Classic-rock fans and lace-shawl aficionados alike rejoiced yesterday at the announcement that Fleetwood Mac will be hitting the road next spring for their first tour since 2009. Hell, why not? They’re younger than the Rolling Stones, right? This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Mac’s mega-Platinum monster Rumours, and it’s certain there’ll be no shortage of songs from that one on the setlist, plus the band is said to have a couple of new tunes in rotation too. Though Fleetwood Mac is famous for having a frontline full of talented singer/songwriters, Stevie Nicks’ theatricality has always supplied a huge portion of the onstage starpower. So she’ll have a lot to do with putting posteriors in the seats for the shows, especially with the absence of retiree Christine McVie. Let’s focus on some of the little, less obvious things that make Stevie “Stevie” and keep the crowds coming back to bask in her presence.
1. The Buckingham/Nicks Days
Even before they joined Fleetwood Mac and sold kajillions of records, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were already making music equally as intriguing in their incarnation as folk-rock duo Buckingham/Nicks. Their lone album, released in 1973, was full of killer cuts but didn’t make much commercial headway, and remains woefully out of print. Hey Polydor – 40th anniversary reissue?
2. She Jams With Tom Petty
Lindsey Buckingham isn’t the only singer/songwriter with whom Stevie’s ever enjoyed an artistic kinship outside of Fleetwood Mac. She’s had a history of partnering up with Tom Petty. The two teamed most famously on Stevie’s first solo single (and her biggest hit ever), 1981’s “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” and have popped up to sing at each other’s shows over the years. She also sang a stirring, Everly Brothers-esque harmony with Petty in ’81 on his “Insider,” and she can still give you shivers when she sidles up to him onstage to deliver it.
3. Her Fashion Sense Rules
An integral part of the Fleetwood Mac experience is the visual element provided by Stevie’s dramatic duds and constant costume changes. Those who love her look will eat up this guided tour of her wardrobe, in which she explains that her initial agenda was to look like “a character from Great Expectations or Tale of Two Cities,” displays various versions of “the ‘Gold Dust Woman’ cape” and “the ‘Stand Back’ cape,” and reveals that she tends towards black attire not because she fancies herself some sort of sexy witch, but simply “because black makes you look skinny.”
4. She Participates in Night of a Thousand Stevies
Such is the adulation heaped upon the Fleetwood Mac frontwoman that Stevie obsessives have been gathering for the last 22 years at the annual Night of a Thousand Stevies, in which Nicks wannabes of both sexes dress to impress in the Stevie stage outfits of their choosing. For last year’s event, the lady herself taped a video greeting to all the Stevies manqué, in which she pledged to turn up one day in disguise and sing “Edge of Seventeen,” and encouraged everyone to turn out in their best hoop skirts and petticoats.
5. Prince Wanted Her
Stevie was inspired to write her huge 1983 hit “Stand Back” by hearing Prince’s “Little Red Corvette,” so she called His Purpleness about it and he showed up to play (uncredited) synthesizer on the song. This, as they say, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship -- many years later, Nicks revealed that Prince wanted more than a musical relationship, but unlike most other females on the planet, Stevie resisted his charms. Nevertheless, there was a period when the pair was pretty chummy: he invited her to write lyrics to “Purple Rain” (she was too intimidated), and they knocked around some other ideas together in a recording studio, including this intriguing, embryonic tune.
Jim Allen grew up in a hyper-Stevie environment thanks to his Nicks-obsessed older sister.