Stevie Nicks: ‘The most fun I’ve ever had’ – Telegraph

Daily Telegraph
22nd June 2011

Stevie Nicks tells Helen Brown about her latest album – and the joys of being part of a double act.

Rapunzel of rock: Stevie Nicks counts Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix among her influences

When Stevie Nicks asked her 15-year-old god-daughter to take part in her new
music video – “playing me at 30, around the time I joined Fleetwood Mac” –
the girl asked for a little direction. “So I told her to twirl, talk to
yourself, make like you’re crazy, be me,” she says. “We put her in my
vintage, evergreen tie-dye with my top hat. Oh, she looked so beautiful. My
girlfriends laughed when we saw the dress. Were we ever that small? We must
have been!”

She may lament outgrowing her youthful stage gear, but Nicks is still a rock
star Rapunzel at 63, blonde locks cascading over billowing, black chiffon
sleeves. Today, she’s filled her hotel suite with candles and draped a fake
fur blanket over a chair that reclines so far back I briefly worry she’s
expecting a therapy session, not an interview.

But she’s warmly professional. “I wasn’t going to dress up for you,” she
confides, tucking a pair of long, leather boots up off the floor, “but then
I thought: In Your Dreams [her first solo album in a decade] feels like the
best thing I’ve ever done and I want to make sure I’ve done everything right
to get it out there.”

There have been times in Nicks’s career when she wasn’t capable of such
commitment. She developed a huge cocaine addiction between the 1977 release
of Fleetwood Mac’s 40 million-selling Rumours and her 1986 admission to the
Betty Ford Clinic. Her recovery was “aided” by a prescribed tranquilliser to
which she became addicted for a further eight years. “I’m still very angry
about that,” she says. “I might have met somebody, had a baby, made three
more amazing albums in those years. I’m pretty sure that had I not
eventually checked myself into a hospital and stayed there for 47 days, I
would be dead now. I would have OD’d on something crazy, over the counter.”
Nicks’s struggle with substance abuse is, perhaps, less surprising when you
know that her rock role-models were Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin – although
she looked to them more for wardrobe inspiration than lifestyle advice.
Arizona-born Nicks met her future boyfriend and songwriting partner, Lindsey
Buckingham, in high school, and their first band, Fritz, supported many big
stars between 1968-1972.

“When I first saw Janis she was very angry,” she says. “The first band had run
over time and she came on stage screaming, scared me to death. I was hiding
behind the amps. She told them to get the you-know-what off her
you-know-what stage. And they wrapped it up! Twenty minutes later, on walks
this girl in silky bell bottoms, a beautiful top, lots of gorgeous
jewellery, feathers in her crazy big natural hair. Lots of attitude,
arrogance, the crowd in the palm of her hand.

“She was not a beautiful woman, but very attractive. I was very taken with
her. Then, on the other side, was Jimi Hendrix: humble, sweet. So from Janis
I learned that to make it as a female musician in a man’s world is gonna be
tough and you need to keep your head held high. From Jimi I learned grace
and humility.”

In 1974, Buckingham and Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac. They took the group into
the mainstream with their poppier sound – and into personal soap opera
territory with a series of romantic dramas that would feed back continuously
through their lyrics. Nicks wrote some of their biggest hits, including
Rhiannon, Gypsy, Seven Wonders and (the band’s only US No 1) Dreams: about
her break-up with Buckingham. She then began a secret affair with Mick
Fleetwood (then married), who later left his wife for Nicks’s friend Sara
(yes, the one from the song Sara).

In 1981, Nicks released her first solo album, the critically acclaimed Bella
Donna, featuring a duet with her next famous beau, Don Henley (though she
recently said that Henley’s fellow Eagle, Joe Walsh, was the love of her
life). On the day Bella Donna topped the US album charts, Nicks’s best
friend, Robin, was diagnosed with leukaemia. She asked Nicks to be godmother
to the boy who was born two days before Robin’s death. Nicks went one
further, and – in what she now describes as her greatest regret – married
Robin’s widower. The couple divorced three months later.

Followers of Nicks’s tangled personal life will find songs about old lovers on
In Your Dreams. She claims not to remember who the opening song, Secret
Love, is about. Although the clue is that she wrote it in 1976.

But Everybody Loves You is about Buckingham. The whole album is a
collaboration with former Eurythmic Dave Stewart. “He sent me the song,
which just had a chorus,” she says, then begins to sing it: “Everybody loves
you/ But you’re so alone/ Everybody knows your name/ But you can’t find your
way home.”

Those husky, witching-hour vocals are still spellbinding. “I felt he wrote it
about Annie Lennox, because when you’re in a duo you really know that person
better than anybody else. So I flipped it around and wrote the verses about
me and Lindsey.”

Working with Stewart was a revelation for Nicks, who’d been a “staunchly
selfish, staunchly private songwriter” before the project. “But Dave came to
my house, pulled a poem out and said, ‘Let’s start here’.” She pulls a
horrified face. “There’s a mic hanging over the coffee table, and he’s
plugged into a little amp and he starts playing. I’m just in the headlights.
But in under an hour we had a song recorded. The doors had opened. Now I
understand why all those duos — Lennon and McCartney, Rogers and
Hammerstein, Goffin and King — wrote together. Dave made it so easy.”
Stewart even talked her into a documentary about making the album.

She laughs: “I said, ‘I have to put on make-up every day? I can’t come down
the stairs in funny slippers?’ and he said, ‘Well, no’. But he said, if you
don’t want to put on make-up, wear sunglasses. It was the most fun I’ve ever

In her enthusiasm, Nicks doesn’t sound a day older than her teenage
god-daughter. “We shot scenes with white horses, owls, gorgeous gowns… Dave
made a magical playground where everything was a toy. It was all like
Christmas morning! When I saw the film, I sat down on my red couch and cried
because it was all over.”

The oldest song on the album is a reworking of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem Annabel
Lee, which Nicks set to music when she was 17. Elsewhere, she found more
recent inspiration from the Twilight vampire movies. While she rearranges
her gothic sun and moon pendants, I come to the conclusion that Nicks is, to
some extent, still a 15-year-old girl with an unfaded passion for drama and
dressing-up, eternally romanced by lost love, ancient myth, magic and

Stevie Nicks plays the Hard Rock Festival on June 26. ‘In Your Dreams’ is
out now on Reprise Records.