The Boston Herald, July 17, 1994


Stevie Nicks savors her new-found freedom from Fleetwood mac


Stevie Nicks has done solo tours before.

But this year's world tour, which starts Friday at Great Woods, is her first since leaving Fleetwood Mac. And that, the singer says, makes a difference.

'It's really easier,' Nicks says from her Los Angeles home. 'This is the first time I'll go out by myself and I won't be carrying around a feeling of guilt.

'See, when I was in Fleetwood Mac, I'd know by the middle of one of my tours they were already getting mad at me. They'd be waiting for me like anxious cats. It takes the fun out of touring when other people don't think you should be doing it in the first place.

'Then when I got back,' she goes on, 'I'd have two days off and then I'd have to be in the studio, and the others would have already been in the studio for months. So they were never real happy to see me. And people being mad at me.

'So this is the first time I've ever gotten to completely concentrate on my show and put my whole heart in it. It's like when you get a divorce. You go on with your life and eventually realize you're free. It's an amazing feeling.'

Nicks' reference to divorce in describing her departure from Fleetwood Mac is particularly appropriate. Still single at 46, she's spent most of her life married to a band.

The Arizona-born Nicks and then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac, which started as a British blues band, in 1974. The revamped lineup went on to record two of the biggest albums in history, 1975's 'Fleetwood Mac' and 1977's 'Rumours.' Finally, after years of whispers about it, Nicks officially left the group after a performance at Bill Clinton's 1993 presidential inauguration.

'It was very hard to leave,' she says. 'I just couldn't leave them after Lindsey left (in 1987). I couldn't do that to -- them, I just couldn't. But after Lindsey came and played the inauguration with us, I realized that I could never deal with Fleetwood Mac again unless it would be the five of us. And it will never be that way again. So I decided my part in that particular Shakespearean drama is over.' But Fleetwood Mac's impact on Nicks' life continues. Pressures from the group affected her personally as much as professionally. 'I've got money, men to love me and acres of land,' she sings on 'Rose Garden,' a song from her new 'Street Angel' album, 'I've got all these things but a small gold band on my finger on my left hand ...'

'I figure that's pretty much OK,' Nicks says of her unmarried status, 'because I can still get married in the future if I want. But I do regret very much not having one or two kids. But it was never the right time. The time it almost happened, there was always a big tour coming up, a big record that needed to get finished.

'I wanted to have kids, but it would have screwed up the lives of the people around me. I could never say, 'Listen, you guys, fend for yourself.' I could never do that. I could never stop the machinery that was going on for so long. And now I'm really sorry. But I was not brave enough.'

Oddly enough, it turns out Nicks wrote 'Rose Garden' and those telling lines about lacking that 'small gold band' 28 years ago when she was 18.

'That song is very much a premonition,' Nicks says, 'but I wrote it about some people in my family when I was just graduating high school. I wasn't in a band or anything. I wrote purely for myself on a guitar I got for my 16th birthday. I didn't want to be famous or anything, I just loved to close myself up somewhere with candlelight and a really neat pen and paper and write. It became a very important thing for me.

'I didn't play with a band or perform in public until I was 20 and going to college in Santa Clara (California),' she recalls. 'It was the most frightening moment of my entire life. I had joined this band with Lindsey Buckingham and these other cool guys and I thought we were going to play high schools. The next thing I know we're in front of 75,000 people opening for Jimi Hendrix, or maybe it was Janis Joplin, at the Santa Clara Fairgrounds. I had no preparation. It was the wildest thing.' Nicks' debut by fire and her subsequent five years playing with Buckingham did prepare her for her role singing 'Rhiannon,' 'Sara' and other hits as the velvet-and-lace-wrapped frontwoman for Fleetwood Mac.

But the reputation she gained in Fleetwood Mac as a dreamy mystic and romantic is belied by the down-to-earth flavor of 'Street Angel,' her dependably melodic and hook-filled fifth solo album.

'I hope after all this time I am a better writer,' the husky-voiced Nicks says. 'I think a certain amount of wisdom comes with age. I certainly have a lot of experience. Ever since I joined a rock 'n' roll band my life has been on a collision course of sorts and that gives me an incredible scope of material to write about.'

In addition to the title song's offbeat take on homelessness, on 'Street Angel' Nicks pays musical tribute to two of her heroines. In 'Jane,' she celebrates the courage of -- chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall ('I was so inspired by her books that I wrote this song 10 minutes after I got to meet her,' she says). And in 'Greta,' she wonders what led movie star Greta Garbo to retire at the height of her fame.

'I wish I could have asked her, 'What happened to you?',' Nicks says. 'Anyone in my business asks themselves that question, 'Do I really need this in my life?' But very few people actually walk away.'

Has Nicks pondered leaving the music business? 'Only theoretically,' she replies. 'Despite all the problems that go with being a rock star, and there are many, that doesn't take away the fact that I love to sit and sing and write and play music. That never goes away.'

Thanks to Anusha for the submission.