Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
July 15, 2001
Nicks in harmony with spiritual sisters
By JOHN SOEDER
Now they can be revealed - the secrets of the Stevie Nicks sisterhood.
The raspy-voiced rocker of Fleetwood Mac fame recruited some of pop music's leading ladies to lend a hand on her new solo album, "Trouble in Shangri-La," including Sheryl Crow, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and Macy Gray.
Crow co-produced five tracks, including the bewitching "Sorcerer" and the ballad "It's Only Love," which she co-wrote with Nicks. They first crossed paths at a benefit concert in the mid- '90s.
"We became friends before we worked on any music," said Nicks, 53. She performs Wednesday at Blossom Music Center.
Nicks and Maines do a duet on "Too Far from Texas." The twangy tune wasn't much of a stretch for Nicks: Her grandfather, A.J. Nicks, was a frustrated country-and-western singer.
"He was as country as they come," she said by phone from her home in Los Angeles. She has a place in her hometown of Phoenix, too.
"I tried not to have a house in L.A.," she said. "But I found that the hotel bills were so exorbitant that I just had to have a place here. . . . Whenever I can, I escape to Phoenix."
She teamed up with Canton native Gray for another new number, the Caribbean-flavored "Bombay Sapphires," although Nicks originally had someone else in mind to handle the harmonies. "I was going to ask Sting," she said. "But I thought that was probably the last thing he needed - a phone call asking him to come sing another part."
Nicks considers herself the spiritual big sister of the guest stars on "Trouble in Shangri-La." "I know they care about me and my music," she said. "It makes me want to turn around and help them with their music."
Her influence even extends to the R&B group Destiny's Child, whose Top 10 single "Bootylicious" samples "Edge of Seventeen," a 1982 hit for Nicks. She makes a cameo in the "Bootylicious" video, too.
Her last solo album, "Street Angel," came out seven years ago. In the interim, she got back together with Fleetwood Mac members Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood for a well-received reunion tour and live album.
Nicks was able to improve her vocal range by kicking a three-pack-a-day cigarette habit in 1998. "I opened my eyes and my ears to all the miseries of smoking," she said. "I read magazine articles and if a TV commercial about cancer came on, I turned it up in surround sound.
"The night before I quit, I literally made myself sick. I drank a bottle of brandy and I smoked two cartons of cigarettes. The next morning when I woke up feeling terrible, I put on the [nicotine] patch. I haven't smoked since."
She nixed her addiction to cocaine in the mid- '80s after a stay at the Betty Ford Center, although years of abusing the drug have left a painful, permanent hole in her nose cartilage.
"I'm lucky it didn't ruin my voice," she said. "The God that has saved me a million times saved me on this one, too.
"Cocaine messes up your head. It never works quite the same again. Truly, if somebody had told me that 25 years ago, I would never have done cocaine."
Nicks also has battled the energy-draining Epstein-Barr virus. "Once you've had it, you have it, always," she said. "But I don't have [the symptoms] right now. If you get all depressed and bummed out and worn out, it comes back. I had it for two years. I tried acupuncture. I took vitamins. I did everything. Then one day it just went away. It has a lot to do with your state of mind."
After her summer tour wraps up Sept. 1 in Columbus, Nicks plans to record another album with Fleetwood Mac, minus Christine McVie.
"Christine is not going to do it," Nicks said. "I tell everybody, You go over to her house, you knock on her door and you sit out there in her front yard and tell her she can't do this.' The fact is, Chris has made her decision. She's a grown woman. She has done this her whole life, since she was 16. She doesn't want to do it anymore. So we have to let her go."
Without McVie on keyboards, the group is likely to get back to its blues-rock roots in the studio and on the road next year, said Nicks.
"Of course we miss her," Nicks said. "But if she doesn't want to do it, we can do this without her. It pushes us more into a blues genre, which is very exciting. If you take out some of the synthesizers, Fleetwood Mac becomes a real guitar-oriented rock 'n' roll band again."