RIP Christine Perfect / McVie (1943-2022)

2nd December 2022 · 1960s, 1969, 2020s, 2022, Blues, Music

I can’t pretend i was ever a big Fleetwood Mac fan.
So the death of Christine McVie didn’t resonate with me as strongly as with those millions who bought Rumours. But the outpouring of love and sadness for her death is a poignant reminder of the unifying power of music.

They were all a bit private-jets-and-cocaine for my proletarian tastes in 1977 when three chords were an extravagance.

Of course there were a few songs of hers that I came to like; not so much the big hits like Don’t Stop and Little Lies but Morning Rain from 1971’s Future Games – her first self-penned-and-sung contribution to Danny Kirwan-era Fleetwod Mac – and Over And Over from Tusk in 1979.

More than that, though, I enjoyed her vocals on I’d Rather Go Blind, the only hit ever enjoyed by her previous group Chicken Shack, back in 1969 when she was still Christine Perfect.

One of the lesser lights of the British blues revival, they were best known for their guitarist Stan Webb and his 100-yard guitar lead – a gimmick borrowed from early-1950s maverick Guitar Slim (aka Eddie Jones), who used his even longer lead to wander offstage and into the street outside.

Perfect had met Webb when she was studying sculpture at art school in Birmingham and he was in a band called Sounds Of Blue, hanging out on the fringes of the blues scene and singing occasionally with Spencer Davis.

After moving to London in 1967 and working as a window dresser, she joined Webb’s new group Chicken Shack as a pianist, swiftly graduating from backing vocals to writing and singing her own songs, including their first single, It’s Okay With Me Baby, and the superb B-side Hey Baby.

I’d Rather Go Blind was first recorded by Etta James, who wrote it with Ellington Jordan, a friend she visited in prison (where he first sang the tune to her), and has since been covered countless times, most notably by Rod Stewart – back when he was not just good but great – and, for my money the best version of all, Galway’s jazz genius Mary Coughlan.

Perfect stayed for two albums but left in 1969 after meeting and marrying John McVie from labelmates Fleetwood Mac, who had just topped the singles chart with the blues instrumental Albatross, after which Mrs McVie retired from the music biz to become a housewife, popping back to record a solitary solo.album.

But not for long. The departure of blues guitar virtuoso Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac in 70 signalled a change of direction towards a more conventional and – eventually – commercial sound. And when they wanted for a piano player they didn’t have far to look.

RIP Christine Perfect/McVie (1943-2022)