Lady in red: Stevie Nicks with her Yorkie,
Sara Belladonna- named after two big Nicks hits
who doesn't join her on tour.
Unlike her favourite pillow and armchair.
'I fight like a dog every day'
Mac’s world reunion tour rumbles into Scotland next
month, there will come a moment - this always
happens in big rock shows featuring bands of a
certain wrinkly vintage - when some of the expensive
stagecraft will be turned on the audience.
Like gulls diving for fish, spotlights will swoop
over a sea of bald, 40- and 50-something heads
belonging to men who loved and lost in a 1970s kind
of way. Mostly - though Kate Bush, Curved Air’s
Sonja Kristina and Stacia, the nude dancer out of
Hawkwind, competed for their adolescent affections -
they adored Stevie Nicks.
In the majority of cases, their love for this vision
in black lace and chiffon got no further than buying
the Rumours album and listening to it in their
lonely rooms, while gazing at a poster of "The Mac"
pulled from the centre pages of Sounds magazine.
But some of these men grew beards and met women who
copied Nicks’ classic Californian hippy-chic threads
and together they conceived to Rumours. Some of
these couples have waited years for the comeback
tour. Not quite believing it, they will bring along
the daughters of their soft-rock unions, so they too
can witness a bona fide, back-from-the-dead rock
event. These will be some of the hundreds, possibly
thousands of girls who were christened Rhiannon
after Nicks’ most famous song.
By a twist of pop fate, many of those girls will
already know Nicks through the video for Destiny’s
Child’s hit ‘Bootylicious’. The world’s best-selling
girl group sampled a Nicks lick for that song then
put her in the promo, playing guitar and also
passing on the torch as No 1 lust object to Beyonce
Knowles. ‘Bootylicious’ might be in the dictionaries
now, but Nicks flaunted it first.
Only the biggest, most bombastic of 1970s bands got
their name shortened in those intense, bumfluff-scratching
conversations about music in Wimpy Bars and school
common-rooms. Sabbath, Purple, The Floyd, The Mac.
It was a mark of respect, the last these groups
would receive before punk rock kicked their bootys.
I wasn’t a massive Fleetwood Mac fan but I bought
Rumours. Like North Sea oil, Vietnamese boat people,
German wine and inflation - it was everywhere at the
time. And today, listening to Nicks on the other end
of the phone, I am in awe of the story of The Mac,
rock’s most dysfunctional band.
You cannot fail to be amazed by how many albums they
shifted - more than 25 million copies of Rumours -
or how many drugs they consumed or how many partner
permutations they contrived in their games of
musical beds. They were the band who played together
and laid together. Not so much the eternal triangle,
more the infernal quintuplet.
Her voice is really something, too. "Well, here I am
in Los Angeles, in Santa Monica, and right down by
the ocean is just about the only place to be while
our city burns," says Nicks, 54, in husky tones once
memorably described as "four-in-the-morning f***
me". "What’s happening to California, all those
fires, it’s terrible, terrible. I haven’t left my
house for four whole days because I’m scared to go
out. I’ve tried to seal it up. I’ve taped over my
windows but they’re the old screw-out kind and I’m
afraid the smoke is still getting in through the
cracks. I suffer from asthma and for anyone with
respiratory problems, this is a nightmare."
We should pause here to record the fact that the
respiratory problems of Stephanie Lynn Nicks were
almost entirely self-inflicted. She has a hole in
her nose caused by a world championship amount of
cocaine abuse. How big is the hole? "As big as a
dime, can you imagine that?"
The most notorious cocaine story concerning Nicks in
all The Mac’s myths and legends is the one about a
loyal assistant equipped with a tube who, to save
the singer’s nose further damage, blew the white
powder up her backside. "It’s just not true," Nicks
insists. "I’m a lady and I’d never do such a thing.
But I have to say that when I heard that rumour, it
made me decide, ‘OK, enough’. I checked into the
Betty Ford Clinic soon after."
You have to have some sympathy for Nicks because
she’s stuck with the hole. "I can’t get it fixed
because it would change my voice," she sighs.
But at the same time you wonder why she is getting
so wound up about a mere raging inferno. Life in The
Mac was rarely less than cataclysmic. They didn’t
just have band splits, they had San Andreas
Some background: The Curse of the Mac was already
set in stone by the time they unveiled their 10th
line-up introducing Nicks and fellow newcomer and
lover Lindsey Buckingham to the established trio of
Mick Fleetwood and John and Christine McVie.
Previously, on the longest-running soap opera in
rock, Peter Green had quit the group in 1970, his
mental health battered by heavy substance abuse.
Drugs did for another guitarist Jeremy Spencer a
year later, although he resurfaced as a member of
the religious cult, The Children of God. In 1972, a
third guitarist, Danny Kirwan, was fired and later
admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Then, in 1973, a
fourth mad Mac axeman, Bob Weston, was sacked
following his affair with Fleetwood’s wife, Jenny
But those were minor bumps and holes in the road
compared to what happened next. Buckingham and Nicks
came as a pair from the San Francisco hippy scene
but, unknown to the others at the time, their
relationship was already in meltdown.
Even if they had still been the golden couple who
had fallen in love the minute Nicks, in her first
and only year at high school, had spotted the hairy
Buckingham sitting crossed-legged at a student party
singing ‘California Dreamin’’ and wafted over and
joined in, The Curse Of The Mac would almost
certainly have got to the new recruits before too
When the band locked themselves in the studio to
record Rumours, the McVies were only communicating
through lawyers and Mick Fleetwood was going through
a messy divorce of his own. A big velvet bag of
cocaine stored under the mixing desk got them
through the sessions, though, and the album - which
produced some of their most enduring songs including
‘Say You Love Me’, ‘Don’t Stop’ and ‘Dreams’ - was
released in 1977.
For the next 10 years, they toured, partied, loved
and fought. They wrote and sang about all the
jealousies and betrayals, with Fleetwood and Nicks’
affair cranking up band tensions to number 11 on the
dial. Then, in 1987, an explosive row with Nicks
ended with Buckingham screaming: "Get that woman out
of my life - the schizophrenic bitch!" before
lashing out at his former lover and zooming off into
the Californian sunset.
Now, with her city in flames, Nicks hunkers down in
her hermetically sealed refuge, with only her
faithful Yorkshire terrier for company, and still
can’t quite believe she’s come out the other side of
the 1970s. In fact, she’s amazed she and the rest of
the classic line-up, minus Christine McVie, have
survived the first leg of the comeback tour.
"For 70 nights, right across America, I’ve been
getting out there with two ex-lovers and we’ve been
playing songs which are so specific about each of
us, you just wouldn’t know," she says. "We’re
friends now but we can’t forget what happened
"Before each show, as we gather outside our
dressing-rooms, Mick bends down from his lofty
height and kisses me on the forehead and that’s
heavy. Then Lindsey and I, we climb into this little
lift to be hoisted onto the stage, and he clasps his
hands behind his back and I hold onto them, and for
those 40 seconds we’re united. It feels like we’re
in love again."
In Glasgow and elsewhere on the tour, Mac-heads will
be watching for knowing smiles and poignant glances,
and while Nicks might be selling the whole on-stage,
open-wounded experience to the hilt, she seems to be
feeling it, too.
"I’m pretty much single and will probably be that
way for the rest of my life. Lindsey’s married now
with two adorable twin girls and a third baby on the
way and I’m thrilled for him. But we sing a new song
called ‘Say Goodbye To You’ and there’s such a
sadness between us that’s like, ‘Could it have
happened for us, later on, when we were 60 - could
we have found our way back to each other?’ It’s
"But, you know," she adds, "the truly incredible
thing is we’re realising that you can perform a
two-and-a-half-hour gig without being high and still
have a fantastic time. This will sound a bit
pathetic to normal people but we feel kind of proud
that we can do that without being the drug
addict/alcoholics we used to be."
Christine McVie, for instance, once had to down a
bottle of vintage Dom Perignon a day, just to get
by. These nights, Nicks sticks mainly to Earl Grey.
"We’re all trying not to drink, ever. Every once in
a while we’ll break down and have some red wine but
I have to stick to a regimen of vitamins to control
a whole myriad of things that are happening in my
life right now.
"In order to be able to zip into the tiny little
corset I wear on stage I have to be very, very
careful about what I put in my mouth. No salt, no
sauces. For dinner I want a piece of really
trimmed-down steak and some green beans. Just one
grain of salt and the food goes right back. It’s not
much fun for the waiters but I have to be that
astringent. I have to fight like a dog every day."
Nicks may be grateful to be alive - especially after
an addiction to tranquilisers which turned her into
a "zombie" - but she is still a star who has
standards. "We’ve been flying in a 737 jet which is
as close to the old days as we want to get," she
In the old days, she demanded that hotel rooms be
painted pink. But in that typically unabashed and
upfront Californian way - though she was actually
born in Phoenix, Arizona - she refuses to be coy
about the band’s bacchanalian excesses. Wherever
they were in the world, it was always "the last days
The sleeve-notes for Rumours credited the band’s
cocaine dealer. "How sad is that?" says Nicks. "But
we didn’t behave any worse than other bands. We were
brought the stuff and told it was completely
recreational and non-addictive."
To help her kick cocaine, Nicks was prescribed
Klonopin. "It robbed me of my 40s," she claims.
"It’s the kind of drug which steals your brain and
your heart and sadly I have to say that I fared
better on coke, brandy, pot and Kool cigarettes. I
wrote some pretty good songs then as well."
Now, remarkably, she’s back singing them. "It’s like
the restless spirit of Fleetwood Mac still needs to
find peace," she says. I can’t see her face, of
course, but I can tell she’s not in the slightest
bit embarrassed at having uttered that remark.
But I can hear the siren wail; LA is still burning.
"It’s Topanga, so that smoke is coming over here.
It’s Chatsworth, Stevenson Ranch and Simi Valley.
People all over the city are sick so I’m getting out
Tomorrow she’ll fly to Frankfurt alone and wait for
the rest of the band to join her there for the
European leg of the tour. At 54, creature comforts
for Stevie Nicks comprise her own bedlinen, her
favourite pillow and a much-loved green armchair,
but sadly not her Yorkie, Sara Belladonna, named
after two big Nicks hits.
This will probably be the last-ever tour. One more
time for the people. One more swirl of hair and
dress for her mature male fanbase. So here’s one
more heart-stopping quote for them, too.
"You know, the man of my dreams might walk round the
corner tomorrow. I’m older and wiser and I think I’d
make a great girlfriend. I live in the realm of
Fleetwood Mac play the
SECC on December 7