to date when it was released in 1977. But relations between the band were deteriorating, except for the one between McVie and Nicks. As the couple suffered breakups with loved ones, Nicks and McVie spent time together offstage.
Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks were great friends when Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac, protecting each other in a male-dominated industry. (Aaron Rapoport/Corbis Historical/Getty Images)
The Guardian asked McVie if he was trying to make up for the band’s tumult with his songs on “Rumours,” including the upbeat “You Make Lovin’ Fun” and upbeat “Don’t Stop.” She said that she probably had been.
As the drug use of various members intensified, the dynamics of the band became strained. McVie distanced himself from the group in 1984 amid the addictions of her bandmates, telling The Guardian that she was “tired of it”. Meanwhile, Nicks was becoming dependent on cocaine.
McVie told Rolling Stone that year that he had distanced himself from Nicks: “She seems to have developed her own fantasy world, in a way, that I’m not a part of. We don’t socialize much.”
In 1986, Nicks checked into the Betty Ford Center to treat her addiction, though she later became addicted to Klonopin, which she said took years off her life. She went off prescription medication in the 1990s.
After recording some solo work, McVie returned to Fleetwood Mac for his 1987 album “Tango in the Night,” and two of his songs on that record, “Little Lies” and “Everywhere,” became huge 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 subsequent live album.
The reunion was short-lived: after the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, McVie officially resigned from Fleetwood Mac, citing a fear of flying and the exhaustion of life on the road.
MCVIE RETURNS TO FLEETWOOD MAC AND NICKS SIDE
In the 2010s, after more than a decade in retirement, McVie thought about returning to acting. He officially rejoined Fleetwood Mac after calling Fleetwood himself and assessing what his return would mean for the group.
“Luckily, Stevie was dying for him to come back, as was the rest of the band,” he told Arts Desk.
In 2015, a year after rejoining Fleetwood Mac, McVie went on tour with his bandmates. Touring with the group was exhausting but fun, the first time they had performed together in years.
“I’m only here because of Stevie,” he told the New Yorker that year.
Nicks agreed: “When we went on tour, I realized how amazing a friend of mine that I had lost had been, and I didn’t realize all the consequences until now,” she told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2015.
During that tour, McVie wore a silver chain Nicks had given him, a “metaphor,” McVie told the New Yorker, “that the band’s chain will never break. Not by me, anyway. Not again.” for me”. “
McVie told the Arts Desk in 2016 that she and Nicks were “better friends now than they were 16 years ago.”
Touring with Buckingham and Fleetwood could quickly become tumultuous for Nicks, McVie said, due to their shared history. “But with me there, she gave Stevie a chance to catch his breath and not have this constant with Lindsey: Her sister was back,” he said.
Their praise for each other continued: In 2019, McVie said that Nicks was “just amazing” on stage: “The more I see her perform on stage, the better I think she is. She’s got the fort.”
In this March 29, 2019 file photo, Stevie Nicks, center, poses with fellow Fleetwood Mac members, from left, Mike Campbell, John McVie, Christine McVie and Mick Fleetwood at the induction ceremony for the Hall of Rock & Roll fame in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
However, when their 2018-2019 tour ended, without Buckingham, who was fired, the band “broke up,” McVie told Rolling Stone earlier this year. He added that he didn’t talk to Nicks as often as when they were on tour together.
As for a meeting, McVie told Rolling Stone that while she wasn’t off the table, she didn’t feel “physically ready.”
“I’m getting a little long in the teeth here,” she said. “I’m very happy to be home. I don’t know if I ever want to tour again. It’s very hard work.”
NICKS REMEMBER HIS ‘BEST FRIEND’ MCVIE
The news of McVie’s death shook Nicks, who wrote that he had only learned McVie was ill days before. He called McVie his “best friend in the whole world since the first day of 1975.”
On his social media accounts, Nicks shared a handwritten note containing lyrics to Haim’s song “Hallelujah,” part of which talks about grief and the loss of a best friend.
“See you on the other side my love,” Nicks wrote. “Don’t forget me, always, Stevie.”