1948 - Stevie is born
under, the sign of Gemini in Phoenix, Arizona
1952 - As Stevie practices song and dance routines at home in front of the mirror on weekends her grandfather A.J., an ardent country crooner, teaches her to sing the female parts of call-and-response country songs. He takes her along with him to perform in gin mills, where she sings and dances as he plays. ("I danced around like Isadora Duncan at four years old, and my parents said 'what are we gonna do?' I'd pay my brother 50 cents a week just to dance with me just because ! loved to dance so much; but, see, I didn't want to go to ballet school every day, and study, and kill myself either, because I knew I couldn't bluff my way through, say Russian ballet, so I had to figure out another way to do something wonderful without working at it. So as a real little girl I started singing along with the Beach Boys learning all the words... Working out my routine, sort of, and that's not easy to do when the mirror starts at right where your chest starts, and you're trying to work out the whole stage show, but that's what I did.") As Stevie's father, Jess Nicks, a food business executive, climbed the ladder of success, he and family moved around from one southwestern outpost to another. The list of places where Stevie lived sounds like an uninspired lyric from a bluesy country tune: baby years in Phoenix; a year in Albuquerque, New Mexico; five years in E1 Paso, Texas, two years in Salt Lake City, Utah, two years in Los Angeles, several years in the suburbs of San Francisco.
1964 - On her I6th birthday, her parents give Stevie her first guitar, a Goya, which had belonged to her music teacher (she took music lessons for all of a month). On that same birthday, she composes her first song, "I've Loved and I've Lost". Since that day she says, "I've been the mad songwriter............. I just can't stop it."
1965 - Stevie attends Arcadia High School in Los Angeles and joins Changing Times, a four-member folk/rock group fashioned after The Mamas & The Papas.
1966 - Jess Nicks and family are transferred to San Francisco. Stevie attends Menlo-Atherton High School, and in her first experience of peer popularity, is voted runner-up to the homecoming queen. She meets Lindsey Buckingham, they sing a duet together but then don't see one another again for the next two years. ("I went to a kind of church meeting that nobody really went to for church; everybody went to get out of the house on a Wednesday night. And it was fun, even I went and I didn't go anywhere. Lindsey walked into the room and sat down and started playing a song that I just happened to know every word and harmony perfect, 'California Dreaming,, and I thought he was absolutely stunning, so I kind of casually manoeuvred my way over... he was somewhat, I guess, ever-so-lightly impressed, not to let me know it, but he did sing another song with me, which made me know he did like it.")
1968 - The Nicks family moves to Chicago, but Stevie stays in the Bay Area; attends San Jose State College. She joins up with Lindsey Buckingham in a psychedelic rock band called Fritz, and remains with that group through 1971, playing regularly all over the Bay Area. ("They were really playing, so it was almost as bad as joining a big rock 'n' roll band 'cause it was serious, 'you be there' and I was the only girl and I'm always !ate for everything... but I was one on-time person, mostly. ! had no social life at all, but I had money; I got paid at least.")
1972 - Fritz moves to Los Angeles. Stevie composes "After The Glitter Fades", to be heard nine years later on her first solo album. Eventually, giving in to outside pressures, Stevie and Lindsey leave Fritz, and use an inheritance of Lindsey's to record demos for an album. ("It was a goodly amount of money, especially then, and especially for two people who had no money. Lindsey bought an Ampex 4-track with it he is very, very brilliant and I can't even plug in the stereo and his dad let us have this tiny little room in his coffee plant, and all the workers would leave around 7:00 and we'd get there at 7:30 and leave at 6:00 in the morning just before they'd come in. It was this big, huge building, it was scary, and we'd lock ourselves in, just me and Lindsey and the Ampex, everything we owned on the floor of this tiny room, and just sing and play and record. We did seven songs mad it took us a year and they were really good and when they were finished we got in Lindsey's car and drove to L.A., where every record company in the world passed on us. We were devastated, but we still knew we were good.")
1973 - Miraculously Stevie and Lindsey's fortunes change and they are signed to Po!ydor Records. Keith Olsen engineers the songs they recorded in the coffee factory, which are released on an album titled Buckingham/Nicks. Immediately after release, the album is dropped. ("It was like it never existed, and it was worse than before, because first of all somebody had to go back to work, and second of all you knew who it was going to be... We had tripped the light fandango, we'd recorded in the studio, we'd had the big sounds, we were happening, and all of a sudden we were nobody... And something in our hearts said, 'we'll beat this, we'll sing our songs'. That's really the point when we both became aware that if we didn't fight back, they'd break up our love, they'd break up our house, they'd break up our music; so we walked away from them first.")
1974 - Stevie works as a waitress while Lindsey works on the music. She composes "Rhiannon" (later to be the monster hit on the Fleetwood Mac album). They go into the studio again to work more on Buckingham/Nicks with Keith Olsen. On New Year's Eve, Olsen calls and tells them that Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac wants the two of them to join the band. ("I said, 'right, Keith, they want Lindsey to join the band, right? and he said, 'well, maybe, but they don't know, they're not going to get him without you anyway so you're invited at least.' And I said, 'this is a big band, isn't it?' and he said, 'well, relatively yes, this is a big band, they've been famous for a long time, they're mysteriously occult/English, they're all the things that you love, and they want to meet you.' Lindsey talked to him for a little while, and the next day we pitched every bit of money we could get our hands on, mind you, we were on cloud nine because nothing had gone right for us in so long, we bought all the Fleetwood Mac albums and we listened to them front to back, front to back, again and again to see if there was any reason for us to make Buckingham/Nicks a part of Fleetwood Mac, and there was a mystical side to it, and there was that guitar that Peter Green thing that Lindsey is very adept at and that he and I both love. There were a lot of threads that worked for both of us, even though it probably wasn't the perfect, perfect thing... but it could have been a band that we absolutely hated. As it was, we were very excited, we went into rehearsal a week later, went into recording four weeks later, finished the album in three months, and we were on the road. So it happened overnight.")
1975 - Fleetwood Mac LP is released, featuring hit single "Rhiannon" by Stevie. She composes "Leather and Lace" for Waylon Jennings and Jessie Colter (who break up and won't record the song). Also writes "The Highwayman" and "Think About It" (the latter for Christine McVie who is splitting from husband John). All three times will later appear on Bella Donna, her first solo LP.
1977 - Stevie composes "Dreams", one of the hits from Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album, which sells 15 million copies worldwide.
1979 - After 13 months of recording, Tusk, a double-LP, is released, it includes Stevie's songs "Sara" (a major hit) and "Angel". A year-long worldwide tour follows.
1980 - A live album culled from the tour, Fleetwood Mac Live, is released, followed by another worldwide tour, which ends in the fall. Three weeks later, Stevie composes "Bella Donna" to fulfill the solo album concept she's had in mind. ("The song Bella Donna is about getting a little bit of my normal life back. But the album, in a larger sense, was my finding out if I could still do something on my own. You start to doubt yourself after seven years with Fleetwood Mac... My life was completely, undeniably wrapped around the band. You stop living in the real world. You come home - you've been under this great pressure to go onstage and be wonderful - and you walk around and wonder, 'what am ! going to do with myself?'. They just drop you off one day and say 'see you in three weeks or three months'. And you can't sleep. You're all dressed up with no place to go...")
1981 - Stevie's first solo LP, Bella Donna, is released to critical acclaim and sells three million copies worldwide. She does a Southwestern US tour and an hour-long national TV concert special. Stevie composes "Sable on Blond", later to be heard on The Wild Heat LP, her second solo effort.
1982 - Stevie composes "Gypsy" (on Fleetwood Mac s Mirage album), and stars in the award-winning Gypsy video. She also composes "Wild Heart' which fulfills the title of her next solo effort. Mirage sells over platinum and Fleetwood Mac does major U.S. Tour.
1983 - The Wild Heart album is released, spearheaded by the single "Stand Back." Stevie opens an extensive American tour with a smashing performance at Southern California's US Festival, playing to an estimated 200,000 people.
"No one knows how I feel
what I say unless you read between my lines."
- Stevie Nicks, "Stand Back"
Stephanie Lynn (Stevie) Nicks, by her own account, is "one of the more honest people ! know", And true to the above lyric from The Wild Heart's first single, "Stand Back", one must read between her lines. Somewhere between the mystical, otherworldly, 'Welsh Witch' side of this immensely successful! 35 year old singer/songwriter - somewhere between there and the childlike, innocently sunlight-and-laughter side, lies the real Stevie Nicks.
Even Stevie sometimes needs more than a single key to unlock her own unique persona. Throughout a lifetime of change and adjustment, she has learned well the crucial technique of harmonizing; in her life it has been as much a survival tool as it is a key element in her music. Stevie is part "Sara", part "Gypsy", part "Bella Donna", part "Wild Heart", and part of dozens of songs the world has yet to hear. Her personal style is her own blend of 'collectibles', mostly fine antique chiffon, velvet and crepe hand-beaded and lacy wonders, combined with dancers' leg warmers and "outmoded" high platform boots. "When I was in my teens, my concept of me was strange, which I still am, because the reason I still wear the chiffon and the platform boots and leg warmers is because I like that, and I don't see why, just because all the other designers in the world decide to change their look, I should have to change mine. So I don't, and so if people say 'that doesn't match' or 'that doesn't look right', I say, 'well, you must have taken acid or something, because it matches perfectly', and they leave me alone because they realize they're not going to get through to me."
Somehow everything from quicksilver moonbeams to the wrenching vocals of Janis Joplin to ancient pyramids to a Taylor Caldwell novel to coffee shop waitressing to the surreal artistry of German painter Sulamith Wulfmg seems to have influenced Stevie Nicks on a personal level. And once there is that personal influence, it is felt, sooner or later, in her music and lyrics. "My songs are running commentaries on my life ,all of my songs are continuations of other songs I've written, like 'Outside the Rain' (on Bella Donna) is a follow-up to 'Dreams'. I'll probably have 15 or 20 songs on a given theme, life with Fleetwood Mac, audiences, being on the road, by the time I'm 60." Another likely candidate is the multidimensional theme of love, which Stevie today approaches with lyrics that are at once strong and mysterious, conveying with subtle insistence the powerful newborn/mature duality, of the female persona.
Stevie's current interest, other than songwriting, which is a consuming passion and a daily/nightly "anytime I can" activity, is art: painting, drawing, sketching. Shortly before the start of her U.S. Wild Heart tour, Stevie talked about the numerous paintings which were taped to the walls and mirrors of her West Los Angeles penthouse hotel suite, where she had ensconced herself, along with her husband and personal assistant, in order to take a breather from the frantic activity-level of her own self-designed dream house, only 20 minutes away in the hills... "My art teacher Phillip, who did the Grateful Dead weird skeleton playing backwards, violin with the red sunglasses, very Jimi Hendrix, very strange, he said, 'you cannot make a mistake in art, so even if you think you've made the worst mistake in the world', like a big hole in the paper 'you just sit down, take a deep breath, and realize that you cannot make a mistake, even if you cannot fix what's happened, you can tell everybody that it's exactly what you wanted."
Not exactly Stevie's philosophy on music, but close, close enough for harmony, at least, since she does believe that demos, the raw, initial birthplace of songs on tape are "the special ones, the ones that you sing wonderfully, and from your heart, mad you never expect it to go on a record, so you give everything to it. You don't do that when you're under the gun, and it ceases to be free then." And 'demo freedom' is very much to be found on her new album "The Wild Heart", whose title Stevie conceived virtually before Bella Donna, her first solo effort, was even released. "You see, I knew, somehow that Bella Donna was going to sell three million, which is why a special friend of mine had a diamond 3 made for me when it did actually happen. But it was my belief that made it all right to conceive of the second album before the first one even came out, without even having a song to hold up to the title, The Wild Heart... And that song is a demo, recorded in Dallas with my songwriter friend Sandy (who is my new Rodgers and Hammerstein - she has no idea what she's in for, but she'll make it), and a kid named Brad who's incredible, and the three of us girls sing live; and it is the title track of the album, and certainly- nobody, not one of us, ever believed that this would ever see the light of day. But I said, if this record is going to be called The Wild Heart, then the 'Wild Heart' song has to be a killer, or I'll have to change the title, and once I've made the decision on an album title, it's hard for me to change it a year later... I can't. But 'Wild Heart.' is wild and it's exactly what I wanted it to be; 'The Wild Heart" is all the darkest places of your mind, it's a real intense song... I played it for Tom Petty and he said, 'this is an epic', and that's just what it is, the real story of what we all go through, everybody - of how wild our hearts really are, and we can't help it; because this is just the way it is."
"It was born in New York, and it's just intense, there are some wild words in it that just sort of popped up. I think that people are gonna love 'Wild Heart .... t s the one song that I go back to time and time again and listen to. There's something about the vocal that just gives me shivers, because it's just so real. People will understand that probably more than a lot of other things, because it definitely takes you through your nervous breakdown, and through your recovery and it takes you through your survival. And everybody's heart is wild, so it's not like I've got any kind of hold on it, 'cause this entire album was written for everybody, and their wild heart. This was very much meant to be shared and given to people, to have them just love the idea that they have wild hearts, cause I love that, I love that..."
IF ANYONE FALLS
"This is the first song that I wrote with Sandy. I've probably prayed for so many years that I'd find somebody ! could write songs with, and I finally found her. She lives in Houston, and she's totally- crazy; she's a real brilliant musician and what she does for me is she writes a song, goes in with a band and records it, sends me the track, track sounds great, I go in my bathroom, put it on my stereo, plug in my other tape recorder, sing along, record it right there. I play it for everybody the next day, everybody goes crazy, and that's it, it's over."
GATE AND GARDEN
"It's all through my diary, 'what are they gonna ask me about this song?' 'cause I don't know what 'Gate and Garden" is about...I guess it's my idea of my escapes, of the places that I go...the things that I do, and think about - that is my private, silent, secret garden world that belongs to nobody else. That's where and what that place probably is, for me. Everybody should have their own secret, peaceful garden."
"We wrote it last summer on the way from New York City to Quoque on Long Island. I mean we wrote it in the car, in the limousine. We heard the instrumental part out of the speakers, and we hooked up our TCD-5, which is the saviour of our singing lives. So we sang and recorded and by the time we got there the song was written. Constructive traveling, I call it."
"This song does extend from 'Edge of Seventeen'; it's about the difficulties of female rock 'n' roll singers; it's about my friend Robin, it's about death, it's a spirit calling. Wearing boots all summer long is like, always being ready for a flood or avalanche to happen, for the worst to happen. Because when you really look at life, all the money, material things and dreams we all search after could not save one small girl."
"Right after I got married, I heard this wonderful song Prince had done called "Little Red Corvette", and as soon as ! heard it ! went, 'Boy t love that', and I just started humming to myself and in a matter of minutes I had hummed along a very different melody than what Prince had done. Anyway, me being one of the more honest people you'll ever meet, I immediately call Prince and tell him what I had written and how and he, against everybody's thinking he wouldn't came down and played on this song! My intuitions are usually right and since he told me he was doing the video of "Little Red Corvette" that day, and since I know videos and films always take a lot longer than anybody thinks, I didn't think he'd show up. But Sandy and I rushed to the studio anyway, thinking 'what if he comes, what are we going to show him;. we'll both get out there live and try to play the song for him and start to giggle...' right, I mean no chance. So under pressure of fire we did it in one take, one time, and that's what you hear; me singing live, Sandy on her synthesizer, Prince playing that dahdahdahdahdah, very kind of Edge of Seventeen thing, and a drum machine. Between then and now, Steve Lukather put an incredible guitar solo in the middle, and David Williams who played all over 'Billie Jean Is Not My Lover' played on this...Anyway, 'Stand Back' became a real anthem, a real 'I'm tired of listening to all your great advice, 'cause it's gotten me nowhere, so I'm listening to myself now' kind of anthem. So it came slightly out of strength, slightly out of being in love, slightly out of being married, and ever so slightly out of hearing the first three chords of "Little Red Corvette".
I WILL RUN TO YOU
"I don't really know why Tom wrote this song for me because it's not like he had to, or not like I called him up and asked him to do it, but for some reason he wanted to write me something real pretty, and he did, and we worked real hard. We recorded in New York and we didn't get it. Then we went to Caribou and recorded but still came back without what we thought was a real lead vocal from either of us. Finally we did it in L.A. Tom and I love to sing together; and we've really developed this relationship, and I'm not really very interested in developing relationships with other men singers, because this is just perfect: we sing well, we have a great time, we complement each other, I love his songwriting, perfect, why bother? Whatever the hassles that be that make it difficult - and believe you me the hassles that be are everywhere to stop Tom and I from ever doing anything together, my relationship with him is more important. Anyway, the song's fabulous, it's beautiful, and I'm very honored that he even cared enough to write it for me."
NOTHING EVER CHANGES
"This is another song that Sandy wrote the track for. When I'm writing I'!! go and drag out 500 pages of lyrics and take a word from here, a line from there, a verse from here...and it really doesn't matter since I always start from my basic idea and go back to my words; I always say it better on the typewriter than I'm gonna say it while the song's going by. This was written about a year and a half ago, maybe you can tell I was feeling pretty cynical at the time, this is the only cynical song on this album."
SABLE ON BLOND
"I wrote this when I came off the Bella Donna tour, one of the most exhilarating and beautiful experiences I've ever had. And I moved into my new dream house but it was more of a nightmare because it was cold and empty; I only had my piano, there were no phones and I was all alone, freezing, with nothing. It was like going from heaven straight to hell without even stopping off for a burger on the way. I was devastated. I moved into my closet with my quilt and pillows and my writing stuff; my clothes were hanging in my face and I took my little stereo in there and that's where I lived. But the song really is about learning to live with Stevie, learn to be a stranger, learn to live in silence, learn not to call on everybody else to get you out of everything or make everybody else pay for what you're going through, because you've chosen this life. Like Arthur learned with Excalibur, you do not ever call on your most precious magic unless you are literally out of other choices."
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
"Besides the fact that 'Beauty And The Beast" to me is a story of desperation (see the Jean Cocteau film) and besides the fact that 'Beauty And The Beast' surrounds me everywhere - everybody I know is either being the Beauty or the Beast - the experience of recording this song was so special. It began as a piano demo done in Lori's husband, Gordon Perry's studio in Dallas; the room is just magical, a church. Lori later sent me a tape with beautiful voices on it, and Sharon and I tried to duplicate it but we couldn't. So we got all the original "vocalists together in New York and recorded it live. We brought the orchestra in for a three-hour live session - and I'm someone who's oblivious to being able to do anything in the studio in a mere three hours! I knew they were gonna pack their little violin cases and walk away from me in no time; meanwhile Roy Bitten's playing piano just like I do, real simple, and that's hard for a good pianist to do, and everybody's watching me - nobody has done a live session in years, no Stevie Nicks has walked in in a long black dress to sing 'Beauty and the Beast' with champagne for all these men in probably as long as they can remember, even 30 years ago. I wanted them to feel like they were the most special orchestra that ever existed, for that night. They walked in, played, and left, and it's like they don't even have any idea what they gave me, how precious it is."