Stevie Nicks downsizes life, upsizes charity work

By Larry Rodgers
The Arizona Republic
www.azcentral.com
July 26, 2007

With her 60th birthday looming, Stevie Nicks is making some changes.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has put the Paradise Valley home she has owned since 1981 up for sale, and has expanded her charitable efforts beyond benefits for the Arizona Heart Institute, a favorite of her late father, Jess.

She’s also selling a house in Los Angeles to move to a smaller place on the beach in Santa Monica. “I’m downsizing,” Nicks said in a call last week. “I’m moving into a rock-and-roll penthouse where I can do my work. I don’t want to worry about if the pool is taken care of and the grass is right.”

Nicks, who performs in Phoenix on July 28, said she’s spent only a few weeks annually at her Valley home in recent years. In addition, her brother, Chris, and his family, who shared the two-winged home at the foot of Camelback Mountain, have moved.

“I’ve written many famous songs there, so I hope somebody buys it who appreciates the amazing rock-and-roll history and the legendary behavior that’s gone on in that house,” said Nicks, who successfully underwent rehab for drug abuse in the ’80s.

With the 2005 passing of Jess Nicks, who headed Armour/Greyhound before becoming a concert promoter, the singer has found a new outlet for her charitable side – providing encouragement and music to U.S. servicemen hospitalized in the Washington, D.C., area after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“They are so banged up. If anyone ever needed help, it’s these guys,” said Nicks, who has visited Army and Navy medical centers since 2004.

Nicks came up with the idea of giving song-filled iPods to the hospitalized servicemen.

“I call it a soldiers’ iPod. It has all the crazy stuff that I listen to, and my collections I’ve been making since the ’70s for going on the road,” Nicks said. “When I’m sick . . . or the couple of times in my life that I have really been down, music is what always dances me out of bed.”

She hit up fellow musicians and friends for money to buy the iPods and has given away hundreds.

Nicks is setting up a foundation that will allow her to accept donations on a wider scale for iPods and medical aid such as prosthetic limbs. The non-profit group will be called Stevie Nicks’ Band of Soldiers.

The voice behind such rock classics as Edge of Seventeen, Rhiannon, Landslide and Stand Back said she still has plenty of energy left over for her music, which is celebrated on her new CD, Crystal Visions: The Very Best of Stevie Nicks.

She acknowledged that the thought of turning 60 next May “blows my mind,” but quickly added, “I think age is definitely a state of mind. Our mothers and grandmothers . . . at 60 were really looking at slowing down. If anything, I’m looking at adding in a lot of stuff.”

Nicks is including video shots of the artwork she has created since the ’70s in her stage show, which features a seven-piece band led by Los Angeles guitar wizard Waddy Wachtel.

She’s also working on a screenplay based on the Menologion, a collection of myths and stories that inspired Rhiannon.

“I want it to be a movie or miniseries. It’s such a fantastic group of stories,” said Nicks, who plans to talk to directors Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson about the project.

Plus there’s her idea for a cartoon based on a song she wrote called The Ladybug and the Goldfish:

“It will be the love story of this interspecies, interracial kind of thing.”

Nicks’ creative side doesn’t extend to making radical changes to the hits she has recorded with Fleetwood Mac and on her own. She won’t take a page from the Police’s ongoing tour, in which the British band has redone some of its biggest hits.

“We don’t mess with the actual arrangements too much, because people aren’t crazy about that,” Nicks said.

“You can’t change the solo in (Eric Clapton’s) Layla. Lindsey (Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac) can’t change the solo in Go Your Own Way, as much as he’d like to.”

Nicks’ unmistakable smoky vocals and her dramatic stage presence are a combination that needs no refinement, in the eyes of XM Satellite Radio’s Mike Marrone.

“She’s a true rock-and-roll icon,” said Marrone, who programs the Loft, which spotlights singer-songwriters.

“I think it’s her voice . . . and her spirit. People genuinely like her, almost as a member of an extended family.”

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