The Passing of Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie and How Bands Such as Seven Wonders Carry on the Tradition
By Scott Gudell
You could start the tale of Christine McVie with the phrase “Brit lady sings the blues.” Her early work with the English band Chicken Shack during the mid-1960s (for the blues record label Blue Horizon) was followed by a brief solo career which garnered instant recognition from fans plus she quickly collected a few music industry awards. Although, at first, she was an unofficial ‘behind the scenes’ member of a blues band originally dubbed Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, she would officially join them in 1970 and (more or less) stay with them until she passed on November 30, 2022.
Each of the many Fleetwood Mac line ups were kinda like the overlapping Olympic circles. Musically, there were similarities from one ‘circle’ to the next ‘circle’ but they also progressed until Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood welcomed two youngsters from the west coast of the US – Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Jackpot! The Famous Five would repeatedly top the charts and, even today, someone, somewhere is playing one of their songs. In addition, there are several cover and tribute bands that help carry on the tradition. One of those bands is the Rochester based Seven Wonders which is currently made up of seven skilled musicians, all with years of stage experience.
We had a conversation in early 2023 with Katy Eberts who takes on the role of Christine McVie. Rewinding many years, Eberts remembers how she was first attracted to music. “I had a tiny, 1-octave Fisher Price toy piano that came with color-coded nursery rhyme songs. I taught them to myself around the age of 3 and migrated the songs to a real piano by ear.” As with most parents, Eberts’ were cautious when it came to investing in a piano so she shared with me that she “started out on the clarinet [and] memorized all my lessons.” Convinced, her parents got her a piano – an old, free one – but a musician was born. A few years later, as a pre-teen, Eberts remembers watching MTV at her very rural house. “I heard Christine’s voice, which always intrigued me and when I looked at the screen, I saw her sitting at this really old piano in a barn set in the middle of a field and I thought to myself: ‘Hey, that looks like she’s playing in the field outside my school!’ Christine made me realize it was cool to play piano anywhere and it could rock.” Eberts began to methodically merge singing and playing several instruments. “I would bring my guitar to school with me and practice during study halls anywhere I could find a space. Sometimes, a small crowd would form around me and I would just pretend I was someone like Christine McVie.” Maybe not Madison Square Garden but a star was born.
Flash forward to 2018 and when Eberts and friend Teagan Ward had a conversation with Geoff Dale, one of the owners of Three Heads Brewing, about presenting a live version of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album. “Some other heavy-hitters were hired and boom, a “one-night-only” Fleetwood Mac Tribute band was formed [with Ward taking on the role of Stevie Nicks.] The show was sold out so we decided to do another one 2 weeks later, and another and another and well…you get the point.” Band members and the audiences agreed – it worked. In addition, it’s important to note the difference between a ‘cover band’ and a ‘tribute band.’ “Being in a tribute band is a true dedication to that artist” Eberts notes. “I have not just learned the songs but I’ve listened to them endlessly. Live versions, acoustic versions, album cuts. I have researched the members of the band and focused extensively on Christine McVie and as a result of this research, really discovered why I bonded with her so much over the years. We are a lot alike. Every time we step on stage, we ARE Fleetwood Mac in that moment.” As millions of music fans have acknowledged, Fleetwood Mac and the Rumours album was truly a rare accomplishment. As Eberts noted, the five Mac members took unprecedented personal and professional challenges and “turned it all into gold… It’s pure magic. And who doesn’t like a little magic?”
For a band that started out as British Invasion band, Fleetwood Mac did indeed go on to conquer the entire world. By the mid-1970s, the spotlight was often focused on Nicks but Eberts sums things up by reminding us “Christine was really the band’s secret weapon, penning 3 of the 4 biggest Billboard hits the band had. “Hold Me”, “Little Lies” and “Don’t Stop”.” A long-planned auction of items owned by Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Christine McVie had been scheduled for early December 2022. Although the world was shocked when Christine passed just a few days prior, the decision was made to go ahead with the auction. Katy Eberts now owns several items she acquired that day – completing a truly balanced circle that started decades ago.
SEVEN WONDERS IS SCHEDULED TO PERFORM AT THE LILAC FESTIVAL ON SUNDAY MAY 14. GO TO ROCHESTEREVENTS.COM FOR UPDATES AND OPENING ACT INFORMATION.