A fog is pouring over the Pacific Coast Highway toward Stevie Nicks’ Southern California home, but the singer’s mood could hardly be brighter. The Fleetwood Mac alumna’s Trouble in Shangri-La has just entered the Billboard 200 at an impressive Number Five. Sheryl Crow, who co-produced five tracks, joined Nicks on the album, as did Macy Gray, Sarah McLachlan and Dixie Chick Natalie Maines. Nicks is also recovering from drug addiction— her latest was to the tranquilizer Klonopin. More recently, she’s come back from shooting her part in Destiny’s Child’s video for “Bootylicious,” which samples the Nicks classic “Edge of Seventeen.” “The wild thing is we’re together at, like, Number One and Number Five, and, of course, there’s about a 5,000-year age difference,” Nicks says with a sunny laugh.
RS: Do you feel you’ve become a sort of Mother Superior for women in music?
I do. I do. And it’s a nice feeling — I certainly would have never gone out looking for that, but it seems to be coming to me. I guess these are just all my lost children coming back into my arms.
RS: What do you think of how women in music sell their sexuality these days?
I definitely used my sexuality in a certain way. I kind of draped it all in chiffon and soft lights and suede boots. Everybody now is just much more blatant Personally, I think that being a little more mysterious works better, and it lasts longer. You should be very careful that you don’t build everything you have around how cute you are or how sexy you are, because, unfortunately, no matter how cute you are or how sexy you are, in fifteen years, that won’t be the most important part of your music. I knew that in my twenties. And I prepared for that.
RS: Do players really only love you when they’re playing?
That’s just about groupies and rock stars and what happens out there on the road. It really doesn’t happen out there on the road to women. It didn’t really happen to me, but I saw it happening all around me.
RS: I hear you’re into doing Pilates these days. Has Pilates replaced Klonopin for you?
No, nothing replaces Klonopin. I’m not addicted to working out. I enjoy it, and I am doing it now not because I want to be thin but because I want to be healthy in twenty years.
RS: With all that you’ve lived through, are you surprised you’re still alive?
I am amazed. I feel very lucky. If I had not caught that Klonopin thing, I am absolutely sure I would have been dead in a year — no doubt in my mind. I feel really lucky that somebody tapped me on the shoulder — some little spirit — and said, You know what? You better go to a hospital right now and get better.
RS: Did drugs ever erode your love for music?
The Klonopin eroded my love for everything. Klonopin is a tranquilizer. So between Klonopin for the calm and some Prozac for the wellness feeling, you are never inspired. That’s what it does.
RS: Did you sense that this album was going to turn things around for you?
Well, I knew that this record would either make me or break me. I figured if I could do an album that the world loved after being addicted to that Klonopin stuff for eight years, and just having that be such a black hole, that I would be back on my way. That’s kind of how I feel. And the Fleetwood Mac reunion just slipped in there. I didn’t ever think that Fleetwood Mac would get back together. On that tour, I really regained my power, so when I came home from the Fleetwood Mac tour, I was really ready to finish this record.
RS: Even though Christine McVie has now retired from the group, is it safe to say there is a future for Fleetwood Mac?
Totally. Lindsey [Buckingham] and I and Mick [Fleetwood] and John [McVie], we are going to do this. Christine is OK. She has set us free and let us go. And she wants us to do this if we want to. And so we are going to do it. As soon as I get done with this [Shangri-La tour], and Lindsey is finished doing whatever he does in the next year, we’ll be done and we’ll come together, and we’ll do a record. And there’s a possibility that Sheryl could be a little involved in that.
RS: As someone who lived through the ultimate rock & roll interoffice romance, do you have any advice for us on the subject?
It doesn’t work. It just doesn’t, because when all the business and everything else is blended, you don’t have any space for anything.
RS: On the other hand, you’ve had some fascinating men in your life — Lindsey Buckingham, Don Henley, Jimmy Iovine.
They are all still my really good friends today. I just talked to Don Henley an hour and a half ago. We just did an incredible benefit for MS (Multiple Sclerosis) in Dallas two weeks ago. All the men who were in my life I’m friends with now, and it’s really nice. I chose to not be married. I chose to be single. I have a lot of fun this way. I can do anything I want, go anywhere I want, be with anybody I want, and I’m not angering anybody. Nobody is ever upset with me.
RS: It must be intimidating to ask you out. It’s like asking out Cinderella.
I would think it would be very intimidating for people. That’s probably why most people don’t, you know, because they’re scared [laughs]. I figure if there’s a soul mate for me out there somewhere, I’ll find him. He’ll find me.
RS: Is the secret to your success that you really are a witch after all?
I’m not a witch.
RS: Not even a good witch, Stevie?
I just like Halloween, and I thought that blondes look skinnier in black. That was my whole idea for that whole thing — a long, cool woman in a black dress, right?
David Wild / Rolling Stone / July 5, 2001