Dave Stewart recalls his fling with Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks & Dave Stewart

Dave Stewart recalls his fling with Stevie Nicks — and how it led to a hit with Tom Petty

In an exclusive excerpt from Sweet Dreams Are Made of This: A Life in Music, Dave Stewart’s scintillating memoir (Feb. 4, NAL), the former Eurythmics member recalls a wild night of love — and drugs — with Stevie Nicks (and the drama that followed)

Memoir Excerpt:

We continued touring America for the remainder of 1984. When Annie [Lennox] and I played the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, the place was absolutely packed with half of the L.A. music industry and a host of famous ­musicians. There was hardly room for the general public. It was a wild show. There were a lot of ­musicians and ­singers backstage, and one of them was Stevie Nicks.

Stevie was in my dressing room doorway, wearing a faux-fur coat just like the first time I met Annie. Underneath she wore a black lace dress and she had long, flowing hair. I didn’t know who she was, but there was something about her that I was instantly attracted to. Stevie remembers that I looked her straight in the eye and said, “I want to be your ­boyfriend.” Little did I know that the day before, [The Eagles’] Joe Walsh and Stevie had had a big fight and had broken up. She invited me back to her house for a party, and 10 minutes later, still in full sweaty leather stage gear, I was in the back of a limo with Stevie and her backing singers. When we got there it wasn’t really a party: just Stevie and her singers being very speedy, ­laughing and talking. The house seemed enormous to me, so I wandered around, and when I came back to the ­living room, they had all disappeared into a bathroom for what seemed like hours. Actually it was hours. At around three in the morning, I ended up saying to myself, “OK, I’m really tired now and I have no idea where I am or which hotel Annie and the band are staying in.”

Dave Stewart and Stevie NicksI just went to bed in one of the four bedrooms upstairs. I woke up at about 5 a.m. to the sound of doors rustling open and in the half-light saw Stevie opening and closing closets, as if it was the middle of the afternoon. Obviously they were all still ­wide awake, aided, I imagine, by what we in England call “marching powder.” Stevie went back in the bathroom and about an hour later came out in a long Victorian ­nightdress and quietly slipped into the other side of the bed. Stevie is an incredibly talented, soulful and ­beautiful woman. There was a fair amount of what I’d call skirmishing that went on. I remember at one point actually falling backward out of bed onto the floor, which made us both laugh hysterically. Stevie recently told me that all she could see when she came out of the bathroom that night was a mound of black leather and chains on the floor and a wild head of hair poking out of the bed covers. I remember making love once, but she later told me we made love twice. And then she said, “I remember clearly because I was wide awake, wired on cocaine.” It was all very good-humored and sweet, but also romantic in a rock’n’roll kind of way.

I was woken up at about 9:30 a.m. by Stevie saying I had to leave because someone might have been coming around to collect their clothes, and things could get tricky. I didn’t like the sound of “tricky,” so I phoned my management, found out where the band was ­staying and jumped in a cab.

After San Francisco we had some time off, and I decided to go back to L.A. to see Stevie again. Jimmy Iovine, the great producer who went on to start Interscope Records in the early ’90s, had invited me to stay with him at his house, and this was where it got interesting. I had no idea of the complexity of the relationships among Jimmy, Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty at the time. But I was soon to find out more than I ever imagined.

Jimmy had been living with Stevie in 1981 when he was producing her album Bella Donna, which was a huge success. Now he was working on her next album, except this time around they were not together. Stevie said later that it was because she was so addicted to drugs at that time.

I played Jimmy the demo of “Don’t Come Around Here No More” [which Stewart co-wrote and co-produced], and he said, “Wow! This is going to be great. Let’s make it for Stevie’s album.”

I jumped at the chance to work with Stevie, and we went right into the studio a few days later. When we started recording, Stevie was acting strangely and not really coming out of the bathroom much.

There seemed to have been quite a bit of friction between them. I had no idea that it was because they had been living together and were now broken up. Finally, Stevie appeared with her lyric book and started to sing into the microphone.

I was mesmerized until Jimmy said, “She’s ­reciting f–ing Shakespeare!” He did have a point; it was kind of Shakespearean and very odd. He was trying to get Stevie to change the lyrics. Stevie was upset and the discussion became very tense. He was saying, “Can you stop arguing with me in front of my friend David? You don’t really know him.” And she said, “Your friend? What are you talking about? We slept together the other night.” I turned white and stared at the floor, ­wondering what was coming next. Fortunately Stevie turned, walked out the door and left the studio.

I thought Jimmy was going to ask, “What does that mean?” But he just said, “I know what we should do. We should get Tom Petty down here to finish writing the song with you. He’s great.”

—Dave Stewart

Dave Stewart Sweet Dreams Are Made of This Memoir

This story originally appeared in the Feb. 6 issue of Billboard.

Billboard / Saturday, February 6, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Return of the Mac

The father of the Mac Mick Fleetwood tells our reporter how his bohemian childhood still inspires him and the band

Mick Fleetwood and I are taking tea in a stylish hotel overlooking London’s Hyde Park. We are talking about his father Mike, who died in 1978 aged 62. Suddenly, Mick spots something out of the window.

“See the horses?” he says, looking out of the window and leaping out of his chair to point them out to me.

“It’s so cool, talking about Daddy and there he is!” Knowing the somewhat colourful background of Fleetwood and his eponymous band (past issues with cocaine and alcohol, for example), you could be forgiven for thinking the drummer had flipped.

But no. What we are looking at is the Household Cavalry crossing the park in the autumn sunshine, breastplates gleaming.

“He was a Royal Horse Guard and he used to make that same ride. Mummy (his mother Biddy, now 97) used to sit in the building that’s now the Mandarin Oriental Hotel over there when she was a young woman,” he points, “and she watched those men on the horses crossing the park and she ended up being with my dad. So cool.”

Fleetwood, now 67, is obviously still in awe of his late father, who ended up buying himself out of the Army, and joining the RAF for the duration of the Second World War. The pair were remarkably close; certainly closer than you would usually expect an upright Air Force man and his academically ungifted musician son to be, and it is to Mike’s sense of leadership and understanding of personality that Mick attributes the fact that he has been the father figure of his band Fleetwood Mac through 47 years of personnel changes, musical differences, illnesses and romances.

Throughout it all, as well as keeping time for the supergroup, he has kept the band together. He has now written a second autobiography, Play On, about his life. This is still entwined with the Mac, who are currently on a world tour coming to Britain in May, rejoined by songwriter and keyboard player Christine McVie after a break from the band of a mere 16 years.

I don’t write people off and I would much rather leave the door open than push people away, no matter what has happened. I would rather prefer to work at being liked than to be cynically truthful with people all the time and closing the door in their face
Mick Fleetwood, Fleetwood Mac drummer

Mike and Biddy already had two daughters when Mick came along, and were not the 1950s parents you would expect. “None of us had conventional careers,” remembers Mick. “My parents knew that none of us were destined for cookie-cutter jobs. They already had a blueprint with Sally (who became a sculptor and clothes designer) and they sent her off to art school. Then Susan wanted to be an actress and then they had this little lad who wasn’t getting anything from school, so they let me go off and live in London with Sally and pursue a music career.”

Mike Fleetwood was the sort of chap they do not make any more; a self-made man from Liverpool who travelled to Germany before the war, witnessing gatherings that would see Adolf Hitler rise to power; becoming a soldier and then an airman and then, before entering the world of Civvy Street and bringing up a family, pursuing a career as a writer.

“Dad was not all the huff and puff of the RAF; there was this dreamy, poetic thing there for sure. It was the perfect template for me. He had an attitude of ‘as long as something gets done, it doesn’t matter who gets the kudos. That serves no purpose other than to say me, me, me’.”

Fleetwood Mac are arguably one of the most interesting mega-bands. From a blues outfit at the start, with John McVie still in the band which bears his and Mick’s names, Bob Brunning and the extraordinary guitarist Peter Green, the band has gone through several incarnations until arriving at the current, classic line up of Fleetwood, McVie, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie.

The band are back together again for a new album and tour, and Fleetwood is clearly delighted. He draws a large circle in the air, and says: “It is, as I say on stage, the completing of a circle. Christine returning to the band; well, that was a door that was never closed, and that has always been the better choice for me.

“I don’t write people off and I would much rather leave the door open than push people away, no matter what has happened. I would rather prefer to work at being liked than to be cynically truthful with people all the time and closing the door in their face.”

I’m amazed when Fleetwood says that he has never really thought about the band as one where men and women are on an equal footing as performers and songwriters; one of what I think is the band’s strengths. “I’ve never been that Superman creature, all huff and puff, and making a delineation between us. My parents and my sisters were the perfect template of being in touch with your feminine side. And it’s fun.”

Being Mick Fleetwood, it has to be said, does look like more fun than several barrelfuls of monkeys, despite the aforementioned brushes with substances that were doing him no good, and a bankruptcy. Now living on the Hawaiian island of Maui, where his mum Biddy also lives, he exudes rangy elegance, with a dress sense also influenced by his father.

“He always loved clothes; the military makes you learn to turn out, and at my boarding school you learned to turn out. If you don’t spit and polish your shoes, or press your shorts at night under the mattress, you’d be in trouble.”

Today, he looks every tall, slim, tanned, Bohemian rock star dresser, in white skinny jeans, a mango-coloured shirt worn under a buttery-soft light brown suede waistcoat. Fleetwood admits that he loves shopping, but it wasn’t so easy as a teenager, despite living in cool Notting Hill.

‘Being gangly and tall and having no money was a huge problem, so when I came to London, I started dressing myself like so many others, from secondhand stores, with Liberty fabric jackets, jeans, all that kind of stuff that actually fit. I loathed shirt sleeves as they were always too short; I ended up looking like David Byrne from Talking Heads in Stop Making Sense!”

Being a tall teenager has been a bizarre help in Fleetwood’s showbiz career. “Being six foot six, thin as a beanpole, probably looking quite odd –‘Is that a boy or a girl?’,” he mimics, in the way our parents baffled generation did. “And you’re walking around Notting Hill Gate in blue jeans, with a pair of wooden balls hanging from your belt and hair down to your bottom, you get used to being looked at for being different.”

• To order Play On by Mick Fleetwood and Anthony Bozza (Hodder & Stoughton), £20, call the Express Bookshop on 01872 562310.

Alternatively send a cheque or postal order to: Play On Offer, PO Box 200, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 4WJ or visit expressbookshop.com. UK delivery is free. For details of the band’s tour, visit mickfleetwoodofficial.com

Clair Woodward / Sunday Express (UK) / Tuesday, November 18, 2014