THE PORTABLE STEVIE NICKS
by Jeff Johnson
Instead of quietly looking at your shoes when party-goers get all "I'm sooo down with Stevie Nicks," outwit them with Jeff Johnson's insider interview and guide to everything Stevie.
The party-going Nicksophile announces, Stevie and Lindsey Buckingham totally hate each other. You say: 'Fraid not. Stevie just called Jane magazine before a rehearsal and said: "We are never not in touch. He just had two children, so that is something new for both of us. It's changed his life completely. He's a nicer person now." Crucial background info: Stevie met Lindsey in high school in Atherton, Calif., in 1966. They went on to form a songwriting duo and have sex on and off over the years.
Party Guy whines, If Gwen Stefani were one-eighth less raver chick and a smidge more Tolkien, she'd look just like Stevie. You say: Nothing. Hail a cab and go home. Really, he's probably a descendent of the same people who started running their pie-holes about Stevie and witchcraft, and then complained that Stevie's look had become passť. Today, designers like Anna Sui continue to pay tribute to how goddamn cool she has always looked. Stevie says, "When I designed my whole little trip 25 years ago, I knew that I'd be around in 20 years. I designed what I wore and everything, knowing this would be something I'd want to stick with. It's so simple, like a ballerina outfit. It looks good on anybody." Stevie mentions that a cape she still wears is 30 years old: "All my clothes are made out of really strong silk chiffon." Couture bonus round: Stevie never wears shorts. "I just wear the summer version of Stevie clothes," she says.
The jaded hipster complains, If Lindsey and Stevie, or Stevie and Mick Fleetwood, or whoever, would have stayed together, things would have been perfect. You say: Honestly, it never would've worked out. And I think Stevie agrees, because she said about her bandmate hookups, "No matter how good your relationship is, or how much you have in common, it's always gonna come down to a jealousy thing." Additional ammo: It was fun while it lasted. In 1977, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours was No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 for weeks and has sold more than 25 million copies. The band toured the world and celebrated the good times by snorting mountains of cocaine and by going through a legendary series of soap opera-esque bandmate-swapping affairs that eventually went south.
They taunt, Who's shorter? Prince or Stevie Nicks? You say: Who cares? But she worked with Prince in 1983 at his purple house in Minnesota. In Jane (again, it can't hurt to plug us) Stevie said, "I think the reason Prince and I stopped being friends was because of all the drugs. He was very straight. He's a very incredible person, a little odd, but all my friends are. Most of the people who make it to the top of their field are a little strange."
They say, It's impossible to quit snorting all that blow. You come back with: Stevie entered Betty Ford in 1986 to stop doing coke. She says she hasn't seen it since that day. And as a response to all the other rumors around her, Stevie says. "the only people who know what went on in my private life are my boyfriends and dearest friends. It would be hard for someone to write a biography that told anything about me." Addendum: Sadly, for the next five or so years following rehab, she was in a Klonopin-induced, career-hindering fog. "People were telling me, 'Klonopin will make it easier for you not to go back to cocaine. It will keep your nerves steady.' Finally to make everybody leave me alone, I did it. It was a big mistake. It nearly killed me," she says.
They say, Stevie's work in the early '90s is under-rated. You say: Well, it actually sorta sucked, and even Stevie agrees. She had troubles, dude. Because of the Klonopin, Stevie says, "I became the whatever person. 'Do you want to go out?' Whatever. 'Do you want me to come over?' I don't care. My writing became that. My songs became that. I gained 30 pounds." And the public noticed-they weren't nice. She admits, "The criticism was very hard and very deserved, 'cause I was screwed up. Everyone was just being truthful."
They say, Stevie could never work a day job-she's way too mystical. You say: Well, how spooky is picking up trash, dude? When Stevie and Lindsey moved to L.A. from San Francisco in the early 70's, they got a record deal as Buckingham Nicks. But that record tanked; and soon Stevie busied herself with odd jobs like being a cleaning lady. In fact, you might want to freshen your drink while I tell you what she just said: "Lindsey got to sit around and practice, and I was fine with that. There was really no job I could imagine him having. I was in on the party, but it was my role to keep us going." If they press you for more facts: Stevie kept them going by cleaning their producer Keith Olsen's mountain-shack house. She says, "He lived up on Mullholland, where all the rain is, and his garbage bags had come apart and the wolves and animals had gotten to them. I had to clean the whole side of the mountain and put [the garbage] in my car and take it down the street to where the actual garbage cans were. I'll never forget driving up and seeing that mess and knowing it was my job to clean it up."
They say, No one on a major label makes any cash, no matter how well their record sells. Perfect chance for you to reference Stevie: You're only half right. After the Buckingham Nicks record failed, around 1974, Mick asked the luckless songwriters to join his band, Fleetwood Mac. "We had been hanging out at the big studios, meeting the big people-we'd touched the big time and when they dropped our record, it was so horrifying," Stevie lamented to Jane magazine recently, and yes I did get an A in Debate. Just FYI, she also said, "Within six and a half months after we joined Fleetwood Mac, the record was done and out and on the radio. We were rich."
They say, Bill Clinton is responsible for bringing Fleetwood Mac back together. You say: Sorta. He did help reunite the band to perform at his inauguration in 1993 (Stevie and Christine McVie had bailed from the band in 1990, Lindsey left in '87). But Stevie says, "Clinton didn't fuel the reunion [Jeff's note: I think the potential to rake in moolah had something to do with that]. It just fueled us to go and play the inauguration." And when he left office last year, they played again. "I went to him laughingly and said, 'You single-handedly put Fleetwood Mac back together twice,'" she says. "He was very happy. He had tears in his eyes." Then they toured and released The Dance in 1997. When you're talking about Clinton, it's all about what your definition of reunion is.
They say, I heard Stevie was married once. You should: Believe them, even though she told us, "I'm very happy not being married and being free-I never married," it's actually common knowledge that she was hitched for three months in the early 80's to the widower of her best friend. But it was a bittersweet, misguided marriage, so she's probably just sick of dredging it up. "I'm a nomad," she says. "I just pack up and leave and don't come back for two months. When you're in a serious relationship, you can't do that. I'm very optimistic about love. But people take it personally when I have to go do something. It's like, 'Oh you're having a fabulous photo session and you're jetting off to New York for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony and then you're going to radio stations in five different cities.' I'm like, 'Bye-bye."
They say, Her old songs were great, but I'm not into her new stuff at all. You say: Your loss. Stevie's had her shit together for years and it shows on Trouble in Shangri-La. It has some sad tunes, but overall, Stevie says, "I try to put hopeful things in my work, like 'When the rain washes you clean, you'll know.' That you'll pull out of this whatever it is. That my music or words somehow are uplifting." And finally, remind them she's a living legend, emphasis on living. "I'm not dead yet, remember that," Stevie laughs.