Stevie Nicks Biography
Last updated: 12/25/2014 08:17:59 AM
Stephanie Lynn Nicks was born on May 26, 1948 to Jess and Barbara Nicks in Phoenix, Arizona. The family moved often throughout her childhood, living in New Mexico, Utah, and Texas as Stevie's father moved up the corporate ladder. At one point, Jess was "simultaneously first and second-in-command of Armour Meats and Greyhound respectively." Stevie's mother instilled in her a love of fairy tales and fantasy, and her grandfather, Aaron Jess Nicks, taught her to sing. He was a frustrated, unsuccessful Country/Western singer who lived up in the Arizona mountains. By the time Stevie was four years old, he she was already singing along with him on country classics; she also recalls getting up and dancing on the tables at the bar her parents owned. A.J. Nicks wanted to take his talented, young granddaughter on the road with him, but this idea was squashed by Jess and Barbara.
The last time Stevie and her younger brother, Christopher, moved with the family was from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Stevie began writing songs at age sixteen after receiving a guitar for her birthday, and occasionally provided entertainment at school functions at Menlo-Atherton High. The first band Nicks was in, called The Changing Times, was heavily influenced by the harmonies of the Mamas and the Papas. She met Lindsey Buckingham during her Senior year of High School-- he was a Junior-- and the two, along with friends Javier Pacheco and Calvin Roper, formed Fritz Raybyne Memorial Band. Upon graduating, Stevie attended San Jose State University, where she studied Speech Communication. Since the other members of Fritz were still in High School, Stevie had to commute back and forth almost nightly in order to make the rehearsals and gigs.
In 1968, Fritz began their professional career in the Bay area, opening for acts such as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and CCR. Watching Janis perform made quite an impression on the young songwriter: "You couldn't have pried me away with a million dollar check...I was absolutely glued to her. It was there that I learned a lot of what I do onstage...I said, 'If ever I am a performer of any value, I want to be able to create the same kind of feeling that is going on between her and her audience.'" While Fritz's manager kept trying unsuccessfully to get a them a record deal, the male members of the group were beginning to feel a little uneasy with all the attention their attractive female singer was receiving.
Stevie recalls, "Those guys didn't take me seriously at all. I was just a girl singer and they hated the fact that I got a lot of the credit. They would kill themselves practicing for ten hours and people would call up and say, 'We want to book that band with the little brownish-blondish haired girl.' There was always just really weird things gong on between us. I could never figure out why I stayed in that band. Now I know it was in preparation for Fleetwood Mac."
When Fritz finally broke up in 1971, Lindsey and Stevie remained musically involved, and soon became romantically involved as well. Both eventually dropped out of San Jose State (much to Stevie's parents' dismay) and moved to L.A. to pursue their musical dreams. Eventually ,in 1973, the duo landed a deal with Polydor Records and made the Buckingham Nicks album. Stevie remembers spending her last $111 on a beautiful white blouse to wear for the cover shoot, but the end result was that she and Lindsey both appeared on the album quite bare-chested: "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 me taking a nude photograph with you, and I don't dig it.'" Despite its intriguing cover, the album was a flop, and Nicks and Buckingham fell on some very hard times financially.
They moved in with friend Richard Dashut, whom they'd met while making the album, and Stevie managed to pay the bills by getting a waitressing job at Clementine's, working for $1.50 an hour. Her worried parents began to encourage her to set some limits on this musical career that seemed to be going nowhere fast. Stevie admits that times were very tough: "It's very easy for me to remember having no money...while I was waiting tables, I'd get some money from them (her parents) here and there. But if I wanted to go back to school, if I wanted to move back home, *then* they would support me. If I was going to be here in L.A. doing my own trip, I was going to have to do it on my own."
When the offer to join Fleetwood Mac came from Mick, the two didn't have to think about it very long: "So since I think that we can additionally add something to their band, I think we should definitely do this because we could be dead by next year because of lack of food. " Upon joining the group, Stevie went out and bought all of their previous albums- "...I sat in my room and listened to all of them to try and figure out if I could capture any theme or anything. And what I came up was the word mystical- that there is something mystical that went all the way from Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac straight through Jeremy, through all of them." Nicks added her own touch of mysticism in her song "Rhiannon" which climbed the charts in 1975.
By the time Rumours was completed in February, 1977, Stevie and Lindsey's relationship had come to an end. However, like John and Christine McVie, neither one wanted to bow out of Fleetwood Mac. Stevie recalls, "Really, each one of us was way too proud and way too stubborn to walk away from it...what would we have done? Sat around LA and tried to start new bands? Nobody wanted to do that. We liked touring. We liked making money, and we liked being a band. It was just, 'grit your teeth and bear it.'" Stevie's hypnotic 'Dreams' was to become the band's only number one hit song in the States.
Her magnificent 'Silver Springs,' on the other hand, was left off the album in favor of 'I Don't Want to Know,' and never quite received the attention and the airplay it deserved. According to Bob Brunning's biography of the band, Stevie "tore out into the parking lot and screamed with anger, frustration, and shock that the song she wrote about Lindsey was going to be relegated to the B-side of his song about her, 'Go Your Own Way.'" Years later, it was yet another controversy over 'Silver Springs' that eventually drove Nicks to leave the band-- Mick would not give her the song for her 1991 release Timespace and Stevie decided that this was the last straw. Over the years Nicks had embarked on an extremely successful solo career (produced in great part by Jimmy Iovine), and thought she'd simply continue on her own.
Ironically, Silver Springs was the very song which the band chose to release as their first single when they 'reunited' with the Rumours line-up in May, 1997. After years of devoting herself to solo pursuits, Nicks decided to put the bitterness of the past behind her and join the group and tour once more. Stevie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 12, 1998 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. She recently finished a United States tour promoting her box set, Enchanted. She currently has another solo album in the works which is being produced by Sheryl Crow and is expected to be released in the fall of 1999.