Stevie Nicks, now a solo act

Thinking about tomorrow Stevie Nicks, now a solo act, sees her music as her life

Stevie Nicks can’t stop thinking about the things she’s given up to make music. Because she stayed in Fleetwood Mac for 18 years, she feels she compromised her career as a solo artist. And because she sustained both the band’s and her own careers, Nicks says, she lost the opportunity to develop relationships and have children.

These are not complaints, mind you. Having just released her sixth solo album, Street Angel — Nicks’ first since leaving Fleetwood Mac in 1993 — she’s resigned to being a willing slave to her muse.

“The fact is, this is my first love,” the 46-year-old songstress says. “I’ve pretty much given my life up for it — my relationships, my friends, my parents in a lot of ways.

“It’s my life. I’m probably not going to settle down and have children now; I gave that all up. So what else do I have to do but this? I’ll probably go on doing this until I’m 70 or 80 years old.”

If that’s the case, Street Angel is the beginning of the rest of Nicks’ career. And it does sound like a new beginning. Straightforward and rocking — with songs about Greta Garbo, Jane Goodall and a guest appearance by Bob Dylan on Nicks’ remake of his “Just Like a Woman” — it’s reminiscent of her first solo album, 1981’s Bella Donna. And it’s hard not to hear the spirit of liberation in the 11 songs on Street Angel.

“I wanted out of Fleetwood Mac for a long time,” says Nicks, who quit after the group performed at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration celebration in 1993. “But I am a chump, the one who — when it came down to ‘If you leave, you’ll ruin the band, ruin our lives’ — just couldn’t leave.”

Not that her 18 years in Fleetwood Mac was a bad run. More so than Lindsey Buckingham, her then-boyfriend with whom Nicks joined the band in 1974, Fleetwood Mac made her a star, a bona fide rock sex symbol.

She still has fond feelings for the Mac. “They were my family for all those years,” she says. But she adds, “We all sacrificed an awful lot to be that band everyone remembers as a good rock ‘n’ roll band. Hopefully, the world got a lot out of it, because everybody got hurt by it. My parents would call, or someone else in my family, or anyone else who needed me, and I wasn’t available; Fleetwood Mac came first, no questions asked.”

Some of this rubs former band mates the wrong way. “I was never horribly aware she was that unhappy,” says Mick Fleetwood, who insists he’s remained on good terms with Nicks. “To hear things that are slightly on the down side from her doesn’t make any sense; she never had any trouble being in Fleetwood Mac when she became incredibly successful.”

But Fleetwood does understand the pull of Nicks’ solo career.

“She was really running out of gas to run her career and Fleetwood Mac’s and try to keep us happy in terms of what we needed out of our singer,” Fleetwood says. Or, as Nicks elaborates, “I had to think of me a little bit.”

But even with Street Angel out, Nicks still thinks of other aspects of her life. Children are one. She did “give up” several children over the years — Nicks doesn’t elaborate on exactly what that means — and a few years back she talked about wanting to adopt.

“I’ve already been so disappointed about not having the children I wanted,” explains Nicks, who dotes on her 2-year-old niece. “If I went and searched and did all the work that’s entailed and was then turned down or something, I don’t think I could have handled that. I probably could have been the best mom around . . . so I try not to think about it. If I do, I get upset.”

Nicks hasn’t given up the idea of having a child, but once again the career rears its head. “I don’t have time to meet anybody or go anywhere or do anything except work,” she says.

So she bears her desires and buries them in the work — not just music but also painting and handicrafts.

“My whole thing is getting better, whether it’s writing or painting or hand-knitting or photographs or writing songs for other people,” Nicks says. “My life is made up of staying up all night and doing that stuff. It’s not for the money. I can always make money — I can go get a job if I have to.”

ON STAGE: Stevie Nicks and Darden Smith perform at 7:30 tonight at Pine Knob, Sashabaw Road at I-75, Clarkston. Tickets are $22.50 pavilion, $12.50 lawn. Call 1-810-377-0100 anytime. 

Gary Graff / Free Press Music Writer / August 19, 1994

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