[The Nicks Fix]

Nylon Magazine
June, 2001
Electric Lady

Just like the white-winged dove, the high priestess of Fleetwood Mac releases a critically acclaimed new CD. Stevie Nicks takes Lola Ogunnaike for a spin. Stand back. Illustrated by bob masse.

Stevie Nicks is curled up on an antique chaise, lounging comfortably in a spacious room overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon, two hours from quitting time for most of us working stiffs, but when you’re a rock star – 3 p.m. might as well be 8 a.m., which explains why Stevie Nicks, a rock star’s rock star, is still in her pajamas, makeup-free, and sporting a ponytail. No, she is not ready for her close-up, a fact that she is happily well aware of, earning her many cool points (as if she needed any more) and immediately putting you at ease.

“In the old days I used to get up at 5,” says Nicks in that smoke-cured, slightly raspy voice of hers. “Now I’m up by 11 to watch my soaps: All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital. For years, “ she says with a throaty self-deprecating chuckle, “this has been my top priority.”

It’s only fitting that Nicks, lead singer of the wildly popular, highly combustible, classic ‘70s rock band Fleetwood Mac, would make ABC soap operas a daily priority. For over 25 years her life has played out like one, making All My Children plot lines look like the stuff of after-school specials. Like any daytime drama heroine worth her weight in Emmy gold, Nicks has survived drugs and alcohol abuse, band break-ups, busted silicone implants, shattered love affairs, a short-lived marriage, depression, severe weight gain, and two detoxes. The living embodiment of her era’s raging excess, Fleetwood’s front woman blew millions on blow, eventually burned a hole right through the cartilage in her nose, and lived to be interviewed about it. Eat your heart out, Susan Lucci.

Now slimmed down and sobered up, Nicks is back with Trouble in Shangri-la, an album the critics are calling her best work since her 1981 solo breakout Bella Donna. Featuring contributions from high-profile youngsters like Macy Gray, Sarah McLachlan, and Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, its clear that Nicks, who turns 53 this month, is back and ready to rock ‘n’ roll. Sheryl Crow, a “dear friend” of Nicks, produced several tracks on Shangri-La. Doing what she does best, i.e. singing about confusing, painfully wonderful relationships, Nicks sounds wiser and yet still vulnerable, like a woman on an endless hunt for life’s elusive answers.

On the melancholy, guitar-driven “I Miss You,” she sings “I have so many questions/ about love and about pain/ about strained relationships/ about fame as only he could explain it to me.” “Bombay Sapphire,” an infectious, Caribbean-tinged track has Nicks asking, “How can I go on without you? Can I go on without you?” Nicks says the tortured, trouble-in-paradise theme of the album was inspired in part by the O. J. Simpson trial. “It was simply brought to my attention how difficult relationships are and how difficult it is for some people to hang on to sanity and not completely lose it once they get really spoiled. O. J. was in Shangri-La. He’s not in Shangri-La anymore.”

Disgraced gridiron greats aside, Nicks says she’s anxious to start touring and promoting her new album. “That two hours on stage is so much fun for me. It’s like the best date you’ve ever had.” she says. You can’t help but get the feeling that Nicks is eager to hit the road because she’s got a score to settle with herself. Her last outing, 1994’s Street Angel, was produced at the height of her addiction to Klonopin, a prescription tranquilizer Nicks began taking after a 28-day stint in Betty Ford to treat a severe cocaine habit. It was her first solo album to sell less than platinum; Nicks calls the effort a disaster.

“Klonopin literally sucked away my creativity and my soul. It was a terrible record, and when I got out of rehab I tried to fix it, but it was unfixable,” she remembers. “You can’t write beautiful songs and sing beautifully and be happy when you’re on that type of drug. It turns you into a person who doesn’t care about anything. You don’t care about the music; you just go in and sing it. And that’s what everybody heard when they listened to that record. They heard that I really didn’t care.”

After a three-month tour Nicks says she “made the Street Angel album go away completely. I have never listened to it since.” Though she managed to clean up her act in 1994 (she’s been drug-free since), there was yet another battle for Stevie to fight: her weight. While hooked on Klonopin, the singer, standing at a mere 5’1”, ballooned to 175 pounds and watched her self-esteem plummet.

“I would never have gained 30 pounds if I wasn’t taking that tranquilizer,” she says, a hint of irritation slipping into her voice. “It really did destroy the image that I had put together so carefully 25 years ago.” Seven years, a trusty treadmill, and a strict Atkins diet later, Stevie has shed that excess Klonopin baggage. Once described by Sheryl Crow as “the woman all young girls wanted to be and all men wanted to be with,” Nicks, now 30 pounds lighter, is once again a sex symbol. Not that this is something she’s ever chosen to play up. The face of Fleetwood Mac – all sultry doe eyes, pouty, come-hither lips, and gypsy-chic get-ups – has never believed in baring her assets to sell a buck, choosing instead to clothe herself in chiffon maxi-skirts, velvet capes, ruffled blouses, and platform boot, choosing to make it on merit and not midriff.

“I think being blatantly sexy is stupid and it wears off,” Nicks declares. “If that’s what your fame is built on, you’re dead in the water.” (Is that Britney floating?) Her I-won’t-sell-sex stance extends past her sartorial choices. Nicks won’t entertain writing overtly sexual lyrics even at the behest of colleagues like Prince, who she says “would’ve liked to have dated me at one time.” When the fuchsia funkster made the mistake of suggesting Nicks turn up the heat in her music, she recalls telling The Artist, “’You have to write about sex, so you must not be intrinsically sexy. I don’t have to write about sex because I am intrinsically sexy.’ That shut his mouth right up.”

Never one too bite her tongue, Nicks is equally as candid when discussing her love life beyond the rumors. Of her seven-year relationship with bandmate Lindsay Buckingham, she says, “he was my great musical love. Our relationship happened out of our struggle for this music thing.” Nicks describes her relationship with other bandmate Mick Fleetwood (who was married at the time with as “dishonorable” and says “nobody was more horrified than Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks when it happened. We knew it would never work. We both loved Fleetwood Mac way more than we were willing to love each other.” Nicks, who has also dated The Eagles’ Don Henley, Interscope Records head Jimmy Iovine, and a few not-so-famous types, says she refuses to date someone who does not have a J-O-B. “They’ve got to have a job and a life, otherwise my job and life overwhelm them, and that is so uncool.”

While choosing career over a husband and kids is one millions of women aren’t willing to make, Nicks decided long ago that making music was her “life’s mission” and that children and family would have to be put on hold indefinitely. “I’m not saying that some women can’t have it all, but if I’d had a child, especially a little girl, forget it. My singing career would’ve been over, and I know that,” says the owner of two well-trained Yorkies. “I am the kind of woman who would not be happy with another woman taking care of my child. If I walked in the house and my baby ran across the room to the nanny, that nanny would be so fired, so out of my house in five minutes.”

Who knows, in the future Nicks says she could one day decide to “buy a big farm and take in foster kids,” but for now she’s still enjoying the benefits of being no one’s mommy or Mrs. “I am an entertainer. I want to be able to drop everything and go across the country if I have to and not ask permission,” she says. “If I gave up music I wouldn’t feel like I completed what I was sent here to do.”

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