Wednesday, September 02, 2009


T.Cole Rachel


Few entertainers in the history of rock and roll have carved out a path as mystic and mythical as that of Stevie Nicks. Both as a solo artist and member of Fleetwood Mac, Nicks has conjured a musical and visual aesthetic that is completely and uniquely her own—an amalgam of twirling black lace, ribbon-covered tambourines, crystal visions, and white-winged doves. Having overcome the dizzying excesses, epic breakups, and competing egos typically associated with one of the most successful and dramatic supergroups of the 1970s, Nicks remains an unstoppable force. Now 61, she has aged better, both physically and artistically, than almost any of her peers, and, with the recent release of a career-capping live album and DVD, she continues to be venerated as an icon in both music and fashion. This summer, Nicks will spend her time doing what she does best—touring the world with her old friends and lovers in Fleetwood Mac and generally casting a beautiful spell wherever she goes.
T. Cole Rachel

T. COLE RACHEL It’s hard to think of anyone else who has a cultural mythology surrounding them in the same way that you do. Do you find that people tend to have crazy expectations when they meet you?

STEVIE NICKS People always think that I’m going to be this little airhead blonde, when I’m actually quite pragmatic and serious. I’m also really funny, or at least I think I’m really funny. I’m really not what they expect, at least when it comes to my personality. In regard to my music, I guess people know me pretty well. When I write music, I know it’s not just for me. When I finish a song and put it out there into the universe, I realize that it belongs to everyone. I think about the fact that each song might become a kind of mantra for someone out there and that’s the joy of it. When I was 15, I wrote my first song about a sad relationship that ended before I wanted it to end. Even then, I wrote it thinking that maybe I’d play it at a school assembly in hopes that someone would identify with it. I always wanted to affect people.

TCR You became famous at a time when there really weren’t a lot of female rock stars. Did you find it difficult to get people to take you seriously as a songwriter and not just view you as this beautiful singer?

SN I think it would have been a real problem had I not been in Fleetwood Mac. But being in the band, I had the power of two—Christine McVie and me. People couldn’t really write us off. I never once felt like a second-class citizen in some kind of boys club and neither did Christine. She had actually been playing in bands for years before Fleetwood Mac, and I think her power and confidence really rubbed off on me. The two of us together were really like a force of nature. Even Lindsey [Buckingham] couldn’t stop us.

TCR Your personal style gets referenced so much now in fashion. When did you first realize that your aesthetic had become a thing in popular culture?

SN I’ve never really paid attention to what other people thought of my look, but I can tell you where it came from. When I went on tour with Fleetwood Mac for the very first time after the first album had come out, I just packed a suitcase with a bunch of my normal, everyday clothes. Then, the first night of the tour I found myself in a dressing room in El Paso, Texas, with everything I owned scattered across the floor just thinking, This is not going to work. Nothing fit right, nothing looked good, nothing felt comfortable. When the tour ended I met this designer named Margie Kent and I drew her this little cartoon of how I wanted to look. I still draw the same cartoon all the time, whenever someone gives me a tambourine or a record to sign. It’s just this little stick figure of a girl wearing a handkerchief skirt, platform boots, a little black top with Rhiannon sleeves, and a top hat. I wanted to look like some kind of waif-y urchin, something Dickensian. I wanted the heavy boots to balance everything out. I wanted it to look old and antique, a little bit worn. I had a shoemaker make the platform boots for me out of suede, and Margie made me lots of ponchos and little silk jackets and flowy chiffon things that hung down to the floor. That became my stage outfit and remains so to this day.

TCR Night of a Thousand Stevies, the long-running Stevie Nicks tribute party that happens here in NYC, is now in its nineteenth year. Does it blow your mind that hundreds of people get together to dress up like you and sing your songs?

SN It’s wonderful. It makes me think that Margie and I had the right idea all those years ago. It makes me think that all those images we came up with really did what we wanted them to do. There’s a “Gold Dust Woman” image and a “Stand Back” image and an “Edge of Seventeen” image. I totally understand how it would be the most fun dress-up party ever! So if I were actually going to Night of a Thousand Stevies and trying to decide what to wear, I could go with the brand-new white ruffle-y dress and top hat, or I could go with a full-on black Stevie Nicks outfit with the Rhiannon sleeves, or maybe the white Belladonna outfit with the white leg warmers and white poncho. I’ve always loved to dress up. Halloween was always my favorite night when I was a kid. I looked forward to it for months beforehand and I was all about planning my outfit. Luckily my mom could sew, so I’d tell her that I wanted to be Martha Washington or something like that and she’d do it. So I have to say, I’m thrilled by that event. God bless Night of a Thousand Stevies. [Laughs]

TCR I saw the recent Fleetwood Mac show at Madison Square Garden and I was really struck by how sweet all of you were toward each other. It seems like everyone is in a very good place these days.

SN I think so too. I think that having children has really changed Lindsey. He has two daughters, so now he really has to deal with women. He comes from a family of boys himself, so I think having daughters has been a good thing. He also has a 10-year-old son, but basically the girls rule at his house. I really think it has changed him though, and I think it’s made it easier for him to accept who I am and to deal with me. He’s less apt to argue with me these days and he’s more apt to understand what I say and not take it personally. I think he understands now that I really do always have his best interests at heart. He used to understand that, back in the beginning, but after we broke up he didn’t feel that way. It was really unfortunate because that’s when the whole band started to split apart. So now, the band is actually a little bit more like it was back in the beginning.

TCR And it only took thirty years for that to happen.

SN [Laughs] I know. It’s okay though because otherwise we wouldn’t be on tour right now.

TCR What do Lindsey’s kids think of you? Are you like the crazy aunt?

SN They like me a lot. They totally get it. You know, they’re in the dressing room saying, “Can I wear that cape?” or “I need to put on those boots!”

TCR It’s interesting to hear you talk about how Lindsey has changed. How do you feel you’ve changed?

SN Well, aside from being 25 pounds heavier and a lot older, I don’t really think I’ve changed all that much. I think I’m still very much who I was at 15. I’m still very excited by my writing, I’m still very excited by performing. I find a lot of joy in doing what I do. I certainly wouldn’t want to stay home now and do nothing!

Fleetwood Mac is currently on tour

Stevie Nicks’s The Soundstage Sessions LP and Live in Chicago DVD are out now from Reprise Records.

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