"Once upon a time, there was a 16-year-old girl who was a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School. And she met a guy and sang a song with him, and didn't see him again for two years. Then he called her, two years later, and asked her if she wanted to be in a band. She'd never been in a band, but she said sure. And the drummer picked her up the next day, and she went to rehearsal, and the next thing she knew, she was playing every weekend. And 15 years later she was in one of the biggest bands that ever was."

That's the opening paragraph to a fairy tale that Stevie Nicks says she could write in one sitting. She could write it, of course, because she lived it. She grew up in Arizona, took after her footloose, country-singing grandfather, and began writing songs and playing music in her teens. She met Lindsey Buckingham at a party, and he became her bandmate and lover for seven years. And just before she gave up on a career in music and went back to school, the veteran blues band Fleetwood Mac asked Buckingham to join -- and wanted him badly enough that they grudgingly allowed him to bring his girlfriend into the group as well.


So do you regret the life?

It's a choice, and I chose it. But at the end of this year I'm taking a break. And that's when I make my amends. I mean, I have to think about when I'm too old to be turning cartwheels and doing the splits onstage. I'm gonna want all my friends then, and I'm gonna need them. So I'm not gonna alienate the whole world just to be very famous. You know, a real good example is like, I suppose 15 years ago, if I'd have wanted to really go for it, in the same way that, say, Madonna did, I could have done that. And I could have been much more famous than I am now and much richer. but it never mattered to me that much about winning thousands of awards or having a hundred Number One singles. It has never mattered to me to be a sex symbol. [She points to the cover of the 1973 Buckingham Nicks album, a photo of a topless Nicks posed behind a bare-chested Buckingham.] I mean, that cover is about as close to selling the music on sex as you'll ever get, and I was crying when we took that picture. And Lindsey was mad at me. He said, "You know, you're just being a child. This is art." And I'm going, "This is not art. This is taking a nude photograph with you, and I don't dig it."

Could you have refused?

I tried. I tried to say no. We were really poor when we took that picture, and I went out and spent my last $111 on a really beautiful, very sexy blouse. And they agreed to do half of the session in the blouse, and I thought, "Oh, I'll win. They'll love this blouse, and they're gonna love the way I look." Well, halfway through the session, one of the photographers came over and said, "Okay, it's time to take off the blouse," and I died. It was awful, you know. And afterwards my father said to me, "Did you want to do this?" And I said no. And he said, "Then why did you do it?" And I said, "Because I was literally forced to do it, Dad." And he said, "Well, I'll tell you what you could have done. You coulda just said no." And he's right. I coulda said no. I have never forgotten that. And maybe that has a lot to do with why I went from that [points to the cover of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours LP, where she's in a long dress and veils]. Because I said, "All right, that's it. We're gonna work this out so that I still have an image and a vibe, but instead of going in the direction that a lot of the women singers are going in now, I'll be very, very sexy under 18 pounds of chiffon and lace and velvet. And nobody will know what I really am. I will have a mystique. None of these other people will have a mystique, but I will." And I have that mystique. That's one thing that I'm real proud of.

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