GYPSY LADY

Be­tween Fleet­wood Mac and her solo ca­reer, Ste­vie Nicks is one of the best­selling artists of all time. And in the lead-up to a new Aus­tralian tour – and her 70th birth­day – she is show­ing no signs of slow­ing down

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Words by TIF­FANY BAKKER

She’s one of the great­est artists of all time, but Ste­vie Nicks says suc­cess hasn’t changed her one bit.

Ev­ery night be­fore she goes on­stage, Ste­vie Nicks has a long­stand­ing rit­ual. “I make my lit­tle mix tapes, and I play them and I twirl around and dance my way through three hours of make-up and get­ting ready,” the rock leg­end tells Stel­lar, adding that her cur­rent playlist features Harry Styles, Justin Bieber, Ari­ana Grande and Se­lena Gomez.

“I like to keep up with what’s cur­rent and, hon­estly, if I wasn’t tour­ing I would still be lis­ten­ing to mu­sic and danc­ing around my house.”

When Stel­lar speaks to the Fleet­wood Mac icon it’s close to mid­night, but Nicks – a life­long in­som­niac – is right in the mid­dle of her day.

“It’s the best part and most zen part of my whole day,” Nicks says, adding that she stays up “writ­ing in my jour­nal – poetry, songs, movie ideas, any­thing”.

“It’s peace­ful be­cause every­body is asleep ex­cept you. It’s when I feel the most cre­ative and also my most calm.”

At 69 (she’ll turn 70 next May), Nicks’s fran­tic itin­er­ary is enough to make any av­er­age per­son want to lie down.

In the three weeks be­fore meet­ing with Stel­lar, she’s pin­balled be­tween a solo gig in France, a mas­sive Hyde Park show in Lon­don with her old mu­si­cian mate Tom Petty, a Los An­ge­les sta­dium con­cert with Fleet­wood Mac,

a 70th birth­day show in Texas for an­other good friend (and for­mer flame), Don Hen­ley of the Ea­gles, and now she’s in New York where she’ll play an­other sta­dium gig with Fleet­wood Mac.

“Some­times I would like a se­ri­ous va­ca­tion, you know, like two months in Hawaii with my dog, be­cause at times you feel like you hit a wall,” she ad­mits. “But there is al­ways go­ing to be that knock on the door and I’m al­ways go­ing to be called back to one of the two big things in my life, which is ba­si­cally ei­ther Fleet­wood Mac or my solo ca­reer.”

But even af­ter her phe­nom­e­nal suc­cess (be­tween them both she’s sold some 140 mil­lion records, mak­ing her one of the best­selling artists of all time), Nicks still has a com­pul­sion to work as hard as ever. She’s also been open in the past about choos­ing her art over get­ting mar­ried and hav­ing a fam­ily.

“I have a love of mu­sic that goes far beyond what I do on­stage,” she says.

Like the ti­tle of one of her most famous songs, ‘Gypsy’, Nicks got a taste of the no­madic life early on when her fa­ther would move the fam­ily around with his work, and decades later the life­style still suits her.

“I could roll with that. I was able to go into new schools and make new friends. My brother, on the other hand, didn’t cope with it so well,” she re­calls. “So the thing is, am I still that gypsy? Well, I was al­ways that gypsy.”

In re­cent years, her life has been split be­tween her solo tours and Fleet­wood Mac’s mas­sive tour­ing com­mit­ments. But re­turn­ing to Fleet­wood Mac, one of mu­sic’s most dys­func­tional fam­i­lies, comes with its own is­sues.

“Com­pro­mise with Fleet­wood Mac has al­ways been an on­go­ing chal­lenge be­cause we sel­dom agree on any­thing,” Nicks con­firms.

“Every­body has a big, huge opinion and you make your choice – is it worth fight­ing about? Is it worth throw­ing the next two days of re­hearsals away be­cause every­body is pissed off? Or is it worth fight­ing for some­thing you be­lieve in? It’s like be­ing a politi­cian in a lot of ways; you have to choose your bat­tles, and some­times you have to let things go even when you don’t want to.”

These days, the singer says her re­la­tion­ships with her famous band mates Chris­tine Mcvie (“Chris and I have been the best of girl­friends since the day I joined Fleet­wood Mac”), John Mcvie (“I adore him”) and Mick Fleet­wood (“I’m god­mother to his daugh­ters”) will go beyond when­ever it is that Fleet­wood Mac ends.

But her friend­ship with for­mer love and mu­si­cal col­lab­o­ra­tor Lind­sey Buck­ing­ham re­mains tricky. The pair met while they were both at high school in Cal­i­for­nia and formed mu­si­cal duo Buck­ing­ham Nicks in 1972, be­fore join­ing Fleet­wood Mac three years later. Their com­bustible re­la­tion­ship, par­tic­u­larly lead­ing up to the leg­endary 1977 al­bum Ru­mours, spurned hits such as ‘Go Your Own Way’, ‘Dreams’ and ‘Land­slide’.

“Lind­sey and I never see each other. He has a fam­ily – a wife and chil­dren – and I do not have a hus­band or chil­dren. I mean, it’s just a dif­fer­ent world,” she says.

“The thing is, I work with Lind­sey when we have to work to­gether, but his whole deal is very dif­fer­ent than mine. He has to leave at 7pm at night to get home and have din­ner with his chil­dren, and then he has to get up early with them.

“Like, are you kid­ding? I don’t even get up un­til 3pm and he wants me at re­hearsal at 2pm? No, our lives are so di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed. So that’s kind of where our re­la­tion­ship is.”

Re­cently, Nicks has been en­joy­ing tour­ing with Chrissie Hynde and The Pre­tenders, and will bring the tour to Aus­tralian shores in Novem­ber. The two icons, sur­pris­ingly, had never even met be­fore mak­ing the de­ci­sion to tour to­gether.

“The first time I met Chrissie, I was play­ing a show at this big arena, and my hair was in rollers and I was wear­ing these big black glasses, be­ing driven around on a golf cart. And she saw me and started laugh­ing, and I said, ‘I know, I look ridicu­lous – I am ridicu­lous,’ and she said, ‘No, you look like El­iz­a­beth Taylor. I’m tour­ing with El­iz­a­beth Taylor.’”

``it´s al­ways a chal­lenge with fleet­wood mac´´

And Nicks, who has been a fre­quent vis­i­tor to Aus­tralia, can’t wait to re­turn.

“I al­ways have a re­ally good time [in Aus­tralia] be­cause it’s a very spe­cial place and I have re­ally great friends there, and it’s very dif­fer­ent from the United States,” she says.

“It’s a friend­lier place and it re­minds me of how the US used to be. And with ev­ery­thing that’s go­ing on in the po­lit­i­cal land­scape right now, it’ll be nice to go to Aus­tralia and get out of here for a while.”

She has also been en­joy­ing the tour be­cause it’s given her the luxury of per­form­ing some rare solo songs and some newer ma­te­rial she’s ei­ther never or rarely per­formed.

“I’ve had to wait un­til I’m in my six­ties to play some of these songs,” she says with a laugh.

“And I’m so pleased be­cause it’s that that makes me want to con­tinue to tour. If I have to go out there and do the same songs ev­ery sin­gle time I go on the road, it gets bor­ing and it’s not very cre­ative af­ter a while.”

One hit she does per­form is the 1986 clas­sic ‘Stand Back’, which orig­i­nally fea­tured her friend Prince on key­boards. “Prince spent a lot of time wor­ry­ing about me,” she re­mem­bers. “Our friend­ship was kind of odd; we didn’t see each other that of­ten, but when we did we re­ally were mu­si­cally very tight. But he was al­ways wor­ried about my drug habits; he al­ways thought I was go­ing to have an ac­ci­den­tal drug over­dose and die.”

When Nicks was strug­gling with ad­dic­tion, she re­calls Prince com­ing to visit her with lit­tle care pack­ages. She’s pre­vi­ously said that she spent “mil­lions” on co­caine in the ’70s and ’80s and also had an eight-year ad­dic­tion to pre­scrip­tion drug Klonopin, un­til even­tu­ally get­ting clean in 1994.

“There would be cough medicine for my throat, but he would only let me have a spoon­ful. I’d be like, ‘Chill out, my friend, I can have an­other one,’ and he’d say, ‘I did not come here to start new drug habits for you.’”

Six­teen months later, and Nicks is still griev­ing over Prince’s death.

“The fact that my friend, who was so anti-drugs, is not here is so dis­turb­ing to me. I miss him.”

When it comes to her­self, Nicks is not one for re­flec­tion and finds the idea of be­ing re­ferred to as an icon al­most ab­surd. “It’s re­ally nice to know and peo­ple tell me that, and I feel a great amount of pride, but at the same time that per­son – ba­si­cally the per­son I am on­stage ex­cept in much bet­ter clothes and much bet­ter hair and with heels on – is re­ally the same per­son I am sit­ting here right now,” she says.

“I’m pretty much the same per­son that I’ve al­ways been. I’m nice part of the time and ir­ri­tated part of the time; that’s re­ally who I am, and I’ve never changed since I joined Fleet­wood Mac.”

When Nicks sur­veys the mu­sic in­dus­try land­scape to­day, she reck­ons it’s be­come dif­fi­cult for emerg­ing artists.

“You have one big song and you bet­ter fol­low it up, be­cause they will just find some­body who is younger and cuter than you are.”

“It’s a bat­tle,” she con­tin­ues. “And I don’t know what I would do if I was 21 and in their po­si­tion. The only thing you can say is that Lind­sey and I re­ally be­lieved that we were very good and that we were re­ally, re­ally spe­cial. We just be­lieved in our­selves and we be­lieved that what we had to of­fer the world was re­ally spec­tac­u­lar. It sounds con­ceited but it wasn’t. We just weren’t go­ing to give up.”

She also has con­cerns with the lack of con­trol mu­si­cians to­day have over their own work.

“I love a lot of cur­rent mu­sic, but a lot of these artists are be­ing told what to do by pro­duc­ers and the record com­pa­nies. You know, their songs are all start­ing to sound very much the same to me, and that both­ers me be­cause I think, ‘I re­ally like that song, but the pro­duc­tion sounds just like the pro­duc­tion on the song be­fore it and that’s kind of a turn-off.’” She re­mains op­ti­mistic, though. “I love Harry Styles; he’s so cute and charm­ing and I think he can do any­thing he sets his mind to. And there’s a Fleet­wood Mac and a Led Zep­pelin out there some­where. Whether or not they’ll ever be able to rise to the top is the ques­tion, be­cause the in­dus­try slaps them down, but my ad­vice would be to any mu­si­cian is just don’t give up. Be­lieve in your­self.”

With that, she gets set to go back to her evening, but sleep is still a while off. “I have this thing, like be­tween 3am and 5am, when it starts to get light and it’s re­ally beau­ti­ful, and I just sit there and I drink tea and I read Vogue and I just look out and think, ‘Why would I want to be asleep right now? Why would I want to miss out on all of this beauty?’” Ste­vie Nicks’s 24 Karat Gold Tour with spe­cial guests The Pre­tenders comes to Aus­tralia in Novem­ber. Tick­ets go on sale Au­gust 18; live­na­tion.com.au.

``I´m pretty much the same per­son I´ve al­ways been´´

LIV­ING LEG­END (clock­wise from top) The en­dur­ingly cool Ste­vie Nicks; the singer joined Fleet­wood Mac in 1975; shar­ing the stage with Harry Styles; Nicks and Chrissie Hynde are bring­ing their show to Aus­tralia.

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