The real Stevie Nicks: The white witch of rock 'n' roll

Stevie Nicks’s limousine is so huge that you can sit with your legs outstretched and still not bother the person in front of you. In this instance, it’s Nicks’s personal assistant, whose toes are about 12 inches from mine, and who’s eavesdropping on our interview and taking calls on what would now be a museum-piece mobile phone (this is the late ‘90s, after all).

(Kristen Burns)
(Kristen Burns)

Interview from 1997

Stevie Nicks’s limousine is so huge that you can sit with your legs outstretched and still not bother the person in front of you. In this instance, it’s Nicks’s personal assistant, whose toes are about 12 inches from mine, and who’s eavesdropping on our interview and taking calls on what would now be a museum-piece mobile phone (this is the late ‘90s, after all).

We are on our way to an airstrip, where Fleetwood Mac’s private plane is waiting to take them to Buffalo, New York. Nicks is sat next to me, dressed in black despite the blazing sunshine, and sipping a concoction of lemon and honey from a glass tumbler. “Oh, I could easily fallen for John,” she purrs, over the faint hum of the car’s engine and air conditioning. She is talking about Fleetwood Mac’s bassist John McVie. “It’s those eyes,” she adds.

Nicks has volunteered this information after learning that I spent most of the previous evening in the hotel bar with McVie. “Of course, John drinks too much,” says Stevie. Her assistant looks aghast. “Well, he does,” she protests. “Everybody knows it.”

Nicks’s vulnerability is what audiences loved from the start.

During our half-hour journey, Nicks is charming, gossipy and ridiculously candid. She discusses her past addictions (the prescription drug Klonopin, which “they gave me in the Betty Ford Clinic” was harder to get off than cocaine, apparently); ex-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham (“His girlfriend is so good for him. She’ll straighten him out”); and why she’s never had children (“This is the life I have chosen”). I’ve barely asked any questions.

Onstage, wafting about in her chiffon scarves and towering heels, Nicks comes across like a soft-rock version of some imperious Hollywood diva. Offstage, she is disarmingly down-to-earth.

Growing up, first in Phoenix, Arizona, then California, Nicks was close to her grandfather, a struggling country singer. His lack of success haunted her, and she struggled to shake off feelings of inadequacy when writing songs alongside the more experienced Buckingham and Christine McVie. That vulnerability is there in hits such as “Dreams” and “Sara,” and is something her audience adored about her from the start. Listen to Tango in the Night’s “When I See You Again.” She sounds like she’s singing from another planet. But that’s sort of what makes it so appealing.

The limo pulls up at the airstrip and Nicks waves goodbye. When I glance back, I see her hugging Mick Fleetwood. She looks like a small bird being wrapped in the wings of a much bigger bird. The limo drives me back to the crappy Holiday Inn in which I’ve been billeted. As I climb out, I notice the glass tumbler smeared with honey and lipstick jammed into the ledge of the door. I resist the temptation to take it as a memento. That would be too sad.


Mark Blake / Q / October 2013 (From “The High Times of Fleetwood Mac – 17-page collector’s special”)

New Release

Stevie Nicks, Stand Back 1981-2017, compilation

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