[The Nicks Fix]

Stevie Nicks Interview - Off The Record

This interview with Stevie Nicks was aired on the radio again on
September 24, 2000. This is a compilation of previously aired interviews.

Introduction by Joe Benson:

[Stevie Nicks] sites Halloween as her favorite day of the year. Believe me, she is no witch, despite the long, black dresses and platform boots that have been her stage wardrobe of choice for the past 20 years. She is Stephanie Lynn Nicks. You may know her better as Stevie. This is your Uncle Joe Benson.

Stevie Nicks started singing at the age of five when her late grandfather Aaron Jess Nicks would take her with him to the local gin mill gigs. She got her first start on her 16th birthday and had written her first song, "I've loved and I've lost." But it was her college days in San Francisco that ultimately changed her life and set her course in destiny, because it was there that Stevie reconnected with an old high school friend, Lindsey Buckingham. They started playing in bands and that's where our story starts today... Stevie Nicks, Off The Record.

(Rhiannon plays...)

Stevie: My roots are straight out of country and it would be very easy for me to change and go into country because I have to try and sing the other way. Because if I slip back into my past, I instantly slip back into my southern accent. I start singing in a very country way and it's because my grandad sang country music to me almost my whole life.

(Rhiannon continues...)

Stevie: I was going to keep up with the rock stars of the world that were men, because there weren't very many women once. Janis was really the last and Grace is still alive, so. But music, Grace Slick and Janis Joplin were the ones that I loved. I wanted to be like them. And I knew from a little girl that I could do country my whole life. So I knew if I wanted to rock, I could rock now until I'm too tired to rock and then I could slip gracefully into country.

Joe Benson: Stevie Nicks' rock career took off in 1971 when she and live-in boyfriend, Lindsey Buckingham, landed a deal with Polydor Records and released the "Buckingham Nicks" album which was produced by Ken Olsen. Unfortunately, the album didn't sell and the duo were dropped from the label. Their luck turned just a couple months later when they received a call from drummer Mick Fleetwood asking them to join Fleetwood Mac. Before they knew it, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham found themselves back in a recording studio working on tracks for what would be known as Fleetwood Mac's "Fleetwood Mac" album.

(The Chain plays...)

Stevie: I was a little shaky there for awhile, about four months before we joined Fleetwood Mac, because I had made a deal with my father that if in three months, it was like October, if by January something hadn't happened for Lindsey and I, that I would go back to school. And we made an agreement. And on New Years' eve, that's when Fleetwood Mac called. So I just barely made it by about a week. (I would never promise my father.) He said 'I think it's about time we put a timer on this. You're 27 years old, you're always unhappy, I know you work youself to death, you have no money and you have an incredible education. I think we've got to do this.' And this is right after my dad had heart surgery- open heart surgery. And so, of course I wasn't going to turn him down on anything! And he said this to me and I said 'OK. If that's what you want, then that's what I'll do.'

(The Chain concludes...)

Joe Benson: A year after Fleetwood Mac's "Fleetwood Mac" album was released, it hit number one. The band's popularity had grown exponentially as did tensions within the group. (Whole Lotta Trouble plays in the background) And by the time they were finally recording the Rumours album, both John and Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham's relationships had ended. But still Stevie and Fleetwood Mac soldiered on.

Stevie: My songs in Fleetwood Mac are always very different than they are when they're just done by me, because they change them. I am sometimes very sad at the way they change my songs. I eventually get to like it, because I eventually forgive the fact that they changed it so much. And I decide that I kind of like what they did anyway and they weren't such bad fellows after all.

Joe Benson: Stevie Nicks later admitted she wrote "Gold Dust Woman" about cocaine, the drug that had become a big part of Fleetwood Mac's life while working on the Rumours album.

This is your Uncle Joe Benson and coming up, Off The Record, a restless Stevie Nicks decides to find another outlet for her prolific songwriting and profound sadness. It's the birth of "Bella Donna," next.

(Commercial break.)

Stevie: If you really let yourself get that upset about a lot of the things that happen, you wouldn't want to do this anymore. So I don't let anything be that serious. Because I'm not gonna stop doing this for anyone, you know. Because I have my relationship with my audience; they're my best friends. There's nowhere I'd rather be than on the stage singing music for them. And my vehicle for getting to the stage is the studio.

Joe Benson: So Stevie Nicks, too prolific a songwriter to be satisfied with only three or four of her songs on any given Fleetwood Mac album, entered the studio in 1980 to start work on her solo effort, "Bella Donna."

I'm Joe Benson and this is Stevie Nicks, Off the Record.

(Early version of Landslide plays...)

Stevie: Bella Donna was really intense. But it was really fun, of course. Because it was the definitive, unproven, white winged dove. Who knows- could've crashed right into the side of a mountain- nobody really knew. And nobody was very excited about me doing anything outside of Fleetwood Mac. Everybody was really pensive about it. I was really, like-um, dedicated you know, and scared to make this record be a success. And like with every record that you do, when you first do it, even after it first comes out, you know you have to wait till you release your next record for anybody to rave about that record. And it always kind of blows my mind that nobody raved about Bella Donna until Wild Heart came out.

(Edge of 17 plays...)

Joe Benson: It was Tom Petty's wife, Jane, who inspired the song title "Edge of 17" when Stevie misunderstood Jane's comment about being at the age of 17.

I'm Joe Benson and this is Off the Record.

Stevie dedicated the Bella Donna album to her late grandfather, Aaron Jess Nicks. In addition to her duet with Tom Petty, "Stop Dragging My Heart Around," the Bella Donna record also included another duet, "Leather and Lace," a song Stevie sang with then boyfriend and former Eagle, Don Henley.

Stevie: Oh well he, no, he never really liked it very much. But see, I never liked it that much either. And I only finished it because Waylon Jennings liked it a lot and wanted it finished. He heard the chorus and he loved it and said 'Please do this' and it was the only really disciplined thing I ever did in my life, you know, to where I had to finish it. And so, you know Don and his cryptic way was very responsible for that song, because I must have rewrote it 875 times, which I don't ever do. I mean I just usually stick with the original thing. And I rewrote this many times because, like I'd go 'What do you think?' and then, it's like, I'd like (laughter) head and shoulders bent, slink back down the hall to try to you know, make it better.

(Leather and Lace plays...)

Joe Benson: ...Bella Donna. But once those dates were finished, she was right back in the studio working with Fleetwood Mac and though she was at the top of her game professionally, her personal life was in shambles.

This is your Uncle Joe Benson and the details are next, on Off the Record.

(commercial break.)

Joe Benson: I'm Joe Benson and this is Stevie Nicks, Off the Record.

As soon as the Bella Donna tour wrapped, Stevie entered the studio to work on what became Fleetwood Mac's 1982 album, "Mirage." The album itself was released just as Stevie lost her best friend, Robin Anderson, to leukemia. But the bout of intense depression and deepening drug use that followed Robin's death didn't stop Stevie from touring with Fleetwood Mac or starting work on her third solo record.

Stevie: I love nothing better than to be in the company of a great guitar player. It's the only time when I'm calm. And I think it's because of living all those years with Lindsey. And all he ever did was play guitar. You know, just lay on the floor and play guitar; acoustic guitar, electric guitar, not plugged in, sound off on the television. And I had to learn to cool out and be calm when that was going on, or get out. So in the studio or here or anywhere, the only time really, when I am completely calm is when like, a guitar player is like, working on a part.

(Gypsy plays...)

Joe Benson: Stevie Nicks' third solo album, Rock a Little, was released in 1985 and soon after, she decided to join Bob Dylan and Tom Petty on their month-long Australian tour, though she only ended up doing two performances with them due to problems securing a work visa.

Stevie: Well it happened, really, because I was in remixing the other side of "I Can't Wait" and I was, really, for the first time in three years, I was finished. So I was gonna go somewhere. I was gonna go to Hawaii, or I was gonna go somewhere and take a few weeks vacation. Because they really didn't need me here for anything, you know. The videos were done, there wasn't any reason to do any press or interviews at that point. And there wasn't any reason for me to just hang around Los Angeles and wait, you know. So it seemed to be the timing was really perfect. There was not another time that I could have disappeared for a month. So I just figured that it was really fate. And they just said 'Why don't you come with us.'

(Stop Draggin My Heart Around plays...)

Stevie: I tend to get very dressed up every single night, so that everybody knows when I walk in that this is serious. I don't ever go to the studio in jeans and tennis shoes, ever. I always dress up. Because I know if I walk in there, even if I'm 10 pounds overweight, if I'm dressed up and I look pretty, everybody in that room says 'Wow! She must have really thought she was going somewhere.'

Joe Benson: "Rock a Little" was produced by Jimmy Iovine and sold over one million copies just weeks after its release, much to the surprise of Ms. Nicks.

Stevie: Right up to the end of Rock a Little, I was fairly horrified that everybody thought that, you know, that there was a bunch of stuff missing on it. And I'm going 'What's missing?' You know, like Amadeaus when he says 'What notes do you want me to take out?' What is wrong with it?' They can't really tell you. It's just like change for the sake of change, not for the sake of the right thing- just for the sake of them saying, well, devil's advocate you know. 'I think it should, you know, do this or you should do that' or 'Without, you know, if you don't do this on your record it won't make it.' -- That hurts.

(Talk to Me plays...)

Joe Benson: In 1987, Stevie Nicks checked herself into the Betty Ford clinic for a 30-day stay to kick her cocaine addiction. She followed that up with Fleetwood Mac's "Tango In the Night" album and tour, the band's first tour without Lindsey Buckingham. But she couldn't stay healthy. She was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and found herself, once again, with an addiction problem, this time to pain killers.

This is your Uncle Joe Benson and once again, coming up, Stevie Nicks battles to save her life and her career.

(Has Anyone Written Anything For You.. fades out)

Joe Benson: It took Stevie Nicks almost five years to get her personal life in order. Her fourth solo album, 1989s "Other Side of the Mirror," failed to achieve the commercial success of her previous solo efforts. And that came on top of Fleetwood Mac's disappointing "Tango in the Night" release. Changes were definitely in order.

This is your Uncle Joe Benson and you are listening to Stevie Nicks, Off the Record.

Stevie officially quit Fleetwood Mac in 1993 and then decided to kick her drug habit once and for all. She emerged drug-free from the Betty Ford clinic in 1994 and recorded "Street Angel." But with her new drug-free lifestyle came new problems, weight gain. And when the press ravaged her looks on the Street Angel tour, Stevie became a virtual recluse. It took three years and a high-profile Fleetwood Mac reunion album and tour to get Stevie back on stage, and more importantly, back making music. She's since released a box set "The Enchanted Works of Stevie Nicks" and is working on yet another solo album, "Trouble in Shangri-La."

Stevie: The lines from all the songs from, you know, "Sara" and "Dreams" and "Rhiannon" and "Gold Dust Woman" and "Stand Back" and" Edge.." they're all there. They're all just like, lilting kind of, through the experiences of my life. And if you know the words to the songs, you'd be, you'd go 'Wow! I really understand now. I really understand now.'

(Sara plays...)

Stevie: I made a promise, kind of, to myself a long time ago, that I would not teach school, that I would teach school through music. That I would try to give a little bit of philosophy through my music, try to deliver some message to everybody without it being political or without it being taken the wrong way. So I can't really think that I would have done it any differently if I had it to do over. My life is not what everybody thinks it is. It is not one big glamorous day in, day out incredible experience. My life has a lot of pain in it. But I have chosen to share that with everybody and I have chosen to maybe never marry, to maybe never have children, to maybe never do some things that I probably should do. This has been my choice. It's been a path that I chose, so I live with that.

(Stand Back plays...)

Joe Benson: This weekend in Phoenix, Stevie has staged a benefit concert for the Arizona Heart Institute which pairs her on-stage for the first time with both Don Henley and Lindsey Buckingham, among other friends.

Stevie Nicks, Off the Record is a presentation of Westwood One and produced by...... etc.

(Save Me plays to fade out.)

Thanks to Laura Stuckey for transcribing this interview and sending it to The Nicks Fix.
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