Christine McVie: I’ll never know what impact drugs had on our music
The singer-songwriter and keyboardist said she was “the most restrained of the lot, but no angel”.
Fleetwood Mac star Christine McVie says she will never know what impact excessive drug taking had on the band’s music.
The 1977 album Rumours, recorded during the group’s turbulent years when their romantic relationships – mostly with each other – were falling apart, has been hailed as a masterpiece and sold more than 40 million copies.
Asked by Desert Island Discs host Kirsty Young whether drugs “had something to do with the brilliance of the music you were producing?”,
McVie replied: “That’s something that we’re never really going to know.”
The singer-songwriter and keyboard player, 74, penned Songbird – one of the band’s most famous tracks, in the early hours of the morning, having taken cocaine and drunk champagne and been unable to sleep.
“I don’t know if I would have written Songbird had I not had a couple of toots of cocaine and a half bottle of champagne and I just couldn’t sleep, or written any of the songs that were on that album because I think we were all pretty loaded,” she said.
“I think I was probably the most restrained of the lot, but I was no angel.”
McVie added: “There were a lot of drugs, everybody was making hash brownies. It was all very psychedelic if you wanted to go that way and somehow this music came out.”
Where Songbird came from remains “a mystery to me”, she said.
“It was as if I’d been channelled or something. The whole song, complete… came out within half an hour.
“This was at 3 o’clock in the morning and I couldn’t go to sleep in case I forgot it. So, I had to play it (on the piano) all night long until I could get into the studio at about 9 o’clock the next day…
“I can’t explain it. I wish all songs could come that easy. I just felt it was a universal kind of prayer or something. It’s never happened to me since or before.”
McVie, who once bought a Rolls-Royce on a whim, also told how she retreated from the world, developing agoraphobia, after she quit the band and moved from California to Kent.
“I think I had some kind of wild image in my mind that I was going to be a country lady,” she told the Radio 4 programme.
When her second marriage fell apart she “ended up in that big house on my own”.
“I developed agoraphobia, a dreadful fear of leaving my front doorstep, I couldn’t even get in my car, that’s how bad it was,” she said.
McVie, who also penned You Make Loving Fun, Oh Daddy and Little Lies, said that she barely touched the piano for many years because “I wanted to write Songbird again, so was afraid to sit down and try”.
She has since returned to Fleetwood Mac, written songs again and says that there is “a great feeling of belonging” when she is with the band.
And she added that the rockers are all “clean, sober and happy” now.
“Somehow we crawled through the cracks, all five of us, all healthy, it’s amazing,” she said.
Desert Island Discs airs on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday at 11.15am.