[The Nicks Fix]

E! Online


The rock 'n' roll gypsy is back with Mac--but don't ask her about grocery shopping

by Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith

Before there was Beverly Hills, 90210, there was Fleetwood Mac. The '70s supergroup, fronted by seductive blond siren Stevie Nicks, combined money, fame and chart-topping music with a real-life soap opera that would make Tori Spelling blush.

During their 10-plus years together, Nicks and the band came close to perfecting the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle. Their albums, like Fleetwood Mac and Tusk, supplied the soundtrack for many a Baby Boomer--including President Clinton, who asked the band to reunite for his inauguration in 1993. And their backstage antics supplied the intrigue.

Composed of single guy Mick Fleetwood and two couples--lovers Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham and husband and wife John and Christine McVie--Fleetwood Mac suffered from infighting and affairs (including one between Fleetwood and Nicks). Still, the band steadily managed to produce hits. Rumours alone spent a record 31 weeks atop the album charts.

A self-styled rock gypsy in leather, lace, chiffon and top hat, Nicks eventually left the group and launched a successful solo career. The hits kept coming, and so did the media, tracking her affairs with the likes of Don Henley, her 1986 stay at Betty Ford, her weight gains and losses, her voice troubles and more.

Now older (49) and wiser (or at least more willing to forgive and forget), Nicks and the rest of the Mac return to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Rumours. There's a new live album, The Dance, a home video, the recent MTV special and a 10-week, 40-city North American tour that begins in mid September.

Whether this lineup of Fleetwood Mac will again go its own way after all this, remains to be seen, but for now, Nicks is happy just to revive old friendships and enjoy the ride.

How's everybody getting along?
We get along really well. Not that we don't have disagreements. We do. But nobody is going to be stupid and childish and jump on anybody at this point. We're a lot smarter than we used to be. There've been lots of things that have come up that could have led us into a big argument, but we just haven't let ourselves go there. We know the things to stay away from.

Did you have to get to know each other all over again?
When you've known people as long and as well as we've known each other, you can be apart for years and then come back together and, after a few days, it's as if you were never apart.

You look great. Of course, last year the tabloids were trumpeting that you'd lost 60. Is that true?
I lost about 30 pounds.

Are you keeping a certain health regimen now?
I eat really well. I don't eat bread or pasta or cereal. I go on the treadmill as many times a week as I can possibly find the time, and stay on for 30 minutes to an hour.

We've heard you take your whole world with you when you tour. Is that still true, or are you going with a more stripped-down approach--as you did on your Street Angel tour three years ago, when you went out with a bus?
I loved the bus thing, which wasn't stripped down in terms of what I brought along. In fact, I was very disappointed that this tour is going to be a straight airplane thing. I really love the idea of having all your stuff in the bus, and only having to take in a few articles to the hotel.

So, what do you take along?
I have a packing case--like an instrument case--that has three big drawers. And in that, I'm able to pretty much take everything from extension plugs and shawls for the lamps to candles and incense.

What's the status of your next solo album?
It's on hold for the time being. And I don't mind that for the opportunity to do this with Fleetwood Mac. I spent the last three years writing for this upcoming album of mine--whenever I do it. I'll probably write a couple of songs on the road over the next couple of months, which will balance out the three years I spent writing quietly in Phoenix, you know? The songs will be an interesting mix. I kind of feel like whenever it happens, it will.

Is there anyone special in your life right now?
No. Doing a tour is so overwhelming. It does take over your life.

Do you still paint? Your paintings, like "Rhiannon," have raised thousands of dollars for AmFar and other organizations.
I do. That's just something that's there, and one day the time will be right and I'll do some prints and maybe a coffee-table book. It's just sitting there waiting, like the next album.

You told us a few years ago that you'd created your whole chiffon and suede boots image thing, and if you could change it now, you would.
That was probably just a passing thought. I know that whatever image you create in the beginning of your career, you'd better like it, because you're going to be stuck with it. I'm not sorry about mine.

I love my clothes. I kind of dress that way in real life. I'm not as cosmic as people probably think I am, but I do love beautiful fabrics and beautifully made things, whether it's a dress or a skirt or a set of drapes.

So, do you go grocery shopping dressed that way?

But you do go out.
Oh yes. I go out shopping. I go to all the malls. I go to all the fabulous stores. I just choose not to be recognized, and I'm not. If I want to be seen, I can be recognized. If I don't, I can just kind of put my head down, assume the shopper's pose and go.

When you went out on your final tour with Fleetwood Mac in 1990, you complained about not having much power in the group. How do things compare now?
It's better, but it's not better because I have more power. It feels like each of us is more able to be a team player than before.

Any special things you're doing to prepare for the tour?
We're taking a voice coach with us. I will do 30 to 40 minutes with him every afternoon before a show, so I'll actually be studying voice for three months, which is so incredible. There will not be any bad singing nights...

What does the coach do?
He works out your voice so you don't have to get used to singing when you walk out onstage. Your vocal cords are all warmed up, and you're in perfect form. Like, if you were a ballerina, you would half an hour solid before a performance. Well, we forget there are muscles used in vocalizing, just as there are in ballet. You wouldn't go out and do Swan Lake without a warmup. So, why would you sing for two and a half hours without one?

Years ago, you had a voice coach on tour who was concentrating on helping you raise your pitch.
And I did that, very successfully. Otherwise [drops into a gravelly, latter-day Lucille Ball style growl] I'd be talking down here. A lot of my vocal things went away when I raised my pitch. Now, the circumstances are special. We're doing 40 shows, and when you're doing that many shows, and two and three in a row, and a two-and-a-half-hour set--with "Rhiannon" and "Stand Back" and songs that are really tough to sing--you have to be like an Olympic athlete.

You've said you really don't like being on camera. Is that still true after so many videos?
I just don't like it. It makes you lose all your spontaneity. I can be effervescent with friends around a piano for hours, but the minute you bring out a camera, I go flat. And I think what I do onstage was not meant to be seen by me, it was meant to be seen by everybody else.

When I'm onstage, I'm not supposed to be thinking about how I look. And when I'm being filmed, I do think about it. Everybody does. It makes it hard to be as good as you could be at your trade when you're thinking: "Is this a good angle? Is the lighting good? That guy, that camera, is, like, right into my neck!" You freak out.

And now, well, it was Audrey Hepburn who said watching yourself on film is like watching the aging process. Every time you see yourself, you look older. I'd rather not see it.

The Nicks Fix main page