Christine McVie on how she overcame her fear of flying, how she buffered Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 09: Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie visit the SiriusXM Studio on June 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

This was posted on Monday, June 19, 2017 by Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com on the AJC Music Scene blog

Christine McVie spent 16 years away from the music business, opting for a life of leisure in the English countryside. One reason for retirement at the time: she had built up a paralyzing fear of flying after 40 years on the road.

But in 2014 after a therapist helped her overcome that phobia, she reunited with her old band Fleetwood Mac for a triumphant tour that electrified Atlanta’s Philips Arena not just once, but twice, during its 2014-2015 tour.

My colleague Melissa Ruggieri’s review of the 2015 Philips Arena Fleetwood Mac tour, calling it “fresh and fun.”

At the time, McVie decided to write songs again with mercurial bandmate Lindsey Buckingham. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, she had penned some of the band’s biggest hits, including “Don’t Stop,” “You Make Loving Fun” and “Say You Love Me.”

In 2014, Buckingham and McVie booked a studio just to see if they could recapture the chemistry of the 1970s.

“We just loved what was coming out,” McVie said in a phone interview Monday. “Obviously, the magic was still there. We found it incredibly easy to work together again.”

After the tour, they wrote a few more songs and created the album “Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie” and scheduled a summer tour that begins in Atlanta at Chastain Park Amphitheatre Wednesday. (Buy tickets here.)

Some news reports said this was originally going to be a Fleetwood Mac album but was scuttled by Stevie Nicks. McVie said that wasn’t the case.

“She was on the road finishing a tour,” McVie said. “She wasn’t even there. Lindsey and I are the players. I play piano. He plays guitar. From that point of view, it was important for us to play together after not doing so for so many years.”

The album, which also includes contributions from Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, “was completely organic. There was no intention in the beginning to finish an album but we enjoyed the process and how it all worked out.”

The set list, she said, will include eight songs from the new record and many of the classic Fleetwood Mac hits that she sang including “Everywhere” and the 1982 hit “Hold Me,” which was not included on the most recent Fleetwood Mac tour.

McVie, now 73, said she has been re-energized and has no immediate intention of leaving Fleetwood Mac again.

The 2014-15 tour, she said, “was such a joyous occasion. I could speak for all of us. First of all, they wanted me back. And I wanted more than anything in the world to come back. Every night, the floor boards on the stage were virtually screeching with electricity. We all felt it. We just loved every single gig. We had such a blast. The audience response was so great. They gave us energy. They gave us adrenaline. And we gave it right back.”

 [Here’s what Ruggieri said when she ranked the December 2014 show her favorite concert of the year: “For six months, Perry held the torch as my top concert of the year. And then Christine McVie changed everything. In a show that continuously teetered between visceral emotion and unfettered joy, Fleetwood Mac demonstrated that they are far from a retirement act. The return of McVie after 16 years has reinvigorated this band to limitless new levels. If you missed them in December, don’t skip their March return.”]

Fleetwood Mac will reunite again for more touring in 2018, plus a couple of special dates in New York and Los Angeles this summer with the Eagles.

Not surprisingly, the band’s dynamics are far less tumultuous than they were in the 1970s and 1980s. She is well aware of her reputation as peace maker between Nicks and Buckingham.

“I’m often described as Mother Earth in that way,” McVie said, “especially by Stevie because I seem to be sort of the soft padding between them both. There’s Lindsey on one side and Stevie on the other. I’m the buffer.”

Other topics broached:

On the Jimmy Fallon appearance with the Roots and kids from SeriousFun (Paul Newman’s camp for kids with serious illnesses): “I think it goes down as one of the most memorable days of my life. I loved the whole idea. Jimmy Fallon is such a cool guy and it’s such a great charity. It was just so sweet. I had a tear in my eye at the end.”

On reviews of the album, which have been mostly positive: “We’re very happy with the record. We love it if everybody else is happy, too. But I don’t read reviews after concerts. I never have. So far, what I’m hearing from the record company, they’re quite happy.”

On her voice: “I think my voice has held up really well. I’m doing vocal coaching, which is a very prudent thing to do. I hadn’t been doing that during the last tour. I think that really helps the voice. None of us can hit those really high notes anymore. We just take a song a half a step down, it’s not much different.”

On leaving the band in 1998: “I was in my mind a retired woman. I had other issues. I was frightened of flying. My father was ill. I wanted to spend time with him. I decided to move back to England, lock, stock and barrel. I relinquished my green card. I wanted to get out of living out of a suitcase and just live in England. So I did. That was good for about five years or so. Then I started twiddling my thumbs and made an album out of my garage with my nephew, who’s pretty handy with [editing software program] Pro Tools.”

How she resolved her fear of flying: Around 2013, “a therapist told me to get a ticket to Maui, which is where Mick lives. I have a friends who live there. Buy the ticket. You don’t even have to get on the plane. Just keep it in your wallet. So I did. Then ironically, Mick called me from Maui. ‘Chris, are you in London? I’m coming over next week.’ I said I had just bought myself a ticket to Maui. He couldn’t believe it. Long story short, he came over. I met up with him, hung around him while he was promoting a Fleetwood Mac with the four of them at that point. I flew to Maui. I didn’t even notice the plane taking off. I asked Mick how it would be if I came back to Fleetwood Mac. I did some blues with his band there in Maui. It felt pretty good. The reaction was amazing. Mick, of course, was delighted about me wanting to come back and told the rest of the band. I had a call from Lindsey. He said, ‘You can’t leave again! You have to commit!’ I can’t leave again. I won’t!”

CONCERT PREVIEW

Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham

7:30 p.m. Wednesday. $25-$225. Chastain Park Amphitheatre, 4469 Stella Drive, Atlanta. www.livenation.com.

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