Stevie,
Wonder

Report by Lesley-Ann Jones
You Magazine
June 25 1989

 

It is Stevie's turn to swab the patio. She loops her faded blonde hair behind her ears, slings her trailing shawl over one shoulder and is thanking God she remembered to pack her suede platform boots ' 'At least I won't get wet feet' ' as she makes off down the corridor at 7.30am with her plastic bucket and string mop in hand. There was a time when rock stars never even went to bed before sunrise. 'I remember them,' mumbles Stevie. 'The good old days.'

Back in the Spartan cubicle she shares with a 55-year-old alcoholic woman who snores, she poses before a mirror with a make-up purse and fills in the gaps. Soon, eyes smouldering, lips pouting, cheeks gleaming, the blonde curls teased to a frenzy, she is hooking her wasted body into some tasselled, tinselled costume. She throws on another shawl, and heads for the morning constitutional round the duck pond.

Later, much later, when the vacuum cleaning and dusting is done, the lectures listened to, a vast lunch devoured, Stevie takes tea with her friends, three Texan tycoons in their 60s. They have watery eyes and red hands, but at least they are smiling. They help her distribute the many cacti, the plants, the flower arrangements which Stevie receives daily by the vanload. 'My ' aren't you just too special for word,' snorts a pinch-faced nurse at the Betty Ford Clinic.

This was three years ago when Stevie Nicks was undergoing treatment for drug addiction. For 12 hazy years she was hooked on cocaine. Today, she's clean as a whistle. The $6,000 and 28 days of her life was well spent. Only now that her fourth solo album The Other Side Of The Mirror (EMI) is a success can she talk about the experience.

'Find the money, beg, borrow it, scrape it together ' it's worth every cent,' she implores, as if she, sole survivor of a wicked world, is the chosen evangelist of the chemical-consuming race.

'I knew that if I didn't go soon, I would be dead. I was existing on false hopes and fake substances. Drink, drugs' much more than the drinking, it was the drugs. I could, and have, stopped drinking many times. But the cocaine got the better of me. I needed that energy to keep up the pace.

'I'd get up in the morning and panic. 'How can I possibly make it to a photo session and three rehearsals?' And I'd be reaching for the coke. I was obsessive, addicted. And one day I just woke up and knew I didn't want to die.'

It is 15 years since lanky wildman Mick Fleetwood snapped up California dreamers Stevie and her lover Lindsey Buckingham to bolster his ailing group; 15 years since the multimillion-selling Fleetwood Mac LP.

En route, there have been fearsome world tours and the biggest-selling album of its time. Rumours was an act even Fleetwood Mac has so far found impossible to follow, though by anybody else's standards each subsequent act ahs been record-breaking. And there have been vivid solo departures by every member of the group, though Stevie remains the only internationally acclaimed multi-platinum-selling soloist.

She has also just emerged from a gruesome episode during which in quick succession her best friend gave birth to a son, Matthew, then dies and poor misguided Stevie decided that her purpose in life was to take on her deceased friend's husband and child. It was an experience that finally tipped her over the edge in the direction of the Betty Ford clinic.

'Betty Ford had done it for Liza Minnelli, and for Liz Taylor, for many distinguished people. It was worth a try. Funny thing is, there is no cure as such, no stringent rehabilitation programme that they put you on. Your cure comes through talking, facing up to your problem and looking your 'drug of choice', as they refer to it, in the eye. And dealing with it at your own pace. It can take years. I am very proud of myself. Just 28 days after a 12-year dependency is some going.

'What did it for me was seeing so many people in much worse shape than me. I had three men friends in their late 60s, all rich, all from Texas, who sat down and told me the stories of their lives. How they'd had it all and lost it all, betrayed their family and friends and businesses and destroyed their own and everyone else's lives. One by one they would look at me with tears running down their faces and say: 'Stevie, don't do this to your life.' They all helped me to make the most important resolution of my life: that I will not be 65 years old and be in Betty Ford. Three days after I got there, I decided 'I'm well.' And I was, compared with many of my friends in there.'

For Stevie, one of the most bizarre inmates the clinic has welcomed, it was at times a distressing experience. 'I was one chain-smoking, coffee-swilling mess while I was there. And I ate like a pig, they feed you way too much to make up for the other stuff you are suddenly missing. And I cried a lot. You don't have treatment as such, but meetings with your counsellor and with everyone together. You cry and you cry and you tell all your secret stories. In three days you are out of pain and crying for a purpose. You are hopeful, but never really happy.'

Today she is holding court in the Mayfair Hotel's Monte Carlo suite, also inhabited in recent times by both Madonna and Michael Jackson (separately). Among the gold Dalmatians and a dense, scented forest of evergreens and tiger lilies, she has arranged a make-shift gallery of her own self-portraits. 'Home from home,' she explains. 'I paint on the plane. I was the only one awake on the 747 for the entire trip. Always am. I get my headphones on and I have a ball. I get out my paints and brushes and spread them around, and away I go.'

Stevie is not one for growing old gracefully. She will, she tells you, still be wearing the fanciful gowns with their handkerchief point petticoats and silken shawls when she is 60 and hopes with all her heart that they will end up in an antique dress shop on the King's Road after that.

The voice is still a childlike warble, her conversation punctuated with references to 'mom', 'dad' and other key parental figures in her life: 'My mom had me at 19, and I am her reason for living. Same with my dad. On a Valentine's card he sent me which I keep with me, he wrote: 'In times of darkest despair, you have been a pleasure to me since the day you were born. I love you truly'.'

And of Fleetwood Mac's other woman, Christine McVie: 'She has always been a very strong mother figure to me. A tiny bit older and a lot wiser. I respect her very much. She took me under her wing and if she ever felt envy or jealousy because of me, she never showed it.

'In my life I have had two or three great loves, and many, many liaisons. If my behaviour hurt anyone at all, it hurt me. I'm the one who has ended up alone. Every relationship ended because of my lifestyle. I'd meet a man, we'd start to settle into this wonderful affair and then I'd be off across the world with Fleetwood Mac again. No one can keep up with that. I have made a lot of sacrifices in my life for Fleetwood Mac, and perhaps it is now that I am paying the price.'

Stevie Nicks's greatest regret is that she never had children. 'I would never have had a baby out of wedlock ' that would hurt my parents too much. Anyway, my children would have to have a mother and a father. I used to think about it and despair of ever finding the answer.

'The fact that I am old enough to be the mother of grown-up children [she's 40] and could have them all around me now but in reality am all alone, really kills me. That was my ultimate sacrifice for Fleetwood Mac, and when you sacrifice yourself in such a way, you don't just up and leave a band or let it fall apart around your ears.

'That is why the band won't die, in spite of everything. We all gave up so much. I think if it died now, then so would we.'

 

thanks to trackaghost who supplied this article



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