The Petty Archives

Superstar Stevie goes solo
By Neal Hall
The Vancouver Sun - August 12, 1981

Stevie Nick's new solo album, Bella Donna, is something she wanted to do for years but couldn't because of the demands of Fleetwood Mac.

"I signed the record contract [with Modern Records] two years ago but couldn't find time to record until thus February, when there was a break in [Fleetwood Mac's] recording," said the 33-year-old Nicks over the telephone from Torono. "It's been solid Fleetwood Mac all the time."

Fleetwood Mac takes a long time to produce each album. Too long, says Nicks. "It took 12 months to make last year's live album and 13 months for Tusk. But that's not me, that's Lindsay [Buckingham] who likes being in the studio night after night," she says in her husky, sensual voice.

Nicks says she spent only 2 1/2 months in the recording studio for her current LP. And it took her only four hours -- two hours one night, two hours another -- to record her hit single, Stop Draggin' My Heart Around, with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

"I had been singng along with Tom Petty records for years so I didn't have any problem. I moved a little to his voice and he moved a bit to mine," she says, to achieve the powerful harmony of their duet.

The new LP has allowed Nicks to have full control over her own work -- something she has longed for since she began her rise to superstardom.

Nicks, who was born in Phoenix (her parents gave her a classical guitar at the age of 16), moved to California in the late '60s. She was a vocalist in Fritz, a Bay Area band where she met Lindsay Buckingham. And in 1973, she moved to Los Angeles with him and cut an album, Buckingham Nicks. (However, in 1972, she had also dated Don Henley of The Eagles, who made two demos with her: The Highwayman and Leather and Lace. Both songs are on Bella Donna, with Henley and Nicks singing a duet on the latter.)

The Buckingham Nicks album attracted the attention of Mick Fleetwood, who invited them to join Fleetwood Mac. Soon after, the band recorded its two most successful albums: the 1975 self-titled LP and Rumours (1976), which sold 15 million copies worldwide. The two albums also made Nicks into a heartthrob with her flowing blonde hair and haughty face. And the LPs established her as a songwriter with Rhiannon and Dreams, both hit singles.

Although the members of Fleetwood Mac see each other every day in the studio, they rarely socialize. Like other long-surviving bands, Nicks says, the members of Fleetwood Mac get on each other's nerves if they spend too much time together.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that two romances broke up just before Rumours was released in 1976 -- Christine and John McVie split up, as did Nicks and Buckingham -- and new romances blossomed within the group. But with a warmth in hr voice, Nicks adds: "It's hard working together sometimes. But Lindsay and I are still friends and we still love each other. We fight sometimes, but sometimes we fight for each other."

That's why it's good for both her and Mick Fleetwood to have recorded solo albums this year. "Strangely enough it works for us to come back aftr being away from each other, being in a new environment with new people. It's good."

Currently, Nicks has two other female vocalists in her band, Lori Perry from Texas and Sharon Celani, whom she met in Hawaii. "I walked into a club [the Blue Max in Mauai] one night and got up and sang Poor, Poor Pitiful Me with her. It was great. Since then we've been singing together for the last 3 1/2 years."

And she hopes to take her own hand on the road for a tour before Fleetwood Mac begins its tour after the release of the upcoming LP -- if she has the time.

Her contractual obligations keep her busy: she has to make another four solo albums for Modern Records, as well as eight or nine more with Fleetwood Mac. "That should take me until I'm 65," she says with a laugh.

But in her few moments of spare time, Nicks is writing an autobiographical novel about her involvement in the rock world. She also writes poetry, children's fairy-tales and is completing an adaption of her song Rhiannon for a ballet.

"But the only one thing I'm worried about right now," she says, referring to the boycott of American flights by Canadian air traffic controllers, "is getting back to L.A."