Why Christine McVie came back to Fleetwood Mac
By the time Christine McVie arrived at the Morrison Hotel Gallery, in SoHo, she had been up for sixteen hours and was dying to remove her false eyelashes. “They’re so heavy,” she said, as she tilted her head onto her clasped hands for the benefit of her manager, who had promised her an early exit. McVie, who had recently decided to reunite with her old bandmates in Fleetwood Mac for a tour, was in a makeshift V.I.P. room in back. Out in the gallery, a throng of Fleetwood Mac fans were looking at an exhibition of Polaroid self-portraits taken by the band’s Stevie Nicks. (“These are, like, the original selfies,” one woman, dressed in witchy layers, in homage to Nicks and McVie, said.)
“I’m only here for Stevie,” McVie said. At seventy-one, she was dressed like an off-duty rock star: narrow jeans, pointy boots, a gauzy scarf. Shaggy blond bangs nearly covered her eyes. “Everyone thinks this is quite the glamorous life, but it’s axe-grinding. Like this opening—I was dreading it. I’m so tired, I’m barely human. And I thought there might be old pictures of me, God forbid.” (There weren’t.) She scooped up a small white Maltese named Rodney, the property of Nicks’s manager. “Oh, I miss my pups,” she said, burying her face in the fluff.
Mick Fleetwood, the band’s drummer, put a glass of white wine in McVie’s dog-free hand. She nodded at a colorful scarf that hung around his neck. “Is this cut from a kimono you used to own?” she asked. “I recognize this fabric.” She and Fleetwood have an ease with each other, which, she says, is what brought her back to the band after sixteen years away.
Earlier that afternoon, lounging in her suite at the Trump International Hotel (“It’s such a diva thing, but I need one room for my suitcases and one for me”), she talked about her decision to rejoin Fleetwood Mac, despite years of drama (divorces, addictions, solo ventures, illnesses). “I went for years without seeing Stevie or Lindsey”—Buckingham, the band’s lead guitarist—“but Mick was always just there, on my shoulder,” she said.
“I left the band because I developed a terrible fear of flying,” she explained. “I wanted to restore an ancient house in Kent, and that’s what I did. It was a heap—this Tudor building with the beams painted lime green, so hideous. And I had this idea that I’d love the small village life, with the Range Rover and the dogs and baking cookies for the Y.W.C.A. But then it got so boring. You couldn’t walk down the road without meeting two people related to each other. I missed the songs. And I missed the audience.”
Before rejoining Fleetwood Mac, McVie asked permission of each band member. They were thrilled to have her back at the piano—with a few caveats. “Stevie told me I had to get in shape, because the road was gruelling, and I said, ‘Stevie, you must recall that I was in the band before you were. I know how hard the road is.’ And then Lindsey said, ‘You cannot just waltz in and waltz back out. You have to be in it for the whole nine yards.’ ” She continued, “So I found a psychiatrist and got over my flying thing.”
She toyed with a silver chain on her wrist, looking out over Columbus Circle. “Stevie gave me this chain. It used to have a diamond feather on it. It’s a metaphor, you know. That the chain of the band will never be broken. Not by me, anyways. Not again by me.”
She added that she had one stipulation of her own for coming back. “I wanted it to be fun. That sounds like a hollow word, but, with this group, that is not a given. I didn’t want to go back into the Dark Ages and into the negativity and the gloom and the exhausting melodramas that have gone on in this band for years and years.”
On the tour so far, the mood seems bright. “We are all smiling ninety-nine per cent of the time,” she said. “Which, by this band’s standard, is phenomenal.”
She described the band’s pre-show ritual, which it will be performing before its gig at Madison Square Garden on January 22nd: “Before shows, we rub elbows and growl. It started once when someone had a cold, and we didn’t want to hug each other. So we started rubbing elbows. And we don’t kiss. We just go, Grrrr!” ♦
Rachel Syme / The New Yorker / Monday, January 19, 2015