"If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton," said George Bernard Shaw, "you might as well make it dance."  That, in short, is the key to Fleetwood Mac.  With two separated couples in a group of five volatile egos, this musical family has its share of cadavers in the closet.  And with its ability to transform notorious personal discord into blockbusting harmony, the band can certainly make those bones rattle.

Call it Dynasty set to music, but this approach to success is no secret to the group --- or at least not to vocalist-keyboardist Christine McVie, 38.  "Audiences began flocking to our concerts out of curiosity," she laughs.  "They wanted to see whether we would actually hit each other over the head with guitars. It was like people going to the motor races, hoping to see a spectacular crash."

Mac's mixture of soap opera and soft rock reached its most explosive state with 1977's Rumours.  The album was recorded during the period in which Christine's marriage to bassist John McVie was collapsing, vocalist Stevie Nicks was ending her long relationship with the group's guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, and drummer Mick Fleetwood was enduring his own marital strife.

"The melodrama, and the fact that we were apparently such an interesting bunch of characters, attracted a lot of attention," admits McVie.  "There really is nothing else that makes Rumours much more exceptional than anything else we've done.  When I compare it to what we're currently doing, I think I could have sung most of the songs better than I did."

Her disclaimers aside, the 25-million selling Rumours is the kind of culmination that makes everything else seem anticlimactic.  For example, the group's follow-up LP, 1979's Tusk, was dismissed as a flop.  It sold a mere eight million copies --- a figure that normally would be hailed as an unqualified triumph.

Then there's the new product, Mirage.  Unlike the New Wavish Tusk, lustrous, luxuriant Mirage is more reminiscent of Rumours, replete with the requisite collision of personalities and musical persuasions.  It's also quickly become the best-selling record in America; yet McVie isn't anticipating a Rumours redux.  "We don't let Rumours intimidate us anymore," she insists.  "We just accept it as a phenomenon that cannot be repeated.  I know Mirage is selling well, but I don't think for a moment that 25 million people will buy it.  I don't think 25 million people could afford it these days."

Meanwhile, other rumors haunt the group.  The flurry of recent solo albums from Nicks, Buckingham and Fleetwood has been taken as a definite sign of breakup.  Not so, says McVie, who'll record her own LP later this year.  "The solo albums have actually brought us closer together.  They've served as an outlet, letting us get things out of our system.  There's not much opportunity to display your wares on a group album --- not that this was ever a cause of our disagreements.  If we scream at each other, it's nearly always for personal reasons.

"But we're really working much stronger together these days.  Of course, people can't believe we can be friendly with each other.  They're often amazed when they see John and I having dinner together."

Back in 1969, Christine Perfect was an imperfect ex-art teacher, a former window designer on London's natty Oxford Street and, by virtue of a band called Chicken Shack, regarded as the leading female blues singer in England.  The next year, however, she changed her name and her group when she joined Fleetwood Mac.  Her marriage to John McVie lasted until February 1979.

"John and I get on great," says McVie, "now that he's married to someone else [Julie Rubens].

But Mr. McVie's "verbal game-playing" and other mania paled in comparison with Dennis Wilson's.  Ms. McVie went out with the Beach Boy's drummer for "the most bizarre two years of my life," she says, shaking her head in bemusement.

"Dennis was wonderful, but SO eccentric.  I came home one birthday to find he'd had my garden completely dug out in the shape of an enormous heart and filled with roses.  And although it was pouring, all our friends were standing round the edge of the heart holding lit candles.  I had to run around in the rain blowing them out.  There were things like that nearly every day --- it was too much."

McVie lives alone in the Beverly Hills home she purchased from Anthony Newley.  "It's very difficult to meet anyone when you're in my position.  Every now and again some cute guy comes along, but most men seem to be scared off by ladies like me and Stevie Nicks.  They're intimidated by women with brains and money.  The only men who have the nerve to approach us tend to be 18 and snotty."

Getting back to brains and money, McVie has an abundance of both.   "We all adjusted well to our success," she says, "probably because it didn't come until most of us were over 30. Of course, we do have our extravagances.  John has a yacht.  I like jewelry, especially diamonds.  But none of us has really changed that much --- we just shop at more expensive stores these days."

Besides spending sprees, other group activities are planned.  the band's five-week tour of America will be followed at the end of the year by a European junket. Prepping for these projects, Mac's members spend most of their time together.  "We get on reasonably well with each other now," says McVie. But naturally, like any other family, they'll keep rattling those skeletons in the closet.  "I think we rather enjoy being the center of gossip," says Christine.  "We enjoy other people enjoying it.  People are actually fascinated to see if we really are fighting all the time, and we definitely get a perverted kick out of knowing that."

Thanks to Kayde for posting this to the Ledge and to Anusha for sending it to us.