Friday, September 7, 2001
For years, superstar Stevie Nicks’ life was fueled by cocaine. She talks to Cynthia McFadden about the successes and failures of her tumultuous life.
Stevie Nicks has been in the public spotlight for 30 years as a member of Fleetwood Mac and then as a successful solo artist. In an interview during her “Trouble in Shangri-La” tour, ABCNEWS’ Cynthia McFadden talked to the rock icon.
You got your first guitar at 16… then what happened?
The day before my 16th birthday I got my guitar. And on my birthday, then I wrote a song about my first love affair… It was a relationship at 15-and-a-half, where I was absolutely crazy about this guy. And he broke up with me. Thank God he broke up with me, because if he hadn’t… I wouldn’t have been spurred on to write that song… I don’t know what would have happened if it hadn’t have been for that. And when that song was done, I knew that I was going to be a songwriter. And I think my mom and dad knew it too.
When did you first use cocaine?
I think the first time that I used coke was when I was a cleaning lady and I was cleaning somebody’s house and as a joke, they left a line of coke underneath something, just to see if I was really a thorough house cleaner. And of course I was, and of course I found it. That’s the first time that I actually remember using it… That was like 1973…
It was amazing how when people talked about it, how not a big thing it was. Nobody was scared. Nobody had any idea how insidious and dangerous and horrible it was.
How much did you spend on cocaine?
Millions. Millions. And yes, don’t I wish that we had that money and I could give it to cancer research today. Yes, I do.
I would be happy if nobody had ever shown me that drug. And that’s what I always want to be careful to tell people is that… just like everything else, for two, three years it was really fun. But it turns into a monster. So it’s not worth it to do it for those two or three years of fun because it will eventually kill you.
How do you finally realize that you have to stop?
I went to a plastic surgeon who told me, “You know, you’re really going to have a lot of problems with your nose if you don’t stop doing this.” And [that] really scared me. And then I went and did a seven-month tour… and I came home and I went straight to Betty Ford. And nobody had to make me go. I wanted to go as quick as possible.
I realized that I had this problem with my nose and that that could affect my voice. And then what would I do if I couldn’t sing anymore?… I could not get to Betty Ford fast enough at the end of that tour in 1986… Once I really realized it and really realized that it was just killing me, that drive to Betty Ford wasn’t so very difficult.
Do you drink or use drugs now?
I never want to be drunk in public again, ever, because that is not me. I never want to be totally drugged out again in public, ever, because I like me, I like who I am. And so that stops me from even considering going down any kind of a route like that again, ever.
Was Lindsey Buckingham the love of your life?
He was the musical love of my life. And I would have really given up anything for him, because of that. It was more than just a love relationship. It was everything… We really did get in a car and drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and having no idea what we were going to do or how we were going to do it… But we were going to do it.
What I tell Sheryl Crow [who collaborated with Nicks on her new cd]: Don’t get interested in somebody who’s going to go back on the road… Men are going to go out on the road and they’re going to find other women. So if you really want to save yourself a whole lot of heartache, do not fall in love with somebody in a band. Just don’t. Because it just doesn’t ever work. It’s too much to ask of them to be true… In my book, it’s a rule. It’s just an invitation to heartache… If you want to find somebody and you want to be married and you want to have children, don’t make it a rock star.
You chose career over family. Why?
I couldn’t have really done both. Now, many women can do both. I’m not saying it can’t be done. But for me, I knew that if I had a baby, I would have to take care of that baby, and I wouldn’t have been happy with a nanny taking care of my baby and walking into the room and having my child run across the room to another woman. I am very jealous and I would have hated that. So under those circumstances, if I couldn’t be a great mom, then I decided it would be better not to, and to go ahead and do what I do, write my songs, try to help people that way…
There’s an old country psalm that goes: “I never will marry, I’ll be no man’s wife, I intend to stay single all the rest of my life.” Well, I was singing that song at 16, so I think I just kind of always knew. That just wasn’t going to be for me. And, who knows, maybe when I’m 65 I’ll meet my soul mate and that’s very possible. But for now and for the last many, many years I needed to devote myself to this…
If everything came to an end for some reason tomorrow, I would feel OK about it. I would feel like I did most of what I need to do.
Why do you think your music touches people?
I think that’s what makes people connect to my songs is that they are, each one a little very truthful vignette about an experience that we’re all going to have.
Why did you do your first album cover naked?
That was not my idea. And I was not happy about that either. And I really was kind of forced to do that. That was one of those things, “Well don’t be a child, and don’t be a prude, and you know, this is art”… And I was like “Well, my parents are not going to be happy about this art. “… I was truly horrified. As horrified as I’ve ever been in my life. I was horrified on that day … I should have said no because I didn’t want to do it.
Now all those years are gone. It’s been so long that it’s all right now. And I know people love the cover. I know people love that picture. So I can kind of deal with it and accept it more now.
What’s it like to be a rock star at 53?
I really actually like being my age. I like all that I know. I like how wise I am now. And I wasn’t so very wise 25 years ago, so I like the knowledge. I like the fact that I’m very experienced. I like the fact that I know exactly what I’m doing when I’m on stage. I like the fact that if I had to completely take care of myself, pack my bags, get in a car and drive back to Los Angeles, I could do it.… If I get tired, I tend to blame everything on the fact that I’m older. And I think that really I’m as strong and as healthy and as able to do stuff as I ever was. I’m much more physical now than I was when I was in my 20s.… I was just a lazy rock star in those days.
What’s next for you?
When I stop doing this, I’ll write books and I’ll write children’s books and I’ll do children’s books with music. So I have so many things that I want to do, that when I decide I’m too old to rock on the stage, then I will switch into a whole other art thing.
And a little bit of me looks forward to that because there are many things that I really want to do. I paint and I draw and I have 40 or 50 of what I think are really beautiful paintings. And nobody’s seen them. So I have a whole ‘nother life that I can go into.