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Interview by Carter Alan, Feature by Rami Abou-Sabe
With over a dozen rock biographies under his belt, Stephen Davis set out to chronicle the life and legacy of Stevie Nicks. In Gold Dust Woman, Davis sheds a light on the Fairy Godmother of Rock, her tumultuous relationship with Fleetwood Mac guitarist and ex-lover Lindsey Buckingham, and how she became a bigger star than the band itself.
“Stevie dumped Lindsey Buckingham,” Davis says, plainly detailing a breakup that would spawn decades of intrigue and musical magic. “For the rest of his career, he was contractually obligated to make her sound great.”
“Nothing ordinary ever happened to Fleetwood Mac,” Davis explains. “Nothing ordinary ever happened to Stevie Nicks.”
Read on for the five best things we learned about Nicks, and be sure to listen to Carter Alan’s full interview with Stephen Davis below.
Stevie Had A Sheltered, Lonely Childhood“She had a very sheltered childhood. Her mother kept her inside, her father was a business executive, so they moved all the time around the country. She didn’t really have that much time to make friends. So it’s an interesting story… She spent an awful lot of time alone in her room with her guitar trying to write songs, and came out of this very sheltered childhood into a situation where she didn’t even have a boyfriend until she met Lindsey Buckingham after they graduated from the same high school. She says, ‘I’m a prude.’ She grew up partly in Salt Lake City in a Mormon environment, so you’ve never seen that much skin with Stevie Nicks – or overtly sexual presentation. There’s been a lot of chiffon, and a lot of organza, and top hats and feathers and things like that… But at heart, she’s a very private person.”
Her Solo Career Nearly Faltered“After being in Fleetwood Mac for five years, all of a sudden she found herself out there alone, on a limb. Her producer Lindsey Buckingham didn’t want anything to do with her solo career – she had no producer, she had no band, she had no hit single, she had nothing. And within a year, using her feminine wiles, she had stolen the Heartbreakers from Tom Petty, she had stolen his producer Jimmy Iovine, and she had stolen his next single which was ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.’ Now to her credit, she was Stevie Nicks at 32 years old. She was extremely beautiful, no one could say no to her. So that’s how she got away from Lindsey Buckingham, who was the only source of producing her music, and found a new way to carry on her career – which has been going on now for almost 40 years.”
Stevie Was Physically Abused By Buckingham“They had just put out one of their best albums ever called Tango In The Night, and he said, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore. I can’t take it. This is my girlfriend, she dumped me… I can’t be with her everyday… I don’t want to go out on the road.’ And they had this tremendous argument in front of the rest of the band, and eventually, he stormed out. She followed him, they got into it in the parking lot, and he grabbed her. He slapped her, he bent her over the back of the car and started choking her. The [managment] dragger him off her, and some of the guys in the band wanted to take Lindsey out behind the garage and teach him a lesson, but that didn’t happen. But that was the end of that portion of their relationship. They would never really be friends again, she would never really trust him again. She didn’t like to be alone with him after that.”
Fleetwood Mac Didn’t Want Stevie In The Band“Fleetwood Mac didn’t even want to hire Stevie Nicks. When [Lindsey and Stevie] met Fleetwood Mac in 1975, Mick Fleetwood was looking for a guitar player and he invited Lindsey to join, and Lindsey said, ‘We’re a package, my girlfriend and me, you have to take us.’ And so for the first two years of Fleetwood Mac, Stevie wasn’t even sure they wanted her in the band. And the great theme of this book is that she went on and became a bigger star than all of them put together, and is still, at almost 70 years old, the Fairy Godmother of Rock.”
Stevie Tried Helping Tom Petty Through Depression“She was such a friend to him, that in his lowest points she would come and bring him groceries, and try to get him to write songs with her. It was one of the great friendships of the rock movement as opposed to something physical or romantic. It’s really one of these indelible relationships that was one of the most important of her career.”