Stevie Nicks is a renowned singer and songwriter recognized for her vocal/composing work with Fleetwood Mac as well as her solo career. She is also synonymous with her illustrative lyrics and mysticism style. Just the mention of her name alone has a powerful affect on many people – instantly taking them back to a time when they heard her sing for the first time.
Her songs had that “Where were you when” affect – they were that good. She often sang about what was on her mind at that current moment. Discussing Monday’s in contrast to Friday’s was the topic of one of her songs from hit album ‘Fleetwood Mac’. Known for being a caring friend, she would always be there in someone’s time of need, no matter the situation.
Nicks was born Stephanie Lynn Nicks on May 26, 1948, in Phoenix, Arizona. Her grandfather, Aaron Jess (AJ) Nicks, taught her how to sing. AJ always wanted to be a country musician and performed duets with Nicks when she was only four years old. Nicks was extremely fond of the pedal steel growing up, and often requested to sit next to the pedal steel during practice. Her grandfather AJ recognized her affinity for the steel and offered to purchase her one when she was a teen. Needless to say, despite her keen interest, she was too drawn to singing and honed her talents.
Nicks father, Jess Nicks, was a food business executive, which caused the family to continuously relocate all over the U.S. These cities included Phoenix, Albuquerque, El Paso, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. According to Nicks’ mother, Barbara Nicks, the upheavals always drew the family closer together, and they became quite tight. So tightly tied to the food industry, Nicks stated she has always been a bit of a food, even before it was cool! Different cities hailed different cultural influence in their foods. Many of the cities she lived in had Hispanic influence in their flavors, while in San Francisco she became familiar with more Asian influenced foods.
Along with her parents, Nicks had a younger brother, Chris Nicks, who would later design merchandise for her. Growing up, she persistently played records (one of her favorites was Janis Joplin) and wrote music. Nicks always enjoyed pushing the envelope when it came to merchandise. While many artists stuck to the traditional tshirts and hats, Nicks wanted flare, gusto and showmanship in her merchandise. She would often outfit custom bedazzled pieces for her fans, and enjoyed scarves jewels and lavish head pieces.
The first song Nicks wrote was “I’ve Loved, and I’ve Lost, and I’m Sad But Not Blue.”This song refers to the life lessons you learn from loving, even in the infantile stages of a relationship. Key takeaways from relationships are not always apparent during the moment, typically due to being blinded by emotion. After the fact, typically following long reflection, you notice the changes the relationship left on you, invaluable foresight you have gained. Nicks refers to ‘crystalline knowledge of you’ referring to her past lover and all that individual taught her, whether good or bad.
When Nicks attended Arcadia High School in Arcadia, California, she joined a band called the Changing Times that performed folk-rock. During her senior year, she went to Menlo-Atherton High School in Atherton, California. There she met guitarist Lindsey Buckingham at a church-run gathering. She joined him in harmony after he played “California Dreamin.”This hit by The Mamas and the Papas was all the rage back in the day. Imagine high school lets out for the weekend, everyone piles into their cars and heads for the local burger joint- California Dreamin booms from the speakers. As folks gather, you can’t help but get the feeling of good tidings and happiness in the air- simpler times.
In 1967, Buckingham and Nicks joined the psychedelic rock band Fritz after it lost two musicians. The late 60’s was known for it’s psychonaut exploration and experimentation with psychadellic drugs. These drugs were soon banned, for reasons unknown, and continue to carry a stigma with them. With the legalization of marijuana in the 2010′, laws surrounding psychedelics were undoubtedly loosened, but not lifted. The world is progressing and research institutions have been developed to explore benefits to psychedelics for their healing abilities and neurological regeneration.
The band grew prevalent enough for them to open for prominent named artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Joplin. Throughout the late 60’s and early 70’s the trio took the nation by storm with all of their progressive music. In 1969, in Bethel, New York people gathered for three days of peace, love and music. What began as an effort to make money and bring folks together, turned into a movement of progression and change. Amidst war overseas, people gathered and took care of each other to enjoy some of the most legendary performances the world has ever seen.
At this point, Nicks and Buckingham were romantically involved and attended San Jose College before dropping out to pursue a musical career. Fritz broke up in 1972, but the legendary group lives on forever. While Nicks was legendarily charismatic on stage, she like many spotlight stars, recharged by themselves. Nicks did most of her writing alone, reflecting on events both in her life and happening in the world. When she wasn’t recharging at home, he enjoyed venturing down to Venice to enjoy the people sights and sounds the melting pot had to offer.
After the breakup, Nicks and Buckingham now worked as a duo. In Daly City, California, the couple received a deal with Polydor Records and released their album, “Buckingham Nicks,” in 1973, which was a commercial failure. The Polydor dropped them soon after, which resulted in Nicks taking a job as a waitress and house cleaner. Buckingham, at this time, worked on playing guitar. Hailing from a family who’s father was a food empire mogul, it didn’t take long for Nicks to get a job. The hours working her service industry job made her realize the importance of her music career an she quickly changed gears to ramp up her music again.
Buckingham eventually received an opportunity to tour with the group the Everly Brothers after practicing two weeks with Don Everly in Aspen, Colorado. Nicks decided to stay in Aspen and write music. It was here where she came up with the single “Landslide” inspired by the scenery. It was the only time Nicks lived in a snowy environment and it undoubtedly turned out to be fruitful for her. This isn’t the first time Aspen’s grandeur has proven inspirational for musicians. John Denver wrote some of his most legendary work, specifically referring to Annie’s Song, on none other than Aspen Mountains Ajax lift. After an argument with his wife Annie, he decided to go for a ski to clear his mind, and in doing so reflected and rekindled his love to her realizing his mistakes.
While this was happening, the British band Fleetwood Mac which consisted of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Christine McVie, struggled with line-up changes. In 1974, they visited Sound City Studio’s in Los Angeles, California, as a potential recording facility. While visiting, producer Keith Olson played Buckingham-Nicks track “Frozen Love” to show off the studio’s capabilities. Fleetwood knew Nicks would be a fit for the band due to her immense vocals, range, and ability to craft soul to any track. As emerging technology improved, they were able to utilize studio’s mastering capabilities to exemplify the robustness of a track. Nicks along with Fleetwood Mac were a match made in heaven, just waiting to find each other.
Impressed with Buckingham’s guitar work, Fleetwood invited him to join the band. Buckingham agreed to do it if Nicks were allowed to join as well because he would not do it without her. Little did they know, the band would be forming one of the most legendary groups to hit the stage. 1975 proved to be a tremendous year for the crew, going worldwide with their music. Their hit “Rhiannon” was later named by Billboard as one of the top 500 songs of all time- it’s no wonder, the memorable lyrics and catchy tune qualify it as an extremely notable track.
The revitalized Fleetwood Mac came out with the album duly titled “Fleetwood Mac” recorded three months after Nicks and Buckingham joined. The album released by Reprise Records in July 1975 and reached number one on the Billboard 200 for over a year after it released. It remained in the “Top 10” 37 weeks after its release and continued to be in the “Top 40” 15 staggering months since its debut. Needless to say, they struck a key with the audience that apparently resonated deeply. The numbers don’t lie, and in the coming years, not only did they sell more music but merchandise and appearances as well. People couldn’t get enough of their charisma, and the group would often get mobbed by a crowd of frantic fans.
“Fleetwood Mac” was the second biggest album of 1976 and the tenth biggest of 1977. Nicks believed the hard push from touring helped sell the album after a cool opening. Rolling Stones eventually voted their song “Rhiannnon” into the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Do you know how many songs there have been written over the span of existence? An unbelievable number. I bet during the beginning of music, our great cave mammys and cave pappys wrote some terrible songs. But hey, that’s okay- because everyone has to start somewhere. Luckily Fleetwood Mac didn’t have to start in the terrible realm, and were so popular it was dumbfounding .
Nicks recognized her image as a star and wanted to have a unique style. She remembered once seeing a woman dressed in a dripping chiffon with a Gibson Girl hairstyle. Nicks worked with clothing designer Margi Kent to develop something similar for her on-stage look. She dubs her gyps-bohemian façade her “uniform.” Fairly unorthodox choice of dress, she was undoubtedly ahead of her time. Some say the ‘Boho’ interior design fad was based off of Nicks and the aura that Venice beach carried. From music, to apparel, food service and everything in between, Nicks could do it all!
As for the boots, Nicks knew she was a lot shorter than Fleetwood and wanted something to help bridge the vast height difference. Nicks often changes into different wardrobe attire throughout her performances. The makeup, hair, and style are expensive to maintain, but Nicks has the means. As for her stage antics and vocal performance, Nicks was inspired by singers suck as Joplin and Grace Slick. It is argued that production contributes just as much to a show as the actual music itself. Nicks believed the production value of going above and beyond is what set Fleetwood Mac apart from all the other acts happening in that era. The vibe they carried with them was indescribably delicious and everyone could feel it.
In 1976, emotional tensions began to rise among the band. Creative differences as well as debating who the ‘leader’ of the band should be, put a strain on their relationship. Nicks voice began experiencing issues, and the bands personal ties began to falter. Some would argue this was a turning point for her music, and saw a vast improvement with her lyricism. Expressing ones emotion, especially when it comes to anger and frustration, through music is a tale as old as time. Opera singers used to sing about jilted lovers and livestock lost to famine.
Despite the turbulence, Fleetwood Mac persisted. They came out with the album “Rumours” (1977), which spent 31 weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. It was a record-setting hit, winning a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1978. “Rumours” went platinum in the U.S. & the U.K. significantly growing their fan base to unimaginable proportions. With the new found fame the band decided an international tour was in order. Fans from all over the world clamored to get their hands on the band’s hit album presenting some inventory issues, and stock outs were common. One thing stayed true, the band knew they struck a chord with fans and had the support of thousands.
While working on the band’s album, “Tusk” (1978), Nicks realized she had accumulated a collection of songs that she could not fit in with Fleetwood Mac since the records had to accommodate three writers. Nicks ended up starting a project which led to her solo career. Some birds are meant to fly solo, and Nicks was undoubtedly one of these instances. Her fan base transferred to her solo albums, attracting thousands to her performances. Making the move to go solo gave Nicks the creative freedom that she was searching for, instead of having to compromise with her band mates.
Nicks, along with Danny Goldberg and Paul Fishkin founded Modern Records which put out new Nicks music. Her debut solo album “Bella Donna” (1981) was a commercial and critical success placing number one on the Billboard 200 chart. The new route Nicks was taking opened her up to endorsement deals and advertisements. Her creativity soared as she felt she was no longer bogged down by criticizing eyes and opinions that drug her down before. You can hear this new found freedom resonate in her solo music, hitting a vein that Fleetwood failed to strike.
Some famous singles from “Bella Donna” included “Edge of Seventeen” and “Leather and Lace.” The album also had guest vocalist Tom Petty and Henley. Following the album’s release, Rolling Stone’s deemed Nicks as “the Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll.” Several of Nicks’ songs are featured in pop culture films, one of the most notable is in “School of Rock”. Nicks’ music, know to get the part started was displayed in a scene where Jack Black and Joan Cusack loosen up over a few beers to talk work. Cusack ends up standing on the bar table, beer in hand, singing “Edge of Seventeen”- ain’t no party like a Stevie Nicks party, because a Stevie Nicks party don’t stop!
Throughout the 80s and early 1990s, Nicks stayed busy recording albums with Fleetwood Mac, such as “Mirage” (1982), “The Other Side of the Mirror” (1989), and “Behind the Mask with Fleetwood Mac” (1990). She also continued with her solo career as well with albums such as “Wild Heart” (1983) and “Timespace” (1990) and Street Angel (1994). While on tour Nicks ensure to keep her entourage well entertained and fueled. Pictured here you can see some of the garnishes required when she traveled to play a show. A fan of mimosas and fine cocktails, it was not uncommon to see Nicks bring her own bartender to prepare her favorite beverages.
Though these albums were successful, not everything was good for Nicks. Over the decade, she struggled with health and addiction problems. In 1993 Nicks detoxed and got away from the dangerous substances, leaving that life behind for good. Among the things that help her transition out of that period was exercise and yoga. Nicks says she owes her sanity to deep cycle meditation and yoga, helping her transition into a positive, constructive mindset. Being open about her struggles has helped other people gain the courage to seek help as well.
After a long hiatus with Fleetwood Mac, she reunited with the group in 1997. They toured and took in $36 million, while in the same year, the Rock Hall of Fame inducted Fleetwood Mac. The band proved to stand the test of time, after parting ways for some time due to creative exploration, but found their journey’s path crossed once again. Once reunited, they were as strong as ever, making hit after hit, and their fans couldn’t get enough. Nicks continued with her ‘gypsy’ style dress, which inspired girls from all over to follow suit.
Since then, Nicks has continued to work and tour with the band as well as her solo career. In 2003, for instance, the band put out the album “Say You Will.” In 2018, Nicks toured once again with Fleetwood Mac, but this time without Buckingham. Interestingly enough, the band struck a deal with Yamaha. Yamaha took an interesting route with the product line. Once known for their motor vehicles such as dirt bikes and ATV’s, the company took a musical route as well. Drum sets, guitars, pianos, keyboards, synthesizers, speakers- you name it, Yamaha most likely has manufactured that musical instrument.
Outside of rock, Nicks started a charity foundation tiled “Stevie Nicks’ Band of Soldiers,” which helps wounded U.S. military personnel. In 2004, for instance, she began visiting wounded military personnel to lift their spirits in Washington DC. Nicks ended up giving them hundreds of iPod Nanos and autographed them. Though an excellent idea, Nicks did not pre-load the iPods with her music on them. An active philanthropist and general lover of animals, Nicks took an active roles in PETA. She has several pets, occasionally bringing them on tour with her!
From 1981 until July 2007, she lived with her brother and his family in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Nicks decided to downsize to focus on charity. In the early 80s, she also got married to Kim Anderson but it only lasted a year. She, however, later helped Anderson’s son go through college, considering him to be a son of her own. Knicks has a kind soul and gentle heart. Fans frequently report her stopping to take photos, even if she’s in a hurry she stops to engage with an adoring fan. At the end of the day, fans are the ones that got you to where you are today!
Nicks is also close to her niece, godchildren, and extended family. Nicks says when she is gone, she is going to give her godchildren and niece her personal journals that she used to record her life. Red was one of Nicks’ favorite color, and she is often seen dressed an photographed in it. Nicks stated in an interview she didn’t know why she was attracted to red, that it carried with it a certain Je Ne Sais Quois. Artists often sing about red or shades of red, referenced in an Aerosmith song called “Pink”.
At some point, Nicks also became an ordained minister for the Church of Life- she has married over 100 couples! In 2014, she made a cameo appearance on the television show American Horror Story, diversifying her entertainment portfolio. Nicks has several hobbies, including some unorthodox ones. Are you familiar with the child’s toy yo-yo? Believe it or not, Nicks is an avid yo-yoer and enjoys the meditative feel of it. She also is a wizard on the ping pong table! Think you can beat her? Think again- she is a champion!
Stevie Nicks will always be remembered for her contributions to the rock genre with Fleetwood Mac as well as her solo career. Her unique mysticism style, vocal work, lyrical writing has influenced countless women and future musicians. It is no wonder why she got inducted to the Rock Hall of Fame, again in 2019, this time as a solo artist. Nicks has set up her career and given herself the ability to pursue any facet she wants. This is exemplified by her vast influence in apparel and fashion lines. From movie cameos, to television roles, and her extensive music repertoire she will be remembered for millennia.