Fleetwood Mac: The story behind Rhiannon | Classic Rock

04 Sep 2015 / by Bill DeMain

How a chance encounter with a fantasy novel inspired Stevie Nicks’ witchy hit and resurrected Fleetwood Mac

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It makes sense that what has become Stevie Nicks’s signature song was inspired by a kind of ancient magic. Bibliomancy, a mystical practice dating back to the 1700s, holds that if a book is picked up and opened to a page at random, the first word or sentence one sees will reveal some kind of epiphany. But the book that Nicks picked up in 1974 – one that would eventually help launch her into superstardom – didn’t exactly seem full of divine promise.

“It was just a stupid little paperback that I found somewhere at somebody’s house, lying on the couch,” Nicks says more than 40 years on. “It was called Triad [written by Mary Leader] and it was all about this girl who becomes possessed by a spirit named Rhiannon. I read the book, but I was so taken with that name that I thought: ‘I’ve got to write something about this.’ So I sat down at the piano and started this song about a woman that was all involved with these birds and magic.

Fleetwood Mac in 1975 (photo: Getty)

Fleetwood Mac in 1975 (photo: Getty)

“I still have the cassette tape of when I was first writing it,” she continues. “Lindsey [Buckingham, Nicks’s musical and then romantic partner] came in and I said: ‘We have to go to a park and record the sound of birds rising.’ And he looked at me like I was crazy. And I said: ‘Don’t you think Rhiannon is a beautiful name?’ And he said: ‘Yeah, it is a beautiful name.’” Continue reading