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Remembering Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter Christine McVie

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Singer-songwriter Christine McVie died this past week at the age of 79. She was part of the legendary rock group Fleetwood Mac. McVie's legacy includes "Rumours," one of the best-selling albums of all time, on which she wrote many of its hit songs. Here's NPR's Elizabeth Blair with a look back at McVie and her music.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: "Don't Stop," Christine McVie.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T STOP")

FLEETWOOD MAC: (Singing) Don't stop thinking about tomorrow. Don't stop, it'll soon be here.

BLAIR: "Over My Head," Christine McVie.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OVER MY HEAD")

FLEETWOOD MAC: (Singing) You can take me any time you like. I'll be around if you think you might. Love me, baby.

BLAIR: "Everywhere," Christine McVie.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYWHERE")

FLEETWOOD MAC: (Singing) Oh, I want to be with you everywhere. Oh.

BLAIR: Christine McVie could do everything - compose, write lyrics, sing lead and background, play keyboards. She started making music as a little girl in England. Her dad was a music teacher and violinist. Her mother was a psychic and faith healer. McVie studied classical piano and cello until she discovered Fats Domino and the blues.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHICKEN SHACK SONG, "I'D RATHER GO BLIND")

BLAIR: She was hooked. By the late 1960s, she was one of the only women in the British blues scene. Her cover of Etta James' "I'd Rather Go Blind" with the band Chicken Shack became a hit.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'D RATHER GO BLIND")

CHICKEN SHACK: (Singing) I would rather go blind, boy, than to see you walk away from me.

BLAIR: Love, jealousy, romance - affairs of the heart were Christine McVie's stock-in-trade. And there was plenty of that in Fleetwood Mac. She joined the band in 1970. She'd married its bassist, John McVie, two years earlier. Her bandmates, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, were also married. Both couples eventually divorced. Add to that rumors of cheating, drugs and alcohol.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRISTINE MCVIE: Fleetwood Mac is a carnival.

BLAIR: McVie and Lindsey Buckingham talked to WXPN's World Cafe when they released an album together in 2017.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MCVIE: In the nicest possible way, it is a carnival. And it's very, very - I don't know what the word is. Lindsey, can you think of the word?

LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM: What, Fleetwood Mac?

MCVIE: Yes. How would you describe?

BUCKINGHAM: Dysfunctional.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TUSK")

FLEETWOOD MAC: (Singing) Don't say that you love me.

BLAIR: Christine McVie left Fleetwood Mac in the late 1990s. She told Rolling Stone she moved to the country, enjoyed her dogs, went for long walks and didn't really play music. She rejoined the band 16 years later. Last June, she was asked by The Guardian what song she was most proud of. She said, "Songbird." It's sort of like a little prayer for everybody.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SONGBIRD")

FLEETWOOD MAC: (Singing) For you, there'll be no more crying. For you, the sun will be shining.

BLAIR: She was the best musician anyone could have in their band, reads a statement from Fleetwood Mac, and the best friend anyone could have in their life.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SONGBIRD")

FLEETWOOD MAC: (Singing) And the songbirds are singing like they know the score. And I love you, I love you, I love you like never before. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.