Chicken Shack Christine McVie

A Perfect marriage

Christine of Chicken Shack and John of Fleetwood fame

Blond, gritty Christine Perfect not only bears the distinction of being lead singer of the famed Chicken Shack blues band, but is also married to John McVie of the chart-busting Fleetwood Mac.

She, more than anyone else – being so involved both musically and personally with the blues emergence in British pop – is in a position to explain the swift rise to fame of Fleetwood and what it’s meant to her and people like her.

“Fleetwoods’ success is something that’s been building up for a long time. They’ve always been a highly successful band ever since we were on the scene enjoying an audience of two people, while they were packing places out.

“It helped that they were individually well known whereas we were total strangers. They were like the Cream, and there was masses of interest for them before they even set foot stage.

“Let’s face it, people don’t just come to listen to music, they want to be entertained by people with strong individual personalities – and that’s what Fleetwood have.

“The real mystery is this ‘blues boom’ bit. I really can’t understand why we’re all enjoying such success at the moment.

“Maybe the kids are getting bored with soul. I’ve noticed that on dates the first 20 yards from the stage are full of really fanatical blues fans and behind them are people like the Geno Washington fans and people like them who just want to see what’s going on.

“They enjoy it – so the audiences get bigger. Whether it’s an actual boom I don’t know but even a lot of the soul groups have switched to playing blues now.”

With her husband in Fleetwood, who have already established themselves with a hit record, while Chicken Shack are still struggling to make it commercially, it wouldn’t be impertinent to suggest there might be a little family jealousy going on in the McVie household…

“To be honest, here’s no jealousy between us and Fleetwood. In fact their success has helped us a lot. All the people in the blues world know I’m married to John and in a way it’s good publicity for us.

“They associate us with Fleetwood and kids are always coming up to me saying: “Ere, you’re McVie’s missus aren’t you?” and they’re knocked out by it all.”

Musically, then harmony exists between Christine and John. But their personal lives have been vastly altered by the Fleetwood success and the fact that each is an integral part of a different group.

“This American trip has proved the real shatterer. It’s floored me completely. Originally John was only going for five weeks but now it’s been extended another five and I don’t know where I am. I speak to him on the phone a lot but it’s not the same as having him around.

“Usually, though we see as much of each other as anyone else does. If I’m not working I’ll go with Fleetwood to a one-nighter and even if we’re both playing at different ends of England we come home around 3 a.m. and see each other all the next day.

“We’re really nocturnal people anyway so it doesn’t make that much difference. And when Fleetwood come back from America we’re both playing concerts in Scandinavia on the same bill. That’s the advantage of both being in blues bands – we often get booked for the same shows.

“We don’t talk about music a lot when we’re at home. We really go our own ways and John never offers advice.

“The only thing he ever did to change me was to get me wearing dresses and looking like a girl. When I first started with Chicken Shack I was very nervy about being a girl in a blues band.

“You know what it’s like – there’s a blues uniform of long hair and tatty jeans which I always wore, because I was so aware of being a girl I tried to become one of the blokes so I didn’t stand out too much. My manager went beserk. He thought I ought to wear pretty dresses. But it sounded a pretty lewd suggestion to me then!

“So I went on dressing like a bloke and being all tough – until I met John.

“He made me realise that people will come and see you and like you for what you are, if you’re good enough. Through him I feel comfortable on stage now – you’ll even see me in a dress now. I suppose you could say that was another bit of success for Fleetwood in a roundabout way.”

Penny Valentine / Disc and Music Echo / January 18, 1969


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