Singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks began performing in bands in high school in California, and later joined Lindsey Buckingham’s band, Fritz, opening for such artists as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane. After three-and-a-half-years Fritz disbanded, and in 1973 Nicks and Buckingham recorded the album, Buckingham Nicks.
Soon after, they joined Mick Fleetwood and Christine and John McVie’s band on their eponymous 1975 album, Fleetwo0od Mac. Nicks would continue with the group to this day, recording eight albums, while also recording eight solo albums, including the 2014 release, 24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault.
CBS News correspondent John Blackstone recently talked with Nicks about her relationships with members of Fleetwood Mac, who are regrouping with former member Christine McVie for a new album and tour.
John Blackstone: You’re a better singer now than you were in the 1970s, Stevie.
Stevie Nicks: So much better. So much better. I’m really trained. I could teach voice now.
Blackstone: Mick said, “As much as Stevie said she’d like time off, that girl just keeps workin’.” You got a new album comin’ out. You’re doin’ this tour. You can’t stop. You don’t wanna stop.
Nicks: You know what? It’s kind of like, what else would you do? This is my job. This is what I’ve been doing since I was a senior in high school, and I joined my first band with, you know, three girls and five guys [singing] Bob Dylan songs.
And I learned to play the guitar, not very well, but well enough to play for my mom and dad and convince them that I was gonna be a singer. And so it’s what I do. I enjoy it. I think I would be probably better served to take a little bit of a break once in a while. The last time I actually had a real vacation was 2008. And I went to Mexico for three months. And I should do that every once in a while.
But it seems that every time I almost get to booking that trip — we were not supposed to come back out on the road this year. And then Christine called and said, ‘I’m back.’ And then all of a sudden, shows went on sale and sold out in the beginning of February. So there was no time for that. So I kind of look at it as, well, I guess it’s better to have a job than to not have a job!
Blackstone: Let me just ask, for you, the significance of having Christine back in the band now.
Nicks: Well, when she left in 1998, it was very significant. Because we had only just reunited to do The Dance tour and The Dance record. And it went swimmingly well. We hadn’t played together since the Mirage tour, which was somewhere in the beginning of the ’80s. It was after Bella Donna and before Wild Heart. It was really a long time ago that Fleetwood Mac, as a band, this five, played. Because when we did Tango in the Night in 1987, Lindsey quit before that tour. And we had to hire Rick Vito and Billy Burnett to take his place. Because we were already so booked that there was no getting out of that tour.
So The Dance was the first time that this five had played in a long, long time. So when that tour finished our 40th show, Christine, after the Grammys in 1998, came to me and said, “I’m quitting,” I’m like, “Why? We’ve just done 40 shows. And we have, like, the potential to do another 100 shows.”
And she said, “Because I wanna go back to England. I don’t wanna fly anymore. And I don’t wanna live in hotels anymore. And I don’t wanna do this anymore.” And there was something in her eyes that was so serious that it really is like somebody breaking up with you, when they say, “I’m leaving you.” And you don’t even go, like, “Why?” She was done.
And so the fact that she made the phone call last year, right before we got to Europe to do the the last leg of tour that we did last year, and said, “How would you feel if I came back to the band?” I’m like, “Are you serious?” Because I never would’ve thought she would. I really believed her from the very beginning. And 16 years slowly went by. And there was never a phone call saying, “I’m thinking about it.”
And I said, “I think it would be amazing. But you should come and see us play. It’s a three-hour show. It’s very physical. And you should hire a trainer.” So she did come to see us play. She hired a trainer. And she is now stronger than any of us. She’s been working out solid since then. I’ve never even had a trainer in my life. So she’s, like, left us in the dust. (laughs) So she’s totally, really strong. And she’s ready to go. So she slipped right back into the band as if she never left.
I mean, I look over, and I think, “I don’t think she ever left. I think that was a dream, a bad dream that wasn’t true. And she’s really never been gone. She’s actually been here all this time,” or we left. And it’s the “Twilight Zone.” (laughs)
So it’s really wonderful to have her back. And she brings the funny. And the funny is very, very important. And that is what is really, to me, besides her beautiful songs and her beautiful presence, the fact that she’s such a comedienne, and she just makes us all laugh is, to me, the most precious part of the whole thing. What you do notice is how much you missed that. Without her, it was a much more serious band. With her, it’s it’s much more lighthearted. So that right there makes the whole thing easier.
Blackstone: When you’re up there now, does it seem like 40 years since the five of you all started?
Nicks: No. It really doesn’t. I can remember going to dinner with them. They called us. Mick called Lindsey and I on New Year’s Eve 1974 and asked us if we would have dinner with them at a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles and alluded to the fact that he was interested in Lindsey and I joining Fleetwood Mac.
Now, we really didn’t know much about Fleetwood Mac. But we did know that they were fairly well-known in Europe. So we went, like, two days later and had dinner with them. And in that 24 hours ran to Tower Records and bought every record that they had ever done and listened to all, back to front, all their records. They [had] a mystical quality with “Bermuda Triangle” and the Bob Welch things.
And I said to Lindsey, “You can totally fit into any one of those guitar players’ world if you want, if you so choose. And it’s a great band. What more could we ask for? And, if we get in the band and we don’t like it, we save some money, I put it away, and we can quit. What’s not to love about this?”
So we went to dinner with them, had a raucously great time, just laughed ourselves silly for three hours and went home. And I said, “We need to join this band.” And he said, “Okay.” And that was it.
Nicks: They are. Two of them are. “24 Karat Gold” and “Watch Chain.” Thank you, Mick, for that. (laughs) You know, a girl has to have stuff to write about. And I have had a lot of really interesting men in my life who have inspired me to write, like, some pretty amazing poetry, I think. And I don’t think you write amazing poetry unless you’re inspired by somebody who is amazing– and who really affects you.
My songs always start as formal poems. And then I go to the piano with my formal, finished poem. So those were just two songs that, well, they were all demos. So when I called up Dave Stewart and said, “How do I make an album in 2 1/2 months,” he said, “We go to Nashville. ‘Cause those guys will take your 17 really, really well-done demos, and they will copy them exactly, except they’ll play them way better than you did. They’ll play them like great musicians.” And I’m like, “Seriously?” And he said, “Yeah.” So that’s what we did.
And we were able to record a record in exactly two months — a month at my house here in L.A., and a month in Nashville — and then under a month to put together all the art, which was old Polaroids that I had taken. This little record all came together very easily, because I had so much of it already done.
Blackstone: You’d written a couple of those songs about Mick, as you said. Mick isn’t a songwriter. So as you know, he’s written a book.
It was very hurtful to his wife and very hurtful, down the road, to his children and to all his relatives that I knew really well. So I paid a price for that.
Blackstone: Has he shared the book?
Nicks: I have not read his book yet, only because there hasn’t been one minute to sit down and read a book. But you know, I trust that Mick has written a good book. He’s had a very, very interesting life. He’s a very interesting man. And I’ve been there, since — I mean, he was 29 when we joined Fleetwood Mac. So I’ve been there from 29 on to watch his life. I’m sure that he has a lot of wisdom to impart to the world.
Blackstone: I’ve had a chance to read some of it, and he writes, “My love with Stevie was the perfect underground liaison. It was a true love affair. There was tremendous passion. And then the game was called off.”
Blackstone: Does that all sound accurate?
Nicks: Pretty accurate.
Blackstone: Who called it off?
Nicks: Mick did. And this is something that I always, as a songwriter, said that I would never — I would never change it around. So if somebody left me, I would never say that I left them, you know? I would never not be truthful. What happened was I had a very dear friend, one of my top two or three friends, whose name was Sara. When I fell in love with Mick, I think that she fell in love with Mick, too. And she really will readily admit to you that she just went after him. And she got him. And there was really, you know, nothing I could do except basically stop speaking to both of them.
And then three months later, I forgave Sara. Because I just really kinda missed my friend almost more than I missed Mick. Because sometimes friends, you know, are like almost more missable than lovers in a lotta ways.
So and eventually, during the next couple of months, I forgave Mick. I didn’t feel that either of them set out to hurt me. And it just played out the way it was supposed to play out. And Mick and I both knew, from the very beginning, because Mick was married to somebody that I loved very much, to his wife, Jenny, and had two little girls that I adored, our relationship was just a fluke anyway. And it happened in Australia after a super-drunken party, where Mick and I ended up to be the last two people in the suite. And all of a sudden, Mick and I were goin’ out, you know, and discretely, super discretely. Because he was married.
And I believe in my heart that when you accidentally set upon to break up somebody’s marriage, you’re gonna pay in the end. And so there was a big price to pay. It was very hurtful to his wife and very hurtful, down the road, to his children and to all his relatives that I knew really well. So I paid a price for that. And I learned a very valuable lesson in that.
Blackstone: And yet, does all that disappear when you’re on the stage now, all that history?
Nicks: Because Mick and I had the kind of relationship that allowed us, once we got past that year, ’cause that was the year of Tusk, that was 1979 — it was 13 months — Mick left me for Sara, and he ended up marrying Sara and being married to Sara for, like, 18 years. So I would never have married Mick if he —
Blackstone: You wouldn’t have stuck around that long?
Nicks: No, I wouldn’t have. So the fact is that it was 13 months. By the end of the 13 months, when we got done with Tusk, Mick and I were okay. We had put it all behind us. And because we both knew that Fleetwood Mack was gonna go on probably longer than anybody’s marriage and that it was important that we be friends.
So Mick and I just put our friendship back together and have been really the kind of friends where, you know, I fly to his house and we hang out. And we all go on vacation together. Some people, you can have that relationship with. Some people, you can’t have that relationship with. I’m really glad that, with Mick, it worked out that way. Because it would have really been sad over the last 30 years if Mick and I hadn’t been able to — you can see what good friends we are. It’s just very seeable. And we make each other laugh. And we just really love each other. You know, long after Fleetwood Mac is over, Mick and I will still be best friends.
Blackstone: Looks like Fleetwood Mack is never gonna be over.
Nicks: Well, I know. But if it ever is, we’ll still be really good friends.
John Blackstone / CBS Sunday Morning / Sunday, September 28, 2014