[The Nicks Fix]

The Paper
Summer 1994

She's No Angel

By Sophie De Rakoff

Every weekend in London when I was a kid, my brother and I would wait by the window for our father to pick us up and take us away, the ultimate 70's divorce-brats. Mum was brown bread and school projects; Dad was Chinese food and rock 'n' roll. As we sprawled on the brown leather sofa, poring over the Helmut Newton and Verushka books on Dad's coffee table, the stereo played the soundtrack to our formative years. Still babies, we were way too young to be rebelling against the music of our parents. Traffic, Cream, the Eagles, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan, locc, Supertramp and Fleetwood Mac were the lullabies that rocked us to sleep at night.

There were several contenders for the king's throne of that faraway musical kingdom we visited once a week, but there was only one queen and that, of course, was Stevie Nicks. She wore flowing robes and fairy boots and was cool as shit, this babe on the cover of my worn, torn, favorite LPs. If Dad had to have a girlfriend, I guess I wanted her to be just like Stevie, but we never got that lucky. Comforted by the strains of Rumours drifting from the front room, we knew that Dad hadn't really left, he was just playing records in a different room. So I sat quaking, waiting for the car to pick me up and take me away to Stevie's secret L.A. house in the hills. And when it arrived at the stroke of midnight, I knew that she was still my girl. For one brief moment I was a lady of the canyon and I thought I understood how it would have been to rock with the rest of them.

Street Angel (Modern/Atlantic) is Stevie Nicks' sixth solo project. This is a surprise to most people who figured life after Fleetwood Mac was a CD set and the presidential inauguration, but Nicks was more than just the cute one. The album is a return to Bella Donna, her first solo 1: the emphasis is on guitars, acoustic rather than the high-tech keyboards characterized by her later work. Bernie Leadon from the Eagles is a core musician who helped her put the album together, Bob Dylan plays guitar and harmonica on Nicks' cover of 'Just Like a Woman,' and two of the Heartbreakers (Tom Petty's band), Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell, play on nearly every track.

If you trace Fleetwood Mac’s song writing history all the way back to their first LP, although Mick Fleetwood and John McVie were the core of the band, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks were the writers - and it was Stevie, hidden under her veil of chiffon, who penned the more formidable tracks, including "Rhiannon," "Dreams," "Landslide" and "Gold Dust Woman." Apparently "two or three songs a year wasn't doing it" for Nicks, so she embarked on her solo career long before the band's demise. In the early 80's she had a big hit with "Stand Back," a track on which Prince supposedly collaborated (this has still never been confirmed or denied) that crossed over to the dance charts. A whole generation of kids who would never dream of listening to Lite-FM began to appreciate Nicks' kitschy glamour and to this day she sails on as a fashion icon and rock queen.

Fleetwood Mac's divorce was a messy one a long, drawn-out affair that lasted well into the late 80's, when Tango in the Night was released. After so many crazy years together, the wounds still smart. Or do they? "It's not a touchy subject at all," states Nicks. "When you're part of a band for that long you really can't make it go away, it just sort of is. Bill Clinton was probably the only person in the whole world who could have got the five of us on a plane and onto a stage together. In 1990, we'd toured without Lindsey and then we did another record. I stayed because I didn't know how not to, but I handed in my final notice after the inauguration. It healed a lot of wounds, but still not enough."

So the chances of Fleetwood giving in to peer pressure and getting back in that entity are slim to say the least? "I can't say that I would be the one to refuse a reunion, but I'm pretty sure Lindsey would never want to be with the four of us again. He has no wish to come back, and I can't see him changing. I know him pretty well and he is not interested."

Of course what I really want to ask about is the cocaine, the wild parties, the fights, the limos; but drinking orange juice with this slightly motherly, petite woman, it doesn't seem appropriate. Nicks is in her mid-40s, she hangs out at her house in Phoenix writing songs and communing with the desert - those halcyon days are gone. I bring up the topic, but not the specifics, by asking her if it was really as much "fun" as it seemed.

"However much fun you think it was, it was more. It was a grand ride, a great trip. Fleetwood Mac was one of the great glamour rock groups, and we had the best of the best. Hotels, parties limos ... if I was going to do it again, I don't think I could do any better than that."

There is a song on Street Angel that Nicks wrote when she was 18 called "Rose Garden." The lyrics tell of a woman who has the house, the money, the fame. "All these things but a small gold band/On my finger ... on my left hand." Nicks married only once very briefly, to the widower of her best friend Robin who had died suddenly of leukemia. Both unbalanced by grief, they thought it would be the best way to raise Robin's child, but the marriage was a mistake and they divorced after a few months. Nicks doesn't consider this marriage "real" - so did "Rose Garden" turn out to be prophetic?

"It was very much a premonition, a lot of it happened. I did end up giving up an awful lot. I got the house. I got the rose garden and I got the money, but I don't have the marriage. If I had a different life I probably would have married at some point and I definitely would have children. Now at this stage of my life, if I met someone who I was crazy about, it would be a lot easier for me to make some serious concession whereas ten years ago with Fleetwood Mac it would have been very hard. I didn't do it because of that, but now the only person I would have get ‘permission’ from is me."

Thanks to Tami Lee for sending the article to The Nicks Fix.

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