Here is another excerpt from It’s Not Only Rock ‘n’ Roll: Iconic Musicians Reveal the Source of Their Creativity by Jenny Boyd with Holly George-Warren.
Chemicals and Creativity
Stevie Nicks described how in the past she used drugs and alcohol to assuage her fears of performing. She, like Eric [Clapton], has found that once onstage she can rid herself of fright simply through performance.
“In the beginning [stimulants] made you brave. You’re scared to walk onstage in front of a bunch of people. Last night [performing at a club] in front of only 200 people, my knees were knocking together. I was holding onto the microphone and my hand was shaking because I was so nervous. The old days to get away from that you have a drink, or whatever anybody does, and you got brave and so you don’t have to experience that terrible fear. I get terrible stage fright where I’m very, very nervous. The last 10 minutes before I go on, my hands are really shaking to the point of having a lot of trouble working with my makeup or anything. It hits me about 15 minutes before we go on. I’m almost sick to my stomach and it’s difficult for me. It used to be that you’d have a shot of vodka and tonic and you’d calm down.
“[But] the second I’m onstage [I realize that] I’m not nervous anymore. I think I’m going to be, I think I’m going to be nervous all the way through the song, but I’m not. The second I walk out, and the second I start to sing, it just goes away, and I’m totally confident. I know now that once I’m out there, I’m fine. That’s probably why in the old days people did start doing drugs and stuff because they were simply afraid. Then that becomes a habit; you think you absolutely can’t do it without it.
“A lot of use realize we’re really lucky to be alive. The ones of us who did make it pretty much cherish the fact that we are alive. You have to learn if you can’t depend on yourself without [chemicals], you might as well stop doing it and go do something else, because it isn’t worth dying for.”
In the past Stevie used chemicals not only to get through performances, she said, but as a crutch for writing. “As far as being creative, [chemicals], made you feel that you were braver, so you were more likely to say more, to write down more, to give away more of the secret or to maybe say too much, and that’s the vicious cycle of drugs and alcohol. You think it’s making you better and in the long run it’s not. It’s taking away the actual essence of what you started out to do.”
Stevie also spoke of her difficulties adapting to a creative life without drugs. “It’s hard to adjust back; it’s hard for everybody. Some people have and some haven’t, and I wonder sometimes who will be the ones… I know we will lose a few more and I think, thank God, it’s not going to be me. Because I’m definitely going to be sitting in my rocking chair on my porch somewhere when I’m 80 years old, and I’m not going to be one of those people who they have a TV special on, and people sit around and cry. But it is difficult, and probably will always be difficult to accept this whole life in a different way. Because for so long it was lived under that dream cloud, dream child world of different kinds of drugs.”