Chances are, you heard the lyrics “Just like the white-winged dove/sings a song/sounds like she’s singing…” in your head the second you heard that the unequivocal Stevie Nicks was coming to town. The woman is a legend in her own right despite gaining her fame initially through a quartet.
Born Stephanie Lynn Nicks in Phoenix, Arizona, young Stevie had music flowing through her blood. Her grandfather, A.J. Nicks, taught her how to sing so that she could accompany him on country duets. But her father’s work made her leave home often, and she traveled all around the Southwest and all through California. Music helped her get through this instability and it became her world. She was gifted a guitar on her 16th birthday, on which she wrote the song “I’ve Loved and I’ve Lost, and I’m Sad but Not Blue.” She didn’t hold back her talents, and she joined a band while in high school called The Changing Times. This was in the 1960s in Arcadia, California, when the era of flower children and hippies was slowly starting to spread its influence over America, and a teenage Stevie was inspired by the folk music and vocal harmony that was incredibly popular at the time.
She moved to Atherton, California, and transferred to a new school where she met Lindsey Buckingham her senior year. Stevie was drawn to Lindsey when she saw him singing “California Dreaming” at a party. He was in the band Fritz, and he tapped the freshly graduated Stevie to take the lead singer’s place after he left for college. Fritz did well with their original psychedelic sound mixed with Stevie’s laid-back country influence, and they had the privilege of opening for the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin in the late 60s and early 70s. But their growing popularity didn’t dissuade them from higher education; Stevie and Lindsey enrolled in San Jose State University, though Stevie dropped out just before getting her degree.
Their band was gone, but the duo remained close, recording demos and speaking to record labels. Their first try at releasing an album failed, and Stevie took odd jobs while Lindsey wrote music and toured as a backing musician for the Everly Brothers. By 1974, Stevie’s parents were trying to get her to go back to school because music wasn’t working out. She wrote the song “Landslide” about her struggles during this time, and their music caught the attention of Mick Fleetwood. That’s when everything changed.
Stevie had worked briefly for music producer Keith Olsen. When Mick was in town to record Fleetwood Mac’s next album, Keith introduced him to some of the music that Stevie and Lindsey had made. Mick then asked Lindsey to join his band when another musician left, and he insisted that Stevie get involved, too. Fleetwood Mac as we know it now was formed. The band’s self-titled album propelled them into fame; the album included Stevie’s song “Rhiannon” which went on to achieve its own huge fame. Their following album, Rumours, was an even bigger hit.
But Stevie wasn’t content to be just one of the three songwriters for Fleetwood Mac. She had been hard at work for years writing and producing solo music as well as working with other artists. She released her first solo album, Bella Donna, in 1981. That album performed so well on the charts that Rolling Stone called her “The Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll.”
Fleetwood Mac did well throughout the 1980s, but mounting tensions between the band members and Stevie's thriving solo career led to her departure in 1990. They’ve had brief encounters and short tours over the years, and Fleetwood Mac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Stevie has been enjoying a steady career over the last 20 years while releasing great music, making appearances, and touring when she can. Despite her ups and downs, battles with addiction, and dealing with massive egos, she’s happy, healthy, and ready to entertain her fans who have loved her since the beginning and who are just getting to know her.
The Pretenders have the distinct honor of opening up for Ms. Nicks. This rock band spans the Atlantic Ocean as they started in Hereford, England, in the 1970s, with members Chrissie Hynde, who was originally from Akron, Ohio; Pete Farndon; Martin Chambers; and James Honeyman-Scott. The band experienced numerous changes over the years due to members dropping out or tragically passing away. Chrissie Hynde herself went on a successful solo path beginning in 2014 because The Pretenders hadn’t performed since 2012. But they’ve come back just to be able to share a stage with Stevie on her tour. They were inspired to make new music and released Alone on October 21, 2016. The current incarnation of the band includes Chrissie Hynde, Martin Chambers, Eric Heywood, James Walbourne, and Nick Wilkinson.
Don’t miss your chance to see this living legend with The Pretenders opening for her. Stevie Nicks will perform at the Smoothie King Center on Wednesday, March 15, at 7 p.m. More information can be found at ticketmaster.com
Header photo by Kristin Burns