October , 1982
By David Huff
Nicks, Fleetwood Mac Romance to End?
There is no other woman in rock and roll today that can conjure up so many images with so many adjectives to describe it as Stevie Nicks, the unerring front lady of Fleetwood Mac. Her swirling, spellbinding movements on stage are as captivating as the songs she sings. This ethereal beauty literally transforms herself onstage from storybook character to storybook character as she sings her romantically tragic, often times hauntingly beautiful, songs with a flair unmatched anywhere in the music business today.
Stevie Nicks. Her very name evokes as many images when you say it as the lyrics in her music portray. Predictable she is not, interesting she is. The current Fleetwood Mac tour could very well be the last time anyone ever sees Stevie on stage with the group.
The rumor mills have been running overtime ever since the release last year of Stevie's first solo album, Bella Donna, that spawned two tremendously successful singles; her duet with Tom
Petty, "Stop Dragging My Heart Around," and the blockbuster hit, "Seventeen." Those two songs made Bella Donna go platinum and saw Stevie go out on the road for the first time ever by herself on a mini-tour of the West Coast that sold out everywhere she played. She commands that much respect.
To get a better understanding of Stevie Nicks, one must take a look at her past to fully appreciate where this woman has been and what it took to get her where she is at today.
The biggest influence in Stevie Nicks' life has, and probably always will be to some extent, Lindsey Buckingham. These two met in 1970 when Lindsey joined a group called Fritz that was fronted by Stevie. Fritz broke up in 1971, but by this time, Buckingham and Nicks had fallen in love, and decided to form a duet called appropriately, Buckingham Nicks. An illness to Lindsey later on laid him up for several months. During this time while Lindsey was recuperating, the two of them worked up several tunes and song ideas that would lay a foundation for their musical attitudes that have stayed with them to this day.
Their first album, Buckingham Nicks, came out in November of 1973 on Polydor records. Though the record sold poorly throughout the country, the album was a hit in Birmingham, Alabama. Of the few concerts, Buckingham Nicks performed, they played Birmingham three times, the last one as headliners for a crowd of some 7,000 people.
But back in California and back to reality, the two were low on cash and somewhat despondent over the apparent failure of their debut album. They both took jobs, Nicks as a waitress in a restaurant called Clementines in Beverly Hills, and Buckingham worked for an agency soliciting advertising over the phone. That, along with odd session work, kept food on the table for the both of them.
Music kept them alive.
"You know, when I was starving, and Lindsey and I starved almost," said Stevie in an interview. "If I needed ten or fifteen bucks; I got it. I would go out and buy the album I wanted and nobody could tell me that I couldn't get together the money I needed for music. Music to me is the most wonderfullest thing in the world." Though the Buckingham Nicks album didn't sell, it had enough impact in the right places to change both Stevie's and Lindsey's life.
When Mick Fleetwood was looking for another studio for Fleetwood to record in, Sound City in Van Nuys was suggested to him. Upon listening to engineer Keith Olsen demonstrate the qualities of the studio, Olsen flipped on a Buckingham Nicks song, "Frozen Love." Lindsey, who just happened to be in the studio at the time, heard the song coming out of one of the studios and checked it out. There he saw Mick Fleetwood tapping his foot to the rhythm.
"About a week later," recalled Buckingham in an interview, "Bob Welch announced he was leaving the group, so Mick called up Keith and asked him if he thought we'd be interested in becoming members of Fleetwood Mac.
"At that time, we were having a New Year's Eve party at our house, wondering if 1975 would be a better year for us. Keith walked in and said, 'Hey, I've got some news for you. Fleetwood Mac wants you two to join them.' You could have knocked us down with a feather."
With their future direction set, John and Christine. With the album that followed, the lives for everyone in that group suddenly changed. The intense love that Nicks and Buckingham shared for several years vanished and they went their own way. John McVie and Christine got a divorce. The gripping emotional feelings of those break-ups caused Stevie, Christine, and Lindsey, the three principle songwriters, surfaced in the songs of Rumours. That one record sold over 20 million copies worldwide as it captured the hearts of millions with its heartfelt tragedy and stirring emotions of lost love. It forever enshrined the group in the annals of rock and roll history.
With Rumours, Nicks established herself as one of the top songwriters in the country. Her prowess again would come through on Tusk. Her songs "Sara," and "Sisters of the Moon," helped save an album that cost a million dollars in studio time to produce. It also shocked the country. Opinions vary on why Fleetwood Mac took on such an ambitious project, but it is obvious that they learned some sort of lesson on how to deal with their audience by listening to Mirage, the current release. It has that Rumours sound to it, and if also topped Billboard's charts as the No. 1 album in the country--something Tusk failed to do.
So Fleetwood Mac is back on top. But there is trouble in paradise. Stevie has outgrown the group. Her solo album proved that. Her own tour proved that. Fleetwood sells because of Stevie. Stevie sells without Fleetwood. The talents of Stevie Nicks apparently are limitless. She has written a movie score based on her song, "Rhiannon," in which there are plans for a movie.
Stevie Nicks has conquered the world almost. She has already established herself as one of the most prominent first lady's rock and roll has ever had. What course this gypsy princess chooses to follow in the future, only time will tell. But it is certain that millions of people will follow her mystical voyage no matter what course she chooses, or where the winds of music take her.