McVie got his start by playing in High School with a cover band. This has become an almost hackneyed opening to all musician stories, but High School cover bands are truly the way that most famous musicians get started. So the lesson here is to seek out the talented musicians in your High School (like McVie) and latch on to their band. Can’t play an instrument? No matter, be their manager or something. Let’s get back to reality.
McVie played music from the Shadows with his band Krewsaders until leaving school at 17 for tax inspector training. Music, at that time, became a side hobby until bassist Cliff Barton turned down a part in a new Chicago-blues style band called John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers and suggested that Mayall give McVie an audition. Mayall listened and was impressed with McVie. So, Mcvie, with no formal training in music, was accepted into the Bluesbreakers. Mayall gave him albums from B.B. King and other blues musicians to study.
Before Fleetwood Mac, there was the Bluesbreakers, who would later become known as a talented platform band, where English musicians went before becoming famous with other acts (kind of like The Yardbirds). Musicians like Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Mick Taylor, “Sugarcane” Harris, Andy Fraser and Aynsley Dunbar played with the band. The band was exceptionally talented and it sustained itself with tremendously talented musicians.
After Clapton and Bruce left the Bluesbreakers (they would later form Cream), Mayall added guitarist Peter Green in 1966 and soon after added drummer Mick Fleetwood. I bet you see where this is going. McVie developed a great relationship with Green and Fleetwood and after Green was replaced by Mick Taylor he started a new band which he called Fleetwood Mac, after his beloved rhythm section of Fleetwood and McVie. It didn’t take too much convincing to get Fleetwood over to the new band and after McVie became dissatisfied with Bluesbreaker’s move towards Jazz he joined the new band in 1967.
The rest is history.
Here is McVie playing “All Your Love” with the Bluesbreakers (Eric Clapton on guitar).