Sam Emerson

Mac’s First Songstress goes her own way

Christine McVie’s current solo album and cheery single, “Got a Hold on Me,” are being hailed as her first work apart from Fleetwood Mac.

But the 40-year -old singer and songwriter, who appears in concert here Saturday, also had a solo effort in 1969 that was well-regarded but which she’d rather forget.

“The Christine Perfect Album” might have sounded too boastful at the time, but Perfect was her maiden name.

Miss Perfect was born in Birmingham, England, to a musical family.

Her grandfather once played organ in Westminster Abbey. Her father began a musical career, switched in order to support the family, but eventually earned his teaching degree and became professor of music at the local university, where he still plays violin with a local ensemble.

Piano Lessons

Young Christine, meanwhile, got her piano lessons.

“I absolutely hated it,” she said. “And my parents eventually let me stop.”

She pursued art instruction, returning to the piano years later when she became interested in classical music. It wasn’t until her older brother John introduced her to some Fats Domino records.

She hung around the burgeoning British folk and blues scene, sang with Spencer Davis for a time and eventually joined some friends in a blues band that became known as Chicken Shack.

Around the same time, she married John McVie, a bassist for another struggling young British band, Fleetwood Mac, and was about to quit Chicken Shack for the married life.

“I was quite happy being a housewife,” she said. “But I had sung a soul ballad on my last album with Chicken Shack, and a British music paper gave me an award for it top female vocalist of the year.”

Managers at the time urged her to capitalize on the honor. So the Christine Perfect album was issued. It was well – received at the time but hardly a hit.

It probably sold more copies when it was reissued in 1977 to cash in on her mega – success as part of Fleetwood Mac.

Didn’t Mean It

“I really didn’t intend to launch that first, disastrous solo career,” she said recently. “I did around 10 shows in pubs and other small venues. Not many other women were doing this sort of underground club circuit in the late ’60s.

“And I was very immature emotionally; I wasn’t at all ready for it. I wanted to be with John. Then there were some personnel changes in Fleetwood Mac. I played keyboards on an album of theirs and then was asked to join the band.”

Her first appearance on a Fleetwood Mac album came, uncredited, in 1969 with Then Play On. On 1970’s Kiln House she took a larger role, providing vocals, keyboards and another talent she painted the album cover.

Fleetwood Mac had formed as a blues band in 1967, but had been changing since the departure of founder Peter Green.

As an official member of the band in 1971, Miss McVie also began to write songs for the first time. They were light, frothy love songs that began with “Show Me a Smile” on the Future Games album and extended into some of the band’s biggest hits in 1976: “Over My Head” and “Say You Love Me.”

By that time, Fleetwood Mac reached a favorable mix with two Los Angeles singer – songwriters named Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, and the first album under the new lineup, titled simply Fleetwood Mac, sold 4 million copies.

Rocky Romances

The success put a strain on relationships in the band and in 1976, the McVies split. Buckingham and Miss Nicks also ended their romance.

It all provided great material for music, though, and the next album, Rumours, sold more than 15 million copies.

In the past few years, drummer Mick Fleetwood, Buckingham and Miss Nicks have turned out solo albums, but this is the first for Miss McVie since the success of Fleetwood Mac. She thinks it will help the band.

“Fleetwood Mac has a reputation for taking a long time. It’s tough with five people with relatively big egos because there’s an almost constant changing of minds.”

Her album, she said, “went so smoothly because everybody was prepared and knew what they were supposed to do. I think we should make demos of the songs just before the album is due to commence. It really makes life a lot easier. I never want to spend a year in the studio again to make one record, that’s for sure.”

The touring band includes Todd Sharp on guitar, Steve Ferrone on drums and George Hawkins on bass all of whom also appear on the album along with Eddy Wuintela on additional keyboards and Stephen Bruton on rhythm guitar.

She connected with Sharp and Hawkins after they backed Fleetwood on his two solo efforts. Guest stars on the record, recorded last year in Montreux, Switzerland, include Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood as well as Mick Fleetwood and Buckingham.

The most recent of Fleetwood Mac’s appearances in the state was in October 1982 at Lincoln’s Bob Devaney Sports Center.

By comparison, the City Auditorium Music Hall will be a much more intimate setting to hear the songs by Miss McVie. Opening the show is Baxter Robinson.

Tickets for Saturday’s Christine McVie concert at the Auditorium Music Hall are $12.75 and are available at the Auditorium box office, Brandeis, Pickles, TIX and Uncle John’s in Sioux City.

Roger Catlin / Omaha World-Herald (NE) / April 22, 1984

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