Juke National Rock Weekly (June 17, 1989)

Stevie Nicks on loneliness drugs and reincarnation

by Tamara Handii in L.A

It's not surprising that the wispy singer who started out writing songs about fairies and based her best known song "Rhiannon" on a white witch, would call her fourth solo LP The Other Side of the Mirror - based on Lewis Carroll's book Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Stevie Nicks is not the first rock singer to be attracted to Carroll's psychedelic writings. After all, Jefferson Airplane's classic single "White Rabbit" was also based on that book. Carroll incidentally was supposed to be a great fan of magic mushrooms and his books on Alice are supposed to be about LSD trips.

But back to Nicks. She sits on a huge sofa and is almost swallowed up by it. She doesn't look anything like her publicity photos; she's smaller, fatter and older. She sips iced tea and tells me she's no great fan of LSD. Or heroin.

"A guy once slipped it to me, I was so angry that I threw him out of the house and never saw him again."

Cocaine? Well that's another story altogether.

"Let me tell you something about cocaine, it's not a creative drug. It will not help you paint a masterpiece or write a symphony. What it does is to give you energy to do something. People forget that people in pop music tend to work very hard. If you've been working for 18 hours for six days straight, you loose all your energy, and you fall back on something that will give you the energy to keep going.

"I wasn't 29 until I first tried coke. Let me tell you something about heroin and Fleetwood Mac. We never dabbled with it. We didn't wanna commit suicide."

At the ripe old age of 40, Stevie Nicks seems very happy and positive about herself. She remains one of rock's biggest enigmas. When Fleetwood Mac made their last album, it was clear she gave very little input: if you read between the lines, you got the impression from the others that Stevie was tripping around with the fairies and that they recorded around her. Yet is was Stevie who most emphatically insisted that Lindsey Buckingham be sacked from Fleetwood Mac when he broke one cardinal rule - be as decadent and indulgent and career minded as you want to be, but don't hurt Fleetwood Mac. And Lindsey tried to hurt the Macs when he put his ego first before his commitment to the band.

" I am absolutely in love with being in Fleetwood Mac. Everything about if thrills me. It's a wonderful feeling to see seven limousines coming to pick us up before a show, or to stand onstage and see all these people, I call the (their error not mine) my children, but they're mums, dads, kids, elder brothers, sisters, ex-lovers, lovers, everybody.

"They can listen to a Fleetwood Mac song and feel the honesty because we've gone through just about every emotion imaginable. Truly, you cannot find a crazier soap opera television than Fleetwood Mac's story. We've loved each other, we've hated each other, and we've bled on each other. At the end of the day, I can't find a better bunch of people that I love and respect. I could never be in another band, because the chemistry between us is so special and unique."

Nicks laughingly reveals that Mac are no different to any other band which hits the road for a long time - they also throw the prank here and there to let off steam.

"Things do get crazy, but we've never resorted to smashing up hotel rooms. That's so crude and unimaginative. We go for well thought-out pranks. I remember one time, we finished a world tour in Hawaii, and we fell on our tour manager. Poor man came back into his room and it had been turned into a barnyard - live chickens, straw, oh it was so beautifully staged."

Stevie Nicks is the sort of person that a soap opera can be written about. She was a struggling cocktail waitress who was whisked away to a limousine lifestyle, suffering from broken love affairs, extreme loneliness, and a drug problem that bought her into a rehabilitation centre.

She's obviously a very rich lady and lives in one of the most prestigious parts of California. But she's resigned to the fact that she'll always be a lonely person. Boyfriends do try and make contact, but give up frustrated and angry because her music takes priority over them anytime. (She was married once, briefly in 1983. A friend who died of leukaemia asked her to marry her husband to look after her new baby. Stevie kept her promise but the alliance was ill-fated). So she spends much of her time alone, or with a group of females who surround her as make-up artists, secretaries, wardrobe attendants etc. They keep her company while she paints, hand-tints photographs and crochets blankets. Her life, she says, reminds her of Alice in Wonderland. She rushed through life, late for everything. She's alone. Alice was surrounded by people but could not find a friend. Friendship to Alice and Stevie is nothing more than companionship, or security if she has to go out at night in LA's violent streets.

Her love affairs last for about three years and the partings are usually far from amicable.

"Even if a man has the patience and tolerance of a saint, there's no way he could put up with my lifestyle. You know, like 'I'm sorry honey but your eight on the list of priorities right now'. Or, 'hey honey, kiss me goodbye for eight months 'cos I'm going off around the world with the band."

"I was reading about Madonna just this morning and her inability to have a relationship with a man, and she must be going through the same thing. I have nothing but admiration for her. She's a hardworking spunky lady, and I'd love to do a duet with her one day."

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, she spent much of her childhood lonely as the family moved virtually every year. Her father was an executive in the fast food worlds, and kept moving as he rose up the corporate ladder. At four she was doing perfect song 'n' dance routines in front of the mirror. Her grandfather, a country 'n' western singer, got her up onstage to do the "answers" when he did call 'n' response routines in his set. At 16, her parents gave her an acoustic guitar, and she composed her first song that evening. A year later she joined her first folk-rock group which was based on the Mamas and Papas.

That proved fateful. Three years later she was at a church social in San Francisco and saw this curly-haired bearded boy singing "California Dreaming". She walked over uninvited and sang perfect harmony with Lindsey Buckingham. They became lovers and partners, had a dud LP and then joined Fleetwood Mac.

She's perfectly content with a lifestyle that mixes loneliness with glamour. But one thing used to worry her. She believes in reincarnation and believes that in her past lives she's been an Egyptian ruler, a Nazi concentration camp victim and even a concert pianist. But she thinks that her current life is the last time on earth and she'll now enter another spirit world.

"Death itself doesn't scare me. But what does scare me is that once I die, I wouldn't be able to create and write songs anymore. But one time I had this dream where I saw myself in this very happy place, all white with clouds and birds, and I was sitting at a white desk with a white quill working on something. Clearly, I could see I'd continue to compose after my life and that clinched it. I can accept anything that this world or the next gives me."

Thanks to Rochelle Wong submitting this to us.