Christine McVie, as a singer, songwriter and keyboardist, she was a prolific force behind one of the most popular rock bands of the last 50 years. Widely known as singer, songwriter and keyboardist who became the biggest hitmaker for Fleetwood Mac, died on Wednesday at the age of 79.
Her family announced her death on Facebook. The statement said she died at a hospital but did not specify its location or give the cause of death. In June, Ms. McVie told Rolling Stone that she was in “quite bad health” and that she had endured debilitating problems with her back.
Ms. McVie’s commercial potency, which hit a high point in the 1970s and ’80s, was on full display on Fleetwood Mac’s “Greatest Hits” anthology, released in 1988, which sold more than eight million copies: She either wrote or co-wrote half of its 16 tracks. Her tally doubled that of the next most prolific member of the band’s trio of singer-songwriters, Stevie Nicks. (The third, Lindsey Buckingham, scored three major Billboard chart-makers on that collection.)
The most popular songs Ms. McVie wrote favored bouncing beats and lively melodies, numbers like “Say You Love Me” (which grazed Billboard’s Top 10), “You Make Loving Fun” (which just broke it), “Hold Me” (No. 4) and “Don’t Stop” (her top smash, which crested at No. 3). But she could also connect with elegant ballads, like “Over My Head” (No. 20) and “Little Lies” (which cracked the publication’s Top Five in 1987).
Throughout her career, Ms. McVie took pride in never being categorized by her gender. “I kind of became one of the guys,” she told the British newspaper The Independent in 2019. “I was always treated with great respect.” While she always acknowledged the special chemistry of Fleetwood Mac’s most successful lineup, she believed her role transcended it. “Band members leave and other people take their place,” she told Rolling Stone, “but there was always that space where the piano should be.”