Everyone who loves ’70s music will know who Stevie Nicks is. She’s one of the talented musicians that’s still alive today. With her unique vocals, beautiful lyrics, and distinctive look, she’s kept fans trailing behind her for decades.
Along with a beautiful gallery of vintage photos, we’ll also discuss her life and times as a solo musician and as a part of Fleetwood Mac. Without further ado let’s get learn about the person who Rolling Stone called “the Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll.”
Stevie Nicks, or Stephanie Lynn Nicks, was always fond of music at an early age. Her grandfather Aaron Nicks helped grow this interest. He played county and western songs in the clubs nearby. After Stevie turned five he started bringing her along so she could sing with him on stage.
Stevie always had the dream of being a musician. By grade school, she was dreaming of touring the country. Her mother tried to shut that idea down because of her protectiveness. Keep reading and you’ll learn how she got the nickname that stuck.
Stephanie Lynn Nicks couldn’t pronounce her own name while she was learning to talk. The closest she got to was “Tee-dee”. After a while, this evolved into “Stevie” and the name stuck. She still goes by it to this day.
Stevie Nicks even goes by her nickname in all her appearances as “The White Witch” on American Horror Story.
Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were high school sweethearts after Stevie noticed him playing “California Dreamin'” and she had to jump in and start harmonizing like she tends to do. They went on to become a very famous couple in music culture.
Soon, their band “Fritz” was opening for psychedelic rock icons such as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, both of whom Nicks credits as major influences on her style.
Nicks has always been an avid animal lover. She named her first dog Branwen. The name was from a novel and the character’s sibling’s name was Rhiannon. During the time she spent recording Rumours she had her faithful companion Ginny, a poodle, there by her side.
She also had a Chinese Crested Yorkshire Terrier. She dressed up the dog to match her outfits and lived the longest out of all her dogs, his name was Sulamith Wulfing. In recent years she’s bought another Chinese Crested Yorkshire Terrier and called it Lily.
Nicks’ grandfather was a big inspiration for her music. She told Rolling Stone in an interview: “I always go for the harmony and that’s been since I was really little, because my granddad was a singer, and he would bring me 45s and he’d say, ‘You’re a harmony singer. You’re a perfect Everly Brother.”
This photo is from 1976 and has Stevie with an Obie Lighting Productions shirt on.
Stevie and her partner Lindsey Buckingham were still largely unknown in the early seventies. They had only released one album before their record label terminated their partnership. Just afterward, Lindsey became ill with mononucleosis. This meant that Stevie was the sole provider for them at this time.
To make ends meet, Stevie Nicks was a waitress and also cleaned people’s houses. Now we understand the lyric on her early song “Sara” - “I want to be a star, I don’t want to be a cleaning lady.” Another one of her songs is up next!
The musical couple caught a break in 1974 when they joined up with Fleetwood Mac. Immediately, Stevie contributed to their next album with the song “Rhiannon”. Stevie said that the song revolves around the story of an old Welsh witch.
The band’s drummer and leader Mick Fleetwood said that during “Rhiannon”, Nicks would break into thrashing movements that looked like an exorcism while they did an extended musical crescendo.
The band released its album “Rumours” in 1977 and it contained some of Nicks’s best songs, including “Dreams”, “The Chain”, and “Gold Dust Woman”. They were very successful songs for the band and their tour that followed captivated the audience.
After the band had much financial success from how successful their album and tour were, Nicks was able to buy townhouses. She bought one in Arizona and the other by Sunset Boulevard that she named Fantasy Land.
Fleetwood Mac’s second female vocalist was Christine McVie, Nicks and she quickly grew close. Christine’s husband was the bass player for the band and contributed the Mac from the name Fleetwood Mac.
Stevie even called Christine “Mother Earth” because she was her mentor and helped inspire her music. The two would have fun together, Christine recalls: “I once threw a cake out the window which landed on top of a taxi.”
In 1983 Stevie put together her own solo album titled “The Wild Heart”. Her best friend Robin Anderson was struggling with cancer and sadly passed away. Afterward, Stevie married Robin’s widower and set out to raise their new son. One of her best songs from “The Wild Heart” was “Stand Back”, which she wrote while humming along to Prince’s “Little Red Corvette”.
She contacted Prince after she wrote the song to tell him about the part he played in its conception. Prince decided to come around to the studio and help them record the synthesizer parts of the song. Prince and Nicks decided it was fair to split the royalties down the middle.
Stevie has always been a very expressive Dancer. Apparently in all of the recordings with Fleetwood Mac, she would dance around the studio, entranced by the music.
As recording engineer Ken Caillat recalled, “She believed she had magical powers. She probably thought she was chanting up a good mix.”
A self-diagnosed insomniac, Nicks decided to use all of her late-night free time to learn photography. An early pioneer of the selfie, she developed her dreamlike style by documenting her private moments backstage and in hotel rooms while on tour. Her tool of choice was the Polaroid camera armed with a wired remote control.
She eventually released many of her never-before-seen portraits in an art exhibition, “24 Karat Gold,” curated by fellow musician Dave Stewart from eighties pop powerhouse, the Eurythmics. Here she is backstage at a concert in Los Angeles in 1985.
Mick Fleetwood was blown away by Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar playing on he and Nicks’ debut album, “Buckingham Nicks”, and jumped at the chance to fill the spot recently vacated by the former Mac guitarist, Bob Welch.
At the band’s first official meeting with the newest members of the group, Stevie had just gotten off work from her restaurant job where she was required to dress as a flapper from the 1920s. In a true show of seventies rock excess, the rest of the band arrived in a pair of white Cadillacs.
Described by Nicks as her favorite song, “Sara,” from the 1979 album Tusk, was originally 16 minutes long, with many of the original verses edited out to suit the time limitations of an LP. Much speculation on the meaning of the lyrics has been written throughout the years, with Nicks seeming to confirm them all.
This lyrical collage touches on her relationship with Mick Fleetwood, Fleetwood’s future wife, Sara Recor, as well as Nicks’ unborn child with Don Henley of the Eagles. “If I ever have a little girl I will name her Sara,” Stevie said.
Stevie Nicks is known for her unique style which often includes one of her custom shawls. During her live shows, she will often change shawls depending on what song is being performed.
“Rhiannon,” “Gold Dust Woman,” and “Edge of Seventeen” are just a handful of the songs that have an associated cover-up. She even has a massive, temperature-controlled “shawl vault” where the wraps are preserved when she is not on the road.
On her album, “Bella Donna,” Nicks asserted herself as a powerful solo performer, stepping outside of the massive shadow of Fleetwood Mac’s success. The album’s first hit single, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” was the only track not written by Nicks. It was written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell with the music performed by the Heartbreakers.
Not long before his death, Petty was quoted as saying, “some of my best musical memories of her are sitting on the couch and just playing the guitar while she sings.” This photo was taken on September 18, 1981, in Irvine, California.
Despite writing Fleetwood Mac’s only number one Billboard hit, “Dreams,” Nicks was often seen as an irritation in the recording studio by her partner, Lindsey Buckingham, a notoriously ill-tempered perfectionist.
This was only compounded by what the rest of the band noted was her nearly effortless ability to write good songs. Ken Caillat, the band’s engineer, was quoted as saying, “she only knew about three chords, and she could make 30 songs out of them.”
Stevie is often seen onstage playing tambourine, but it’s really just a fashion accessory and is muted with gaffer tape. Usually adorned with ribbons, it fit in perfectly with her gypsy-inspired style and gave her something to do with her hands during long instrumental jams.
When she handed her tambourine off to Bill Clinton as Fleetwood Mac played his 1993 inauguration ball, the president appeared confused when he was unable to produce any sound from it.
After the success of the Rumours album, Fleetwood Mac’s record company, Warner Bros., was eager to get the band back in the studio to record more hits. Tusk was the resulting double album. The level of experimentation musically (as well as narcotically) during the recording sessions for Tusk is legendary.
At the time of its release, it was estimated to be the most expensive rock and roll record ever made. Despite critical adoration and album sales of over four million, it was considered a failure by Warner Bros. simply by comparison to its predecessor.
In 2019, Stevie shared this up-close-and-personal selfie to her Instagram page. It was less than a week until her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and she admitted that she was nervous. Stage fright is something she’s always had to cope with during her career, but she’s found ways to channel the nerves into excitement.
This induction was record-breaking, as it made Nicks the first woman to ever be inducted into the Hall as a member of a group and for her own solo career.
In 1997, Nicks sat down with Spin to discuss her career. “I think if I had just done my solo career and had been able just to be me, I probably would’ve been more ego’d out than I was,” she admitted.
“Being in a group of five really does keep your ego in place. It’s not as easy to get totally conceited when you’re in a band.” This group shot is from 1975.
Nicks’ strong spiritual side comes through in her music and lyrics and she has always had a firm belief in mysticism and the power of magic. The subject has fascinated her as long as she can remember, due in no small part to her mother’s love of fairy tales.
She also believes that she has had past lives and that at some point she may have been beheaded! “I totally believe in magic. Because my life, I think, has been very magic, and magical things have come true for me time after time after time,” she said.
This was the same year she released Rock a Little, her third solo studio album. Fleetwood Mac was on a lengthy break at the time, which came about after their 1982 album Mirage.
Rock a Little had several hit singles, including “Talk to Me,” “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?” and “I Can’t Wait.” This album was extremely popular in Australia and became the country’s sixth biggest-selling album of 1986.
In 1974, everything changed for Steve Nicks. She, along with Lindsey Buckingham were asked to join the band Fleetwood Mac. It all happened after Keith Olsen played their track “Frozen Love” for Mick Fleetwood. The drummer was so impressed that he asked Buckingham to join their band. He agreed on one condition, they would bring on Stevie, too.
The band thought it was a good idea, turning their British group into more of an Anglo-American band. They weren’t disappointed with their choice. It was obvious, after the first rehearsal, that Fleetwood Mac was going to be something special.
When it comes to her music, Stevie Nicks is very mystical She sways with the lyrics she’s singing, sometimes opting to twirl around with an intricate shawl while playing her tambourine with her eyes shut.
In 1979, during a concert at the Boston Garden, fans were able to see Nicks in her element: eyes closed on stage while smiling along with whatever her band was playing behind her. If we had to guess, we’d say they were playing something off their infamous 1977 Rumors album.
As mentioned, Stevie Nicks lost her best friend Robin Anderson to cancer and married her widower Kim Anderson in order to help raise their child.
Here are Stevie and Kim in a rare photo snapped in 1983. Nicks later expressed regret for the marriage. “I had this crazy, insane thought that Robin would want me to take care of Matthew,” she said. “But the fact is, Robin would not have wanted me to be married to a guy I didn’t love. And therefore accidentally break that guy’s heart, too.”
Stevie Nicks released her second solo album in June of 1983. The Wild Heart wound up going double platinum, featured three hit singles, and made it to number five on the Billboard albums chart — a seemingly regular place for Nicks’ albums and songs.
The album only took Nicks a few months to record, an amazing feat considering she had just come off the Mirage tour with Fleetwood Mac. But due to personal things going on in her life, she needed to express herself artistically. The album has sold over two million copies in the United States alone!
Here’s the songstress in a more punk-rock look than we’re accustomed to seeing on her. As mentioned earlier, Stevie was into music from a very early age and despite the different looks she’s tried, she has remained a romantic at heart.
You know, the man of my dreams might walk round the corner tomorrow. I’m older and wiser and I think I’d make a great girlfriend. I live in the realm of romantic possibility.”
On October 10, 1979, Fleetwood Mac was honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a Star. At the time, Stevie Nicks and the rest of the band had gained world-wide fame, with over ten studio albums and a couple of tours under their belts it seemed as though they were in it for the long haul.
So, it came as a bit of a surprise when Nicks released a solo album not even a year later, in 1980. Her first solo work was called Bella Donna, and it received critical acclaim. The album had four hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and Rolling Stone even dubbed her “the Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll.”