Stevie Nicks is one of the greatest voices to ever grace the radio, but how did she achieve such fame and success?
Nicks’s biography, Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams & Rumours, written by Zoë Howe, offers rare insight into the tumultuous life of the witchiest rock star to ever live. While the book meticulously retells how Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac recorded each of their albums and offers up tips from the gold dust woman herself, it doesn’t shy away from the dark periods of Nicks’s life, of which there are practically too many to count.
Nicks claims that she didn’t really drink until she joined Fleetwood Mac – her sober life quickly changed once she and her then-boyfriend, Lindsey Buckingham, joined the band. Fleetwood Mac eventually developed a true rock-and-roll reputation – they famously used enough cocaine to fund a cartel, and if they weren’t fighting with each other, they were sleeping with each other.
Even when Stevie Nicks was on her solo tours, she carried on like a party that never stopped. Whether you’re a fan of Fleetwood Mac or Nicks’s solo work, you’ll want to read this run-down of the craziest stories from Stevie Nicks’s life.
Producer Keith Olsen Ditched His New Year’s Eve Date To Recruit Her
On New Year’s Eve, 1974, Bob Welch, longtime guitarist of Fleetwood Mac, decided to quit the band, citing the pressure of their recent, intense lawsuit. In response, Mick Fleetwood put in a call to Keith Olsen, co-producer of the second Buckingham Nicks album.
Mick instructed Olsen to ask Buckingham to join the band, but Olsen insisted that Buckingham came in tandem with Stevie Nicks. Mick Fleetwood, desperate to keep his band together, told Olsen that he didn’t care, he just needed some bodies in his band immediately to record an album.
So, instead of going to a New Year’s Eve party with his date, Keith Olsen spent the evening convincing Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham to join Fleetwood Mac.
During The Recording Of “Fleetwood Mac” Stevie Rarely Stopped Dancing
In 1975, Fleetwood Mac gathered in Los Angeles’s Sound City studios to record their first album with Buckingham and Nicks. Being the witchy flower child that she was, while the rest of the band recorded their parts and the engineers mixed the tracks, Nicks was continually dancing.
In the book Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams and Rumours, one of the album’s engineers, Ken Calliat, remembers that, while he mixed “Rhiannon,” Nicks “whirled” around the studio.
“She believed she had magical powers. She probably thought she was chanting up a good mix.”
Stevie Described The Pre-Show Bumps
One of the most telling anecdotes from Stevie Nicks’s biography comes from her first tour with the band in 1975. A passage in the book notes that, around this time, Nicks began her infamous drug usage, mostly because everyone in the band did a bump together before going onstage.
The band’s tour manager, John Courage, would line up the band and pour a bump onto each of their wrists, which they would inhale before walking onstage.
She Traveled With Her Own Coven
Everyone interviewed in Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams and Rumours recounts how much Stevie’s first tour with Fleetwood Mac absolutely destroyed her. She became gaunt, and was often seen huddling in a corner, drinking tea, and writing in her journal (to paraphrase Mick Fleetwood).
Even Stevie herself admits that she almost lost her mind on that first tour, and it wasn’t until she made the decision to not curl up and die that she finally started leaning into her witchy ways. In order to combat the loneliness of the road (she and Buckingham already broke up at this point), Nicks forged a strong friendship with bandmate Christine McVie, and began to travel with a group of young, skinny, blonde women who dressed in lace black outfits (just like Nicks) and followed her everywhere.
Kenny Loggins remembers: “My first impression of touring with Fleetwood Mac was seeing Stevie and her acolytes… She seemed to collect talented, young, beautiful girls who would then dress like her and follow her around all the time.” How cool is that? Don’t you wish you had your own cadre of lookalikes to follow you around and help out with… witch stuff?
She Had A “Ladylike” Coke Vial
According to Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac’s keyboard player, during the recording of Rumours she and Stevie Nicks took a break from the studio to go shopping for coke vials.
They didn’t want to be seen snorting fat rails of coke like the guys in the band so they bought “little beautiful coke bottles” that they wore around their necks. She said that the bottles were adorned with “gold, turquoise, and diamonds.” Stevie Nicks says that she thought the bottles were “more refined” than any of the other trappings of cocaine paraphernalia.
Stevie Partied So Hard That She Almost Went Blind
Prior to the first date of the Rumours tour in 1977, Fleetwood Mac found out that their album had just gone platinum and they decided to throw a party. The party ended up lasting for 48 hours straight, and while she was partying, Nicks forgot to take out her contact lenses. You can probably see where this was going.
The lenses wore off her cornea and left her nearly blind. On the first date of the tour she was given a piggyback ride to the stage by the band’s tour manager, and had to have her eyes bandaged for days to keep her from going completely blind.
All Of Steve Nicks’ Furniture Was Made Of Wicker
So this may not be as crazy as Nicks burning a hole in her nose, or going blind from partying, but this is too weird to not discuss. During a break in Rumours tour, Stevie Nicks played host to Lindsey Buckingham’s girlfriend, Carol Anne, and the furnishings in Nick’s home left such a burn on Carol Anne’s memory that she wrote about it in her memoir, Storms.
“The room was furnished with light wicker furniture that was almost buried under pillows covered in Laura Ashley fabric.” This brief insight into Nicks’s ’70s lifestyle really underscores her good-witch persona.
Her Affair With Mick Fleetwood Is All Because Of Cocaine
Even though Nicks describes Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac’s drummer) as one of the great loves of her lives, she admits that they never would have gotten together had they not being doing so many drugs. She spilled the beans on her addiction-fueled affair with Fleetwood to Oprah, saying that they were the “last two people at a party,” and that, “It was a doomed thing [that] caused pain for everybody.”
To underscore how bad her addiction was at the time – as if being in a relationship with someone solely because you both do insane amounts of drugs isn’t enough – Nicks says that when she sees pictures of herself from that era, she only sees someone who is “unattractive and high.”
She Married Her Recently Deceased Best Friend’s Husband
The biggest take away from Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams and Rumours is that Stevie Nicks can make a lot of knee-jerk decisions based on things she believes to be signs from somewhere else. After her best friend and vocal coach, Robyn Anderson, passed away from terminal cancer in in 1982, Nicks made one of the craziest decisions that someone can make: She married Kim Anders, Robyn’s widowed husband. Stevie’s reasoning behind the marriage has a valiant logic to it, but to everyone outside of her brain it was a terrible idea.
Before she passed away, Anderson had given birth to a premature baby, and Nicks (the baby’s godmother) decided that the best thing she could do to help take care of her godson would be to marry the father and form a family unity.
According to Nicks, she told Kim, “I don’t know, I guess we should just get married.” Perhaps the only positive thing that came out of this crazy decision was one of the greatest songs of all time, “Stand Back,” written after the wedding on the couple’s drive to Santa Barbara.
Stevie Nicks Burned A Hole In Her Nose
After Fleetwood Mac ascended to the heights of rock and roll stardom, Stevie Nicks fell into the trap that snares countless musicians. In her most hedonistic days, Nicks says she bought $1 million worth of cocaine, and that all of that snorting burned a hole the size of a dime in her nose. But that didn’t deter her from getting high.
The rumor is that since she couldn’t snort any more coke, she had an assistant blow it into her rock and roll backside. Looking back on this time in her life, Nicks said, “There was no way to get off the white horse and I didn’t want to.” She went on to say in her biography that she never got the hole fixed because she was afraid that it would change her voice, and that it’s constantly deteriorating and “so painful.”
She Almost Died In The ’80s
Once Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in the ’70s and the band released their self-titled debut, she was essentially given a ticket to ride forever. Even after the band took a break in 1982, Nicks continued on with her solo career… and continued with her heavy drug use.
After the death of her best friend and watching several relationships dissolve, she sunk even more into a drug haze that almost killed her. When the band reconvened to record Tango in the Night, Nicks was suffering from nosebleeds, falls, and blackouts. She finally visited a doctor who told her that she was dangerously close to suffering from a brain hemorrhage.
Nicks says that he told her that the hemorrhage could occur “the next time you do cocaine. It won’t be pretty.” Of course, she didn’t stop. Instead she worked with Fleetwood Mac for three weeks before leaving for an Australian tour, and, again, continued her heavy drug use.
Lindsey Buckingham Physically Assaulted Stevie Nicks When He Quit The Band
From the moment that Buckingham and Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in the mid-’70s, their relationship has been fraught with tension. They broke up after their first big tour, wrote an album about that break up, and then spent the next half-decade touring in support of those songs.
While much of their tension comes from being in a long-term relationship marred with drug abuse and everything that comes with the rock and roll life, it’s likely that the two also resented each other for having to work together in order to get the sound they needed. In 1987, after recording Tango in the Night, Buckingham announced that he was leaving Fleetwood Mac.
According to Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams and Rumours, the band, including Buckingham, met at Christine McVie’s house, and after a screaming match between Nicks and Buckingham, a “physically ugly” fight broke out.
The book alleges that Lindsey Buckingham slapped Stevie Nicks across the face before pushing her against the hood of his car. Lindsay Buckingham has said that he “doesn’t remember” what happened that afternoon.
She Once Made Her Assistant Take All Of Her Prescribed Medicine
In the late ’80s Nicks checked herself into the Betty Ford Clinic in Palm Springs and eventually choose to give up coke for good. Though she was in recovery, Nicks still had the occasional drink and her friends and family worried, pressing her to see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist prescribed her a tranquilizer called Klonopin to calm her nerves, and over the years he increased her dosage.
The rock star became addicted to the tranquilizer and lost a lot energy. Nicks stropped writing and stopped going out and fans began to notice her apathy. By 1993, Nicks was fed up and requested that her assistant, Glenn, take her medication for her so she could see if her lethargy the past 5 years could be attributed to the Klonopin. By the end of the day, she says Glenn was nearly hallucinating, and Nicks checked herself into a clinic where she took 47 days to detox and begin her recovery.
Prince Sent Her A Demo For ‘Purple Rain’ Which She Refused To Work On
Nicks alleges Prince sent her a demo for “Purple Rain” after she proposed a collaboration between the two stars. When Nicks wrote her solo hit, “Stand Back,” she made sure Prince was okay with its relationship to his “Little Red Corvette.” Not only was he on board, but he showed up to Nicks’s studio and recorded uncredited synth work on the track. Nicks was so pleased she asked if Prince would like to work with her again, and he responded by sending her a demo for what became “Purple Rain.”
Though Nicks turned down the collaboration saying the song was “too much” for her, she has no regrets. She recalls telling him, “Prince, I’ve listened to this a hundred times but I wouldn’t know where to start. It’s a movie, it’s epic.”
Prince and Nicks maintained their friendship and she remembers riding alongside him in his purple camaro going 100 MPH on the freeway after a Fleetwood Mac show. Nicks assured fans that losing Prince in 2016 broke her heart.
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