When the family lived in San Francisco, Stevie met Lindsey Buckingham. "Lindsey was a senior in high school with my daughter and they joined the same band," Jess remembered. "Shortly thereafter, Lindsey's father died and we sort of took him in as a kind of stepson. He was at the house all the time."
Recalled Stevie, "When I first met him, he was going with somebody and so was I, but I fell totally in love with him. I was captivated."
Their friendship led to a partnership, both personally and professionally, after their band, Fritz, split up. Performing in California as a duo, they landed a deal with Polydor Records in 1973 to record an album.
Titled Buckingham Nicks, the record was a mix of lyrical ballads and mid-tempo rockers, all but one penned by Lindsey and Stevie. "Crystal" was a particular standout. Though Stevie wrote it, Lindsey sang it--a rare occurrence. "He truly does a better job on it," she said. "That song was a lot about my father and grandfather."
The album was dedicated to "A.J. Nicks, the grandfather of country music."
"I'm doing what he always wanted to do," said Stevie. "He was an eccentric show business person and didn't quite make it. He didn't have a vehicle to do this; he was married and had a family--what could he do? I think it was destroying him (not to be successful) because it's what he always wanted to do."
The album's cover was striking: a black-and-white waist-up photograph of the couple, nude, with shadows in appropriate places. The production was polished and the songs surprisingly strong for a first effort, but the album was not a success. It did garner sporadic radio airplay in some areas, however, including Phoenix. But Buckingham and Nicks were not yet stars.
About this time, Stevie wrote "Landslide," Jess' favorite song by his daughter. "The words are meant to portray the relationship between a parent and child," he said, his voice breaking with emotion. "She wrote that song because she was fearful of my dying."
"I was also trying to make some decisions," Stevie said. "You know, "If you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills..." I was trying to figure out what I was going to do. I wasn't making it big in the music business. I was confused. He told me I should set a goal and give it about six months, and I kind of agreed with him... Though I might have quite
While the first album continued to sell, and as the group struggled to produce a worthy follow-up, Stevie and Lindsey separated. When Fritz broke up, the couple's personal relationship flourished. This time, the lovers split when the band flourished.
As awkward as the working situation was (the band's other couple, John and Christine McVie, had also separated), the interplay between musicians never sounded better.