Stevie - Creem Magazine (1982)

Originally from Kerrang! Magazine, November 1981.

"I’m the baby of Fleetwood Mac — ha! I’m 33 years old, a very old baby, but it’s hard for them to watch me walk away and do anything. Because everybody in Fleetwood Mac is possessive — including me. Everybody in Fleetwood Mac is jealous. That’s why it’s so passionate and always will be, because we never achieve boredom and there’s always some fiery thing going on. It causes us a lot of grief, but at the same time it’s never something that you don’t find interesting. I can’t really figure us out. It’s a strange grouping of people.”

You can say that again. Bit like a grown-up’s version of the Monkees or something. You know, the cute one, the kooky one, etc. etc. If you’re stuck for party games anytime, try doing the Guess Which One Of Your Friends Likes Which Member Of The Mac. It tells you as much about your friends’ personalities as any self-help paperback.

“John’s always going to the beach, Mick’s always going to the Renaissance Faire, Lindsey’s always going to visit his tailor, I’m always going to a Halloween party and Christine is like Christine always looks in her kind of cool clothes,” Stevie chuckles.

“It’s funny to see us before we go onstage, standing in a circle. We look ridiculous! Totally absolutely ridiculous! John’s got his crew socks and his cut-offs and his T-shirt and his baseball hat. Mick’s got his velvet knickers and the same tights and the same shoes he’s worn for a hundred years — you wouldn’t want to be within 50 feet of him in that outfit, especially the next night when he’s put it back on after it’s been in the bus all day and never dried! Lindsey wears the same two Armani suits, one white and one gray, every night,” and Stevie’s got her cosmic tablecloths. Hey, give her a break; she lived in San Francisco at a time when macramé making and pottery pottering were de rigeur and at a very impressionable age. And — she’s not so daft — “I realized if I wanted to be in Fleetwood Mac I was going to really have to figure out a gimmick — like toe-dancing or something nobody else could do.”

It’s hard to think (harder still for young folk) of Fleetwood Mac having existed without Stevie Nicks. Harder still to think she reckoned they didn’t even want her to join and that she had to resort to wearing fairy outfits.

“It’s true. At first they didn’t need another girl singer. Why should they? They needed a guitarist, not a girl singer who didn’t really play piano or guitar or anything. It’s human nature. They’re not going to say, ‘you stand out there and be the star and we’ll just play, right.’ I know for a fact that I was simply being hired as extra baggage. They couldn’t get Lindsey without me.”

Fleetwood Mac wanted Lindsey (don’t we all!) but Stevie had had him for a long time. This goes back to San Francisco, 1966. “I was a senior, he was a junior.” Fairy princess met matinee idol in college, they “sang one song together and I never saw or heard from him again for two years.” That bad? No, he loved her singing and remembered her when he was forming a rock band called Fritz. Stevie had been in a couple of high school bands before, Mamas and Papas type of things, but had settled as a solo artists of sorts plunking an acoustic guitar and singing self-penned songs in the coffee houses around Acidland.

“We moved every two years. All I remember about Phoenix is cactus — and meeting Tex Ritter,” and a few of the tunes, which she warbled to herself when she wasn’t singing along “to the radio, to the Ronettes, to the Beach Boys, to Janis Joplin, to anybody that I listened to until I moved to San Francisco and basically did my own music.” Everybody in San Francisco did, remember? Not that the Nicks Senior thought this was any career for their little peach-blossom, so she went to college for five years.

“I wanted to go to hairdressing school,” pouts Stevie. It is she who trims her poodles’ hair, not to mention the band’s crew. “But they didn’t go for that idea at all, so I went to college. I should have gone to hairdressing school because that would really have benefited me more. I was singing with Lindsey the whole time and found it real difficult to study.”

I can understand the problem. So could Lindsey. They threw in their lot together, packed up the macramé plant holders and headed down south to L.A. in search of fame and fortune, or at least a Polygram record contract. It was, to quote a song of the day, a long time coming.

“It was two years of solid depression. It was hard when you practice that hard and you sound that good and everybody tells you that you should be doing something else. You want to say, ‘Well obviously we’re not from the same planet, because I didn’t sit with this guy for five years and sing like this for you to tell me that nothing we do is commercial. You’re crazy.’ It was a terrible time. Because Lindsey and I just couldn’t understand how we could sit down and sing a beautiful song to you and nobody liked it — and it was so pretty it made me cry. It was like, we don’t belong here, nobody understands us.”

They’re not the first people who thought L.A. recordbiz types are from another planet. They’re not the first people who came in search of money and earned it working as waiters. That’s where Fleetwood Mac found them, “pretty desperate and pretty green.” The latter could have something to do with Stevie working in a Beverly Hills vegetarian restaurant. A year earlier and they’d have found her desperate and greasy — she was a french fry server at a Burger King.

“It was straight out of obscurity — heavy obscurity. I was a member of Fleetwood Mac and still working at the restaurant for two weeks because I’d given them notice. It was strange. It would have taken me weeks to make what I was making on one week with Fleetwood Mac, but I didn’t want to walk in there and say ‘well now I’m going to be famous rock ‘n’ roll star so I quit! And I never liked your food anyway.’ That makes you feel bad later. I like tying up loose ends [cf. macramé].

So I quit my job, three weeks later we were recording, we finished the album in three and a half months, and four months later we went straight on the road. And boy was it a big shock!

They made me feel wonderful. I fell madly in love with all of them immediately, and even though I knew in my heart that they didn’t really need me, I would try to be really good and maybe I would find a way to be needed there. I didn’t know what else to do. I liked them so much that I was willing to realize that logically I was lucky to get asked to join the band at all, so I would have to be so helpful in everything, right? At least I could be a secretary or something, anything, because I wanted to be part of it.”

And talking of down, how did it feel to be the Soap Opera of rock (when Heart’s Wilson sisters weren’t trying to grab the titles), what with all the divorces and the like?

“It was like, here we go again. It’s hard to be in a band with somebody and work with them and be in love with them and not get angry at them and go home and not remember that they screamed at you onstage. It’s a rare group of people that can get through that, blissfully in love. Rare. At least Fleetwood Mac stayed together completely, where Heart kind of changed it.”