A song-writing soprano with fragile vocal cords casts her sexy spell on rock
Rock doesn’t need a Farrah Fawcett. It has Stevie Nicks. So what if Stevie insists “turning men on has never been my design.” As Little Richard once sang, the girl can’t help it. Swirling sinuously in her black capes and clingy gowns, Nicks is the onstage focus and seductive soprano of this year’s powerhouse band, Fleetwood Mac. Unlike fellow Arizonan Linda Ronstadt, Nicks is also a successful songwriter whose tunes about a Welsh witch (“Rhiannon”) and lost love (“Dreams”) were no sooner composed than they were Top Ten. In short, Stevie Nicks at 29 can have it all ways: ethereal, funky, pouty and very commercial.
It is little more than two years since ex-waitress Nicks and her guitarist boyfriend, Lindsey Buckingham, joined the Anglo-American cult group. Today big Mac is the world’s best-selling rock band. Their quadruple-platinum Fleetwood Mac LP only softened up the market for this year’s astounding Rumours. Its six-month lock on No. 1 set an all-time pop-chart record, and by the end of 1977 it may sell an incredible eight million—octaplatinum.
Yet for Stevie, her career could have ended. Frighteningly, she is afflicted with tiny nodules on her overworked vocal cords. Earlier this year she canceled several performances and doctors ordered her to bed. Though risky surgery has not been necessary, she sings no more than three concerts a week, does not smoke and limits herself to two glasses of red wine a night. Nicks also has a speech therapist on tour with her, retraining her conversational voice and helping the band’s sound men adjust the mikes when Stevie’s vocal strain becomes apparent.
Throughout the year Stevie (“Stephanie” to her father, a retired Greyhound-Armour corporation executive) has kept a tenacious hold on reality. The trauma of Mac’s romantic roundelays has passed. Stevie and Lindsey have split, Christine and John McVie are divorcing. Mick Fleetwood and his civilian wife, Jenny, are back together again. Stevie, determined to have “no half-assed careers and no harassed relationships,” is making night moves with New Yorker Paul Fishkin, head of Bearsville Records. “It’s not easy to be involved with a lady singer who’s always gone,” Nicks says. “Paul is sweet and wonderful and understands as well as anyone. I’m not interested in playing around, but I do get terribly lonely on the road.” After Mac’s tour of Australia and Japan ends this month, Stevie will head for her retreat in the Hollywood Hills, where she’s “housemother” for her younger brother and three friends. “They let me know I’m not a queen and have no expectations of seeing me go up the front stairway on a broom,” Stevie says thankfully. “Rock is flash—the rest of my life I want to be normal.”
PHOTO (COLOR):”The two hours onstage are magic,” says Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. “The other 22 are long and hard.”
People (Vol. 8 Issue 26, p100. 1p) / December 26, 1977 © Time Inc., 1977. All rights reserved.