When Christine McVie left Fleetwood Mac in 1998, Lindsey Buckingham, for one, didn't think he'd ever see her standing across the stage to his right ever again.
"For years I was telling everybody else, 'Y'know, she'll never be in the band again. She's gone. She's GONE!' " Buckingham, 65, recalls with a laugh. "I really believed that, that she'd burned all her bridges and sold her house and her (song) publishing and just needed to get out of L.A., needed to move on from that scene, y'know?
"I didn't think she'd ever change her mind."
Today's lesson, children; never say never. McVie -- who joined Fleetwood Mac in 1968 and was responsible for hits such as "Say You Love Me, "Over My Head," "You Make Loving Fun," "Don't Stop" and "Hold Me" -- has, in fact, un-broken "The Chain" and returned to the band after joining it on stage last fall in England. And besides being on tour with the Mac once again, McVie took part in songwriting and recording sessions during the summer in Los Angeles -- a full-scale reinvestiture that's generated plenty of excitement in, around and about the long-lived band.
"I just saw myself as a retired lady of leisure with the rural manor in England and the Range Rover and the dogs," says McVie, 71, who spent four years restoring that 17th century house, though she also released a solo album, 2004's "In the Meantime." "Eventually I just realized that I made a huge mistake. It took me about 10 years to realize it, that's all. I started missing (the band) and playing with them and the interaction, the chemistry of it all.
"I just started to really, really desire to start doing something again, and the only people I could think of that have any desire to do anything with would be them, Fleetwood Mac. They're my musical family."
Also influencing McVie's decision back in 1998 was the fact she'd developed an intense and debilitating fear of flying. She sought therapy to overcome it, and drummer Mick Fleetwood stepped forward during early 2013 with an invitation for her to come visit him in Hawaii, where he resides. The timing worked out so that Fleetwood would actually be in England just before, so McVie was able to fly with the drummer and old friend as a companion.
During the visit she played with Fleetwood and ex-husband, bassist John McVie, in an ad hoc blues band they maintain, and there was also a side trip to Los Angeles for a Fleetwood Mac reunion dinner with all five members, including singer Stevie Nicks.
"That was great fun," recalls Buckingham. "It was very interesting to see what that extra piece of the puzzle does to the overall equation. It was a trip because she was the same old person I'd always known, and she was cracking me up." And when McVie joined the band for encores of "Don't Stop" in London during it all, it seemed fete accompli that her time in self-imposed exile was over.
"I think it was me that might have made overtures to Mick, 'What do you think are the chances? What about if I really would like to come back? Is it possible?' " McVie says. "And Mick was just nonplused, really, because he never thought I'd get on a plane again.
"And then, of course, one thing led to another. We had a few big, long talks transatlantic. It was like the prodigal daughter, really; they all welcomed me with open arms. It's all happened in a really sort of natural, organic matter."
The recording sessions in Los Angeles, meanwhile, yielded several songs with titles such as "Carnival Begin," "Red Sun" and "Too Far Gone." "There's a whole variety, starting from sort of blues-based songs to very commercial songs," says McVie, noting that she and Buckingham collaborated on the tunes even more than they had in the past. Nicks missed the sessions while preparing her new solo album, "24 Karat Gold -- Songs From the Vaults," but the group plans to return to the studio to finish and release what will be the first new recordings by the lineup since 1987's "Tango in the Night."
"Knowing me, I'm going to be pushing for a double album," Buckingham says with a laugh. "But we'll have to see how much clamor there is, what kind of interest there is. That may inform our decisions one way or the other.
"We're just very excited, and I'm happy this is happening. The whole thing has just got such a circular feel to it. If you're talking about one more act for this play that is Fleetwood Mac, or whatever you want to call it, I can't think of a better way to do it."
8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22
The Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills.
Tickets are $49.50-$179.50.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com
Send your thoughts and comments to