Stevie Nicks was 18 when she met the man who would change her life. It was 1966 and young California was celebrating a new love revolution with lots of soft drugs and shagging. Nicks, known as Stevie ever since she was a tot who could not pronounce "Stephanie", was in her first and only year at Atherton High School in San Diego when she attended a student party and saw hairy Lindsey Buckingham, sitting cross-legged on the floor, strumming a guitar. As if by magic, Buckingham was singing The Mamas And The Papas' current hit California Dreamin'. Without a trace of embarrassment, Nicks sat by him and joined in. They were destined to become American rock's golden couple, albeit briefly. Of course, Nicks was not to know that it would end messily 11 years later with Buckingham screaming: " Get that woman out of my life - the schizophrenic bitch!"

Did you fall in love right there and then?
No, that didn't happen 'til years later. I can't really remember how it actually happened, but I must have just walked up and burst into song because I knew the words so well. How brazen! And then I didn't see Lindsey again for two years. The drummer in his band Fritz called me and asked if I wanted to sing with them.

Good name, Fritz. So when did it finally happen?
'71. We were in a band for three years and had our own partners and it was never a question. Our relationship happened because I wanted to move to LA, and I don't think either of us would've been brave enough to get in the car and drive to LA alone.

For a couple of years you worked as a waitress so that Lindsey could stay home to write songs. Didn't you end up hating him?
When you have a tragic, starving artist, if you hang out at home all the time you just get more tragic, so for me to go to that job for five of six hours a day was good. I said, "You can sit around thinking about being famous, but somebody's gotta pay the rent here, and it's obviously not gonna be you!" It was as independent as I've ever been, before or since.

You made one album as Buckingham-Nicks before Mick Fleetwood invited Lindsey to join Fleetwood Mac. Lindsey insisted that he and you were a package deal. Did you feel like a spare part?
Maybe at first, but I knew that I would be standing centre stage and I knew I was good. All they wanted was a guitarist to play like Peter green and Lindsey can do that. They didn't want another woman in the band.

To many, Fleetwood Mac might appear cursed. Peter Green quit the group in 1970, his mental health damaged by heavy drug use. Another guitarist Jeremy Spencer, disappeared a year later, also afflicted by drug-related trauma, and resurfaced as a member of US religious cult The Children Of God. A third guitarist, Danny Kirwin, was fired in 1972 and later admitted to psychiatric hospital. It would have been only natural for Nicks and Buckingham to fear the curse of the Mac. "Of course!" she says, spinning fingers by ears to signify madness. "They were all completely nuts. And, you know, Lindsey's gone through his accursed guitarisms too.....

With Buckingham and Nicks writing and singing the bulk of the songs, Fleetwood Mac rapidly developed into one of the biggest rock acts in the world, but off stage their lives were a mess. As they began recording Rumours, Buckingham and nicks were breaking up, as was the group's other couple; bassist John McVie and his wife of seven years, singer and keyboard player Christine. Nicks would later have an affair with Mick Fleetwood following his divorce from Jenny Boyd, sister of legendary rock star muse Patti. Ironically, it was Jenny Boyd's affair with guitarist Bob Weston that precipitated Weston's sacking from Fleetwood Mac in 1973. Just another minor scandal for rock's most dysfunctional group.

After you and Buckingham split so acrimoniously, how tough was it working with him?
On TV one time he came right out and said it: "Sometimes, because of what had happened between us, I really didn't want to help her." I was aware of that. I would be thinking, "I know you like this song - you're just not doing anything with it because you're mad at me."

Were you shocked when he admitted sabotaging your songs? You never really know anybody, do you? Really you don't. Look at all the people who come home one day to find that their husband has two wives and 25 children and has been living a simple, perfect life with all these people.

Still, you said during Fleetwood Mac's reunion tour in 1997 that when you and Lindsey sing those songs again on stage, under "beautiful lights", with you in black chiffon, you're in love again.....
That's the power of music. It doesn't matter what happens off stage - when we're up there it's like the old days because our spirits never really change. It really is wonderful. It's just not wonderful when the affair comes off the stage. That screws up the band more than anything. You can be in love on stage and that's fine, but as soon as you mess up and take it off stage, you don't want to talk to people, you don't want to stand next to them and you don't want them to put their arm around you.

You're not uneasy around two ex-lovers?
I feel the same way about Mick and John and Chris and of course Lindsey that I feel about my parents and my brother and my sister-in-law. That's because I've spent about as much time with them as I have with my family. In hindsight, all my relationships have been truly wonderful. I just spent Monday night with Mick and Lindsey, and played Mick my record because he hadn't heard it. A minute ago I said you never really know people, but I really do know pretty much everything about Mick.

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