The creation of Fleetwood Mac’s most notable line-up hinged on Christine McVie liking Stevie Nicks. By 1974, McVie had been in the band for several years, joining soon after she married founding member John McVie. She was the only girl in the band of men, a dynamic she was used to.
Mick Fleetwood was the first member of the band to hear a Buckingham-Nicks song and suggested they invite Lindsey Buckingham to be their new guitarist. But Buckingham told the group that he and Nicks were a package deal.
“Mick came to me and said, ‘They have a girl involved here. You’re gonna have to meet her and see if you like her,’” McVie recalled in a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone. “And we met and I instantly liked her.”
Nicks and Buckingham would official join the band on New Year’s Eve, a life-changing decision for the entire group. From 1975’s Fleetwood Mac on, the band would become one of the biggest in the world. At the helm were three vocalists, each unique in their performance style and approaches to songwriting, but unified in creating soulful, evocative rock music with a pop sensibility that would take them to the top of the charts for over a decade until their first proper split at the end of the Eighties.
Fleetwood Mac would fall apart and return to each other repeatedly, thanks to their decadent, drug and alcohol-fueled tours and the dramatic double-break-ups that would inspire 1977’s Rumours, an album so enduringly popular that it topped Billboard’s year-end rock charts just this year.
Braving it all were McVie and Nicks, a unified feminine force in the face of rock’s overwhelmingly masculine energy of both the era and their very band. To be a woman in music is to be constantly compared and only upheld against other women in music. No matter what genre, female performers are viewed as competing in a narrow competition where few are meant to succeed, even if they all bring something unique to the table.
But McVie and Nicks found the secret, reveling in the fact that there was strength in sisterhood. They didn’t see each other as competition, mostly because they were both so different from one another in almost every way. On stage, they provided such unique energies and in the studio their styles diverged almost completely. Combined, they were able to play off their divergent personas on each other’s songs, providing the yin to the other’s yang, depending on the track or the day. They were not only musical allies but best friends, finding companionship and trust in one another as their relationships with their exes/bandmates threatened to derail the whole thing.
“We were cool onstage,” Nicks recalled of the Rumours era break-ups in a joint interview with McVie in 2013. “But offstage everybody was pretty angry. Most nights Chris and I would just go for dinner on our own, downstairs in the hotel, with security at the door.”
At the core of Fleetwood Mac’s success was the pair’s love and respect for one another. Nicks reiterated that that McVie was her best friend in a heartfelt, handwritten tribute following McVie’s sudden death this week. Over the years, Nicks has praised and celebrated what McVie was able to provide for her, especially during the band’s early days. Five years apart, McVie had a leg up on experience and wisdom that she readily gave to Nicks. And they provided crucial emotional support during the toughest times.
“She was my therapist and my go-to person for just about everything,” Nicks told Vogue in 2020. “We had each other to get through that really difficult situation where no one was gonna quit the band. Christine and I kept the whole thing together by telling the three men, ‘You quit because we’re not stopping.’ Thank God I had her, but on the other side of that, thank God she had me.”
While Fleetwood Mac’s story gave romantic turmoil for the ages, it gave us one true, great love story. It was the love between two best friends, an unbreakable bond that made everyone around them even stronger.
As Nicks put it: “We really were a force of nature.”