Parents are rocker Stevie Nicks' biggest fans

barbara-jess-nicks

The Arizona Republic
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Stevie Nicks’ musical career has spanned three decades. And it all started at The Arizona Republic.

That’s where her parents, Jess and Barbara, first met. When Jess was a student at Arizona State University, he worked part time in the circulation department. So did Barbara.

“I used to take Eugene Pulliam (former owner of the newspaper) his paper each morning,” Barbara recalled.

“When I met Jess, I wrote in my diary that this was the man I was going to marry,” said Barbara, describing it as “love at first sight.” They were married one month later. That was about 56 years ago.

Stevie was born at Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix. As Jess worked his way up the corporate ladder, the family lived in six cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago. In 1971, when Jess was chairman of Armour, he was asked to find its subsidiary, Greyhound, a new corporate home. He chose Phoenix.

In 1979, after retiring from his position as president and chairman of Armour/Greyhound, Jess went into showbiz and built Compton Terrace. (The site, at 56th Street and Washington, closed in 1984, and now houses the Salt River Project.) The venue of 20,000 seats was the state’s largest outdoor facility. Jess booked big-name acts including Kenny Rogers, Willy Nelson and, of course, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie’s band.

One of Stevie’s major influences was Jess’ father, Aaron Jess Nicks. “He was a frustrated musician,” Barbara said, “He played violin and piano and made Stevie a guitar when she was 4 or 5 years old.”

The family has always been very close, even through tough times when Stevie was fighting to overcome an addiction to drugs.

Today, the Nickses enjoy the success of their rock goddess daughter and their Paradise Valley home of 32 years. They have two dogs, a Yorkie named Rhiannon and Tina, a Chihuahua.

Stevie, now 55, lives nearby with her two Yorkies, Sara and Sulamith, named for her favorite artist and illustrator, Sulamith Wulfing.

Her brother, Chris, his wife, Lori, and their daughter, Jessie, live with the rock star in the gated five-bedroom home with two wings.

The Nickses say the best part of being the parent of a celebrity is the pride they take in Stevie’s success. And the worst part? The strange letters or knocks on their door from questionable strangers trying to find the rock star. “Some of the letters are really disturbing,” said Jess of the mail they hand over to Stevie’s security team.

The walls of Jess and Barbara’s living room are adorned with gold records, and examples of Stevie’s other talents. “She’s an artist too,” said Barbara, pointing to the intricate painting on the wall.

“She has to be in Los Angeles a lot because of her career, but she’s always considered Phoenix her home,” Barbara said.

These days, Stevie is touring with Fleetwood Mac, and the group will be performing in Phoenix on July 21 at America West Arena. It’s a fund-raiser for the Arizona Heart Foundation – a place very close to the family’s heart. Both Jess and Barbara had heart surgery there.

Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Stevie Nicks fan, will be at the concert. The governor’s Homeland Heroes program is distributing 500 tickets to members of the armed forces throughout Arizona.

The $1,000 tickets, which include a pre- and post-concert party, are sold out. But there are still $49, $85 and $125 seats available.

If you go

What: Fleetwood Mac Reunion Concert.
When: 8 p.m. July 21.
Where: America West Arena.
Tickets: $125, $85, $49 seats are still available.
More info: Ticketmaster at (480) 784-4444 or America West Arena for group sales at (602) 379-7878.

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