Stevie - Rolling Stone (01.29.2015)

Next on the playlist is Nelly Furtado’s “Maneater”, thumping at an impressive volume. Nicks breaks into a funky, arm-waving dance from her makeup chair. Wincing slightly, she calls out to Johnston, ‘We don’t have an ice pack here do we? Because I need it.”

But her assistant had just been called out of the room on other business. “Um, Stevie?” Johnston says. “Lindsey has requested that we turn the music down.”

Nicks rolls her eyes, her expression matching the little girl’s the photograph. “OK, maybe we should go into a different tape, since he’s next door,” she says. “We can go with something that doesn’t have quite that much bang. All he’s probably hearing is the drum, like in a car. This is the first time he’s ever been next door to us. That can never happen again!”

She switches to a new playlist of singer-songwriters (Jackson Browne, Sting) and Lite FM-ish dude rock (Goo Goo Dolls, The Fray).

After a few minutes, we hear pounding on the wall. The music still isn’t low enough. “Relations with Lindsey are exactly as they have been since we broke up,” says Nicks. “He and I will always be anatagonizing to each other, and we will always do things that will irritate each other, and we really know how to push each other’s buttons. We know exactly what to say when we really want to throw a dagger in. And I think that that’s not different now than it was when we were 20. And I don’t think it will be different when we’re 80.”

During tonight’s show, Nicks will sneeze in Buckingham’s face, possible giving him a cold she may be getting. It’s an accident, though she can’t help giggling when she tells the story. There’s more tension than usual in the Mac tonight, largely because Stevie agreed to be on the cover of ROLLING STONE by herself in the middle of their tour. (“I told her, ‘I’m so proud of you,’” says guitarist Waddy Wachtel, an old friend of Nicks, “and “Oh, boy, they’re going to be pissed off!”)

Their friendship was cemented on the Rumours tour, as McVie and Nicks simultaneously weathered their intra-band breakups. “We would always try to have rooms right next door to each other,” recalls Nicks, “so we could sit on the floor and watch TV and talk, and not have any idea where Mick, Lindsey and John were, and not care. If we went to the hotel bar, the three guys would all be down there, and there would be all the chicks, and the two guys who didn’t really want to break up, and that wouldn’t go down well at all.”

“Stevie and Lindsey both made really good records on their own, but when we all get excited is when they get together,” says Petty. “As with a lot of bands, when they realize that they’re gonna have to spend their lives together, they get a little grumpy with each other, because they know they’re joined at the hip.”

But the show’s core spectacle is still Nicks and Buckingham excavating and re-excavating their ancient romantic grievances. Whatever goes on up there – and it is reliably veers between spite (“Go Your Own Way”) and helpless affection (they do a hand-holding bit on “Landslide”) – Nicks insists that they never fake it, that it’s never just a Wild West show re-enactment of Seventies boomer dysfunction. (Relations did get so distant on their 2009 tour, however, that they mostly ignored each other onstage.) “You can go onstage and have a bit of a love affair,” Nicks says, “and when you go back to your separate dressing rooms, it’s over. But while you’re on the stage, it’s real. And if it isn’t real, people would really know it.”

After a few years, producers took Buckingham and Nicks aside to let them know that they’d have a better chance as a duo. They dumped Fritz, spent a year demo’ing at Buckingham’s father’s coffee plant, and then moved to L.A. As Nicks recalls, there was something sexy in the shared betrayal. “It was like, ‘Well, we’ve done it now,’” she says. “‘We’ve completely screwed up their lives forever now. So why not?’ So we became a couple. And from the very beginning Lindsey was very controlling and very possessive. And after hearing all of the stories from my mother and how independent she was and how independent she made me, I was never very good with possessive people or with controlling people.”

They made a solid album together, Buckingham Nicks (with a topless cover that mortified Nicks), but it flopped. By the time Mick Fleetwood heard the demos for their second album and offered them slots in his band, Nicks was working as a waitress as a restaurant called Clementine’s, driving a car that couldn’t go in reverse. They had nearly broken up under the stress, with Nicks briefly moving out of their apartment. As Fleetwood Mac members, they were immediately put on salary, and Nicks decided she was rich and would be so forever. “I said, ‘That’s it. I’ve never looking at another price tag,’” she says, laughing. “And I meant it.” Their 1975 debut with Fleetwood Mac, which included both “Rhiannon” and “Landslide”, instantly redefined the band. For a while, they were happy. “How could you not be happy? You were going with a drop-dead-gorgeous man who sang like an angel, and the world was yours, and you were in a band that was already somewhat famous in Europe. I mean, things were looking up.”

But in 1976, after spending months helping each other record songs for Rumours about their troubled relationship, Buckingham and Nicks had a final fight. “I’m done”, she told him, though she vaguely remembers a few drunken lapses in the months that followed. Somehow, the band kept on, and Buckingham kept arranging and producing Nicks’ songs. “Lindsey has this phenomenal understanding of what Stevie means on her demos,” says McVie. “And I don’t. She comes to me with a song and I go, ‘I don’t know what the **** you mean.’”

Buckingham behaved badly on the Tusk tour, mocking Nicks’ shawl-dancing in front of a crowd, kicking her onstage, and even, as Nicks and McVie recall, throwing a Les Paul at Nicks’ head during the show. (“I’m not sure that happened,” Buckingham has said.). That night, McVie slapped him, and Nicks was “ready to kick his ass.” “It was a very difficult thing for me to have had Stevie break up with me and still be in a band with her,” Buckingham told me in 2013, “and to have to produce her and in a sense be a part of this engine that was helping her move even further away from me – to never get the closure you get when breaking up with someone by not seeing them. Because we had to continue to be in this pressure cooker and do the right thing for the band. It was a difficult emotional time for years, and I think it took its toll in terms of my emotional availability and my temper.”

For all of that – and a nasty confrontation when Buckingham left the band for a while in 1987 – Nicks never quite gave up on a possible future together until he had his first child in 1998. “Because we started out so young together, both Lindsey and I would always laughingly say – which we both knew was never going to happen – that, like, when we were 90, and everybody else was dead, maybe we would end up together in an old folks’ home, because of what we had gone though, just him and me, for a long, long, long time. So when his first child was coming, I think we were walking in an airport, and I said, “Well, I guess we’re never going to get to that old folks’ home.” And he’s like, ‘Yeah, I guess we never are.’ It was something that we said in kind of a poignant way.”