Inside Stevie Nicks’ and Christine McVie’s decades-long friendship
During the various personal turmoil that the members of Fleetwood Mac are known for, there was one relationship that sustained the band for decades: the friendship between the two front women, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks.
McVie joined the band in 1970 during one of the early lineup changes and was the only female for many years. When Nicks was added to the lineup in 1975, the two became fast friends.
Their relationship was not a competitive relationship, but a sister relationship – both women were gifted songwriters responsible for creating many of the band’s best-known tunes. Although the two grew apart in the 1980s amid Nicks’ worsening drug addiction and the band’s growing internal tensions, they reunited when McVie returned to Fleetwood Mac in 2014.
At a concert in London shortly before McVie 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, joining her bandmates for “Don’t Stop.”
“I don’t ever want her to ever leave my life again, and that has nothing to do with music and everything 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 short illness at the age of 79. Check out McVie and Nicks’ years-long relationship as bandmates, best friends, and “sisters” below.
The story of Nicks joining Fleetwood Mac is now a legend: 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 also join. McVie cast the casting vote, and the rest is history.
“It was crucial that I got along with her because I had never played with another girl,” McVie told the Guardian in 2013. “But I liked her right away. She was funny and nice, but there was no competition either. We were completely different on stage from each other and we wrote differently too.”
During 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—they were each other’s focal points.
“To be in a band with another girl who was this amazing musician — (McVie) instantly became my best friend,” Nicks told the New Yorker earlier this year. “Christine was a whole different ball game. She enjoyed hanging out with the boys. She was just more comfortable with men than I had ever been.
The two protected each other, Nicks said, in a male-dominated industry: “We made a pact in the very beginning that we would never be treated with respect by all the male musicians in the community.
“I would tell her, ‘Together we are a serious force of nature, and it will give us the strength to maneuver the waters ahead,'” Nicks told the New Yorker.
“Rumours” was the band’s biggest success to date when it was released in 1977. But the band’s relations between them deteriorated, except for the one between McVie and Nicks. While the couple split up with their significant others, Nicks and McVie spent their time together offstage.
The Guardian asked McVie if she tried to offset the band’s tumult with her songs on ‘Rumours’, including the light-hearted ‘You Make Lovin’ Fun’ and the optimistic ‘Don’t Stop’. She said she probably had been.
As multiple members’ drug use increased, the band’s dynamic became tense. McVie distanced herself from the group in 1984 amid her bandmates’ addictions, telling the Guardian she was “just sick of it”. Nicks, meanwhile, became dependent on cocaine.
McVie told Rolling Stone that year she’d grown apart from Nicks: “She seems to have somehow developed her own fantasy world, which 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 stopped taking the prescription drug in the 1990s.
After recording some solo works, McVie returned to Fleetwood Mac for their 1987 album “Tango in the Night”, and two of her songs on that record – “Little Lies” and “Everywhere” – became big hits. But Nicks left the band soon after, and the band’s best-known line-up wouldn’t officially reunite until 1997 for “The Dance” tour and subsequent live album.
The reunion was short-lived: after the band was initiated in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, McVie officially retired from Fleetwood Mac, quote a fear of flying and exhaustion from life on the road.
In the 2010s, after more than a decade of retirement, McVie toyed with returning to performing. She officially rejoined Fleetwood Mac after calling Fleetwood herself and assessing what her return would mean for the group.
“Luckily Stevie was dying for me to come back, as did the rest of the band,” she told the Art Desk.
In 2015, a year after rejoining Fleetwood Mac, McVie hit the road with her bandmates. Touring with the group was exhausting but fun, the first time they had performed together in years.
“I’m just here for Stevie,” she said told the New Yorker that year.
Nicks agreed: “When we hit the road I realized what a great friend she had been of mine that I had lost and I didn’t realize the whole fallout of it until now,” she told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2015. .
On that tour, McVie wore a silver necklace Nicks had given her — a “metaphor,” McVie told the New Yorker, “that the band’s necklace will never be broken.” At least not by me. Not because of me again.”
McVie told the Arts Desk in 2016 that she and Nicks were “better friends now than[them]were 16 years ago.”
Touring with Buckingham and Fleetwood can quickly become tumultuous for Nicks, McVie said, due to their shared history. “But with me in there, it gave Stevie a chance to catch her breath and not be constantly busy with Lindsey: her sister was back,” she said.
Their mutual praise continued: in 2019, McVie said Nicks was “simply incredible” on stage: “The more I see her perform on stage, the better I think she is. She holds the fort.”
But when their 2018-2019 tour ended – without Buckingham, who was dismissed – the band “sort of split up”, McVie told Rolling Stone earlier this year. She added that she didn’t talk to Nicks as much as when they toured together.
As for a reunion, McVie told Rolling Stone that while it wasn’t off the table, she wasn’t “physically ready.”
“I’m getting a little long between the teeth here,” she said. “I’m pretty happy to be home. I don’t know if I ever want to do another tour. It’s bloody hard work.”
News of McVie’s death shocked Nicks, who wrote that she had only found out days earlier that McVie was ill. She called McVie her “best friend in the whole world since the first day of 1975.”
On her social media accounts, Nicks shared a handwritten note with the lyrics to the Haim song “Hallelujah,” some of which deal with grief and the loss of a best friend.
“See you on the other side, my love,” Nicks wrote. “Don’t forget me – always, Stevie.”