May 20, 1989
Stevie Nicks is one of pop’s most enduring personalities. As she releases her first solo album since 1986, Robin Smith meets the Joan Collins of rock and discovers a born survivor who’s just a romantic at heart.
Stevie Nicks’ hotel suite is so large you could land a jumbo jet on the carpet or convert the place into an outdoor golf course. But somehow, a smaller room just wouldn’t suit her. After all, Miss Nicks’ vocals have powered Fleetwood Mac to becoming one of the best selling groups of all time and she’s also pursued a very lucrative solo career. Her new single, ‘Rooms On Fire’, is nestling as comfortably in the charts as Stevie reclining on a plush sofa.
Stevie Nicks is the Joan Collins of pop. The struggling musician who scraped together a living as a waitress before she was whisked away to a limousine lifestyle. En route she’s suffered several broken love affairs, extreme loneliness and a drugs problem. "Sometimes I think that not even the bubbliest, wildest soap opera could compare with being in Fleetwood Mac," chuckles Stevie. "We’ve done a lot of laughing and a lot of bleeding in the band and I don’t think there are another group of people I could work with. There’s such a chemistry and a feeling of love and respect between us."
Flowery words perhaps, but they must be true. After all, few bands can survive for more than 10 years if, deep down, they all hate each other.
"Oh yeah, we’ve had some wonderful, crazy times," reminisces Stevie. "But I think we’ve always been too sophisticated to become your average hotel wrecking band. We always put a bit of thought into any of the pranks we got up to. I remember we played the last night of a tour in Hawaii and somebody put chickens in the road manager’s room. It looked like a farmyard because somebody had put straw all over the place as well. And then we had this terrific fight with chocolate cream cakes. I was wearing a white chiffon outfit and my beautiful white suede boots. I never did get the muck properly cleaned off. We led a high pressure existence, we spent most of our lives on the road for a long time. We had to let off steam."
If you made a line of all the records Fleetwood Mac have sold, it would probably stretch halfway around the world. Fleetwood Mac have always epitomized the idea of a massive American rock band. The sort of people who would get into a chauffeur driven Cadillac even if they were popping down the road for a box of Kleenex. "You know, I still get a thrill every time I see a long line of seven limousines coming to pick the band up before a show," sighs Stevie. "I think Mac has survived because we’ve written timeless songs. You listen to a Fleetwood Mac song and it just grabs you; and the experience we write into the songs make people identify with us. When I look at the audience out there it’s like I’m looking at my children. Fleetwood Mac’s audience must now stretch across two generations and I love ‘em all."
But behind the elation of selling millions of records and playing in front of large crowds, lay the pressure of sleepless nights, stage fright and insecure relationships. Stevie flirted with cocaine but now she’s been able to sort herself out and not become another showbiz tragedy. "Let’s get one thing straight, cocaine is not a creative drug!" says Stevie firmly. "If you take cocaine it will not help you to create a masterpiece. But what it will do is help you to put the tiredness at the back of your mind. If you’ve worked all hours, six days solid and you have to face another day under that kind of pressure, you might think that some sort of stimulant is going to be the answer. But I didn’t know about cocaine until I was 29, and let me tell you this, Fleetwood Mac never dabbled in heroin."
Stevie is a born survivor and at the ripe old age of 40 she seems to be very happy and positive about herself. Her life, though, has always been a bit of a fairytale. Born in Phoenix, Arizona, she traveled around America with her family as her dad, an executive in the food business, climbed the corporate ladder. As a kid Stevie would dance for hours in front of a mirror and one of the first people to recognize her talent was her grandfather, a country and western singer who used to feature her in some of his shows. On her 16th birthday, Stevie received a guitar from her parents and composed her first song, ‘I’ve Loved and I’ve Lost’, the very same day. later she joined a folk rock group before forming a duo with her Fleetwood Mac partner Lindsey Buckingham. They weren’t a success and Stevie was working as a waitress until a fateful phone call ...
"It was New Year’s Eve, 1974," she recalls. Mick Fleetwood said he wanted us to join his band. He’d heard some of our material and was so knocked out he didn’t even bother to see what we look like"
Within a month, Stevie and Lindsey were in the studio recording the multi- million selling "Fleetwood Mac" album. The rest, as they say, is history. But even though she’s been a part of such a successful group, Stevie’s always had a strong desire to prove herself on her own terms. ‘Rooms On Fire’ is taken from Stevie’s third solo album, The Other Side Of the Mirror, due out at the end of the month, and it’s an LP full of atmospheric songs brimming over with bite and intensity. "I guess the single is about when you’re in a crowded room and you see a kind of person and your heart goes, ‘Wow!’ The whole world seems to be ablaze at that particular moment. You see I don’t write fantasy songs. Everything I write is based on personal experience. I guess I’m quite an intense, romantic person. Of course, selling lots of records means you can live a privileged, glamorous lifestyle, but it becomes very lonely as well."
Stevie had a relationship with Lindsey Buckingham for a number of years but eventually they parted not on the best of terms. However, he did phone her shortly before this interview took place, and for old times sake Stevie says she’ll definitely call him back. "Even if a man has the patience of a saint, I doubt if he could really put up with my lifestyle," she reflects. "How can you have a proper relationship when you’ve got to kiss the guy good-bye and say, 'I’m sorry honey I’m going away on a world tour for the next five months’? I’m sure Madonna is in a similar type of situation. Madonna and I are kind of soulmates. She’s a hardworking, spunky little lady and I’m sure she’s going to end up like me. I’d love to do a duet with her some day." But for the time being, Stevie is basking in the contentment of finishing off her latest album and looking forward to working again with Fleetwood Mac. She says she’s glad she missed Mick Fleetwood co-presenting the Brit awards, and she won’t be embarrassing him by talking about his performance when they next have dinner together.
While she’s in London, Stevie also wants to replenish her collection of flowing dresses and silk scarves which have become her trademark. Somehow, she just wouldn’t look right in a pair of torn 501’s. "I’ve always liked long, flowing clothes," she purrs. "I used to rummage around in my grandmother’s trunks trying to find them. I love the feeling of chiffon and lace."
Somebody call the fire brigade, the room is about to go up in smoke ...
Thanks to Tami Lee for sending the article to The Nicks Fix.