Lots of news headlines today regarding this book. What is being headlined most is Lindsey's alleged abuse of Stevie. Do a quick Google news search on Stevie and a bunch of headlines come up.
Lindsey Buckingham’s alleged abuse of Stevie Nicks detailed in new book
STEVIE NICKS was nervous.
It was 1973, and the then-25-year-old singer and her guitarist boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham were posing for the cover of their first album, Buckingham Nicks, reports the New York Post.
Their record label had asked the duo to look “sexy,” and the bookish Nicks was already feeling self-conscious when the photographer told her to remove her diaphanous white blouse.
She didn’t want to do it. Buckingham allegedly lost it.
“Don’t be a f — king child,” the then-24-year-old guitarist snapped. “This is art!”
Stevie Nicks, now 69, is often referred to as the “Queen of Rock ’n’ Roll,” with more than 40 top-50 hits to her credit, both as part of the supergroup Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist.
But according to Gold Dust Woman — a new biography by Stephen Davis — she did it all despite Buckingham’s alleged bullying and abuse.
Nicks and Buckingham met in high school in San Mateo, Calif. They were in a band called Fritz when they decided to move to Los Angeles and launch a career as a duo in 1971.
Fleetwood Mac in the 1970s. Picture: Peter Mazel/ LFI.
Fleetwood Mac in the 1970s. Picture: Peter Mazel/ LFI.Source:Supplied
Yet while Nicks hustled to make rent, cleaning houses and waiting tables, Buckingham, who said he couldn’t work because he had to devote himself to music full-time, would spend most of the day smoking hash with his friends.
“I’d come in every day and have to step over these bodies,” Nicks later recalled to Rolling Stone.
“I’m tired; I’m pickin’ up their legs and cleaning under them and emptying out ashtrays.”
Nicks felt violated after the album-cover incident and when their debut bombed, she almost quit music.
But in January 1975, the duo received a call: Drummer Mick Fleetwood wanted them to join his band Fleetwood Mac.
The opportunity would launch the pair to superstardom but further strain their relationship.
“When they first joined the band, Lindsey had control [over Nicks],” Mick Fleetwood said. “And, very slowly, he began to lose control. And he really didn’t like it.”
Their first album with the band, Fleetwood Mac, released in 1975, was a hit, but the jealous Buckingham didn’t like that Nicks’ songs Rhiannon and Landslide, about their fading romance, had eclipsed his own.
Nicks and Buckingham for Fleetwood Mac concert at the Hope Estate vineyards, Pokolbin, in the Hunter Valley of NSW. Picture: News Corp Australia.Source:News Corp Australia
When recording the band’s 1977 follow-up, Rumours, he criticised Nicks’ writing and told her she needed him to make her songs sound halfway decent.
She said he was “hijacking” her music and told her mother that her now-ex had allegedly gotten physical with her during a row and had “thrown her down to the floor.”
Things went further downhill during their 1980 Tusk tour.
At a concert in Wellington, New Zealand, Buckingham allegedly tried to trip Nicks onstage and began imitating her moves.
While Nicks was singing Rhiannon, the guitarist stopped playing and allegedly attempted to kick her.
Nicks and Buckingham performing a duet together before receiving their awards and being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in New York. Picture: News Corp Australia.
Nicks and Buckingham performing a duet together before receiving their awards and being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in New York. Picture: News Corp Australia.Source:News Corp Australia
The rest of the band was shocked, but only singer Christine McVie confronted him about it. Buckingham, who reportedly never apologised, has stated that he doesn’t remember the incident.
Nicks continued to play with Fleetwood Mac, even after launching her own record label and putting out her own No. 1 album, Bella Donna, in 1981.
She would grit her teeth as she and Buckingham would pretend to kiss after performing “Landslide” every night on tour.
One time, during a heated argument in front of the band in 1987, Buckingham, the book says, “manhandled Stevie, slapped her face and bent her backward over the hood of his car. He put his fingers around her neck and started to choke her.”
Nicks said: “I thought he was going to kill me.” This time, her band stood up to him. He wouldn’t lay a hand on her again.
Nicks has been dubbed the ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’. Picture: Matthew Eisman / Getty Images.
Nicks has been dubbed the ‘Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’. Picture: Matthew Eisman / Getty Images.Source:Supplied
Buckingham’s spokesperson did not reply to requests for comment.
Over time, Nicks continued to reach out to Buckingham, asking him to produce and play guitar on her 1996 song Twisted.
She said they made amends in 2013 and he agreed to treat her with respect. But of course, Buckingham couldn’t dismiss Nicks any longer. The band needed her talent and fan base (which these days includes young acts such as Haim and Lana Del Rey) more than she needed them.
As Davis writes in Gold Dust Woman, by the time of their reconciliation, “Stevie was an American legend, but Lindsey’s star would eventually fade away.”
This article was originally published on the New York Post and was republished here with permission.
Nicks faced an allegedly dysfunctional and abusive relationship. Picture: Supplied.Source:Supplied
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FIVE THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT STEVIE NICKS
Despite spending 4o years in the world of showbiz, Stevie Nicks remains “the fairy godmother of rock ‘n’ roll,” according to many including rock biographer extraordinaire Stephen Davis. With her willowy black chiffon and undying love for top hats, this is a suiting moniker for the woman who transformed Fleetwood Mac and carved out a healthy solo career of her own. Approaching 70, Nicks shows no signs of slowing down with a Fleetwood Mac reunion tour kicking off in 2018. She’s the subject for his latest book Gold Dust Woman.
Davis has more than a dozen rock biographies under his belt, covering a multitude of great musicians from Led Zeppelin to Bob Marley. Years ago, Davis realized that no one was exploring the lives of these rock legends, so he did. Among the reasons why he chose Nicks as his next target of fascination, Davis noticed at one of her concerts that there were three generations of fans swept up by her music. Not only her original fans, now mostly in their sixties, and their children, in their thirties, made up the crowd, but their grandchildren as well. The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll is still cited as the inspiration for the current generation of female stars—Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Florence Welch—thus earning her nickname.
In his biography, Davis combs through Nicks’ long career in great detail and explores why she remains such a force today. He reveals to Interview some of the most enlightening tidbits about Nicks’ life that he learned over the course of his research.
STEVIE’S WELSH ROOTS
STEPHEN DAVIS: I was talking to a musician a few years ago, and he pointed out to me that rock ‘n’ roll was invented in the American mid-South—Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana. All of these people were basically Welsh. Elvis Presley. That’s a Welsh name. Jerry Lee Lewis. Carl Perkins. I have this whole litany in the book of all of these people who invented this music and were basically of Welsh ancestry. Then Stevie Nicks came along in 1975 and started singing about Rhiannon, who was a Welsh goddess. Something clicked, like a Led Zeppelin moment. I think I began to identify with Stevie Nicks beyond the music itself, like the way people relate to Led Zeppelin. It’s beyond just the music. There’s this mystical plane about them. Stevie Nicks is the only artist I can think of in that rock movement that has that same kind of relationship with her audience. It’s that radiance. It’s amazing the charisma that she has. She has something else, whether it’s being in the Welsh Bardic tradition or personal magnetism. I don’t think anyone had pointed out [her Welsh background]. It’s an interesting idea, and I ran with it. It worked for me. I convinced myself.
HER QUIET EARLY YEARS
DAVIS: She was a very sheltered child. Her mother, Barbara Nicks, kept Stevie at home. She signed Stevie up for a lot of class, like tap dancing, plays and drama, but when it was over, Stevie Nicks went home. She always had a circle of best friends. She didn’t have a steady boyfriend until she met Lindsey Buckingham. She says today that she still spends a lot of time alone. She does her best writing when she’s alone and she’s sort of used to it. It’s a typical writer or artist’s upbringing, but surprising in the context of someone who became a rock star.
BORROWING THE HEARTBREAKERS
DAVIS: My favorite story of her and [Tom] Petty is when she started her solo career. She didn’t have a band, she didn’t have a single and she didn’t have anyone to produce her record. She basically stole the Heartbreakers from Tom Petty, stole his producer Jimmy Iovine and then stole their next single, which was “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” She got everything she wanted. How did she do that? Petty was married to someone, and she was in a relationship, but somehow she got Tom Petty to give him her band, her next single and his producer. Subsequently when that single, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” came out, it coincided with the beginning of MTV. It’s hard to explain to someone today who wasn’t there how huge MTV was. Before MTV you had to go see your favorite band to just see what they looked like. Now they were on television all of the time, and people became addicted to it very quickly. But in the early days of MTV, they didn’t have many videos. People weren’t doing them. The only video they had was “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with Stevie and Tom Petty, so they played it every hour for two years. This is really one of the ways that her solo career took off.
MATTERS OF STEVIE’S HEART
DAVIS: Lindsey Buckingham was her first steady boyfriend, and they moved in together. She waited tables and cleaned houses while he was working on their music. Eventually, Lindsey would work in the studio and that was that. “I’m only in this band because my boyfriend wouldn’t go off without me.” That’s been a trope in her life. A year later, she dumped him when they were making Rumors, but they both stayed in Fleetwood Mac. For the next 40 years, Lindsey was contractually obligated to produce Stevie’s songs and make her look good, and he did! He was very bitter about it. If anything makes the pages of Gold Dust Woman turn, it’s this 40-year dilemma of his, because he wasn’t happy about it. He would be mean to her, and she would be miserable. I can tell you that the tension between them is still going on. It’s probably the reason there hasn’t been a Fleetwood Mac album in 10 years, because I don’t think anyone is ready to see these people and try to work together again.
I think she’s still in love with him [Buckingham]. She knows there are people that are interested in the love story between Stevie and Lindsey, and that’s part of her thing. I think she has wished for decades that he could get over it.
That’s relationship no. 1, and then she had her relationships with most of the Eagles. She says the one that got away was Joe Walsh, who was the guitarist for the Eagles, and she fell in love with him. Their relationship became very destructive because of drugs, and he left her. “One of us is going to die,” he said, ”I don’t want it to be you.” She has said for years that he was The One. She’s always said that she couldn’t be married, because she has to fly off at a moment’s notice and go to Australia and stuff like that. She said that Joe Walsh was the one guy she would have changed that lifestyle for.
STEVIE WAS SILENCED UNTIL HER SOLO CAREER.
DAVIS: They didn’t really let her give interviews until she went out on her own and started giving interviews to promote her solo albums. We, as journalists, had never really heard from her, because she would apparently complain about this stuff to the press, and also was too stoned to give coherent interviews also. There’s a couple of filmed interviews of her from the late ‘70s or 1980 where she’s completely zonked and totally incoherent. They have to stop the interview. I’ve seen these tapes—they’re not on YouTube, thank God for her. It wasn’t until she went on her own that she spoken on her own behalf. For the next 30 years, she gave great, informative, very open interviews. Thank God, because a lot of that is in this book.
What I sort of took away from researching this book was Stevie was this young woman with a sheltered childhood, a lot of talent and incredible ambition. To achieve her goals, she had to hook up with an equally talented guy, who was also very ambitious, but was very domineering and controlling. He is indeed responsible for her launch into the public. Then she grew out of it, ditched the domineering, controlling boyfriend and became a bigger star than any of them. That’s what this book is all about to me. Through incredible ambition and a steely determination, she got what she wanted, which was major stardom at the top of her profession, where she still is.
STEPHEN DAVIS’ GOLD DUST WOMAN IS EXPECTED ON SHELVES NOVEMBER 21.
Wow this guy misses the boat on so many points...........it's hard to know where to begin.
Milton’s Stephen Davis paints a flattering portrait in new Stevie Nicks biography
Thirty years ago, Stephen Davis wrote “Hammer of the Gods,” a book about Led Zeppelin that’s widely considered to be the gold standard of rock ’n’ roll biographies.
“It’s still in print because fans identify with the band beyond their music,” says Davis, who lives in Milton. “For their fans, Led Zeppelin had a mystical thing, some epic grandeur that went beyond just the music.”
Not many musical acts have enchanted their audience in the same way, Davis says, except for maybe Stevie Nicks. And that’s why he chose the Fleetwood Mac frontwoman as the subject of his latest unauthorized bio.
In his just-released “Gold Dust Woman” Davis portrays Nicks, 69, as a fiercely ambitious — and ethereal — singer-songwriter who has succeeded despite being abused and belittled by her longtime bandmate and former lover Lindsey Buckingham.
“The guy was mean to her, she dumped him, and she became a much bigger star than him,” Davis said. “Through steely determination, Stevie became the queen of the whole scene, maybe the last female rock star.”
“Gold Dust Woman” is Davis’s 19th book, joining previous biographies of Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones, Levon Helm, Mick Fleetwood, Jim Morrison, Aerosmith, Carly Simon, and Guns N’ Roses.
“I wanted to call it ‘Guts, Glory, Chiffon,’ ” Davis joked, referring to Nicks’s habit of cloaking herself in fringe, blanket coats, capes, and flowy chiffon.
For the sake of the band — Fleetwood Mac is set to go on a global tour in 2018 — Buckingham and Nicks have mostly reconciled their differences, though they’re hardly close.
“Oh, they do this fake thing where they sing ‘Landslide’ together and Lindsey gets down on one knee and kisses Stevie’s hand,” says Davis. “Then they turn their backs on each other and mutter ‘[expletive] you.’ It’s all stage craft and it works. The fans love it.”
Over the years, reporting and research has taken Davis to New York, LA, Europe, and Morocco, but he does most of the actual writing in his home office in Milton.
“I like Milton because it’s so boring,” he says. “I bought this house in 1976. Milton didn’t even have a restaurant that served a glass of wine with your meal until 2006.”
So what’s next? Maybe a book about the complicated history of guitarist Tom Scholz and the band Boston, whose 1976 debut album has sold nearly 20 million copies.
“I’ll probably get sued, but I’ve never been sued, so that’ll be a new experience,” Davis says.
well I can't disagree with the bolded parts.
Also, I don't buy the excuse that Rock N Roll prevented Stevie from having lasting relationships and family. There are plenty of other Rock Chicks who've had relationships. Pat Benatar and Neil Geraldo have been together for decades. Even Nancy Wilson and Cameron Crowe were married for many years (although eventually splitting).
Grace Slick had a kid back in the day and certainly in more recent years many, many women have managed families and kids...look at Faith Hill, Beyonce, Adele, etc. Stevie always used to say that she could never take time off or her career would suffer "I can't just take a year off" and for those times, sadly, she was right. You could not do a Shania Twain and disappear for a year or more, or take a bunch of time off after a baby like Adele and come back at the same level. Now, probably because there are all these social media platforms for keeping your name and face out there and keeping directly in touch with your fans, you can leave for a time and return.
But also, really, Stevie didn't reallllly want kids and all that entails. She always thinks she did, and I think she truly liked the idea of it, but the reality of the work of it was something else. I think living with Kim and the baby for the time she did was a big part of the end of that marriage (though let's face it, and she's said it, it wasn't going to last from the start).. But having a baby in the house was not compatible with her coke habits and entourage and staying up all night writing or partying or whatever. I've always thought that she was in love with the idea of being stepmom to Mick's kids. She got to be nurturing but without having to be responsible for actually raising them.
Stevie is the master of her image.....and she loves this image of the lonely, pining woman with all these dramatic loves and losses around her.. I think some of that is really true in her life, but some of it is very created by her. Like she's alway said, she needs drama in her life. I think many of her relationships were ended by her as she moved on and didn't want to make changes you have to make for a long-term relationship and/or kids. And I don't mean giving up her career, which I strongly agree she shouldn't, but certainly getting rid of all the entourage that filled her house and had far too much influence on what she thought/did.
Travels With Stevie; Rock and Roll Chronicler Embraces the Gold Dust Woman
A few years ago, after completing his biography of Carly Simon, author Stephen Davis was considering his next book. He didn’t want to write about a rock band, he had been down that road too many times, he thought. He wanted to write about another individual. When he decided it would be a woman again, there was only one name that came to mind: Stevie Nicks.
“She has a legend, and a myth and an epic,” Mr. Davis said in an interview at the home of his longtime friend Peter Simon. The two met as freshmen at Boston University, and collaborated on their first book, Reggae Bloodlines, published in 1977. Mr. Simon introduced Mr. Davis to the Vineyard and although he lives in Milton, he has had a long history with the Island, writing portions of several of his books here.
Gold Dust Woman: the Biography of Stevie Nicks, is available in bookstores beginning Tuesday. It is Mr. Davis’s 19th book.
He began his writing career at Boston University, then wrote about music for the Boston Phoenix, Rolling Stone and the New York Times, before turning to books full time. His biographies have varied in style from ghost writing memoirs (Michael Jackson) authorized biographies (Aerosmith, Bob Marley) and unauthorized biographies, where the subject is not interviewed directly. This is the approach he decided to take with Stevie Nicks, in part because he was sure she wouldn’t grant him an interview.
“I hate rejection,” he said. “Plus you have total control. You don’t get to go on tour but who wants to do that, unless you’re a moron. You come home with tears in your eyes. It’s just no fun.”
He pauses, a smile appearing as he reconsiders his past. “Well, touring with Led Zeppelin was fun. And the Rolling Stones. And Bob Marley. And Aerosmith."
“But I was younger then,” he adds. “I’m 70 now.”
Although his touring days are behind him, he still revels in the research. And it turned out he had a huge head start with Stevie Nicks.
“When I started, back in 2012, I went to my archives and realized I had been clipping stories about Stevie Nicks since 1990.”
His obsession is understandable. Reading his book, one is struck not only by her superstardom but how long she has maintained that status. The book travels from her childhood in Arizona, to time spent working as a maid in Los Angeles while playing clubs and waiting for her big break, to sweeping floors and cleaning toilets again at the Betty Ford rehab clinic after she had become a huge star. Although her story is filled with the highs and lows of many a rock and roll lifestyle, the hits just kept on coming with Fleetwood Mac and during her long solo career.
Mr. Davis also had a major ace up his sleeve. He had written two books with Mick Fleetwood, the founder of Fleetwood Mac, and so in a way had toured with Stevie, back in the 1990s when hanging out with Mick.
“He’d recently gone through his second bankruptcy and needed cash,” Mr. Davis writes in his book, about being contacted by Mick Fleetwood’s lawyer to discuss writing a biography. He talked to nearly all the band members during that tour, but not to Stevie Nicks who kept her distance, friendly but removed.
“She really is a down-to-earth person,” Mr. Davis said of his time observing her from both near and far.
Mr. Davis said he didn’t get back in touch with Mick Fleetwood or other band members for this book, although he and Mick remain friends. Instead, he checked in with the roadies and security crew, the meat and potatoes of any tour.
“They have names like Earthquake and Dynamite and Blitzkrieg and are the only ones where weren’t so blasted at the time so they remember what happened,” he said.
Usually, Mr. Davis spends a year or more researching his subjects and then immediately begins writing. But for Stevie Nicks his creative process was upended when his wife became ill. She died in 2015 during the making of this book. He and his daughters scattered her ashes at the Gay Head Cliffs. “Her carbon spot,” he said, having visited earlier that morning, sad to find a fence around the lighthouse, effectively closing off the area.
His mourning process mixing with his writing process was actually helpful, he said. “I took a year off. I’ve never done that before, sat with the material like a good whiskey putting it in a barrel to let it age for awhile.”
He feels this is one of his best books because of this downtime, which allowed the material to percolate. One can’t discount the mood of the writer, either, channeling his own bass line to a rock and roll story of excess and determination.
“She had incredible ambition,” Mr. Davis said of his subject. “She was on a mission to make her fans feel good. The amount of incident and adventure on every page astounded me.”
Mr. Davis said he performs a ritual before each book comes out. He heads to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York to say a prayer.
“I go to the St. Andrew’s Chapel there and I stuff 50 bucks in this tiny little slot and light 10 candles and say, please God, just one more best seller.”
The odds are good his prayers will be answered.
Gold Dust Woman is available at the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven.
I received this as a gift for my upcoming birthday. It arrived today. I have not had a chance to read in depth, just skimmed a few pages, and the errors are glaring.
He has a pic of Stevie with her mom at the Grammys that he labels as 1998 when it is CLEARLY 1978. It is most definitely NOT Stevie in 98. He has a pic of S & L onstage during the Tusk tour which he labels as them singing Sara when it is most clearly them singing Angel.
He says in the text that she signed into Betty Ford under her married name. That would mean she signed in as Stevie Andersen. A page or two later he says she checked in as Sara Andersen. This is literally in the first two minutes of me flipping to random pages.
The main problem with the book is that it didn't seem to go through a very rigorous QA check. There are lots of little errors that should have been caught.
Into this western land was born Stephanie Lynn Nicks on May 28, 1948... (1)
May 26, 1948. The biggest mistake is on page 1, her birthday!!!
The remixed "Dreams" single, with Stevie's fragile voice, got played on AM radio now... (112)
It was the album version, not a remix.
One of the last tracks completed [for Trouble in Shangri-La] was recorded in Paris. This was "Love Is," a languid ballad... (269)
"Love Is" was recorded by Sarah McLachlan's longtime French-Canadian producer Pierre Marchand, which is the closest connection to Paris! It was supposed to be recorded in the U.S., but due to Marchard's green card problem, Stevie went to Vancouver, where it was eventually recorded.
The hottest female group in America, Destiny's Child, sampled the "Stand Back" guitar riff for their single "Bootylicious," and invited Stevie to appear in the video, miming Waddy's now classic single-note guitar stutter. (271)
"Edge of Seventeen," not "Stand Back."
A son of a friend of Stevie's, one of her godsons named Cory, eighteen years old, had overdosed on drugs at a fraternity party. (303)
Not sure if this is a mistake, or rather lawyers asking the writer to change the name. It was actually Glen Parrish's son Glen, Jr. who OD-d, not Cory.
The Pretenders opened the concert with an hour-long jukebox set. Stevie and her band, working in front of colorful animations and psychedelic patterns, launched into "Outside the Rain" as fans ran back to their seats after beer runs and bathroom visits. (311)
"Gold and Braid," not "Outside the Rain"
When the unfamiliar "Belle Fleur" segued into "Dreams"... (311)
"Outside the Rain," not "Belle Fleur"
Last edited by SpyNote : 11-22-2017 at 10:03 AM.
aaaannnnddddd...... there it is. Page 208.....the speculation about where she was inserting the cocaine... according to him the speculation was between two places.
ETA: Jeez, he can't even get lyrics to her most popular songs right!!! He misquotes Storms, Beautiful Child, and Angel
Last edited by bombaysaffires : 11-22-2017 at 01:26 AM.
Season of the Witch: The Enduring Power of Stevie Nicks
Underestimated and overwhelming, Nicks remains the bewitching woman of our time. Here’s how the Fleetwood Mac songstress became an intergenerational icon.
A shawl is a self-selected aura; a shawl is makeshift set of wings. Stevie Nicks owns hundreds if not thousands of them at this point, and sometimes in concert she changes them depending on the mood of the song: a ruby-beaded one to conjure “Gold Dust Woman,” a playful polka-dot one for the new-wavey “Stand Back,” a black mourning cape to set the tone of “Silver Springs.” A shawl, Stevie knows, is a distinctly feminine kind of shield, swaddling the body when it needs warmth, yet also obscuring the particulars of its shape when it would rather not be imparted to a particular kind of gaze. (In 1973, a photographer, along with a demanding bandmate, had coerced her to take her top off when shooting the cover of the self-titled Buckingham Nicks album; the incident made her feel uncomfortable, and after that she vowed to assert more control over her style.) A shawl can be a way for a small person to take up more physical space, to cut a shape in the world more like the image she has of herself in her own mind: epic, dazzling, impossibly birdlike.
Of her sartorial philosophy, Stevie Nicks once said, “I’ll be very, very sexy under 18 pounds of chiffon and lace and velvet. And nobody will know who I really am.”
Stevie Nicks’s music is timeless: She frees that word from overuse and turns it into something strange, forceful, and a little bit spooky. Her songs are in communion with the eternal. They are about the heart’s ancestry, the force of the natural world, and the lovestruck sob into the void that comes echoing back 20 years later at an alarming volume. “Time cast a spell on you, but you won’t forget me,” she sings on one of her greatest songs, “Silver Springs,” giving those words the shuddering portent of a hex. “You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman who loves you.”
“Silver Springs” itself was a boomerang—the story of Stevie Nicks in miniature. She wrote it in 1976, tirelessly perfecting and re-recording it so it would be up to her standards when it was released on her new band’s forthcoming album, Rumours. Stevie’s mother, Barbara, told her it was her favorite song of all the ones she’d written; in return, Stevie secretly put the publishing and royalty credits in her mother’s name. (“My mother would never take a penny from me,” she later explained, “so I figured the only way I could actually give her some money was to give her a song to put away for a rainy day.”) When the first version of Rumours proved to be too long for a single LP, though, the eight-minute “Silver Springs” was first on the chopping block. Stevie was furious; she sang the harmonies of its shorter replacement track, “I Don’t Want to Know,” through gritted teeth. For years, “Silver Springs” remained a hushed secret, a fan-favorite B-side, until 1997, when Fleetwood Mac performed it on their hit live album, The Dance. Then, more than two decades after its composition, “Silver Springs” became a Grammy-nominated hit. (Luckily, Barbara lived another 14 years to enjoy the royalties.) In the live performance, Nicks sings it glaring at her ex-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham like he broke her heart yesterday. She’d been right all along. He never did get away from the sound of her voice.
Stevie Nicks has never written a memoir. She has spent much of her life cultivating an air of mystery, yes, but there are also more practical reasons. “All of the men I hung out with are on their third wives by now, and the wives are all under 30,” she told Billboard in 2014. “If I were to write what really happened between 1972 and now, a lot of people would be very angry with me. … I won’t write a book until everybody is so old that they no longer care.” Until then, we must rely on other people to fill in the gaps of her story.
This can be unfortunate. Many male rock critics have failed to write humanely about Nicks, a woman who was both unapologetically sexy and creatively ambitious, who has struggled with both addiction and weight loss, and who embraced a defiantly feminine aesthetic partially as a ****-you to the aggressively combative men around her. Early music criticism privileged a kind of swaggering machismo so, naturally, there is no shortage of deeply sexist writing about legendary female musicians—but an unfair proportion of it seems to be about Nicks. Reviewing her 1981 debut solo album, Bella Donna, in the Village Voice, canonical rock critic Lester Bangs asked, “Stevie Nicks: Lilith or Bimbo?” (It’s unclear which side he came down on, but he was unduly offended by the fact that her manicurist gets a mention in the liner notes.) A few years earlier, Bangs’s former publication Creem had been even more vicious: “Yes it’s 1977 and Stevie Nicks is the most popular, most visible, woman in rock. And she’s a joke. She’s an airhead, a puffball. … Stevie is a California girl prone to writing songs about witches, mysticism, and all the other **** one would conjure while sautéing in a Jacuzzi.” Even in a five-star review of Rumours, Rolling Stone found fault with Nicks’s contributions: “‘Dreams’ is a nice but fairly lightweight tune, and her nasal singing is the only weak vocal on the record.” It’s worth pointing out that “Dreams” is still, to date, Fleetwood Mac’s only no. 1 song.
Suffice to say, a more clear-eyed, revisionist look at Stevie Nicks’s immense contributions to the past several decades of popular culture has long been overdue. And with his new biography Gold Dust Woman, Stephen Davis (a veteran music journalist, best known for his 1985 Led Zeppelin tome Hammer of the Gods) takes a crack at it. His book is unauthorized, and it’s easy to see why: Davis also cowrote Mick Fleetwood’s Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac, a 1990 tell-all that did not exactly put the writer in the good graces of Stevie Nicks. But that also means Davis was spending a lot of time around the members of Fleetwood Mac in the late 1980s, observing them during the tumultuous release of Tango in the Night and Lindsey Buckingham’s (temporary) departure from the band. And so Gold Dust Woman has no shortage of gossip, although getting the dirt on a band as publicly volatile as Fleetwood Mac is easy. Doing justice to the elusive spirit of Stevie Nicks, and the cult of young women who’ve always adored her, is quite another matter.
Stevie Nicks has terrible vision. Always has: She was prescribed her first pair of glasses in the first grade, and as her parents moved around the Southwest throughout her youth—Albuquerque, El Paso, and eventually, California—her frames and lenses grew thicker every few years. Sometimes when she’d walk around without her glasses, her nearsightedness made the world blur at the edges, like a wet watercolor. “I see things mostly in soft focus,” she would tell an interviewer much later, after she was famous. “I see things like in a dream.”
In grade school, Stevie Nicks dressed as a witch for Halloween three years in a row until her mom got sick of seeing her in the same costume each year and attempted to intervene. “When Stevie was in fourth grade,” her biographer notes, “Barbara made a yellow Martha Washington costume and then finally gave up when Stevie dyed it black.” Says Stevie, “I had a definite knowledge of how I should look—even then.”
Stevie’s paternal grandfather, A.J. Nicks, was a local country singer who might have been more successful if he hadn’t been so reliant on booze. He started singing with little Stevie one day while he was visiting, and was astonished to find that she was a preternaturally gifted harmony singer—she could jump intuitively from the high to low parts of “Darling Clementine” when she was just 4. A.J. put an act together with his young granddaughter and they sang in local taverns until Stevie’s parents finally objected. It was too late, though. She’d caught the bug. Her parents only began to realize how serious Stevie was about songwriting one day about a decade later, when they were all chatting in the car while the radio played. “Hush!” Stevie hissed from the backseat. “I’m concentrating on this.” Not long afterward, she wrote her first official song, which was called “I’ve Loved and I’ve Lost.” She recalled later that it was perhaps her first encounter with melodrama: “My dad would go, ‘That’s a good song, honey. And my mom would go, ‘That’s just beautiful, Stevie.’ And they would be thinking, ‘We know for a fact that she’s only been on one date, and she was back in two hours.’”
Little did A.J. Nicks know, when he taught his granddaughter how to harmonize, how many doors that skill would open for her. One night during Stevie’s senior year in high school, she went to a local session for young musicians that happened weekly at a local church. A boy with shaggy hair was playing “California Dreamin’” on the piano; Stevie walked up and started harmonizing the Michelle Phillips part with him. “They sang the whole song while the room went quiet, everyone mesmerized,” Davis writes. “Then it was over. People clapped a bit.” Stevie didn’t see Lindsey Buckingham again for another three years, but then he thought of her again when his local psych-rock band Fritz was looking to audition a “girl singer.” A few of the greatest love songs and even more of the most venomous break-up songs of the 1970s were written because Lindsey Buckingham happened to remember the name of that “California Dreamin’” girl from Menlo-Atherton High. He tracked Stevie down to audition for Fritz. She got the job.
On the few surviving tracks that can be found on on YouTube (a cover of “Born to Be Wild,” a Doors-lite rocker called “Where Was I?”), Nicks’s voice back then was powerful but unformed, a feral bleat that suggested Buffy Sainte-Marie doing a Janis Joplin impression. (It eventually developed into an instrument that is at once throaty and nasal, as though emanating from a mysterious power source just above her chin.) On stage, though, she had undeniable star presence from the start—and a palpable sonic chemistry with Buckingham. (They dated other people at first, because there was only one rule in Fritz: Hands off Stevie Nicks.) Being the only girl in Fritz was a fraught experience, Nicks recalled later. “They all thought I was in it for the attention. These guys didn’t take me seriously at all. I was just a girl singer, and they hated the fact that I got a lot of credit.”
In 1971, Fritz went into the studio with Keith Olsen, the head engineer at the L.A. recording studio Sound City. “They were OK,” he recalled of Fritz, “but not the superband of the future.” He thought Stevie and Lindsey had something interesting, though. One evening he pulled them aside and told them, “You two really have a unique sound together … but the rest of your band will hold you back. I’d like to continue to work with you, but I think you’d do much better as a duo.”
He was both right and wrong.
Sometimes, on a great album, the spaces between songs are as evocative as the songs themselves. My favorite three-song stretch on any Fleetwood Mac record comes halfway through the first LP of Tusk; in under 15 minutes, it tells the entire tragic tale of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. It starts with Nicks’s gorgeous, six-and-a-half-minute reverie “Sara”: “Said you’d give me light,” she sings, “But you never told me about the fire.” It is a dream suddenly interrupted by the alarm-clock percussion that opens “What Makes You Think You’re the One,” one of Lindsey Buckingham’s all-time great pop temper tantrums. Gone, on much of Tusk, are the braided harmonies that gave Rumours its communal energy; “Sara” is pure, uncut Stevie and “What Makes You Think” turns Buckingham’s angry intensity up to 11. These songs have always sounded to me like rebuttals to each other, defiant stomps into their respective corners—Stevie into a dreamscape of dewey hyper-femininity, while Lindsey retreats into an exaggeratedly macho kind of aggression. But it’s Stevie who gets the last word: The following song is the long, mournful “Storms.” Lindsey hated it—not just the song itself, but the amount of space Stevie was taking up on the record. Her wingspan irked him. Davis writes that the first time Stevie played “Storms” for the band, “Lindsey told her it was crap—but might be salvageable. This devolved into a scream fest, ending with Stevie in tears and Lindsey storming around the studio in a fury. No one ever told Lindsey that his songs were boring, because everyone was afraid of his withering sarcasm and his rages.”
The weather within Fleetwood Mac was not always stormy. In fact, when Nicks and Lindsey first joined, things were downright idyllic. Mick Fleetwood, the 6-and-a-half-foot drummer of a splintering British blues-rock band, stumbled upon Buckingham Nicks by chance, when he happened to be wandering through Sound City while the duo was cutting tracks for the follow-up to their little-heard self-titled debut album. (Stevie was at that moment working on an early version of “Rhiannon”; Fleetwood overheard her ask the engineer if he could add some “bird sounds” to the track.) There were, at the time, several vacancies in Fleetwood Mac (one of their guitarists had recently left to join a cult), and Mick Fleetwood thought these two long-haired Americans could give his group some vital new vibes.
Before he could officially ask them to join, he staged a group dinner that was really just a chemistry read for two particular members of the potential new Fleetwood Mac. “Christine had to meet Stevie first,” Mick has said, “because there would have been nothing worse than two women in a band who didn’t like each other.” Never mind that Lindsey would be a much more volatile presence in the band; no one would have thought to stage a similar kind of meeting between him and bassist John McVie, even though they almost came to blows several times while recording Rumours. Still, Christine and Stevie hit it off immediately, over margaritas (“tough little thing” was Christine’s first impression of her new bandmate), and thus began a decades-long friendship that served as a quiet, enduring rebuttal to the stereotype that two women in a band together must be wracked by competition and cannot possibly get along. “We felt like, together, we were a force of nature,” Nicks said of McVie in 2013.
So many of Stevie Nicks’s best songs were very nearly lost to rock ’n’ roll obscurity. Buckingham Nicks’s 1973 self-titled debut bombed so badly that their label, Polydor, dropped them after just three months; at the time, Stevie had already written early versions of “Gold Dust Woman,” “Rhiannon,” and “Landslide,” a solemn ballad she composed while spending some time alone in Colorado, dropping acid (for the first and only time, she says) and listening to Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark on repeat. The members of Fleetwood Mac were understandably thrilled that their new members had brought such strong material to the recording sessions for their 1975 self-titled album. As they got to work, Mick says they all observed a change in Stevie. “When they first joined the band, Lindsey had control. And, very slowly, he began to lose that control. And he really didn’t like it. After we made the first record, Stevie began to come out of her shell and talk as a person—in her own right. We’d never heard this before from her.”
Still, Nicks’s sudden assertion of agency did not exactly translate into more creative control within Fleetwood Mac. Many years later, the record executive Danny Goldberg recalled first meeting Stevie Nicks (who was then plotting her solo career), and learning that his outsize vision of her didn’t line up with how she was treated within her own band. “I was astonished to hear that Stevie had extremely limited clout in the context of the group,” Goldberg said in 1976. “Although I, and millions of other rock fans, saw her as the principal star of Fleetwood Mac because of her hit songs ‘Rhiannon’ and ‘Dreams,’ she said that she was treated as a space cadet, a ‘chick singer.’”
And yet this “chick singer” was one of the crucial factors that turned Fleetwood Mac from a decent-selling blues band to, improbably, a multi-multi-platinum pop-rock juggernaut. The release of “Rhiannon” as a single was the turning point; it was the smash hit that gave the band mainstream momentum going into Rumours, what was destined to become one of the greatest-selling albums of all time. Nicks brought a whole new audience to the band, one that skewed decidedly female and casually witchy. Nicks wrote the song after stumbling upon Mary Leader’s Triad: A Novel of the Supernatural in an airport bookstore. At the time she just liked the way the name “Rhiannon” sounded, but later she’d grow to feel a kinship with the Celtic deity’s origin story. Ever since, she’s taken to using the word as an adjective: To this day, if someone or something has good vibes, Stevie Nicks considers it “very Rhiannon.”
With Stevie and Lindsey rounding out their sound, Fleetwood Mac started playing to bigger and bigger crowds. In his memoir, recalling their set opening for the Eagles at Tampa Stadium in the summer of 1976, Mick describes this sudden shift in the band’s fan base:
“As I looked out from my drum riser at the crowd that jammed the huge football stadium, I realized that I was looking at hundreds—no, thousands—of girls dressed exactly like Stevie in black outfits, many sporting top hats, Stevie’s new stage costume, which they must have seen in magazines and on TV. At the point in our set when Lindsey played the guitar intro to ‘Rhiannon,’ and Stevie stepped to the front of the stage and told them that this was a song about an old Welsh witch, these girls went bonkers—barking mad!—swaying and singing along and really giving themselves over to the spirit of the thing.”
“Her fans started thinking of themselves as adepts of a secret society,” Davis writes of this time, “initiates in a cult, sisters of the moon.”
Many American girls (and some commendably sensitive boys) go through a witchy phase in their youth, when they first learn about the Salem trials and must contend with the morbid notion that, had they been born a few centuries sooner, they might have been burnt at the stake for the simple crime of being a little too weird. To begin to imagine a matrilineal history is to grapple with the absent forms of expression that have been silenced, suppressed, or deemed worthy of punishment. This perennial adolescent fascination has given us some enduring American art: The Craft, Hocus Pocus, gloriously overacted high school productions of The Crucible, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. The music of Stevie Nicks remains a timeless soundtrack for this phase.
“Witchy” aesthetics cycle in and out of fashion every decade or so, but in recent years, young women and queer people seem to be reclaiming them with an enormous, performative pride. The internet has made this trend especially visible, and it has also lowered the bar of entry for dabbling in the mystical: It can be intimidating to walk into an occult bookstore for the first time, but it is considerably easier to follow a horoscope account on Twitter or to add a tarot blog to your RSS feed.
There is a power and a subversive kind of fun in embracing styles and forms of knowledge that have previously been denigrated, ridiculed, and feared. But a fascination with “witchy” things can take on a more urgent and even political meaning when a particular group of people is being persecuted. This group of people has not usually been predatory white men, but for some reason right now, in these topsy-turvy times, a few of them seem to think they are under attack. This year, several incredibly powerful, scandal-plagued men have complained that they are the victims of “witch hunts.” Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced this claim (in May, he called the lawful investigation into his ties with Russia, “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”), and last month Woody Allen bemoaned the accusations against alleged sexual predator Harvey Weinstein as the result of a “witch-hunt atmosphere.”
To people who have previously identified with witchy-ness as a way of imagining a culture and system of power alternative to the one that rewards men like Donald Trump and Woody Allen, this recent co-optation of the “witch hunt” felt particularly gross. Luckily, the backlash has been swift and strong. In a widely shared op-ed in The New York Times last month, the columnist Lindy West effectively turned this appropriation on its head. “Yes, this is a witch hunt,” she wrote to men like Trump, Weinstein, and Allen. “I’m a witch and I’m hunting you.” Lana Del Rey (a modern kindred spirit of Stevie Nicks, who collaborated with her on her most recent album) admitted that she recently tried to “cast a spell” on Donald Trump. (When asked for comment, she said, “Look, I do a lot of ****.”)
Stevie Nicks has become a kind of cult hero of the millennial era for the same reason she was an early star on MTV: Her talent is a savvy blend of style and substance with an outsized flair for self-mythology. Several old videos of her singing have recently gone viral. In one, she is caught candidly singing an early version of her song “Wild Heart” as she gets her makeup done backstage; in another, culled from a clip of the recent HBO documentary The Defiant Ones, she is in the studio recording the blistering vocal of her solo hit “The Edge of Seventeen.” She is an object of adoration on the popular teen-girl website Rookie; its 21-year-old editor-in-chief Tavi Gevinson once summed up her mantra as, “Just be Stevie Nicks. That’s all you have to do.”
Her friend Danny Goldberg has called Stevie Nicks an “autodidactic mystic who viewed the universe through the eyes of middle America.” Her critics used to hold that idea against her—that there was something surface, shallow, and silly about her brand of vaguely occult spirituality. I see this, instead, as Nicks’s enduring strength—her appeal across generations. She “seems to embody,” Davis writes, “the idea that we all have sacred powers within us.” As her haunting voice transmitted over the radio in the late ’70s, as her image ruled MTV in the early ’80s, and as GIFs and Tumblr posts devoted to her ping around the internet today, Stevie Nicks is a mass-cultural gateway drug to all things weird, witchy, and hyper-femme. Her presence is an invitation to exaggerate what makes you strange and misunderstood and to drape it about your shoulders like expensive silk. Stevie gives you wings.
Gold Dust Woman gives the reader a sense of all Stevie has survived and how close she came (several times over) to death. Yes, she did Everest-sized mounds of cocaine in the ’70s and ’80s before entering the Betty Ford Center and getting off “the devil’s dandruff” (as some people in the Fleetwood Mac circle called it) once and for all in 1986. But the gravest trouble started after that, when a psychiatrist put her on increasingly strong doses of Klonopin for eight years. In 1992, she told the doctor she wanted to get off it because she thought it was affecting her work. He reassured her that plenty of hyperproductive musicians were on a similar dose of Klonopin, like Michael Jackson and Prince. That statement does not exactly inspire confidence now, but Stevie took him at his word at the time. Then, a year later, out of curiosity as to what the drug was doing to her, she asked her accommodating friend Glenn Parrish to take her daily dose of Klonopin so she could “study” the effect it had on him. “I told him I’d sit with him in case he died,” Nicks has recalled. “And he was almost hallucinating. It was bad. Then he just passed out.” Nicks called up her psychiatrist (who she has, in recent years, taken to calling “Doctor ****head”) and told him what she’d done to poor Glenn. “Are you trying to kill him?” he cried. Stevie responded, “Are you trying to kill me?” And so Stevie Nicks got off Klonopin, after a wrenching 47-day detox. “My hair turned gray and my skin molted,” she wrote in Newsweek in 2011. “I was terrified to leave, and I came away knowing that that would never happen to me again.” She says that she has been completely clean since then.
“In the twenty-first century the media and the popular press have become fixated on the female celebrity ‘train wreck,’ as defined as a hyper-sexual, over-refreshed, crazy lady,” Davis writes in the acknowledgement section of his book, name-checking Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan. “With this in mind, I would finally like to thank Stevie Nicks for getting her train back on track when she did, because if she hadn’t, this would have been a much, much darker story, one not much fun to tell.” This is a profoundly sour note to end on, and it left me unsettled—thank god this woman didn’t die, because then she would have been a cliché, and then my book about her wouldn’t have been as uplifting?
We are, blessedly, long past the days of “Stevie Nicks: Lilith or Bimbo?” but I still don’t think Davis grasps the full force of Nicks’s enduring appeal. Especially in its last hundred pages, Gold Dust Woman becomes a somewhat flat chronicle of Stevie leaving and then rejoining Fleetwood Mac, writing and then recording solo material. Because Nicks didn’t speak to Davis for this book, it feels disappointingly short on any new information or insight. Though considerably shorter and less completist, the critic Amanda Petrusich’s 2016 New Yorker essay about Nicks’s solo work is a much more evocative examination of her appeal. “What does it mean to be Stevie Nicks?” she wonders. “To understand loss and longing as being merely the cost of doing business? To acknowledge the bottomless nature of certain aches, yet to know, in some instinctive way, that you’ll keep going?” It feels more fitting of Nicks’s inherent mystery to define her by those unanswered questions than by a more traditionally declarative biography.
Stevie Nicks’s solo material has been a perennial source of disco-tinged remixes: An unauthorized reworking of her song “Planets of the Universe” topped the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 2001. She has a strong queer fan base—Out magazine has dubbed her a “gay icon”—perhaps because, even within a heterosexual context, she has always embodied an alternative to more traditional models of love. (Davis has said he believes on some level she’s still in love with Lindsey Buckingham, and she’s admitted as much: “[T]he love is always there, but we’ll never be together, so that’s even more romantic.”) Nicks had many short, passionate relationships with men, though her only marriage was doomed (she wed her best friend’s widower in a misbegotten attempt to raise their child; it lasted three months and she later admitted it was a mistake). Still, now at age 69, she has no remorse about her lack of a lifelong romantic partner. “[H]opefully all the people like me who don’t care about having a relationship will continue to not care and just have a great dog,” she said in an interview a few years ago. “I’m not putting relationships down—I’ve had amazing relationships. But that is how I look at life.”
Some of the most enduring evidence of Stevie Nicks’s intergenerational and unconventional appeal is the annual “Night of a Thousand Stevies,” a New York tribute show for which scores of Nicks’s fans (many of them in drag) adorn themselves in layers of chiffon and honor their high priestess. It has been going on for 27 years. Nicks has never attended the show herself, although she has filmed a personalized greeting a few years running. Asked in 2014 if she’d consider attending, she said, “One day I’m going to show up, and they are not going to know it, because I’m going to be dressed as the best Stevie ever. I will be unrecognizably fantastic until I go up on stage and take the mic and burst into ‘Edge of Seventeen’ and blow everyone away.”
I've waited years for this book and from reading these posts, I'm now dreading it coming. I'll probably get it today. I know I'm going to hate all the errors. I agree, I think we could write a better biography of Stevie. We will never get the true, good story until Stevie writes it herself. I think the best book on Stevie was 1983's everything you ever wanted to know about Stevie Nicks. Love that book. Also Carol Harris book even thought I don't think it was well written, had loads of great info. And Ken Callaits book about the making of Rumours was a really good book. Both Carol and Ken are writing follow up books and I'm really looking forward to those.
I have changed, but you remain ageless
|1997 Pretty Blond Singer Bekka Bramlett With Billy Burnette Press Photo