Stevie - ABC w/ Molly Meldrum (1986)

Molly: Now even though you were singing with your family in itself and doing duets, in your school days what did you aspire to be? Was it to be a singer or a musician?

Stevie: Well it was always to be a singer. I think I always knew that I was not… that I did not have the innate talent like say, Lindsey at 8 years old laying around playing the guitar. I mean, he plays the guitar all day long. Well, I played the guitar from when I was sixteen until I was about 25, 26 and I still play a little, but, it never came in that innate ability to be Eric Clapton, and I waited for it to come in and it didn't, so I started to play the piano.

Molly: Going back to the first song that you wrote, you said you got the guitar and wrote a song. What musical influences were going around in your mind?

Stevie: Everly Brothers. I would say The Beatles except for the fact when I met Lindsey he was so insistent that I listen to The Beatles for form, for like, here's your verse, here's your one bar, and I'm going "this is a bar down the corner - right?", I mean, two bars, and then there's another verse, and then you have to have a chorus, and now you have to have a bridge, and I'm going over to a blotter, and I don't understand this, so I got a little upset with people that I was forced to listen to. So, I was not forced to listen to the Everly Brothers and I was not forced to listen to R&B or The Supremes or The Beach Boys, The Four Tops.

Molly: But forced to listen to The Beatles?

Stevie: Forced to listen to The Beatles - and as much as I love The Beatles it's like, you know - nobody likes to be … "and did this"… also the Kingston Trio. So somewhere between The Beatles and the Kingston Trio I kind of burned out a little bit and said in my own self, quietly, I'm going and find what I want to sing and listen to, even though I'll sing what YOU want me to do, and YOU want me to do, and what YOU want me to do when I'm with you. But in my own private time I'm going to sing to Diana Ross and I'm going to sing to Aretha Franklin, that's just the way it is.

Molly: When did you then start taking it seriously, in the essence that it was going to be your career and that you would have to work extremely hard, to even make something of it, especially in America where everyone wants to be a star?

Stevie: But, you see for me, it was never… OK, I met Lindsey, I love to tell this story, I met Lindsey at a religious meeting called "The Young Life" that they used to have at high school, when I went to high school, and cause everyone just went cause to get us out of the house and really go to a party, and I met Lindsey and he was sitting there just gorgeous, playing his guitar and I walked over to him and we sang California Dreaming and we sang it perfect and I'd never met him before. He was a year younger than me, so he was a junior and I was a senior. I didn't see him again after that night until about two years later. I was like two years into junior college, and he called me up and asked me if I wanted to be in a rock and roll band and I had been of course, very much Joan Baez, and very much (sings) "and I never got over those blue eyes" but I was also going (sings) "take another little piece of my heart now baby" cause I was also really into Janis Joplin and I was really into Jimi Hendrix, and like nobody knew this, my parents knew because my room was like dancing all the time - and I said sure, I had no idea. For the next 5 years of my life, not only would I have this relationship with Lindsey Buckingham but I would also go to college, 5 years going straight through junior to upper college and have to drive from Stanford University down to Menlo Atherton which is like an hour on the freeway at 5.30 and practice until midnight then drive back, and also study. And they weren't going to college so they don't really care.

Molly: So what was your motivation?

Stevie: I wanted to be in a rock 'n' roll band, and I also realized that I had found in Lindsey a duet singer. Which was my grandfather, right? Which was that close Everly Brother thing that I have, which is what Lindsey and I are really famous for is that 5th… If he's singing this one then I'm singing just ever so slightly, a tiny bit higher than him. It's Scottish almost, sort of. And also I'd found an incredible guitar player, who could play anything, who could sit an play you any song, and of course he found in me a whole lot of trouble, because I could very easily sit down and with one note go "do, do, do, do do" and write a song, not knowing anything about the guitar which to this day upsets him and everybody else because something just says…OK... and I just sit down and I play, and its not great, but it's a great skeleton, it's a great skeletal thing to give to you and say, here it is, its very simple, go ahead and make it into a Bo Diddley song, make it into a Led Zeppelin song, make it into a Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks song, make it into a Stevie Nicks song, which was usually the last on the priority list, but that was alright, because I needed to learn.

Molly: OK, so there's this relationship with yourself and Lindsey as far as performers are concerned. To go into and get a recording contract, how did you do that?

Stevie: We moved to Los Angeles at the beginning of 1972, in my Toyota which Lindsey named "The Pocket" for in the pocket, right in the… and we drove to LA and we lived with Keith Olsen, who was our producer, who basically kind of like saw us on the only little tour we ever did with Leon Russell which was four shows, with Leon Russell, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Los Angeles…

Molly: How did you get that gig?

Stevie: I don't know, but however we got it, I was going if I had to carry the piano, it didn't matter. So I got to stand on the side of the stage for four nights and watch Leon Russell play. That's an influence, he was very much an influence of mine, and so Lindsey and I were singing, by Keith Olsen, the whole band came down to Los Angeles and we stayed at the Tropicana Hotel, right? (laughs). Which is the worst place in the world, that is the scheme of the rock and roll life, everyone needs to stay there for a night, and we got… well what happened was that the band ended up breaking.. they ended up really driving everybody else in the band away, which is what drove Lindsey and I together because Lindsey and I were never going together in the whole three and a half years that we were in the Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band. Can you believe this name? We were both going with someone else, and what happened really, the reason Linsdey and I ever started really going together was cause it was kind of so cruel that these people in Los Angeles had decided to break this band up, and they succeeded, they broke it up, and so the other three members who were really very good, and they only took me because they knew that they weren't gonna get Lindsey without me and also as a little kind of back up to Lindsey, so we signed the Buckingham Nicks contract and we did an album that is now ours, actually Lindsey and I bought it, and we may just go back in and remix a little bit and maybe do a little singing on it and because, I sat in a room with Lindsey for nine months, in his father's coffee plant, a little tiny room littler than this while we did half of the songs on that record on a four track. Like we'd go when the workers went home. We'd go at 7 o'clock and we'd stay until 6.30 all night long, up by the Cow Palace in San Francisco and I would sit there every night, all night long and listen to him like put the lead on "So Afraid" or the seven minute acoustical version of "Frozen Love" which he just plays all the way through.

Molly: So the initial success of that album, then it starts travelling into what was probably one of the most incredible emergences of two Americans with a very established English band, how did that happen?

Stevie: OK - I'm going to conceptualize this and put it into a small [gestures box shape]… I love these stories. Lindsey and I lived in an apartment on Fairfax and Orangegrove, in Los Angeles and Richard Dashut who ended up to be one of our producers because we took Richard with us, we weren't going alone. I guess Mick Fleetwood just went out to our studio in Los Angeles, it was out in the valley, that's called Sound City, its right across the freeway from this huge brewery, beer brewery, so you can never get lost because you always smell beer and knew you were coming upon Sound City so you turn off and you go to this place. And he went there to check out Keith Olsen's work, so Keith put on Frozen Love, and what did Fleetwood Mac need? They needed a guitar player, and in Frozen Love Lindsey does an incredible job of… he plays, that's a live thing all they way through - straight. He's also an incredible lead guitar player when he wants to be, and Mick Fleetwood said here is Peter Green for us, and, the fact that, we know as history says, they already had a lady singer, they didn't really need another one, but, they needed a guitar player bad enough to say well, we'll take her, if she's good, good - if she's not she's gone. They, Fleetwood Mac is a band and they just go right on, and they are famous for their guitar players, so I was a surprise to them, cause they didn't expect really anything from me.

Molly: So Mick Fleetwood takes on Lindsey and yourself, you certainly then are becoming a band…

Stevie: And not even suddenly. The reason I told you we lived on Orangegrove and Fairfax was because Christine's mother was very psychic and the last thing that Chris' mom said to her before she died was "you will find it on Orangegrove" and of course Christine with her dry English humor is sure she's going to be picking oranges somewhere in an orange grove in California, and they found us on Orangegrove, and we became… from the day that we all met at a Mexican restaurant, and they drove up in these 2 wild Cadillacs, white like with the fins, clunked up! Lindsey and I are like going these people are strange and they get out and it was really like love at first sight, how could you not love these people? So we had dinner, and it was never like "do you want to join the band?". It was like well rehearsal's tomorrow at 5pm in the basement and you'll get paid $200 a week in cash for each of you, and I'm going 'we're rich! we're rich'. It was instant, and I went out and bought all the Fleetwood Mac albums with my last pennies and listened to every side, back to front, back to front, to see if I could find any thematic thing in this band that I felt was something I could do, and I did, I found a real mystical thing in it from Christine's songs to Peter's to the Green Manalishi to Black Magic Woman, to all the.. to the things I love, some good ballads, some really neat rock and roll, some really good rock and roll stuff, and I love Peter Green, so I said "yeah, I can blend".

Molly: You go into a situation then, where an album is to be done - Fleetwood Mac. How the hell did it happen, and did you ever imagine what was going to happen after that? I know you would probably hope it, but..

Stevie: No, no, Fleetwood Mac "Fleetwood Mac" only took three months from beginning to end. That's 5 wild Indians in one room, all going "I'm the producer", or "listen I know I'm right" and I didn't even ever say that, so were talking only four. And Lindsey, is once again radically perfectionistic and it's like, you know, well, I don't want to be on it then, if it's not right. And Lindsey and Stevie and Chris had to learn to sing together because Christine is so very, so very English and like I'm kinda like wherever I am, if I'm in Atlanta I have a southern accent, and if I'm in England, it's like… and Lindsey's like kind of very country rock'n'roll, to just listen to just Lindsey play and sing. So to put these three voices together, especially since two had been singing for years, was hard. But, the one great thing about the English is that they are jovial enough to make a joke out of a lot of things, and this is the only way I think that the three of us learned to sing together. Because, it was like Lindsey and I had already practiced for years you know and then there was another lady and she had to learn to sing with us too, you know, and that was the hardest part, but the record was done in three months, what can I say? We didn't have all the money in the world to spend, we couldn't be indulgent, and nobody knew if it was going to be a hit or not. And for Lindsey and I, like we were rich because we were getting hundreds of dollar bills a week, and we were starving.

Stevie: So no, we're not very aware of what's happening as far as charts go, if you even mention the word single to Lindsey he'll get angry with you. It's like "don't tell me what a single is, cause I don't write singles". And of course, so that rubs off on me from 20 years ago also to everybody its like don't tell us to write singles, ever. Don't tell Fleetwood Mac to be commercial, don't tell Stevie Nicks to be commercial. I mean Lindsey gets mad at me now, it's like "I'm telling you to be commercial" and I'm going "but nobody told Fleetwood Mac to be commercial" Fleetwood Mac never tried to be commercial, ever.

Molly: Well, knowing Lindsey after the Fleetwood Mac period when and he was doing his solo thing, and getting to know him fairly well, he seems an utter perfectionist. Is he?

Stevie: Utter. To the point of "why can't you just come and play?", and its like, "well I can't just do that". And that's the reason, and I love Lindsey, but that's the reason that Lindsey and I aren't together. It's because I'm radical, you know, it's like, I just want to play, I just want us all together here, and set up some microphones, and a camera and I just want to play. And Lindsey, it needs to be perfect for Lindsey and so his perfection drives me crazy because I think he doesn't have any fun, and my radicalness drives him crazy because he thinks I'm not as good as I should be.