Stevie Nicks first came to the attention of rock and pop audiences when she and Lindsey Buckingham joined the already established band Fleetwood Mac in 1975. Her singing and songwriting were responsible for many of the hit singles that brought Fleetwood Mac supergroup status in the late 1970s, including “Rhiannon” and “Dreams.” Though Nicks has continued as a productive member of the band, she has also released several successful solo albums, from 1981 ’s Bella Donna to 1989’s The Other Side of the Mirror. She has had smash duets such as “Whenever I Call You Friend” with Kenny Loggins and “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” with Tom Petty, and popular solo hits, including “Stand Back,” “Talk to Me,” and “Rooms on Fire.”
Nicks was born May 26, 1948, in Phoenix, Arizona. Her father’s stints as an executive with various corporations decreed that she move many times in her childhood and adolescence, living in the states of New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and California. According to Timothy White in his 1984 book Rock Stars, Nicks obtained her introduction to music from her eccentric grandfather, Aaron Jess Nicks, a failed country singer. He taught Stevie the female parts in some old call-and-response country standards well before her fifth birthday, and took her with him to perform in gin mills. Later, in her sophomore year at a Los Angeles, California, high school, Nicks sang with a vocal group modeled on the Mamas and Papas, called Changing Times. But another one of her father’s moves took her to California’s San Francisco Bay area to complete her secondary education.
One of Nicks’s fellow students in her new high school was Lindsey Buckingham. Like Nicks, he was a singer and musician and had already begun to write songs; the two were drawn to one another. Around 1968, after Nicks left San Jose State College without earning a degree, she and Buckingham joined a San Francisco acid rock group named Fritz. By that time the pair was living together, as well as collaborating musically. Nicks told interviewer Jon Pereles in Mademoiselle that Buckingham’s musical arrangements gave her compositions an extra boost: “I need somebody to help me change what I write from a little classical minuet, for piano and lady singer, into a song—I need somebody to put the power into it. Lindsey spoiled me…. I didn’t have to explain much to him—I’d just have to play a song once, and I’d never have to play it again.”
Fritz broke up around 1971, after having first relocated to Los Angeles. Nicks and Buckingham remained there and continued their creative efforts as a duo. They landed a recording contract with Polydor Records, and released one album in 1972, appropriately titled Buckingham-Nicks. The disc did not do well, and Nicks had to work—as a dental assistant for one day, as a
Full name, Stephanie Nicks; born May 26, 1948, in Phoenix, Ariz. ; daughter of a corporate executive; married Kim Anderson, January 29, 1983 (divorced, April 1984). Education: Attended San Jose State College during the late 1960s.
Sang in gin mills with grandfather, beginning at age 5; member of vocal group Changing Times, c. 1963; member of group Fritz, based in San Francisco, 1968-71; part of duo, with Lindsey Buckingham, Buckingham-Nicks, based in Los Angeles, 1971-75; also worked at various odd jobs, including dental assistant and waitress, 1971-75; member of group Fleetwood Mac, 1975—; also solo recording artist and concert performer, 1981—.
Addresses: Residence —Phoenix, Ariz. Manager —Front Line Management, 80 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608. Record company— EMI Records, 6920 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028.
waitress for longer stints—to support herself and Buckingham. As she recalled for Páreles, “Lindsey wasn’t quite so willing to go out and work anywhere. So I figured it was better for him to stay home and practice, because he plays so beautifully, and I’d go out and make the money.”
Meanwhile, Fleetwood Mac underwent yet another major membership change, and were looking for new musicians. The group was also looking for a new recording studio, and they happened upon the one where Nicks and Buckingham had recorded their album. The studio played Buckingham-Nicks for Fleetwood Mac as an example of their finished work, and the band’s remaining members, Mick Fleetwood, and Christine and John McVie, were as much impressed with the artists as with the production. Nicks and Buckingham were contacted, and the duo agreed to become a part of Fleetwood Mac.
Nicks’s first hit with the group, “Rhiannon,” which White lauded as “a surging, mesmerizing song about a Welsh witch,” is exemplary of the other-worldly, supernatural quality of many of her compositions. As Páreles reported, “she believes she has a guardian angel; she believes her soul has been around for three million years. And she is fascinated by all sorts of mystical ideas and … wondrous coincidences.” Banks concurred: “Most of us would like a temporary respite from life’s serrated edges, and a few of us have secret gardens of the imagination into which we occasionally steal. The difference between Stevie Nicks and the rest of the world is that, given the choice, she usually opts for never-never land—and she brings along a lunch pail and a pup tent.” Nicks has been criticized, however, for her music’s mysticism; for instance, Mark Coleman in his Rolling Stone review of Rock a Little, Nicks’s third solo album, judged that “when she starts setting her secrets free, weaving apocryphal situations and creating moony, enigmatic characters, the going gets a bit thick.” But he conceded: “Nicks can still take an unassuming little rock song and polish it into a gem.”
The combination of Nicks, Buckingham, Fleetwood, and the McVies proved the catalyst for Fleetwood Mac to quickly achieve the popularity that had heretofore eluded the band. But success brought problems for Nicks. The strain of constant touring broke up her longtime relationship with Buckingham, along with the marriage of the McVies, and also pushed Nicks’s throat past the breaking point. She occasionally lost her voice onstage, causing the group’s concerts to receive bad press reviews.
With the help of a specialist, however, Nicks resolved her vocal problems, and despite the death of two love relationships, Fleetwood Mac remained intact and turned its turbulent emotions into the best-selling album, Rumours. Many of the record’s hits, including Nicks’s “Dreams,” were autobiographical accounts of the breakups. The group’s follow-up album, Tusk, was not as successful, but Nicks scored a hit on it with the melodic “Sara” —a hit that later embroiled her in controversy when a woman from Grand Rapids, Michigan, claimed that she herself had written it and sent it to Warner Brothers, Fleetwood Mac’s recording company. The suit was eventually withdrawn by the woman’s lawyers, who came to believe Nicks had indeed written it herself—demo tapes of the song, dated months previous to the time the woman said she had sent her lyrics to Warner Brothers, confirmed the fact.
Though Nicks was not inclined to leave Fleetwood Mac, which Páreles compared to “a loving extended family,” she did turn her attention to solo projects with Bella Donna in 1981. Nicks explained to Páreles: “I had to learn to stand up and lead. I had to learn to do this alone.” Her decision proved a good one; not only did Bella Donna bring forth her first solo hit, “Edge of Seventeen,” but her three other solo albums have brought her even more acclaim and popularity with listeners. And Nicks is grateful to her fans. “When I see people singing along to one of my songs,” she confided to Páreles, “I want to go out and hug them. I have trouble remembering the words myself—and they know them all!”
With Lindsey Buckingham
Buckingham-Nicks, Polydor, 1972.
With Fleetwood Mac; on Warner Bros. Records
Fleetwood Mac (includes “Rhiannon” and “Landslide”), 1975.
Rumours (includes “Dreams” and “Gold Dust Woman”), 1977.
Tusk (includes “Sara”), 1979.
Mirage (includes “Gypsy”), 1982.
Solo LPs; on Modern Records
Bella Donna (includes “Edge of Seventeen,” “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” and “Leather and Lace”), 1981.
Wild Heart (includes “Stand Back” and “If Anyone Falls”), 1983.
Rock a Little (includes “Talk to Me” and “I Can’t Wait”), 1985.
The Other Side of the Mirror (includes “Rooms on Fire”), 1989.
White, Timothy, Rock Stars, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1984.
Mademoiselle, August, 1982.
Rolling Stone, January 30, 1986.
A trailblazer for women in rock music, singer Stevie Nicks was one of the first female performers to maintain a feminine stage persona in the masculine world of rock and roll. She reached international recognition in the mid-1970s singing for the band Fleetwood Mac, and her flowing, chiffon-draped, gypsy costumes later became trend-setting fashion. Nicks embarked on a solo career in 1981 and continued writing and recording her own music long after her departure from Fleetwood Mac. “Stevie Nicks is more than a rock icon,” Rob Sheffield wrote in Rolling Stone. “She’s 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.”
Born Stephanie Nicks in 1948, she grew up migrating from one city to another throughout the western United States. Her father, Jesse Seth Nicks, was a business executive who kept moving his wife Barbara and their family as he changed jobs. “Our father would always be getting promoted and transferred, so we never grew up in any one place,” Nicks’brother Christopher told Timothy White in Rolling Stone. “We moved from Phoenix to New Mexico to Texas to Utah to Los Angeles to San Francisco.”
Stevie Nicks’ interest in music began early, and she received her first guitar when she was 13 years old. While she was in high school in Palo Alto, California, she met guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and the two became both musically and romantically involved. In 1968, Nicks’ family moved to Chicago, but she stayed behind to play with Buckingham in the band Fritz. Within a couple of years, the band moved to Los Angeles. Buckingham and Nicks moved in together, and she worked as a waitress to support them. “Lindsey thought it would be selling out for him to work at a restaurant like that, so I did,” Nicks told Jancee Dunn in Harper’s Bazaar.
By 1973, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had split with Fritz and released their own album on Polydor Records called Buckingham/Nicks. It was this album that grabbed the attention of a British band called Fleetwood Mac, which included drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie, and keyboardist Christine McVie. The band wanted Lindsey Buckingham to join them, but he wouldn’t agree unless Stevie Nicks was included in the agreement. “Buckingham/Nicks had to bite the bullet for Fleetwood Mac,” Nicks later wrote in the liner notes for her box set Enchanted. “We’ll never quite know exactly what would have happened if we’d gone the other way…. But it would have been a whole other life.”
The new version of Fleetwood Mac released their selftitled album in 1975. It sold approximately three million copies, and the band embarked on a successful tour. It was the beginning of a legendary rock formation, but the band faced several challenges almost immediately. “We were a strange group of three English people and two American people,” Nicks told Sarah McLachlan in Interview, “and that was very hard on the road, because we were just so different.”
The following year, Fleetwood Mac began recording their next album, Rumors. During this time, the band went into a period of personal chaos. Buckingham and Nicks were in the middle of a turbulent break up, John and Christine McVie were in the process of divorcing, and Mick Fleetwood was also divorcing his wife. The emotional commotion came through loud and clear in the group’s songwriting, resulting in a hugely successful album. Rumors ended up selling 18 million albums in the U.S. alone, and remained on Billboard’s album charts for nearly nine years. “Probably the reason people love Rumors so much is because they say that great art comes out of great tragedy,” Nicks told Joe Benson in Off the Record.
Despite the turmoil in their personal lives, Fleetwood Mac continued to work together professionally. They released their next album, Tusk, in 1979, along with a live album recorded on tour, Fleetwood Mac Live, in 1980. By
For the Record…
Born Stephanie Nicks on May 26, 1948, in Phoenix, AZ; daughter of Jesse Seth and Barbara Nicks; married Kim Anderson, 1983; divorced 1984.
Began performing with Lindsey Buckingham, 1966; released Buckingham/Nicks on Polydor Records, 1973; joined Fleetwood Mac, 1974; released first solo album, Bella Donna, 1981; released a total of seven albums with Fleetwood Mac, 1975-90; left Fleetwood Mac for full-time solo career, 1993; reunited with Fleetwood Mac for The Dance, 1997.
Addresses: Record company —Modern/Atlantic Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019.
this time, Stevie Nicks had established herself as the centerpiece of Fleetwood Mac’s live performances. She danced, spun, and twirled on stage like a magical princess in a fairy tale. “When I walk up on that stage, I give people a little bit of an escape into fairyland,” said Nicks in Glamour. “I’m the only one in the group who’s free to sprinkle Stardust here and there.”
Nicks decided to spread her musical wings beyond the confines of Fleetwood Mac in the early 1980s. She released her first solo album, Bella Donna, on Atlantic Records in 1981. The album climbed to the top of the charts and quickly reached platinum sales. Nicks remained a member of Fleetwood Mac, but felt the need to open up another avenue for her music. “’Bella Donna’ is a term of endearment I use, and the title is about making a lot of decisions in my life, making a change based on the turmoil in my soul,” Nicks explained to Timothy White in Rolling Stone.
Bella Donna included several hits, including a duet with singer Tom Petty called “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” Nicks said recording the album helped her learn to take more responsibility for her work as a songwriter and performer. “For Bella Donna, I had to learn to stand up and lead,” Nicks told Jon Pareles in Mademoiselle. “I had to learn to do this alone.”
Stevie Nicks returned to the studio with Fleetwood Mac to record Mirage, which was released in 1982. Then, she continued her solocareer with Wild Heart, which included the singles “Nightbird” and “Enchanted.” Around this same time, she married Kim Anderson, the widowed husband of her best friend Robin Stucker, who died of leukemia. The marriage lasted a short eight months.
Nicks continued her fast-paced recording and touring schedule with another solo album in 1985 called Rock A Little. Unfortunately, she couldn’t maintain her rock and roll stride without the help of a multi-million-dollar cocaine habit that ultimately burned a hole through the cartilage in her nose. In 1986, her addiction became so bad that she entered into a 28-day rehab program at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California. “But after I quit cocaine, things got even worse,” Nicks recalled to Todd Gold and Steve Dougherty in People.
After Fleetwood Mac released Tango in the Night in 1987, Lindsey Buckingham decided to leave the band. During the same time, Stevie Nicks decided to see a psychiatrist about her cocaine addiction. The doctor prescribed a powerful tranquilizer called Klonopin and Nicks was on her way to another drug addiction. She released the solo album Other Side of the Mirror, but through the haze of drugs, remembered very little of the tour that followed. Despite her addiction, Stevie Nicks continued to write, record, and perform on her own and with Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood Mac released Behind theMask in 1990, and the following year, Nicks released a greatest hits album, called Timespace, which included three new songs.
In 1993, Stevie Nicks began to turn her life around. She left Fleetwood Mac. And after she fell into a fireplace and gashed her head, she entered a 45-day detox program to help her drug addiction. The following year, she released her fifth solo album entitled Street Angel. “I’ve earned my place as an enduring woman in rock ‘n roll, and I’m not about to give it up. Not as long as I still feel inspired by the music,” Nicks told Larry Flick that year in Billboard. But as her tour ended the following year, Stevie Nicks put all that aside and vowed never to sing in front of people again. “Singing is the love of my life, but I was ready to give it all up because I couldn’t handle people talking about how fat I was,” Nicks explained to Steve Dougherty and Todd Gold in People.
Between her increasing weight and constant fatigue, Stevie Nicks decided to have her breast implants that she had received in 1976 removed. She discovered that both implants were “totally broken” and a possible factor in her health problems. After her surgery, her energy and health began to return and her weight slimmed down. This led to her renewed outlook about performing again. She recorded the songs “Somebody Stand By Me” for the Boys on the Side soundtrack in 1995 and “Twisted” for the Twister sfersoundtrack in 1996.
The following year, the members of Fleetwood Mac reunited for a three-month, sold-outtourand recorded the album The Dance, which commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the band’s benchmark album Rumors. The CD includedlive renditions of their previous hit songs, plus four new tracks. “We didn’t all enjoy it very much the first time because we were too high and too uptight,” Nicks told Chris Willman in Entertainment Weekly. Fleetwood Mac reunited on stage again in 1998 for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Stevie Nicks also released her first greatest hits boxed set, Enchanted, that same year. “It was like looking at a great book report of my life, good and bad,” Nicks told Ray Rogers in Interview. “Each song tells me exactly who I was in my life when I wrote it.” Nicks also contributed two songs—“If You Ever Did Believe” and “Crystal”—to the Practical Magic soundtrack.
At the age of 50, Nicks was still combating the division between her stage persona and her offstage personality. “The girl onstage is glamorous and movie star-esque,” Nicks told Barbara Stepko in McCalls. “The thing is, when the makeup, the clothes, and the glitter come off, some people still treat me like her. In real life, I’m normal, practical, and 50 years old. A grown-up person who could be a grandmother.”
However, Stevie Nicks insisted that despite her age, she would continue to record and perform rock music for as long as there were people who wanted to listen. “As long as I can play a song and people are still sitting there at the end of it,” Nicks told Jeremy Helligar in People, “I won’t worry about my music losing value.”
Bella Donna, Atlantic Records, 1981.
Wild Heart, Atlantic Records, 1983.
Rock a Little, Atlantic Records, 1985.
Other Side of the Mirror, Atlantic Records, 1989.
Timespace, Atlantic Records, 1991.
Street Angel, Modern/Atlantic Records, 1994.
Enchanted, Modern Atlantic Records, 1998.
with Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac, Warner Bros. Records, 1975.
Rumors, Warner Bros. Records, 1977.
Tusk, Warner Bros. Records, 1979.
Fleetwood Mac Live, Warner Bros. Records, 1980.
Mirage, Warner Bros. Records, 1982.
Tango in the Night, Warner Bros. Records, 1987.
Behind the Mask, Warner Bros. Records, 1990.
The Dance, Warner/Reprise Records, 1997.
Billboard, March 26, 1994; August 29, 1998; September 5, 1998.
Boston Globe, April 24, 1998.
Entertainment Weekly, May 24, 1996; May 1, 1998; May 8, 1998.
Glamour, December 1981.
Harper’s Bazaar, November 1997.
ICE, February 1998.
Interview, March 1995, July 1998.
Mademoiselle, August 1982.
McCalls, January 1999.
New York Times, June 19, 1998.
Off the Record, September 6, 1998.
People, December 29, 1980; October 5, 1981; June 13, 1994; January 19, 1998; May 18, 1998.
Rolling Stone, September 3, 1981; September 22, 1994; May 14, 1998.
San Francisco Chronicle, April 26, 1998.
Teen, March 1983.
Time, October 24, 1983.
Toledo Blade, May 18, 1998.
The Nicks Fix, http://nicksfix.com (September 23, 1998).
Born: Stephanie Lynn Nicks; Phoenix, Arizona, 26 May 1948
Best-selling album since 1990: Timespace: The Best of Stevie Nicks (1991)
Hit songs since 1990: "Edge of Seventeen"
Singer/songwriter Stevie Nicks rapidly gained international prominence in 1975 when she became a vocalist for the supergroup Fleetwood Mac. She followed Janis Joplin as one of rock's leading female singers and enhanced that credential by forging a successful solo career despite suffering personal chaos. Famous for her unique stage presence and an inimitable voice, Nicks has managed to juggle a solo career with occasional dalliances in Fleetwood Mac.
Nicks lived in more than a half-dozen major cities during her formative years. Her father was a successful businessman whose career required that the Nicks family move wherever his promotions took him. Consequently, she spent a great deal of time with her grandfather, a colorful character, who in his earlier days made his living as a pool shark and moonlighted as a country and western guitar player and singer. He taught Nicks to sing duets with him, and when she was sixteen, her parents bought her a guitar. She wrote her first song, about a relationship with a boyfriend that went awry, soon after.
Nicks first met guitarist/singer Lindsey Buckingham while attending high school in Palo Alto, California. They played together in a band called Fritz, became lovers, and in 1970 moved to Los Angeles, where Nicks cleaned houses and worked as a waitress to support Buckingham's songwriting career. After hearing their debut album duet, Buckingham/Nicks (1973), Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood invited them to join the band, which at the time was in shambles. Fleetwood Mac became an immediate sensation with the addition of Nicks and Bucking-ham, whose soft-rock talents proved to be a perfect tonic for the band's discordant chemistry. (Fleetwood did not originally want Nicks and agreed only because Bucking-ham refused to join the group without her.)
Thrust into the role of singer and focal point of Fleet-wood Mac, Nicks captured her essence as a freewheeling mystic sorceress of rock. Clad in flowing chiffon gowns with wispy blonde hair floating about her head, she danced and grooved emotionally to each song. Her sense of style influenced an entire generation of women's fashion tastes. Nicks's unrestrained alto possesses a distinctive rasp and folksy phrasing that perfectly suited the moody rock sounds of Fleetwood Mac in hits such as "Dreams" and "Rhiannon." In 1977, during the tour for the monumentally successful album Rumours (1977), she and Buckingham acrimoniously split up. Yet, both persisted on in the band. During this time Nicks developed a cocaine habit.
The 1980s were both flourishing and tumultuous for Nicks as she made successful strides in her solo career but suffered several personal setbacks. Her first solo album, Bella Donna (1981), immediately went platinum and contained several hits, including a duet with rocker Tom Petty, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," and another with then-boyfriend, singer Don Henley, "Leather and Lace." In the 1980s she recorded three more solo albums, all of which went platinum, and recorded two with Fleetwood Mac. The decade was a whirlwind of touring and recording. Nicks's messy breakup with Buckingham was further complicated by her affair with Mick Fleetwood and an eight-month marriage to Kim Anderson, the widowed husband of her best friend who had died from leukemia. Nicks's million-dollar cocaine use began to wear down the cartilage in her nose, threatening her singing voice. She finally checked herself into the Betty Ford Clinic and emerged clean, only to become addicted to prescription drugs. She entered the 1990s as a rock superstar, but overweight, broken-hearted, and drug-addicted.
After recording Behind the Mask (1990) with Fleet-wood Mac and releasing a compilation album of solo work, Timespace (1991), Nicks sought help in another rehabilitation stint and finally conquered her drug addiction. She began to reclaim her health and was able to lose the weight, which had begun to make her too self-conscious to perform.
In 1993 Nicks, having announced that she had left Fleetwood Mac for good, began aggressively moving on with her solo career. Her fifth studio release, Street Angel (1994), put her back on the scene, although the album's sales paled in comparison to her earlier releases. She also performed a track, "Somebody Stand by Me," for the soundtrack to the 1995 film Boys on the Side.
In 1996 Nicks returned to Fleetwood Mac as the core members of the group—including Buckingham—prepared for a 20th Anniversary Tour of the album Rumours, which has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. To kick off the tour, Fleetwood Mac held an intimate concert on a Los Angeles soundstage in 1997 and released a live recording of that show in an album titled The Dance (1997). One of Nicks's noteworthy Fleetwood Mac songs, "Landslide," came from that album, giving the pretty ballad another turn as a hit single. This, she announced, was to be her last foray with Fleetwood Mac.
Nicks revisited her signature sound in the solo release Trouble in Shangri-La (2001). The album features work from her new pal, singer Sheryl Crow, who co-produced five songs from the album. Nicks called on several cronies to guest on this thirteen-song album, such as singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan, singer Macy Gray, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, and Tom Petty's guitarist, Mike Campbell.
In 2002 Fleetwood Mac regrouped and Nicks found herself once again on stage with Buckingham. The band released a studio recording, Say You Will (2003), and supported it throughout the year with an extensive tour.
Stevie Nicks survived the excesses and trappings of rock stardom and remains an important contemporary artist into her fifties—not an easy feat, especially for a female in an industry that promotes youthful stars as intensively as it devours them.
Bella Donna (Atlantic, 1981); Wild Heart (Atlantic, 1983); Rock a Little (Atlantic, 1985); Other Side of the Mirror (Atlantic, 1989); Timespace (Atlantic, 1991); Street Angel (Modern Atlantic, 1994); Trouble in Shangri-La (Warner Bros., 2001).
E. Wincentsen, Stevie Nicks: Rock's Mystical Lady (New York, 1995).