Rock Through the Ages: Stevie Nicks

"For 70 nights, right across America, I've been getting out there with two ex-lovers and we've been playing songs which are so specific about each of us, you just wouldn't know. We're friends now but we can't forget what happened between us".  Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks the goldust woman, Stop dragging my heart aroundStevie Nicks is the high priestess of her own religion, ruling a world of prancing Gypsies, gold-dust princesses, and white-winged doves, all without going anywhere near a sensible shoe. Like David Bowie or Bryan Ferry, she has spent a career turning her private fantasies into an elaborate pop mythology. Stevie Nicks enjoyed phenomenal success not only as a solo artist but also as a key member of Fleetwood Mac.

Stephanie Lynn Nicks was born May 26, 1948, in Phoenix, AZ. She was the granddaughter of a frustrated country singer and remembers music always being a part of her life. " My mom said that I started singing when I was very young. They always had music going for me because I seemed to have such a love for it. Even as a baby in a crib, I wanted music. My Dad's father was a country and western singer, so he brought music into my life as soon as I was able to understand music at all. I was singing duets with my grandfather when I was four. My grandfather rode the railway trains across the country and played in different places. He played harmonica, fiddle, and guitar. He wasn't a great musician, but he was a really good songwriter. I'm kind of the same way. I consider myself a good songwriter, but I'm not a very good musician". Nicks started writing songs in her mid-teens, and joined her first group, the Changing Times, while attending high school in California. During her senior year, Stevie Nicks met fellow student Lindsey Buckingham, with whom she formed the band Fritz along with friends Javier Pacheco and Calvin Roper. Between 1968 and 1971, the group became a popular attraction on the West Coast music scene, opening for Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. After three years Fritz disbanded, but Buckingham and Stevie Nicks remained partners, and soon became lovers as well.  

Stevie Nicks from Fleetwoord Mac loves leather and laceAfter moving to Los Angeles, the duo recorded their 1973 debut LP, Buckingham Nicks. Despite a cover which featured the couple nude, the album flopped. Mick Fleetwood heard the song "Frozen Love"  from the album and asked them to join his group Fleetwood Mac. Initially, Fleetwood only intended to hire Lindsey Buckingham, but Buckingham told him: "We're a package deal." In quick time, the revitalized group achieved unparalleled success. The LP Fleetwood Mac  topped the charts in 1975. Stevie Nicks' signature "Rhiannon" reached #11. That year, Nicks worked with clothing designer Margi Kent to develop her unique onstage look, with outfits that featured flowing skirts, shawls, and platform boots. Fleetwood Mac began working on a follow up album in 1976 and continued until late in the year. Sessions were dogged by faulty drum tracks, disintegrating tapes, and the tension between the band members, which influenced the songwriting. Rumours was finished in 1977. It sold over 17 million copies and stood for several years as the best-selling album of all time. Stevie Nicks' contributions were "I Don't Want to Know", "Gold Dust Woman", and "Dreams", which became the band's only Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit single to date. Stevie Nicks had recorded the song "Silver Springs", but it was not included on the album because of space limitations on vinyl records, instead being relegated to the b-side of "Go Your Own Way." The song was special to Nicks, and she had not been told about the omission until after the decision had been made. Stevie Nicks was devastated.

Tension grew in Fleetwood, as love triangles, and drug issues sprouted up. Stevie Nicks remembers the dynamic of the group like this: "Mick is the king. He's the head of the band. He comes in and you think you ought to curtsy. In the studio, Lindsey's word was law. Christine almost always delivered the hits. She's like an earth mother, and I'm her little sister. John is the other fixed point around which the band revolves. Sometimes it got really funny, this giant percussionist and two couples in front of him. Especially when all the relationships broke up."

1981 Stevie Nicks took time off from the group to record her solo debut, Bella Donna, which hit number one on the strength of the Top 20 hits "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" (a duet with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers), "Leather and Lace" (a duet with Don Henley), and "Edge of Seventeen (Just Like the White Winged Dove)."  The album's ten tracks included five songs written in previous years, and five new songs. Several unreleased songs from the Bella Donna sessions were included on soundtracks, in concert sets, and later Fleetwood Mac albums. Other tracks remain unreleased. Bella Donna was the first album to feature Nicks' back-up singers, Sharon Celani and Lori Perry. Nicks met Perry in the mid-1970s while working with her then-husband, producer Gordon Perry. Nicks befriended Perry after inviting her to contribute back-up vocals for the tracks she was working on. During a trip to Hawaii, Nicks visited a club where Celani was performing and joined her on stage during a rendition of "Poor Pitiful Me". Celani later accepted Stevie Nicks invitation to join her forthcoming solo project. Sharon Celani and Lori Perry-Nicks, who is married to Nicks' brother Christopher, have contributed vocals to all of Nicks' solo albums since then.

In the spring of 1983, Nicks worked on her second solo album. Inspired in part by the death of her close friend Robin Anderson from leukemia in late 1982, the album was recorded mostly live and retains a rock-inspired, live quality. Nicks released The Wild Heart on June 10, 1983. The album featured many of the same musicians and producers from Bella Donna, but it also introduced songwriter and performer Sandy Stewart who lent a synthesizer sound. The Wild Heart  went double platinum, reached #5 on the Billboard 200, and featured three hit singles. The album's closing track, "Beauty and the Beast", featured lyrics devoted to Mick Fleetwood with whom Nicks later admitted to having a short love affair in the late 1970s. In 1997, Nicks rejoined the reunited Fleetwood Mac on tour and on the album The Dance. In 1998 Fleetwood Mac, including Nicks, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That same year her three-disc Enchanted box set landed in stores. Stevie Nicks returned to the studio in 2001 with friends Macy Gray, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, and Dixie Chick Natalie Maines for the solo album Trouble in Shangri-La, and again in 2003 for the Fleetwood Mac reunion album Say You Will.  Her complete discography can by found here.
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Stevie Nicks
Musician
Singer and songwriter for Fleetwod Mac.  Songs include: "Rhiannon" "One Winged Dove" "Gold Dust Woman" Leather and Lace" "Rumours" "Dreams"