Singer Stevie Nicks’ father dies; built music venue

By Michael Senft
The Arizona Republic
August 17, 2005 12:00 AM

NORTHEAST VALLEY – Jess Nicks, father of Fleetwood Mac singer and
Paradise Valley resident Stevie Nicks, died Aug. 10 from heart failure.
He was 80 years old.

In addition to Stevie Nicks, he is survived by his wife, Barbara, and
son Christopher.

Nicks, a longtime Valley resident, was the owner of the now-defunct
concert venue Compton Terrace, which he built in 1979 after retiring as
president and chairman of Armour/Greyhound.

“He was a pioneer,” said Valley concert promoter Danny Zelisko of
Evening Star Productions.

“Compton Terrace was one of the first ‘sheds.’ When Jess opened it,
there weren’t many venues like it. No one thought to dig a hole in the
ground and hold concerts outdoors. Now there are 50 or 60 across the
country,” Zelisko said.

The outdoor amphitheater moved from its original location, next to
defunct Valley amusement park Legend City, to Firebird Lake in 1985. It
closed in 1996.

“Jess brought business savvy from outside the concert business to the
concert business,” Zelisko said. “But he also loved the music, because
his daughter was a musician.”

A longtime sufferer from heart disease, Nicks, who had undergone three
heart operations, was also involved with the Arizona Heart Institute,
serving as chairman of the board for three decades.

Despite illness, Nicks appeared July 20 at the groundbreaking of the
Arizona Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Research building.

Along with his daughter, he helped raise millions of dollars for the
institute. Stevie and Fleetwood Mac performed numerous benefit concerts
for the organization, ranging from an intimate private performance in
1996 to a recent concert with Don Henley on Aug. 5 at the Dodge

In a message posted on her Web site,, Stevie writes
about her father:

“He was a force of nature. He waited until the Fleetwood Mac Tour was
over – I asked him for that. He waited until this summer tour was over
– I asked him for that. He couldn’t leave us during a tour – he knew
that. . . . He waited for me.”

Condolences may be sent via e-mail at Stevie Nicks’ Web site.

The Nicks family asks that donations be made to the Arizona Heart
Foundation, 2632 N. 20th St., Phoenix, 85006, in lieu of sending
flowers. For more information, visit or call (602)
266-2200, Ext. 4449.

Reach the reporter at

Jess Nicks passes away

The Nicks Fix has confirmed that Jess Nicks, Stevie Nicks’ father, has died. Mr. Nicks passed away on the afternoon of August 10, after a long illness.

Stevie Nicks has made an official statement to friends and fans, which can be viewed now at The Nicks Fix.

In lieu of sending flowers, the Nicks family has requested that donations be made on behalf of Jess Nicks to the Arizona Heart Foundation, according to the Nicks Fix.

Stevie Nicks performs for AZ Heart Foundation

Stevie Nicks performed a special benefit concert for the Arizona Heart Foundation at the Dodge Theatre in Phoenix on Thursday night. Joining Nicks was special guest Don Henley, who performed intermittently during the 100 minute set. Nicks’ sister-in-law Lori Nicks also made a special appearance at the show, performing backup on “Edge of Seventeen” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Outside the Rain
Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around*
Leather and Lace*
Stand Back
Gold Dust Woman*
Circle Dance*
Fall From Grace
Landslide (dedicated to Stevie’s dad)
(drum solo)
Edge of Seventeen
Rock and Roll
Beauty and the Beast
So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star*

*with Don Henley

Nicks brings surprise to benefit’s post-party

Stevie Nicks (center) greets Linda Anderson and Scott Williams before having pictures taken with them Monday night during a VIP party at Kincaid's in downtown Phoenix. (Photo: Michael Chow/Scottsdale Republic)

Scottsdale Republic
Thursday, July 24, 2003

What’s it like to party with Stevie Nicks? Well, some of us found out after Monday night’s Fleetwood Mac concert, a benefit for the Arizona Heart Foundation. The VIP concert tickets on the floor of America West Arena included a pre-concert cocktail party and then a post-party with the rock goddess. The price? A mere $1,000 per person. They sold out within three weeks.

Many of the 264 people who forked out the bucks headed for the late-night after party at Kincaid’s Steak Chop and Fish House. Security was very tight, and only those with special armbands were allowed in.

The eclectic crowd of Nicks’ hard-core followers (some were dressed like her) and supporters of the Arizona Heart Foundation waited for an hour with few complaints. Nicks finally arrived at about midnight with a surprise: She brought along Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham and John McVie.

The crowd of about 270 learned people could have their photos taken with the band. Some people waited in line for an hour. They each had only a few seconds to pose, and then were whisked away by the bodyguards.

Nigel Atkinson didn’t mind. He and his wife came all the way from England for the concert.

Lessing Stern, owner of Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, and Gay Palmer, both of Carefree, and Art and Nancy Schwalm of Scottsdale were among those mingling at the party. The Schwalms invited 10 of their family members to the concert and party – VIP style.

Meredeth Rohner of Tiffany & Co. and her fiancé, Jim Moss, said they waited past their bedtime for the rock goddess. On behalf of Tiffany’s, Meredeth presented each band member a Tiffany crystal-etched sculpture.

The Phoenix stop on the band’s reunion tour (they left that same night for San Francisco) was a homecoming performance for Nicks, who was born at Good Samaritan Hospital. These days the diva commutes between Los Angeles and her home in Paradise Valley, which she shares with her brother, Chris, his wife, Lori, and her 11-year-old niece, Jessie.

Her parents, Jess and Barbara, of Paradise Valley, were also part of her entourage at the party. “It’s such a thrill to see this little kid of mine up on stage in front of all those people,” Barbara said.

For the family, this was more than a concert. “Raising money for the Arizona Heart Hospital is so important to Stevie,” said Jess. It’s where both he and Barbara had lifesaving surgery. The cause also has a place in Buckingham’s heart. Barbara noted that he lost his father at 50 and his brother at 45, who both died from heart attacks.

During the concert, Nicks dedicated the song Landslide to her father and Silver Springs to her mother. (Barbara named her antique and vintage store in Payson after the song). Stevie donates all the royalties from the song Beautiful Child in honor of her parents to the Heart Foundation.

Nicks gets by with a lotta help from her friends

By Cathalena E. Burch
Arizona Daily Star
Friday, December 7, 2001

PHOENIX — Stevie Nicks’ waited until taking her final bow before choking back a tear that was welling for the better part of her 2 1/2-hour show Thursday night.

“Take care of each other and be good to each other. Life is so fragile,” she said, referring to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York.

The 9,000 people loosely filling Nicks’ hometown arena cheered in support and allowed their favorite daughter a moment of emotional indulgence.

They owed her that much for helping them to forgot about the attacks, the war on terrorism and much else to do about the world outside of America West Arena.

Nicks and a few of her friends took the audience back to the cold war 1980s, before anyone had really heard of a madman named Osama bin Laden.

Thursday night’s show was a fund-raiser for the Arizona Heart Institute Foundation. But with the exception of State Attorney General Janet Napolitano and a suit-clad foundation official saying a few words, you never would have known that the evening was dedicated to such warm-and-fuzzy pursuits.

The audience came to see the legendary Nicks and her enviable cast of friends — Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Don Henley, Sheryl Crow and Natalie Maines.

From the opening chords of “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” Nicks turned back the clock 20 years, to the days when her ethereal, mystical voice ruled the radio.

Not daunted by age or the ever changing pop music landscape, she sounded and looked just as she had back then, sans the after-effects of heavy partying. She swirled, she twirled, she bent down in that swoop and turn that made everyone want to be a gypsy like her.

Granted, she didn’t bend as low as she did in her youth, but the magic was just as tangible.

And infectious.

Nicks barely uttered the first words of “Stand Back” when the crowd took over, their chorus overflowing the arena. They boldly and loudly sang along to every song she performed: “Edge of Seventeen,” “Rhiannon,” “Gold Dust Woman,” “Enchanted.”

One by one she invited each of her special friends to share the mike on a song that forever ties them to Nicks: Henley on “Leather and Lace,” Maines on “Too Far From Texas,” Crow on “Sorcerer” and Buckingham on the classic “Landslide,” a song the pair dedicated to Nicks’ father, Jess.

As Buckingham picked the intricate notes on his guitar, Nicks let the words slip out like lines of poetry, softly and packed with the emotional weight they’ve carried since she penned the song 30 years ago.

The pair share a musical bond that can’t be broken, which could explain why they and their Fleetwood Mac bandmates, sans Christy McVie, are in the studio now recording a new album.

Nicks is forging new but seemingly just as solid bonds with her newest friends, Crow and Maines. She gushed over both women, crediting Crow with the very existence of her latest album, “Trouble in Shangri-La.” She said that after two days in the studio with Maines, she felt as if they pair had been performing together a lifetime.

Nicks also let her friends hog the spotlight individually, which gave Henley a chance to resurrect two of his classics: “End of the Innocence” and “Boys of Summer.” Buckingham jammed on the guitar and then invited Fleetwood to bang on the drums for a number.

But the applause was most deafening when Nicks was solo, spinning a tale of a “Gold Dust Woman” or asking the question “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You,” not anticipating an answer.

The crowd answered back by singing along.

For a little while, Sept. 11 and all that has come after it didn’t exist, and the tears that Stevie Nicks was holding back could just as easily have been tears of joy.

From the heart

By Leigh Flayton
City AZ
Friday, November 30, 2001

Local hero Stevie Nicks’ national tour culminates in a hometown show that’s dear to her family’s heart — it’s also the hottest ticket of the year.

She’s back. Phoenix’s favorite songbird returns home this December 6 to play her annual benefit concert for the Arizona Heart Institute at America West Arena. And, what can fans expect this year, whether they score the premium $1,000 tickets–which include access to the private post-concert party — or the more affordable, yet still intimate, seats throughout the venue?

We’ll have many of the same guests this year: Sheryl Crow, Don Henley, Lindsey Buckingham,” Nicks said recently via telephone. “They’re all my friends; they’re my circle.”

Also in attendance will be any of us who were smart enough to purchase tickets, for we will not only see a one-of-a-kind show, we’ll be supporting a terrific cause. The benefit concert is the passion of Stevie’s father, Jess Nicks — whose brother and mother died of heart disease — and who has suffered from the disease himself, along with Stevie’s mother, Barbara.

“My dad is almost 77 years old, and when you get to be 77 you get to thinking, ‘I better start doing all this,'” Nicks says. “He is determined to build heart hospitals, and these benefits keep him going because he really goes to work on this. It makes him young again.”

Last year’s show was a magical musical moment. Nicks sang unforgettable versions of her greatest works, including acoustic renderings of “Landslide” and “Gypsy”, with longtime friend, collaborator, and former lover Lindsey Buckingham. Also, many of the Nicks’ friends were onhand singing duets with her in addition to their own songs. Yet the best part was that every cent derived from the performance — titled “Stevie Nicks and Friends” — went to the Arizona Heart Institute Foundation’s efforts to eradicate heart disease, and to provide for advanced research into the treatments.

“It’s not like collecting funds that spray into the wind and you have no idea where they go,” Nicks says. “The second my father gets that money in his hand, he takes it to where it’s gotta go.”

Nicks has been benefiting millions with her music during the last three decades, beginning with her days with Fleetwood Mac. Since 1981, when her solo career took off upon the release of her first album, Bella Donna, she has been one of America’s premier artists — a fact that she takes very seriously.

Her dedication to what she does was almost usurped, like most Americans’, last fall. Nicks was on tour in New York on September 11, the 21st-century’s very own date of infamy. Four days later, her first performance since the attacks was scheduled for Atlantic City.

“It’s been very hard for me to be out on the road [since the attacks],” Nicks admits. “I thought about going home, because I just didn’t know that I could stand up there and smile. There were some days when I was calling home every day, really hysterical.” But Nicks got through that difficult first show. “It was hard to go back onstage. I have been very afraid, but we all have to get back on the plane. If we don’t, this country isn’t going to make it.”

That concern inspired Nicks to write a poem “We Get Back on the Plane” which she composed aboard the nerve-racking flight out of Atlantic City, which was accompanied by an F-16 fighter plane. When we spoke a week later, she admitted she had been “song creeping” around the piano, knowing she would soon set the words she wrote to music.

“My Mom and Dad keep going back to World War II,” Nicks says. “They keep saying, ‘You’re part of the USO right now; you must do this.’ I know that if we don’t get back to work, we’re in huge trouble.”

So Stevie Nicks — the artist — took her own advice and got back to work. “I told the audience in Atlantic City to ‘let us let the music just take us away,'” she says. And, she admits, it did.

Nicks says she knows that music does make a difference, and now, during the height of the greatest American crisis in a generation, she still believes music can help change the world.

“During Desert Storm I received a flag from one of the first tanks that went in,” she recalls. “They were listening to my music and they made a very big deal to me about how important it was, to listen to my records. Entertainment — per se — is really uplifting. And now, of course, all my songs take on a different meaning.”

Nicks has said she’s made sacrifices in her pursuit of the artist’s life, but her returns have meant so much to her listeners as well as for herself. She says she “knows” when she’s written something particularly meaningful; usually because it happens so quickly.

I knew at the end of “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You”, I knew at the end of “Landslide”, and I knew at the end of “Love Is” from the new album,” she admits about realizing the brilliance of her songwriting. “I do have a feeling of it because what happens with songs is, sometimes you get halfway through and stop. Something isn’t right.”

But sometimes, according to Nicks, it’s a flawless process.

“There are ones that just flow out with no problem,” she admits. “I really did write a poem called “We Get Back On the Plane”, and I don’t know when I’m going to write it [as a song]. I might write it; I could write it. Those songs all have a really great story; they all have a real reason to be written. The ones that are really memorable are the ones that give that feeling of I have to do this. And, it’s going to be forever.”

Like the heart hospitals Jess Nicks is determined to build, this year’s teaming of Nicks & Nicks will be yet another gift to the Valley. Jess will take his annual seat in the front row and beam — no doubt — as our desert angel takes the stage.

For tickets call 602.266.2200 ext. 4619 or go to