Stevie – Scotmans Interview (UK)

Sun 30 Sep 2007

‘Joe Walsh and I were doing so much cocaine we were sure we were going to die’

STEVIE NICKS lives in a huge house in Pacific Palisades. As you’d expect, it favours the same kind of gothic, velvet fabric she wears on stage and has sported in publicity shoots over the years – lush and seductive, from the more-is-more school of decoration.

I wait with her dogs in the kitchen, where her assistant has prepared snacks. One Yorkshire terrier has the same blonde hair as Nicks, and it falls into a 1970s-style fringe. The dog growls at me, baring tiny, sharp teeth. Another is wearing a coat. Nicks’s assistant tells me that the singer spent thousands of dollars on the pet, believing the dog was stressed and had alopecia. It turned out that the pooch is a Chinese Yorkie, the mother having got lucky with a Chinese crested canine – bald of body and hairy of face – at the breeders. The dogs weave in and out of Nicks’s heels as she brings me into the living-room.

You get the impression that Nicks loves to be interviewed. She can always delve into her drug-addled past for a good story. Her life with Fleetwood Mac was one big, bad soap opera: unmissable, lucrative, tragic, addictive. She has had many rock-star lovers, including Don Henley and Joe Walsh of The Eagles, and two members of Fleetwood Mac – Mick Fleetwood, with whom she’s still very friendly, and Lindsey Buckingham, with whom she’s not. Buckingham was the love and hate of her life. The unravelling of him made for some pretty good songs, such as ‘Landslide’.

Nicks’s solo career has outshone that of Buckingham or the rest of Fleetwood Mac. Her greatest hits album, Crystal Visions, features a haunting version of ‘Landslide’ – deeper, growlier, sadder, especially when she sings the words “I’m getting older”. She’s 59 and you might expect her to look a little tragic. In fact, she looks much like a slightly less airbrushed version of her publicity photos: the eyes big and brooding; the skin peachy soft; and the long hair vibrant and lustrous. She’s wearing her trademark chiffon top with multiple layers.

You might imagine that she’s hypersensitive, histrionic, sad, ravaged, bitter – there are many things that have gone wrong with her life – but she’s not. She is feisty. She is the kind of woman who has always said yes and never regretted it.

And through it all, she wrote an amazing collection of songs, including Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rhiannon’, and ‘Edge of Seventeen’ from her solo album Bella Donna. This year, she has been playing mostly in Vegas and before that she was on tour with some of the other former members of Fleetwood Mac.

Before Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac, she was in a band with Buckingham, called Buckingham Nicks. They became lovers, and it seems that no matter whom they subsequently fell in love with, they could never fully get over that relationship.

“He wasn’t ever able to revel in any kind of joy for my success for Bella Donna,” recalls Nicks. “He would always start an argument – ‘We’re really not here to discuss your solo records, Stevie,'” she mimics – despite the fact that Bella Donna was laced with lines about him. “Oh, there’s tons about him on that album,” she says. “Even now I’m still writing about Lindsey. I always write about Lindsey – a line or two in every song. I pull him, the drama queen, back in whenever I need a dramatic moment. To this day, he provides me with so much stuff to write about. I thank him for that. Do you know, I gave him a signed copy of Bella Donna. He left it leaning against the recording studio wall for a month. I took it back, crossed his name out, and gave it to somebody else.”

Bella Donna came out in 1981, but she recounts the slight as if it were yesterday. She says that she and Buckingham did 105 shows together two years ago and she felt she was walking on eggshells through every one of them. “Nothing ever changes,” she says, almost relishing the irritation. “The way we are is similar to the way it was 30 years ago. Really, Lindsey never got over us breaking up in 1976, even though he is now married to a very nice woman and has stunning children. He has lots of issues and he blames Fleetwood Mac for us breaking up and he blames Fleetwood Mac for not letting him play the kind of music he wanted to play.”

Nicks, though, doesn’t seem to blame anyone, and explains why some former lovers can become friends and others can’t. “I think Lindsey could never enjoy who I am because I’ve been that same person since he met me. Compare that to Tom Petty, who could invite me to go on the road and I ended up doing 27 shows for him. It was wonderful. I did not get paid – Tom paid my extremely expensive expenses instead. I went because I wanted to be with Tom and for the love of what we were doing. Tom would say, ‘Here’s Stevie Nicks, isn’t she great?’ We’ve always been very good friends because Tom is confident; Tom is not threatened by me.”

She continues: “Mick Fleetwood is my dear friend. We, too, had a bad break-up because Mick fell in love with my best friend Sara, hence the song ‘Sara’. It was painful and terrible. Not only did I lose Mick but I lost my best friend. I forgave Sara three months later and forgave Mick six months later. They were married for 18 years and now I’m godmother to his two five-year-old girls from his current marriage.”

After all this, though, she doesn’t rule out another Fleetwood Mac reunion. “Everyone could use the money, especially Mick and John [McVie], as they don’t write. They don’t get the publishing royalties that Christine [McVie], Lindsey and I get. They are going to want to play until they drop dead. I’ll decide later. And if Lindsey has an epiphany, where he changes into a completely different person and suddenly realises he has no reason to complain about anything, who knows? But I don’t think people change. I don’t think I’ve changed since I was about 15 years old.”

Maybe knowing who she was has been the key to her survival. Fleetwood Mac were so famous in their day, you wonder if it was hard for her to adjust to no longer being quite so famous. You also get the impression that the band itself was not her entire world. Probably, she was more interested in writing her own songs, taking her own drugs and having her own rollercoaster love affairs.

Does she have a man in her life now? “No, I don’t. I had a relationship three years ago with someone I’d gone out with a long time ago. It didn’t work out then and it didn’t work out now. It just proved my theory that you can never go back. Before that, in 1997, around the time of The Dance, I went out with somebody for a little over a year who was quite enamoured with me. I decided he was way too young for me, though. I was nearly 50 and he was nearly 30. We had a riot but I said that eventually he would make me feel extremely old, so I ended it. But I’m never not open to the possibility of romance.”

She says that her last relationship ended, or rather never really took off, because she made a huge amount of money in a publishing deal, and she was thrilled and excited but she couldn’t share it. “I was tickled, thrilled, and I made the mistake of telling somebody who was struggling in this business. As the words came out of my mouth, I could see that he didn’t think it was funny. So I knew our relationship was never going to work because I can’t be a person who is not going to share that moment.”

In fact, she shares the moment with me: she found out she’d made 7 million from “that little song ‘Landslide'”. “I wrote it in 1973 and it was about whether I should continue my relationship with Lindsey – ‘I took my love, I took it down’,” she sings softly. “And that was like taking your ego down from the mantelpiece, trying to find out whether this love affair was about the music or what. Was I willing to be in a relationship that was going to be difficult? Was it worth throwing away? Would it get better? And I decided to give it another chance.

“So, anyway, now I need to find the kind of guy who finds my whole life hysterical. I need one who is richer and more powerful, who thinks it’s all a hoot.” Nicks says even her assistant, “who is beautiful, talented and 39”, can’t find a man. “And I’m 59 and think I’m pretty fantastic. So what’s up? Where are all the boyfriends? But I believe that there is a God and He will fill my life with work. I am never lonely, but this is a big, old house to be in all by myself. I am selling it – it’s too big for me and my little dogs.”

She adds: “My relationships were consistent until about ten years ago. I had some beautiful men in my life. I was passionately in love with Joe Walsh, for example. He was very rich, very famous, a huge rock star. He would come to my house and my friends would be over, and he would say, ‘I don’t know these people, get them out.’ So I would throw them all out. He just wanted to be with me. It was flattering and irritating in equal parts. I could never have been married to Joe, but we were all so high at that point. Joe and I were doing so much cocaine, we were sure we were going to die.

“Joe became sober first and then I went to the Betty Ford clinic. No one did coke around me after 1985. I thought the whole world had stopped doing it but it turns out they were just being respectful.” She talks about getting over her mountainous drug addiction as if all she was doing was getting over a cold. Is it true she has a hole in her nose? “I do. If I wanted to put a huge, gold ring through it, I could. A gold ring with diamonds. Sometimes with my nieces and goddaughters, I just want to say, ‘Do you want to take a cigarette and put it through my nose?’, just to gross them out, to get across to them this shit can hurt you. Check it out, I’ve got a gaping hole.” She thrusts her head back but I decline the invitation.

“The hole in my nose was due to the fact that I used to have such headaches,” she continues. “I would dissolve an Aspirin in water, take an eye dropper and put the Aspirin up my nose to take the pain away – without knowing that Aspirin dissolves anything. My whole nose could have collapsed.”

That’s the great thing about Nicks – much of her could have collapsed, but it never did. “Despite the coke, at least I still had a brain – I came out of Betty Ford and I felt capable of fixing this situation. But nobody would leave me alone about it. They told me to go and see a shrink to talk about everything, that I needed to have follow-up treatment. I really wasn’t missing the drugs, but I got the name of a doctor from somebody and went to see him. ‘I’m here because the world doesn’t think I can do it by myself,’ I told him. And he put me on a drug called Klonopin, a complex and dangerous derivative of Valium.

“I went from two blue pills in the morning to four blue pills; then it was two white pills in the morning and at bedtime. He just kept upping my dose. If I went without it for two days, I would start to shake. I was shaking all the time – shaking so hard that people would look at me. I thought I had Parkinson’s. I can honestly say I lost most of my 40s to this drug. It was eight years of my life gone. Your 40s are the last vestige of your youth and mine was ripped away from me by this jerk. One day, I got my assistant to take everything that I took, and I said I would sit with him in case he died. ‘I want to see how this affects you,’ I told him, ‘because I think I’m dying.’ So he took it all.” She recounts this story as if it was the most normal thing in the world – like Cleopatra might have had her slave taste her food for poison.

“He was a very good friend,” Nicks goes on. “He was in the middle of setting up my stereo system and he just passed out. So I decided I should get off Klonopin. The doctor said he didn’t think it was a good idea. That’s what he always said.

“I told him I was going into rehab and he said, ‘No, I can cut your dose down,’ but I had made my mind up. I was in there for 47 days and it made the detox from cocaine look like a walk in the park. My hair turned grey and my skin moulted. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t stand up in a shower. I thought I was going to die. But after 47 days I came out shining on the other side. I had a new lease of life. It’s been easy for me to stay sober. I could still drink alcohol recreationally because I’m not an alcoholic, but for my menopause I take a drug called Neurontin. It handles the menopause brilliantly, but if you take so much as a nip of tequila it makes you very sick.”

During her time on Klonopin, Nicks says she put on a lot of weight. “When I went to this doctor, I weighed nine stone and I ended up 12 stone. He watched me turn into a fat blob.” She’s not a fat blob now, I tell her. “That’s because I’m wearing a good top. You should get one.” She can’t remember who made it, so she has me come round to the back of her and look inside for the label. And that’s how the whole interview’s been, really – she’s let me look inside.

“My life is always open,” she says. “I love my work. I have so many projects I want to do. I am going to have my children’s story made into an animated movie. It’s about a ladybug and a goldfish, and I’ve already cast Angelina Jolie as a goldfish. I feel that something really good is coming for me. It might be a person, it might be music, but something good is coming into my life.”

Crystal Visions: The Very Best of Stevie Nicks is released by Warners

Go their own way
FLEETWOOD MAC were a highly influential and successful band, but were plagued by internal disputes and personnel changes.

They began as a British blues combo in the late 1960s and slowly evolved into a pop/rock act. In 1974, Stevie Nicks and then boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham joined the band “as a package”, and took their positions alongside Mick Fleetwood and another couple, John and Christine McVie.

The band endured a host of changes throughout their career, but these five were considered the definitive line-up in 1975.

Unfortunately for them, the two couples in the band split not long after this. Fortunately for the public, this led to enormous creative and personal tensions, and spawned Fleetwood Mac’s most successful album Rumours. Released in 1977, it is the tenth highest-selling album of all time. Its hit singles include ‘The Chain’, ‘Go Your Own Way’ and ‘Don’t Stop’.

In an interview last year, Buckingham hinted at a Fleetwood Mac reunion tour next year. But for now recording and touring plans are on hold.

Stevie Nicks: A Survivor’s Story

Daily Telegraph (UK)
Telegraph Magazine
12:01am BST 08/09/2007

Thirty years after she sold her soul to the devil and, with Fleetwood Mac, set new records for rock’n’roll overindulgence, Stevie Nicks has somehow lived to tell the tale – and what a tale it is. Now if only she could remember where she lives… Interview by Mick Brown. Photograph by Neal Preston

Telegraph Magazine CoverStevie at her home

During the 10 or so years that she was addicted to cocaine – back in the days when Fleetwood Mac’s album credits would include a ‘thanks’ to their dealer – Stevie Nicks estimates that she must have spent more than $1 million on the drug. ‘At $100 a pop – that’s a gram – and we were the ones who were buying it for everybody else; not only us, but all our friends.’ Nicks thinks about this. ‘Actually, I would say millions.’

Stevie Nicks: ‘My life is very cloistered really. Because I don’t go anywhere by myself, you know what I mean?’
It all came to end in 1986, when a plastic surgeon advised her that if she wanted her nose to remain on her face she should stop snorting coke immediately. (The legacy was a hole in her septum the size of a five cent piece.) So it was off to the Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs, which was like ‘the army’ – meetings from six in the morning until nine at night. ‘Tammy Wynette was there, and one of James Taylor’s backing singers.’ After 30 days she had an epiphany, and that was it for the cocaine.

She hunches forward in her chair, sipping at her tea, which is about the strongest stimulant she indulges in these days. The dying afternoon sun is slanting through the window behind her, casting a halo around the blonde curls that tumble past her shoulders. ‘So when I left Betty Ford, I felt that I was fine. But my world was terrified that I was not fine.’

Your world? ‘The powers that be, the people around me. They were terrified I was going to start doing it again. I think everybody knew I wasn’t an alcoholic, because I’m not; but I drank. And every-body thought I should go to AA, and in order to get out of that the next best thing in everybody else’s eyes was for me to go see a shrink. I really didn’t want to go. But I finally just said all right in order to get all of you off my back…’

The psychiatrist, she says, put her on a tranquilliser called Klonopin – ‘he said to calm my nerves a little. I didn’t want to do it. He said, “You’re nervous.” And I was nervous; I’m a nervous person. So I finally just said, all right.’ Klonopin, Nicks says, is a member of the Valium family. ‘It’s a tranquilliser, right? And you think, what does tranquilliser mean? It tranquillises you!’ Particularly when, as Nicks claims, the drug is radically oversubscribed. After a year, she realised she was beginning to put on weight and lose interest in her work. ‘And the saddest thing, I did an interview in England, and somebody had sent the article to my mother and she read it to me over the phone. And it said, you could see Stevie Nicks in there, but she was very sad and very quiet and she was just a shadow of her former self. And that article broke my heart.

‘And after that, it got worse, because he kept upping my dose. 1988 into ’89, I’m now not even writing songs any more. I was living in a beautiful rented house in the Valley, and just pretty much staying home. Ordering take-in and watching TV. And I’ve gained 30lb and I’m 5ft 1in tall, and I’m so miserable. And I started to notice that I was shaking all the time, and I’m noticing that everybody else is noticing it too. And then I’m starting to think, do I have some kind of neurological disease and I’m dying?’

So 1993 comes rolling round, and Stevie Nicks is finally convinced that the protracted high dosage of Klonopin might be killing her. So she does exactly what you or I might do. She instructs her personal assistant, Glenn, to take her daily dose – just to see what effect it has.

‘I said, it won’t kill you, because it hasn’t killed me, but I just want to see what you think. Because Glenn was terribly worried about me – everybody was. So I was taking two in the morning, two in the afternoon and two more at night. At that point if I could find a Percoset, because I’m so miserable, I’d take that, or I’d take a Fiorocet – anything.

‘So Glenn proceeds to take all my medicine. He was setting up a stereo in the living-room. Well, after half an hour he was just sitting there. And he said, “I can’t fix the stereo and I don’t think I can drive home.” And I said, “Well, good – just stay there, because I’m studying you.” And he was almost hallucinating. It was bad. And I called up my psychiatrist, and I said, “I gave Glenn every-thing you’ve prescribed for me.” And the first words out of his mouth were, “Are you trying to kill him?” And the next words out of my mouth were, “Are you trying to kill me?” ‘

Nicks admitted herself to the Daniel Freeman Memorial Hospital in Venice Beach. It took her 47 days to detox. ‘Dallas Taylor, the drummer for Crosby, Stills and Nash, was there the whole time. I nearly died. I moulted. My hair turned grey. My skin started to completely peel off. I was in terrible pain.’ She shivers at the memory. ‘I think it’s very good to talk about this to get the message out into the world about addiction to this particular drug. That was the worst period of my life. They stole my forties. It was eight completely wasted years of my life.’ Here’s the irony, she says: the ‘powers that be’ had sent her to the psychiatrist in order to keep her working, but the ‘treatment’ he gave her made work almost impossible. ‘It’s very Shakespearean. It’s very much a tragedy.’

But what happened to Glenn?

Nicks throws back her hair. ‘Glenn was OK, because it was just for one day.’

Stevie Nicks lives in a large, extremely beautiful house built in the 1930s in the American colonial style, situated in the hills behind Santa Monica. She is in a meeting when I arrive, and I am shown into the library – a wood-panelled room, the walls hung with pre-Raphaelite miniatures and tapestries. On the bookshelves are volumes about the Kabbalah, Madame Blavatsky and Arthurian legend; a copy of The Johns Hopkins Consumer Guide to Drugs sits beside Luxury Hotels of the World.

At length Nicks appears and leads me down the hall, past a store room filled with travel wardrobes – her stage costumes – and into a spacious sitting-room. There is a velvet chaise-longue draped in silk, Persian carpets, carved tables. Home recording equipment, keyboards and a couple of guitars stand in one corner. Nicks moves among the collection of colourful Art Deco lamps that stand on every surface, carefully orchestrating the ambient light. ‘That’s the famous blue lamp that’s been in lots of photos; that’s a Tiffany,’ she says. ‘And so is that one. I don’t know about the others.’

Even though she is now 59, as Stevie Nicks puts it, ‘I still look very much like me’, which is to say unreconstructed fantasy flower-child: kohl-eyed, bee-stung lips, wrapped in a muted symphony of rustling satin and chiffon, legs encased in pointed heel, knee-high black suede boots. In Fleetwood Mac’s heyday in the late 1970s Nicks was ‘the mystical one’ whose ethereal appearance, love of gothic romances and songs about witches, gypsies and dreams lent her a certain evanescently wistful air. ‘Sweet, fragile, airy-fairy,’ she says with a laugh. ‘That was this person on drugs.’

Nobody survives in the rock’n’roll business for 30 years by being ‘airy-fairy’, however, and there is a palpable vein of toughness under the cordial, disarmingly confessional manner. Nicks is delightful company; but you wouldn’t want to cross her.

Nicks was married once, fleetingly, but she has no children and no permanent partner. She shares the house with her god-daughter, who is in her early twenties, and who lives in the guesthouse above the garage. Nicks has lived here for two years, and it was a mistake, she says, from day one. So she is moving to a penthouse apartment on the beach and the house is on the market.

‘I saw it, and there was this big family living here that obviously loved it. So there was a vibe here. And something in me thought, maybe I can have that. I was not here three days before I thought, what the hell do I here? I was too shallow and stupid to realise that it wasn’t the house I’d fallen in love with but the mom and the dad and the four kids, and the smells of the cooking.’ She sighs. It is, she reflects, a house ‘for adults. And even though I’m pushing 60 I don’t feel that I’m that old yet.’

Does she see beauty when she looks in the mirror? ‘Sometimes I still think that I’m looking OK. And other times I look at myself and I go, “Oh, my God, you’re so old.” ‘

She pulls a face and laughs. ‘I wrote a song once called The Prettiest Girl in the World, and that was a long time ago. But when you’ve been the prettiest girl in the world – and I don’t mean the most beautiful girl; I just mean a really pretty girl, a really talented girl, a girl who writes really good songs. When you’ve been all that and you’re a lot older, it is hard. You see the lines’ – Nicks runs her fingers along the thickening curve of her jaw – ‘and you start to see this happening; and even though I’m thinner than I was a long time ago, you see your body changing and you go, well maybe this is not age-appropriate and I shouldn’t wear the chiffon scarf any more; and then you go, but if I’m going to change the whole thing it’s not me any more.’ She shakes the thought to one side. ‘I’m just terribly excited to get into my rock’n’roll penthouse and out of here. I feel old here.’

I don’t know if Stevie Nicks’s passport describes her as ‘rock’n’roll star’, but it is the term she uses to describe herself, completely unselfconsciously, as if rock’n’roll star were a vocation, or a destiny embodied in the genes.

Nicks’s father was a business executive – a vice-president of Greyhound Buses, the president of a food company – whose work took the family on a journey across the south-west of America – Arizona, Los Angeles, New Mexico, El Paso, Salt Lake City, San Francisco. The elder of two child-ren (she has a brother, Christopher), as a young girl she was fixated on two things – dressing up and singing. Her teenage heroines were Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin. In high school she met another aspiring rock star, Lindsey Buckingham. They became a couple and moved to Los Angeles, performing together as a duo, both singing and songwriting. In 1975 they recorded an album, Buckingham Nicks, that led to them being invited to join Fleetwood Mac. A British blues band that had transplanted to America, Mac had already enjoyed a distinctly chequered history with one founding member, Peter Green, succumbing to LSD psychosis, and another, Jeremy Spencer, leaving to join the religious cult the Children of God.

The addition of Buckingham and Nicks brought a pop sensibility and a clutch of exhilarating songs that rejuvenated the group. An eponymous album went to number one in America; the follow-up, Rumours, released in 1977, became a phenomenon. By then, Nicks and Buckingham were breaking up after five years together. The seven-year marriage of the band’s bass player, John McVie, and pianist, Christine McVie, was coming to an end. The drummer, Mick Fleetwood, was in the midst of divorce proceedings with his wife. Rumours fastidiously chronicled this tangled and incestuous emotional mess – made more tangled still when Fleetwood and Nicks began a surreptitious affair that ended when Fleetwood switched his affections to Nicks’s friend Sara Recor – the inspiration for Nicks’s song Sara. Nicks, meanwhile, embarked on an affair with Don Henley of the Eagles.

Rumours went on to sell more than 30 million copies around the world (it remains one of the biggest-selling records of all time), launching the group into the realm of imperious self-indulgence more commonly associated with dictators of small African countries. During the group’s Tusk tour in 1979, Nicks insisted that each hotel room she stayed in should be painted pink and equipped with a white piano. I remember being present at a photo-shoot for the group in LA the following year. A certain tension permeated the air, and at one point a crisis loomed when one of the group discovered that the champagne that had been provided was not of the preferred vintage; a minion was dispatched to fetch more. The shoot took less than two hours. But enough gourmet food had been provided to feed Burkina Faso. ‘And nobody ate a bite, right?’ Nicks says with a knowing shake of her head. ‘If we’d just counted the meals that we ordered and were never eaten it was probably a million.’

Between the cocaine and the banquets, the sports cars and the Hollywood mansions, Mick Fleetwood went bankrupt – twice. ‘Because Mick didn’t write songs, so he didn’t make the publishing money that Christine and Stevie and Lindsey did,’ Nicks says. ‘But Mick spent just as much money. Millions. So if Mick Fleetwood could go back right now and change that, he would.’

Nicks and Buckingham were more careful, retaining an independent business management firm to handle their affairs when they joined Fleetwood Mac. ‘So even though we spent a lot of money, a lot of it was invested.’

What was it invested in?

‘I have no idea.’

Fame, and the privilege and separation it brings, has a way of incapacitating people, insulating them not only from other people, but from the practicalities of life. When I ask Nicks for her zip code she admits she has no idea what it is. Or her house number, or her telephone number. Her driving licence ran out in 1978, and she has never renewed it. ‘My life is very cloistered really,’ she says. ‘Because I don’t go anywhere by myself, you know what I mean? I’m very, very famous, and I walk in somewhere and people are, like, “Oh, my God!” And I love it, and it’s sweet and I sign autographs. But on the other side of that, my assistant and I get in the car and go to the mall; I’m certainly not going to give up shopping. But I would seldom get in a car all by myself.’

When she and Buckingham were living together and struggling, before Fleetwood Mac, Nicks did everything: she kept house, worked as a waitress and a cleaner. ‘I made the money that supported Lindsey and me, and I paid for the apartment and the car and everything. And I loved that.’

A few years ago she went to see a psychologist – she was having a ‘horrible’ menopause, she says, and wanted to talk to an older woman about it – ‘and she said to me that in a way the saddest day of your life was the day you joined Fleetwood Mac, because that was when you ceased to be caretaker and became somebody that everybody else took care of. And she was absolutely spot on. Because I’m very much… if my family’s coming here for Christmas, I’m the one who’s making the house ready and fixing the beds. I don’t have people around to do that kind of stuff for me.

‘The people that I have gone out with will tell you that I’m a great girlfriend. I want to make sure that you have the llama hot-water bottle, and the perfect cashmere blanket and the exact perfect pillow. I know about all that stuff.’

Nicks recorded her first solo album, Bella Donna, in 1981, and has released eight albums in the years since. Her fortunes dipped radically in the mid-1990s, when she was struggling with her addiction to Klonopin, but her last studio album, Trouble in Shangri-La, released in 2001, went multi-platinum, giving her her greatest success in two decades. At the same time she continued to play a part in the ongoing soap opera that has been Fleetwood Mac. She formally left the band in 1993, but rejoined in 1997. The last album by the band, Say You Will, was recorded in 2003, but Nicks shows scant enthusiasm for the prospect of another reunion. Christine McVie retired from touring in 1998, and Nicks says she has no interest in working with the group unless McVie returns. ‘I don’t like it as the boys’ club. We could make millions and millions of dollars touring again. But I just don’t know if I want to go again without Chris.’

This dedication to her career has not been without cost. Nicks ‘pretty much sold my soul to the devil a long time ago’, as she puts it, so that ‘I could follow this dream fully and completely, and not be wrapped up in children and husbands and boyfriends and all of that. I chose not to have child-ren.’ Her brief marriage in 1983, she says, ‘doesn’t count’. It was an odd episode. That year her best friend Robin died of leukaemia three days after giving birth to a son, Matthew. A grieving Nicks convinced the bereaved husband, Kim Anderson, that they should marry and raise the child together. ‘Completely crazy.’ She shrugs. ‘We were all in such insane grief, just completely deranged. The families were just outraged at what we were doing; in a lot of people’s eyes it was very blasphemous. But I didn’t care. All I cared about was that little boy, Matthew.’ The marriage lasted only a few weeks, before Nicks made the decision to bring it to an end. ‘I said, “You have to take the baby and go back to Minnesota”, where he was from, where he had family, “because, Kim, I’m a rock’n’roll star. It’s what I do, it’s who I am.” ‘ She didn’t see Matthew for the next eight years, but she is now putting him through college in Atlanta.

There are the great loves of your life, she says, then there are the loves of your life, and then there are the companions of your life – ‘there’s all the different kind of love affairs that you have. But all the great loves of my life wouldn’t have been any better at settling down than me.’

And who has been the greatest love of her life?

‘My great, great love was Joe Walsh.’

Joe Walsh? Of the Eagles? I struggle to keep the note of surprise out of my voice.

‘It’s crazy, isn’t it?’

I am no expert on Nicks’s romantic adventures, but I’ve done my research. Her affairs with Buckingham, Fleetwood, Don Henley, the record executive Jimmy Iovine – all are well chronicled. But nowhere have I found a single reference to Joe Walsh.

‘1983 to 1986,’ Nicks says crisply. ‘I don’t know – why do you love somebody? Why do you love them so much that when they walk in the room your heart jumps out of your chest? I don’t know. But I fell in love with Joe at first sight from across the room, in the bar at the Mansions Hotel in Dallas. I looked at him and I walked across the room and I sat on the bar stool next to him, and two seconds later I crawled into his lap, and that was it.

‘We were probably the perfect, complete, crazy pair. He was the one that I would have married, and that I would probably have changed my life around for…’ She pauses. ‘A little bit. Not a lot. But he wouldn’t have changed his life either.’

The reason they broke up, she says, is that they were both ‘really seriously drug addicts. We were a couple on the way to hell.’

The relationship finally ended when Walsh got on a plane and went to Australia ‘to get away from me, basically. He thought – or so I’m told by my friends that Joe told – that one of us was going to die, and the other person would not be able to save them. And I did think I was going to die, absolutely. It took me a long, long time to get over it – if I ever got over it. Because there was no other man in the world for me. And it’s the same today, even though Joe is married and has two sons. He met somebody in rehab and got married. And I think he’s happy.’

Oddly enough, Nicks once said very much the same thing about Lindsey Buckingham, telling one journalist that Buckingham was ‘my first love and my love for all time. But we can’t ever be together. He has a lovely wife, Kristen, who I really like… I look at him now and just go, “Oh, Stevie, you made a mistake.” ‘

Nicks shoots me a look when I mention this. ‘Well, he was my great musical love, and that’s very different. Lindsey and I both loved each other not just because we loved Lindsey and Stevie, but because we loved what Lindsey and Stevie did. And that is definitely what kept Lindsey and me together for as long as we did stay together. It’s not that he’s not a great love – he is a great love. And I write songs about him to this day. I don’t know why. But whenever we’re together we fight – to this day.’

Nicks thinks on this. She doesn’t want people to think that she thinks love doesn’t exist, she says, or that she has given up on finding it for herself.

‘It’s not that. It’s just that I am fine without it because it’s like I’m involved in a love affair all of the time with my music and what I do. But if the right man walked into my life today and said, “Will you go out to dinner with me tonight?” and I felt that thing, I would absolutely do it. But I love what I do so much that I’ve never sat around and worried about it.’

She has always tried to be a good person, she says. ‘I’ve tried very hard to use my fame, and my money and my power to do good things.’ Last year she established her own charity project, the Stevie Nicks Soldier’s Angel Foundation, which aims to use music in the rehabilitation of US servicemen and women wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. The idea for the foundation came to Nicks after a visit to the Walter Reed military hospital in Washington in 2005. (‘I walked into Walter Reed today a single woman with no children,’ she wrote on her website journal. ‘I walked out a mother, a wife, a girlfriend, a sister, a daughter, a nurse, a patient’s advocate – a changed woman. What I saw today will never leave my heart.’)

‘And believe me, talk about feeling old.’ Nicks laughs. ‘I go in and some of these kids don’t even know who I am. So of course I tell them.’

The foundation has provided hundreds of iPods to injured servicemen and women. ‘In my estimation music is the best thing you can possibly give to them, because it’s the only thing that’s going to get them up out of the bed,’ Nicks says. ‘So I try to do good things – things that I can make happen that maybe the next person couldn’t make happen. I don’t think I’m a prima donna at all. I was the same person when I was a waitress and cleaning people’s houses.’

Her life has long followed a pattern. She rises sometime around midday, and goes to bed between three and 4am: ‘My favourite time is midnight.’ She writes songs and listens to music and goes on tour. ‘If you asked me, “What’s your idea of a good time?” I’d say a fantastic grand piano, overlooking the ocean if possible; or going to a studio and being able to record; to write a new song and listen back to something I wrote yesterday and really put it together.’

She is working on a new project now, inspired by The Mabinogion Tetralogy, by the American author Evangeline Walton, and its connection to what is probably Nicks’s most famous song, Rhiannon. The Tetralogy is an epic retelling of stories from the Welsh Mabinogi – a collection of myths and legends that are believed to date from the 12th century. Nicks had never heard of Walton or the Mabinogion when she wrote Rhiannon in 1973.

‘I’d read another novel about two sisters, Branwen and Rhiannon. I wrote the song about Rhiannon, and bought an Afghan hound and named her Branwen. So it could have been the other way around, you know.’

In 1978, after a fan had introduced her to the Tetralogy, she contacted Walton and visited her at her home in Tucson. ‘She was living in this little tract home, and you went inside and it was all, like, gothic and curtains. And right on the mantelpiece was a big stone lion inscribed with the words “Song of Rhiannon”. I thought, this is so wild – the world is small somehow, you know? If you look at the dates, it was kind of like Evangeline’s work ended on Rhiannon, and mine began. It’s almost like this has been laid out to me, by the gods – or whomever – that this will be the next 20 years of my life.’

Three years ago Nicks and a couple of girlfriends spent three months in Hawaii brainstorming the Tetralogy with a view to translating it into a musical work. ‘It could be a movie. It could be a record. It could be a couple of records. It could be a mini-series. It could be an animated cartoon. There is no end to what this could be, because the stories are fantastic. We started in that totally scholarly, you-are-a-student-of-Welsh-mythology place. And then I got a call from my manager saying, “I need you to come to Vegas right now because Celine Dion and Elton John are playing back to back at the Caesar’s theatre, and they want you to do a week there. It’s really good money and you don’t have to travel very far.” And I’m, like, “Howard, I am on a spiritual quest here; I really cannot come to Vegas.” And he’s, like, “Stevie, you have to, please, just come tomorrow.” ‘

So what did she do?

Stevie Nicks throws back her head and laughs.

‘We went to Vegas.’

‘Crystal Visions… The Very Best of Stevie Nicks’ is released on September 24

Picture Scans provided by trackaghost

Verbatim: Lindsey Buckingham

US Airlines In Flight Magazine
September 2007


Merging an affinity for splendid and soaring melodies, a playful sensuality, and a musical undergirding built on equal parts across-the-pond blues and stateside decadence, Fleetwood Mac was arguably the quintessential pop band of the 1970s. Though the band had enjoyed some moderate success in the late ’60s and early ’70s, it was the arrival of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in 1975 that gave the band a new sound, a new image, and Beatlesque chart success. During his tenure with Fleetwood Mac, Buckingham penned and produced some of the most resonant and hummable pop songs of the ’70s and ’80s, including “Go Your Own Way,” “Big Love,” “Tusk,” and “Don’t Stop.”

Today, Buckingham, who previously seemed a tortured virtuoso in a disposable pop landscape, emanates serenity, genuine gratitude, and no shortage of musical wit. Perhaps the new calm is because Buckingham has taken on the roles of husband (he married girlfriend Kristen Messner in 2000) and father (the youngest of his three children was born in 2004) over the last decade. Perhaps it’s that, after a 14-year delay, he’s just released his fourth solo album, the largely acoustic, deeply intimate Under the Skin. Regardless, Buckingham is an artist for the ages, always reaching and searching, never shying away from documenting his journey — and perhaps that of an entire generation — in memorable, personal tunes. Continue reading Verbatim: Lindsey Buckingham