Steve Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac in 1974, along with her partner Lindsey Buckingham. Her work with Fleetwood Mac and her extensive solo career, has produced over forty Top 50 hits and sold over 140 million albums. She was deemed “The Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll” and one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” by Rolling Stone, and, as a member of Fleetwood Mac, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. As a solo artist, she has garnered eight Grammy Award nominations and, with Fleetwood Mac, a further five.
Fleetwood Mac’s second album after the incorporation of Nicks and Buckingham, Rumours, released in 1977, was the best-selling album of all time the year of its release, and, to date, is the eighth best-selling album of all time, having sold over 40 million copies worldwide. The album remained at No.1 on the American albums chart for 31 weeks, and reached the top spot in various countries worldwide. The album won Album of the Year in 1978 and produced four US Top 10 singles, with Nicks’ Dreams being the band’s first and only US number one hit.
Nicks began her solo career in 1981 with the album Bella Donna, which reached Platinum status less than three months after its release, and has since been certified quadruple-platinum. She has produced seven more solo studio albums to date, with her most recent entitled In Your Dreams, and released on May 3, 2011. Having overcome cocaine addiction and dependency on tranquilizers, Nicks remains a popular solo performer. Nicks is known for her distinctive voice, mystical visual style, and symbolic lyrics, as well as the famous (sometimes tense) chemistry between herself and Lindsey Buckingham.
Nicks first met her future musical and romantic partner, Lindsey Buckingham, during her senior year at Menlo Atherton High School. She was attending a high school party and saw Buckingham playing “California Dreamin’”, and joined in with the harmony. Buckingham contacted Nicks a few years later and asked her to join him and his bandmates Javier Pacheco and Calvin Roper in a band called Fritz. Fritz became popular as a live act from 1968 until 1972, opening for popular musicians Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin – both of whom Nicks credits as inspiring her own stage intensity and performances – among others, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Both Nicks and Buckingham attended San Jose State University in Northern California, where Nicks majored in Speech Communication. She had planned on becoming an English teacher, but she and Buckingham dropped out in 1968 to move to Los Angeles in pursuit of a music career when Nicks’ family moved to Chicago.
After Fritz disbanded in 1972, Nicks and Buckingham continued to write and record as a duo, producing demo tapes at the coffee plant belonging to Buckingham’s father Morris. They secured a deal with Polydor Records. Polydor used tracks from the demo tapes to release the album Buckingham Nicks in 1973. The album was not a commercial success, despite the live shows that Nicks and Buckingham performed together to support it, and Polydor dropped the pair from the label. To support herself and Buckingham, who wrote music while recovering from mononucleosis, Nicks worked a variety of jobs, which included waiting tables and a stint cleaning engineer/producer Keith Olsen’s house, where Nicks and Buckingham lived for a time.
Nicks and Buckingham briefly relocated to Aspen, Colorado. While there, Buckingham landed a guitar-playing gig with the Everly Brothers, and toured with them while Nicks stayed behind. During this time, Nicks wrote “Rhiannon” after seeing the name in the novel Triad by Mary Leader, unaware at the time of the Mabinogi legend of Rhiannon. She also wrote “Landslide”, inspired by the scenery of Aspen and her inner turmoil over her decision to pursue music.
Nicks and Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac on December 31, 1974, after Keith Olsen played their track “Frozen Love” for drummer Mick Fleetwood, who had come to Sound City in California, in search of a studio to record Fleetwood Mac’s next album. Fleetwood remembered Buckingham’s guitar work after guitar player Bob Welch’s departure to pursue a solo career. Initially extending the offer only to Buckingham, Fleetwood later included Nicks in the offer when Buckingham insisted that he and Nicks were “a package deal”.
In 1975, the band achieved success with the album Fleetwood Mac. Nicks’ “Rhiannon”, which appeared on the album, would eventually be voted one of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine. Her live performances of the song throughout the decade began to take on a theatrical intensity not present on the album’s single. The song built to a climax in which Nicks’ vocals were so impassioned that Mick Fleetwood declared, “her Rhiannon in those days was like an exorcism. ” Also included on the album was “Landslide”, which would go on to achieve collected Million-Air status with over three million airplays and spawn multiple cover versions.
Following the success of Fleetwood Mac, increasing tension between Nicks and Buckingham began to take its toll on their creativity, and Nicks ended the relationship. Fleetwood Mac began recording their follow-up album, Rumours, in early 1976 and continued until late in the year. Also, Nicks and Buckingham sang back-up on Warren Zevon’s debut album.
Among Nicks’s contributions to Rumours was “Dreams”, which became the band’s only Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit single to date. Nicks had also written and recorded the song “Silver Springs”, but it was ultimately not included on the album because of space limitations for studio albums on vinyl records, which were limited to 24 minutes per side. Instead, it was released as a B-side of the “Go Your Own Way” single, and would remain in some obscurity until it appeared on the four-disc Fleetwood Mac retrospective 25 Years – The Chain in 1992. The song, the rights to which are owned by Nicks’ late mother Barbara, has always been very special to Nicks, and she was devastated when told about the omission after the decision had been made.
In November 1977, after a New Zealand concert for the Rumours tour, Nicks and Fleetwood, who was married to Jenny Boyd, secretly began an affair. The pair mutually decided to end the affair. “Never in a million years could you have told me that would happen,” Nicks has stated. “Everybody was angry, because Mick was married to a wonderful girl and had two wonderful children. I was horrified. I loved these people. I loved his family. So it couldn’t possibly work out. And it didn’t. I just couldn’t.” She has also stated that had the affair progressed, it “would have been the end of Fleetwood Mac”. Soon after, in October 1978, Mick Fleetwood left his wife for Nicks’ best friend Sara Recor.
After the success of the Rumours album and tour in 1977–78, Fleetwood Mac began recording their third album with Buckingham and Nicks, Tusk, in the spring of 1978. That year, Nicks sang back-up on virtually every track of Not Shy, recorded by musician Walter Egan, a friend of both Nicks and Buckingham. One track, “Magnet & Steel”, prominently featured Nicks on back-up vocals and became a hit single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the summer of 1978. Lindsey Buckingham also played guitar and sang back-up on some of the tracks recorded for that album.
By 1978, Nicks had amassed a large backlog of songs dating back to her Buckingham Nicks days that she had been unable to record and release with Fleetwood Mac because of the constraint of having to accommodate three songwriters on each album. Nicks wrote and recorded demos for a solo project during Tusk sessions in 1979 and the Tusk world tour of 1979–80. Nicks, Danny Goldberg, and Paul Fishkin founded Modern Records to record and release Nicks’s material. Nicks recorded the hit duets “Whenever I Call You Friend” with Kenny Loggins in 1978, and “Gold” with John Stewart in 1979.
Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk was released on October 19, 1979. During 1981, Nicks toured with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and New Zealand band Split Enz as a guest.
Nicks first solo album, Bella Donna, was released on July 27, 1981 to critical and commercial acclaim, reaching #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, with three singles making the Billboard Hot 100, and Rolling Stone deeming her “The Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll”.
The day that Bella Donna reached #1 on the Billboard 200, Nicks’ best friend Robin Anderson was diagnosed with leukemia. Robin gave birth to a son, appointing Nicks as the child’s godmother. “I never got to enjoy Bella Donna at all because my friend was dying. Something went out that day; something left.” Following Robin’s death in 1982, Nicks married Robin’s widower Kim Anderson, believing that her friend would want her to care for the baby. “We were all in such insane grief, just completely deranged,” she told The Telegraph in 2007. The couple divorced eight months after the marriage.
Bella Donna introduced Nicks’ back-up singers, Sharon Celani and Lori Perry, who have contributed vocals to all of Nicks’ solo albums since then. In November 1981, Nicks embarked on the White Winged Dove tour, which she had to cut short to record the Mirage album with Fleetwood Mac. After the Mirage tour in 1982, Nicks prepared to record her second solo album.
Nicks released her second solo album, The Wild Heart, on June 10, 1983. The album went double platinum, reached #5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and featured three hit singles. It also introduced songwriter and performer Sandy Stewart as co-writer, vocalist, and musician.
Nicks performed at the second US Festival at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, California, and later toured the US from June 1983 to November 1983. Nicks appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1983, performing “Stand Back” and “Nightbird”.
Following the tour for The Wild Heart, Nicks commenced work on her third solo album. Originally titled Mirror Mirror, Nicks recorded songs for the album during 1984. However, Nicks was unhappy with the album, and opted to record a new batch of songs in 1985. Rock a Little, as it was re-titled, was released November 18, 1985 to commercial success, supported by three hit singles.
The tour marked a turning point in Nicks’ life. The January before the tour was to begin, a plastic surgeon warned her of severe health problems if she did not stop using cocaine. “I said, ‘What do you think about my nose?’,” she recalled on The Chris Isaak Hour in 2009. “And he said, ‘Well, I think the next time you do a hit of cocaine, you could drop dead.” At the end of the Australian tour, Nicks checked herself into the Betty Ford Center for 30 days to overcome her cocaine addiction. Recalling the strong influence of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix on her music and life, she told a UK interviewer, “I saw how they went down, and a part of me wanted to go down with them…but then another part of me thought, I would be very sad if some 25 year old lady rock and roll singer ten years from now said, ‘I wish Stevie Nicks would have thought about it a little more.’ That’s kind of what stopped me and made me really look at the world through clear eyes.”
Creative differences and unresolved personal issues within the band led Buckingham to quit the group right before their world tour. According to bassist John McVie, a “physically ugly” confrontation between Nicks and Buckingham ensued when Nicks angrily challenged Buckingham’s decision to leave the band.
The band embarked on the Shake the Cage tour in September 1987, with Buckingham replaced by Rick Vito and Billy Burnette. The tour was suspended during Nicks’ bout with chronic fatigue syndrome and developing addiction to tranquilizers, though it resumed in 1988. Tango in the Night met with commercial success and was followed in 1988 by Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits album in November 1988.
Also in 1988, Nicks began work on a fourth solo album with British producer Rupert Hine. The Other Side of the Mirror was released on May 11, 1989 to commercial success. Nicks became romantically involved with Hine.
Nicks toured the US and Europe from August to November 1989, the only time she has toured Europe as a solo act. She has famously been quoted since as stating that she has “no memory of this tour” due to her increasing dependency on the tranquillizer Klonopin, prescribed in ever increasing amounts by a psychiatrist between 1987 and 1994, in an attempt to keep Nicks from regressing to her former abuse of cocaine.
In 1989, Nicks set to work with Fleetwood Mac on a new album, Behind the Mask, which was released in 1990 to moderate commercial success in the US. In the UK, however, the album entered the chart at #1 and was certified Platinum. The band went on a world tour to promote the album, on the last night of which Buckingham and Nicks reunited on stage to perform “Landslide”. After the tour concluded, Nicks left the group over a dispute with Mick Fleetwood, who would not allow her to release the 1977 track “Silver Springs” on her album Timespace: The Best of Stevie Nicks, because of his plans to release it on a forthcoming Fleetwood Mac box set.
On the tenth anniversary of her solo career debut, Nicks released Timespace: The Best of Stevie Nicks on September 3, 1991.
Fleetwood Mac also released a four-disc box set, 25 Years – The Chain, which included “Silver Springs”.
During the 1992 US presidential campaign, Bill Clinton used the Fleetwood Mac hit “Don’t Stop” as his campaign theme song, and Nicks joined her band mates to perform the song at Clinton’s 1993 Inaugural Gala. No plans for an official reunion were made at that time. Nicks was criticized for her weight gain. Nicks, who is 5 feet 1 inch (1.55 m), had gained weight, peaking at 175 lb (79.4 kg). “Klonopin was worse than the cocaine,” she has said. “I lost those 8 years of my life. I didn’t write, and I had gained so much weight.”
In late 1993, while Nicks held a baby shower at her house, she tripped over a box, passed out, and cut her forehead near a fireplace. “I’m one of those people who doesn’t injure themselves. I was horrified to see that blood. I hadn’t had enough wine. I knew it was the Klonopin,” she said, realising that she needed help, and endured a painful 47-day detox in a hospital. “I thought I was going to die…I had a little picture of my niece on the wall and I kept saying to her, ‘I’m so sorry I’m not going to be there for you. I’m so sorry I’m not going to be able to teach you.’”
Following her successful detox in May 1994, Nicks used material written mostly in previous years to record a solo album in 1992 and 1993 entitled Street Angel. She has expressed major disappointment with the album, claiming that a lot of production work took place during her second stint in rehab, meaning she had little to no say over the final product.
Released on May 23, 1994, Street Angel was poorly received. Despite praise from critics and fans for her vocals on the three-month Street Angel tour, Nicks was crushed by the focus on her weight and the poor reception of the album itself. Disgusted by the criticism she received during the tour for being overweight, she vowed to never set foot on a stage again unless she slimmed down.
In 1995, Nicks was reunited with Lindsey Buckingham and contributed the duet “Twisted” to the Twister movie soundtrack, while in 1996 the Sheryl Crow penned “Somebody Stand by Me” featured on the Boys on the Side soundtrack, and Nicks also remade Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” for Fox’s TV hit Party of Five.
In 1996 Lindsey Buckingham, working on a planned solo album, enlisted the help of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, which eventually led to a reunion of the entire band. A newly invigorated and slimmed down Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac for The Dance, a highly successful 1997 tour that coincided with the 20th anniversary of the release of Rumours. Prior to the tour, Nicks started work with a voice coach, to lend her voice more control and protect it from the stress of lengthy touring schedules. She also went on a diet and started jogging to lose weight.
The live CD release, The Dance, was released to commercial and critical acclaim, earning the group several Grammy nominations, including their live performance of Nicks’ “Silver Springs”.
In 1998, she joined the group for its induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That same year, Nicks won the Outstanding Contribution at the BRIT Awards.
She put work on a new solo album on hold when she was approached by Warner Music to release a solo career-spanning box set, to finish her contract with Atlantic Records in the US. After the culmination of the Fleetwood Mac reunion tour, Nicks settled down in Los Angeles and Phoenix with close friends and colleagues to devise a track list for this three-disc collection.
The box set Enchanted was released to acclaim on April 28, 1998 with liner notes from Nicks, as well as exclusive rare photographs, and pages from her journals. Nicks supported the box set with a successful US tour. In 1998, Nicks contributed to the Practical Magic soundtrack and performed in Don Henley’s benefit concert for the Walden Woods Project.
Nicks had begun writing actively for Trouble in Shangri-La in 1994 and 1995 as she came out of her Klonopin dependency. According to her, friend and former musical partner Tom Petty was responsible for convincing her to write music again when he rebuffed her request that he write a song with her. She resumed recording songs for the Trouble in Shangri-La album with Sheryl Crow, who produced and performed on several tracks. When a scheduling conflict forced Crow to drop out of the project, Nicks first approached R&B producer Dallas Austin, but these sessions have never surfaced. Nicks finally called on John Shanks to produce the remainder of the album, with additional contributions from David Kahne, Rick Nowels, Pierre Marchand, and Jeff Trott. Artists Natalie Maines, Sarah McLachlan, and Macy Gray contributed to some of the tracks.
Released May 1, 2001, Trouble in Shangri-La restored Nicks’s solo career to critical and commercial success. “Planets of the Universe” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, and Nicks was named VH1′s “Artist of the Month” for May 2001. Nicks was named one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People, was featured in a well-received Behind the Music episode, and performed an episode of the VH1 Storytellers Concert Program. Nicks made several television appearances in support of the album and performed at the 2001 Radio Music Awards.
Nicks supported the album with a successful tour, although some shows were canceled or postponed because of her bout with acute bronchitis. Shows were also canceled because of the September 11 attacks in the U.S.
In 2001, Fleetwood Mac began work on a new studio album. After the end of her solo tour, Nicks convened with the other members of the band for recording during 2002. Say You Will was released in April 2003 and met with commercial success but mixed reviews. Nicks joined the group to support the album with a world tour lasting until September 2004.
She has subsequently stated in several interviews that she was not happy with the album or the successful world tour that followed, citing production disputes with Buckingham as a core factor, as well as the absence of fellow female band member Christine McVie. A documentary of the making of the album, Destiny Rules, was released on DVD in 2004 and chronicles the sometimes turbulent relationships between band members, especially Buckingham and Nicks, during that time in the studio.
After a few months’ respite from the Say You Will tour, Nicks did a four-night stint in May 2005 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and then did a 10-show tour with Don Henley. During the summer of 2005, Nicks continued the tour solo with pop singer Vanessa Carlton as the opening act, playing over 20 dates nationwide.
On March 27, 2007, Reprise Records released Crystal Visions – The Very Best of Stevie Nicks in the US. The album debuted at #21 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
The compilation includes her hit singles, a dance remix, and one new track, a live version of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll”. There are two versions of this album, one with just the audio CD and another version with an included DVD featuring all of Nicks’s music videos with audio commentary from Nicks, as well as rare footage from the Bella Donna recording sessions. A tour with Chris Isaak, opening in Concord, California on May 17, 2007 supported the release.
Reprise Records initially released two radio only promos, the live version of “Landslide” with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and “Rock and Roll”. Both tracks failed to garner much airplay and made no impact on the charts. Reprise Records released “Stand Back” (issued with club mixes) on May 29, 2007. “Stand Back”, which peaked at #5 on the pop singles chart in 1983, reached #2 on the Billboard Club chart. Nicks previously reached #1 on this chart, with “Planets of the Universe” (from Trouble in Shangri-La) in 2001. The remix single of “Stand Back” debuted on the Billboard Hot Singles Sales chart on September 15, 2007 at #10, peaking at #4 the following week. It also debuted on the Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales chart at #3, later peaking at #1.
On March 31, 2009, Stevie released the album, The Soundstage Sessions, via Reprise Records. The album debuted at#47 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The first single from the album was “Crash Into Me” and was released as a digital download, along with “Landslide” (orchestra version) as a B-side, on March 17, 2009.
After completing the Unleashed Tour with Fleetwood Mac, Stevie began work on her first solo album in a decade with David A. Stewart (musician and record producer, best known for his work with Eurythmics), who announced this via his Twitter in February 2010. During 2010, Stewart used Twitter to confirm various facts about the album; in one of the tweets, Stewart stated that he, Nicks, Waddy Wachtel, Mike Campbell (of the Heartbreakers), Mike Rowe, and Steve Ferrone were all working on the album, and that Mick Fleetwood has also contributed drums to at least one track. Waddy Wachtel has been Nicks’s lead guitarist for most of her solo career, featuring prominently on all of her albums to date. It was also later confirmed that Lindsey Buckingham would appear on the track “Soldiers Angel”.
Nicks performed in a series of shows in August 2010 (“it’s not really a tour, ” she said). They did not contain any of her new music, because she did not want it to end up on YouTube. The Santa Barbara show benefited a young girl she had met through the Make-a-Wish Foundation in Los Angeles with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer.
On January 13, 2011, Reprise announced Stevie’s upcoming album In Your Dreams would be released on May 3, and the lead single, “Secret Love”, would be released on February 8. Reprise provided a free download of the single to fans who pre-ordered the album via certain websites. Nicks originally wrote “Secret Love” in 1976 and recorded a demo of it for Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album, Rumours. It did not make the final cut for the album. The demo version had been circulating among fans for many years prior to its inclusion on In Your Dreams. Nicks promoted the song with a video directed by Dave Stewart. Nicks’ goddaughter Kelly appears in the video wearing a vintage dress that Nicks wore on stage in 1976. According to Nicks, Kelly portrays the young Stevie Nicks blending with the soul of Nicks’ 62 year-old self. On the US Billboard Charts, “Secret Love” was a modest hit on the Adult Contemporary Singles Chart, peaking at #20, and at #25 on the Triple A Singles Chart. Another song on the album “For What It’s Worth” features Nicks’ niece in the video, and was inspired by a past bus tour with Tom Petty. The song reached #25 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in September 2011.
In Your Dreams received overwhelmingly positive reviews, rivaling that of Stevie’s 1981 debut. Rolling Stone commented “It’s not just her first album in 10 years, it’s her finest collection of songs since the Eighties”, which mirrored the reception from most other critics and music industry members. The album debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200 giving Nicks her fifth top ten album on that chart, with 52,000 copies sold in the first week. Elsewhere, the album has made numerous Top 50 debuts, including #24 on the Australian ARIA Chart and #22 in Canada.
The same day that Nicks’ new album was released, Fox Network broadcast the Glee episode (Season 2, Episode 19) “Rumours” that featured six songs from Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album, including Nicks’ song “Dreams” (the band’s only #1 song on the US charts). The show sparked renewed interest in the band and its most commercially successful album, and Rumours re-entered the Billboard 200 chart at #11, the same week that In Your Dreams debuted at #6. (Nicks was quoted by Billboard saying that her new album was “my own little Rumours.”.
Nicks contributed a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” for the tribute album Listen to Me: Buddy Holly, which was released in September 2011.
On March 29, 2012, Nicks made a guest appearance as herself on the NBC sitcom Up All Night. The show featured an excerpt of the 1981 track “Sleeping Angel”, as well as new duets with both Maya Rudolph and Christina Applegate of “Whenever I Call You Friend” and “Edge of Seventeen”. Rudolph and Applegate have said they are fans of the singer.
On December 14, 2012, it was announced that Nicks would be featured on an original track done in collaboration with Dave Grohl for his Sound City soundtrack, alongside other artists as well.