May 13th 1989
THE DREAM GODDESS IS AN hour late arising. Yesterday, for the TV cameras, she'd walked the marbled halls of Osterley House in black lace and high heels, hour after hour, take after take. I'm told her feet are killing her.
So I sip my Perrier and await the arrival of Stevie Nicks, the nightingale of necromancy, the Hollywood cocktail waitress who starred in a real like rock fairytale by writing tales of fairies for Fleetwood Mac. We met once before though she'll not remember. It was four years ago at an EMI conference and she was well out of it and looked pretty much worse for wear. I approached her for an autograph for the guy in the IPC expenses department ' he was a big fan and I figured that a sample of writing in her own fair hand was a neat way of getting on the right side of this most important of men ' and I was surprised not so much by her diminutive stature, nor her proximity to plumpness, but by the way that, once she's signed the scrap of paper, she just kept on nattering. On and on she went, if I'd not known any better, I'd have thought she was trying to pick me up. Honestly, it was that embarrassing.
So anyway, it's not as if I expect her to arrive in a burst of butterflies or a cloud of perfume or with magic all around her, as she says in her new hit single Rooms On Fire, but when Stephanie Nicks lumbers into the Monte Carlo Suite of the Mayfair Hotel clutching the dregs of a glass of iced tea and immediately starts puffing up the sofa pillows, it's as much as I can do to stifle a gasp.
She looks a whole lot older than I remember. And bigger. The photographer responsible for her latest publicity shots must be a genius, a veritable god of the lens. It's like The Picture Of Dorian Gray in reverse, which is weird because Stevie tells me later that Oscar Wilde is her favourite author.
The woman addressing me now in a voice identical to Lucy Ewing's bears only the slightest resemblance to the photographic images carefully conjured through the deftest use of light and shade. And yet, when I hold her gaze and concentrate on those big brown eyes, the years and the cares fall away for a second and they nymph who twirled her skirts to the tale of the white witch Rhiannon is till discernible, like a ghost trapped inside, defying the years.
How brave then, I venture, to call her fourth solo album The Other Side Of The Mirror. I mean, it may be a well handy metaphor for our other selves, our inner beings, our souls if you like, but the mirror is also a constant and cruel reminder of our mortality.
'Well, it's very interesting you say that,' she says, finally settling on the sofa. 'If I was an interviewer, I would think that profound. But I never think much of looking in the mirror and getting older ' I guess that's because if you look in the mirror every single day, you probably don't notice it so much.'
She goes on to explain that The Other Side Of The Mirror is, in fact, a steal from Alice Through The Looking Glass. Apparently she considers there are parallels between Lewis Carroll's fantastic account of Alice's twin existences in the real world and 'the crazy world where the caterpillars and bugs all talk' and her own situation as both a solo performer and the singer with Fleetwood Mac, the band she joined on the very first day of 1975 with her lover, long departed, Lindsey Buckingham. Together they brought a glamour and vision to a tired old blues band and the end of their affair was so exquisitely documented by the Rumours LP that is seemed the whole world took them to heart. The album sold over 15 million copies, made her fantastically wealthy and gave her the confidence to branch out on her own, a decision which she considers to have located her somewhere in the realms of the extraordinary.
'For me, there's probably a third part of the mirror as well,' she says. 'There are a few days here and there where I paint and draw and hand-tint photographs and crochet blankets ' I have my own little domestic side that nobody knows about. I make time for that. I have to since I can't have a married like or children or any kind of life like that''
Later I discover she was married once, in 1983 to someone called Kim Anderson so I think it's pretty weird that she's forgotten. Upon enquiry, I'm told by someone at her record company that she only married because she promised a good friend who was pregnant and dying of leukaemia that she's take care of the father and baby. 'It didn't work out,' said the record company person matter-of-factly, 'as these things don't'. I still reckon it's weird.
Ms Nicks says her career scuppers her romances these days ' her beaus just can't take the pace. So she assembles a group around her ' wardrobe mistress, make-up artist etc ' and teaches them to paint; that way she has company. It doesn't sound much of a substitute for a love life to me and the way she's talking, it seems she never expects to have what other people consider a stable relationship.
'I don't expect it unless I give up either one or the other sides of the mirror and that's something that, at this point, I don't think I could. If somebody were to walk into my life that I instantly fell in love with and decided it was important enough, then I would probably give up one, but' I haven't ruled it out, let's put it that way. I've had many wonderful relationships with many really wonderful men so it's not like I feel I've missed out on love because I haven't. I wouldn't have been able to write the songs that I have it that was the case.
'My relationships usually go on or two or three years ' I don't date ' but then, y'know, I see that sad look in their eyes where they're realising that it's a lost cause. I've gone with some men that have been, as far as I'm concerned, absolute saints because I wouldn't take it. Y'know, I'd say, 'I am tired of being number eight on your priority list'.'
The amateur psychologist stirs within me and I wonder if she's comfortable being alone, especially as many of her songs suggest that she creates her own fantasy world to live in.
'Well, let's put it this way ' I'm used to it. I have a lot of people around me all the time because, as a woman, I just can't travel around by myself. I wouldn't go out at all if I was alone because I'd be afraid to go out late in the night, travelling round to clubs by myself.'
She says she yearns to see England, to share a sight-seeing tour with a lover, to stop and take pictures of statues and stuff, but she never has the time. 'I'm always late for something. It's like 'You're late, you're late for a very important date, Alice'.'
Of course, the approximation of Alice stories to psychedelic experience had provided rock with a rich vein of reference. One need listen no further than Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit to appreciate the aptness of the imagery and Ms Nicks has, indeed, served time in rehab as an internee in The Betty Ford Clinic where they showed her a film she's never forgotten about cirrhosis of the liver. They also asked her to do the impossible and write an essay describing Stevie Nicks the star and Stevie Nicks the woman and were so hard on her that she actually ditched a lot of her make-up and began wearing ordinary clothes!
When she talks about it now, which she says she rarely does, she never mentions her particular drug ' cocaine ' by name and insists that is was an aid to creativity, never a stimulant to her imagination just an energy booster that got out of hand.
She insists she never took a drug until she was 28, bar he odd slimming tablet she stole from her mother while executing her weekly chore around the house ' which it seems, mostly comprised of polishing bathrooms. She says she wrote her first song on her 16th birthday when her parents gave her 'this wonderful Goya acoustic guitar' they'd bought off a teacher who was leaving for Spain and she never needed anything else but her fertile mind to conjure up the images. Indeed, her best known song Rhiannon, was written after she'd read a nondescript paperback on Welsh legends not, as many surmised, as the result of some psychedelic hallucination. Still, she maintains, straight as she is these days, when Fleetwood Mac play that song, a wind arises, even in an enclosed hall. She can't explain it, she says, but it's there, she's there, 'like a pain pill', to take care of her.
Drugs, she says, are like Sarah Lee Cheese Cake ' 'If you leave it in your refrigerator, every time you go past, you're gonna take a little piece with you and, by the next day, the whole cake's gone. Haha' and so I just don't ever have Sarah Lee Cheese Cake in my house and if anybody brings it over, I get very upset.' She only saw smack once, when someone tried to trick her into taking it, and she said, 'Do you really want to be the reason that I die? Do you want to cause my death? How could you offer that to me? I threw him out of my house and I never saw him again.'
Ms Nicks suddenly throws a wobbler for me. The phone rings. 'It's such a miserable bell!' she snaps down the receiver and hangs up. Then she says she's love to go back in time and meet Lewis Carroll because she considers herself 'the mad typist' and a lot of friends have told her that her writing is very similar to his. For some reason this prompts me to enquire if she believes in reincarnation.
'Absolutely,' she says. 'I know I've been here in my other lives. I know I was in Germany and went through some of the atrocities. I know I experienced it. Every time I go to Germany, I feel it. I've also been told that I was a high priestess in Egypt many, many years ago and I believe that because' I dunno' because sometimes I flash on that, living up on a stone kinda thing and meeting up with people. I'm some sort of ruler.
'I know I was a concert pianist because I have all the moves down ' I just don't play very well! And I think that this life I'm living now is my last. To have gone through being in one of the biggest bands in rock'n'roll history, to come through the entire drug thing' I wouldn't say unscathed but I've come through' to still be writing, to be going very quickly with my art' if I live another 40 years which I absolutely will' it seems that I will have just about completed everything that I can complete here on this particular plane.
'I had a dream once. I was very upset ' this was before I stopped doing drugs of any kind ' I had a very bad experience of thinking, 'I wonder if after you die, you're still able to write?' Or, y'know, whatever you like to do ' hand glide or dance or whatever. And that night I had a dream where I saw myself sitting at a beautiful white enamel carved desk, writing ' handwriting, not typing ' with a really beautiful pen with a white feather quill which was really long ' it went way back over my shoulder. And there were clouds coming in and out and I was just floating and I looked up and I smiled and that smile said, 'You don't have anything to worry about. This will go on once you leave this particular plane of life'. Y'know, that's what always scared me about dying ' that I wouldn't be able to be creative anymore.'
Ms Nicks is charmed, it seems, even beyond the grave.
thanks to trackaghost who supplied this article