SonicNet.com, May 26, 1998

by Frank Tortorici Today marks a half-century for Stevie Nicks, frontwoman of the most popular incarnation of the legendary band Fleetwood Mac, successful solo singer/songwriter and one of the most enduring female icons of rock. Stephanie Lynn Nicks was born in 1948 in Phoenix. Her grandfather, a frustrated country singer, was a huge influence on her and often took her with him when he sang in bars. Her family moved throughout her teen-age years and Nicks sang in bands wherever they landed. In her senior year of high school, she formed the band Fritz with guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, a schoolmate. The band broke up in the early '70s, but Nicks and Buckingham remained together professionally as well as personally.

In 1973, the duo signed with Polydor and released Buckingham Nicks, which featured Nicks' throaty vocals and Buckingham's fiery guitar. The album flopped but it resulted in one of the most legendary discoveries in rock history. Fleetwood Mac's founder and drummer, Mick Fleetwood, heard the duo's LP when producer Keith Olsen used it to demonstrate the sound of the studio in which it was recorded. Fleetwood admired the guitar-playing and asked Buckingham to join the Mac. Buckingham accepted with the condition that Nicks be invited as well.

The Nicks/Buckingham version of Fleetwood Mac took the U.S. record charts by storm. In 1975, Fleetwood Mac (also featuring longtime members keyboardist Christine McVie and her husband, John, on bass) hit #1 and included Nicks' classic "Rhiannon" (RealAudio excerpt), the story of a Welsh witch. Nicks assumed the image of "Rhiannon" in concert, dressing in long, flowing, black chiffon dresses and floating around the stage seemingly in a trance. It became her enduring image and resulted in flocks of young fans showing up at her shows dressed as their idol.

Fleetwood Mac paved the way for one of the most successful albums in the history of music, 1977's Rumours. With its songs of love and loss and its catchy blend of easy-going Southern California rock, the album dominated the airwaves. From the album, Nicks' "Dreams" became the band's only U.S. #1 song, but Rumours also spawned three more major hit-singles including the Bill Clinton-fave "Don't Stop." With the release in 1979 of the double set Tusk, the Big Mac began to fall apart because of musical and personal conflicts.

In 1981, Nicks embarked on her solo career when she released the quadruple-platinum Bella Donna, which featured three major hits, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" (with Tom Petty), "Leather and Lace" (with Don Henley) and "Edge of Seventeen." She reunited with Fleetwood Mac for 1982's Mirage, which yielded the top-20 hit, Nicks' "Gypsy." After another multi-platinum solo album, 1983's The Wild Heart, and its accompanying tour, Nicks' life began to unravel. Following the release of 1985's platinum-selling Rock A Little, she entered the Betty Ford Center to fight her decade-long cocaine dependency.

She returned to the Mac for 1987's mega-selling Tango In The Night and toured with the band in 1987-88 and 1990, both times without Buckingham, who left the group to pursue solo interests. In between, she released 1989's The Other Side of The Mirror. Nicks left Fleetwood Mac at the end of 1990, rejoining only once to perform at President Clinton's inauguration. Her 1994 album, Street Angel, only went gold, and she began to lose FM-radio airplay in the new decade.

But 1997's reunion of the five Rumours Mac members for The Dance live album and tour was a huge success and brought renewed interest in the band and especially in Nicks, whose version of the 1976 B-side "Silver Springs" (RealAudio excerpt) became a big radio hit. This incarnation of the band, including Nicks, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January 1998, along with members of the '60s blues-era Fleetwood Mac. Nicks capitalized on this career resurgence by announcing a solo tour for mid-'98 in support of the recently released box-set retrospective The Enchanted Works of Stevie Nicks.

Other birthdays: Levon Helm (the Band), 56; Garry Peterson (Guess Who), 53; Hank Williams Jr., 49; Wayne Hussey (ex-Sisters of Mercy), 40; and Lenny Kravitz, 34.

Thanks to Frank Tortorici (the author) for bringing this to our attention.