Stevie Nicks, female rock icon of the 70s, is a motor-mouth.
She has a low, gruff, sexy speaking voice that goes on and on, telling about the new Fleetwood Mac, how she keeps young, her college days and the current tour which brings the band to Cedar Rapids Sunday.
She’s surprisingly open and chummy, even with a total stranger.
Her Gazette interview, scheduled for a recent Thursday evening, was postponed when a call came to say she was in the tub. Could she call back in 25 mintues?
When she calls, from a St. Petersburg hotel room where she is based for three days during Florida concerts, she confides that she only allows herself to conduct interviews on days off.
“I love to talk. But talking is much worse for your voice than singing really loud,” she says, explaining that talking makes one’s pitch drop, causing the vocal chords to slam together.
She says that despite some reports, she has no throat nodes. Nodes require surgery that would mean musical suicide for her: “that voice that some people hate and some people love would be clear as a bell and would sound like a million other people.”
Nicks, recently cleaned-up after a visit to the Betty Ford Center for chemical dependency, says her voice is in good shape. “My voice is pretty strong now. After all these years of singing I’m a pretty strong singer because I do sing all the time. On this kind of a tour I just have to take real, real good care of myself and make sure I get a lot of sleep — which is hard for me because I’m not used to getting eight hours of sleep.”
She may look fragile, but Nicks, at 39, is one of those lucky people with boundless energy.
“I’m stronger than anybody I know. I can probably tour harder and sing harder than anybody. I’ve got a lot of energy.
“I SING AND DANCE all during my getting-ready for the show. I drive people absolutely crazy because I’m always playing music,” she says. “I can’t just walk on that stage cold.”
What does she listen to? Lots of new rock music. “For me, it keeps me young and aware of what’s happening in music. I really know what’s happening all the time. I really do love music and I love new music. I love hearing a new song that I think is so special that I instantly send somebody out to get it.
“That’s what I try to do with my songs — reach out and make somebody’s day a little bit easier. It works both ways.”
Nicks owns a home in Phoenix and rents a house in Los Angeles, in close proximity to her bandmates. The band, formed in England 20 years ago as a traditional British blues band, has seen many members come and go.
Its 1977 Grammy-winning Rumours album remained at No. 1 for 31 weeks (only “Thriller” has held the top spot longer), but was followed by two less-than-successful albums, Tusk and Mirage. Now it is enjoying commercial success again with a new album, Tango in the Night, and the hit single “Little Lies.”
“Once you’re in a band like that it’s like a real, real old friendship. It’s very hard, in a year or two, to replace a friendship. To go around and try to re-create a situation like this is pretty silly for any of us. Bands like Fleetwood Mac don’t come around a dime a dozen. As long as some of us want to go on we will.”
One longtime member, Lindsey Buckingham, decided he didn’t want to go on, and departed a few months ago. Those left behind — Nicks, Christine McVie and co-founders Mick Fleetwood and John McVie — decided they could take one of two attitudes about Buckingham’s departure, she says. “Everyone was very, very pensive about this and you can have one of two attitudes: ‘I guess we should just all go off and quit’ or ‘he quit, we didn’t’.” They chose the latter, replacing Buckingham with Rick Vito and Billy Burnette. Both Vito and Burnette are songwriters and play guitars. “Rick does what Lindsey did. Billy plays all the parts Lindsey did rhythm-wise but couldn’t do in concert.”
Nicks and Buckingham go back a long way. They were asked to join Fleetwood Mac in 1974 after Fleetwood heard their album Buckingham Nicks.
“Mick called us up pretty much sight unseen and said ‘Do you want to be in this band?’ Which is similarly the way that Rick and Billy joined. Lindsey decided to leave and within three days we were in rehearsal,” she says.
Buckingham was Nicks’ first ticket to rock stardom. He auditioned her for his San Francisco-area acid-rock band Fritz and they opened for such rock luminaries as Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. They were never married, but they were an item until the time of the Rumours album.
“In my heart he’s been gone for a long time,” she says. “I let Lindsey go a long time ago. I’m probably the only person in the whole world who was not surprised that Lindsey left.
“It’s all for the best. Lindsey just needed to go find whatever it is he’s searching for. He’s searching for a dream he hasn’t found yet. I really hope he finds it — I want him to be happy.”
She says her San Francisco days with Buckingham shaped her music and her career.
“I am kind of a traditional rock ‘n’ roller and the way I feel about music is because of my years in San Francisco,” she says. “If I hadn’t lived there I probably would’ve ended up in country music or something other than rock ‘n’ roll. I’d never sung rock ‘n’ roll in my life.”
Before that, she played the guitar and “sang all the time — at school assemblies, at home, I was always singing somewhere. Suddenly one night I was in this band (Fritz) that took up all my time. I was not quite 20, but overnight I was completely committed to this band. I’ve never rehearsed that much since. I also had to go to college. I had no social life whatsoever in college.”
She attended San Jose City College for five years, majoring in Creative Speech and Speech Communication without quite graduating. “If I hadn’t gone so seriously into music I probably would’ve been a teacher,” she says.
A fourth Stevie Nicks solo album (her first, Bella Donna, came out in 1980) is in the works, she says. Meanwhile, she contributed a song to the all-star album A Very Special Christmas, along with U2, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, John Cougar Mellencamp, Madonna, Whitney Houston and others. The album benefits the Special Olympics. She brought a portable recording studio along on the current Shake the Cage Tour, but after lugging it around for three weeks she “sent it all home because there just wasn’t enough time.” The tour began Oct. 1 and this leg ends Dec. 18.
THE CURRENT ISSUE of Rolling Stone reviews a recent Shake the Cage tour concert, saying Fleetwood Mac “has come up with a tight two hours of melodic, arena-friendly rock.”
Nicks says the concert will be 2 1/2 hours long, with only three songs off the new album. “We went back through each album and chose what we thought everybody’s favorite songs were. If you happen to love Fleetwood Mac, you’d probably really love this concert,” she claims.
Nicks also gets to perform two songs from her solo career, “Stand Back” and “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You.” “I was really surprised” when the band asked her to perform her own songs, she says. “It was a real nice thing to happen, and since it wasn’t my idea I feel real good about it.”
Fleetwood Mac performs Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Five Seasons Center. Tickets are general admission, $16.50 in advance. $17.50 on Sunday, on sale at the Five Seasons Center box office and its outlets.
Concert postponed to Sunday evening
The Fleetwood Mac Five Seasons Center concert has been postponed from Saturday to Sunday.
The Five Seasons Center released this statement Thursday from the promoter:
“Due to medical reasons, Stevie Nicks is unable to perform three nights in a row. Therefore the concert originally scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21, at 8
p.m., has been rescheduled to Sunday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m.”
The Five Seasons center will give refunds until 7:30 p.m. Sunday. All refunds are handled through the Five Seasons Center box office. Any questions may be directed to the Five Seasons Center administrative office, 398-5211.
Dee Ann Rexroat / Cedar Rapids Gazette / Friday, November 20, 1987
(This article was transcribed by Stevie Nicks Info)