Rock heroine Stephanie 'Stevie' Lynn Nicks played a pivotal role in the enduring international success of British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac. However, her solo career in music has made waves as well and her lifelong devotion to music first began in infancy.
As a baby, Stephanie could hardly pronounce her own name and would end up coining her own nickname 'Stevie' as she learned to speak.
Stevie enjoyed a loving, music-filled childhood. Her grandfather was especially supportive of her musical development - teaching the growing girl to sing duets with him by the time she was 4 years old.
Over the course of her childhood, Nicks would experience life and growth in multiple cities as her father's job prompted her family to relocate frequently. She'd pass much of her free time at home with her guitar (a gift at 16 years of age) and her favorite records. Once she reached Arcadia High School in California, she'd become part of a band for the first time (a folk rock band named "the Changing Times").
Stephanie's senior year came in a different High School. It was at Menlo-Atherton High School that she first met the young man she'd partner with as musicians and more. Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie ended up playing a song together in a religious club they both attended. A few years later, he'd call Nicks up with an opportunity she couldn't refuse.
Suddenly, Stevie found herself as lead singer in Buckingham's psych-rock band "Fritz."
Stevie From Band to Band
From 1967 to 1972, Stevie's career in music blossomed as lead singer for "Fritz."
The band saw significant success - going so far as to open for both Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, but Nicks remained undecided on it all. She didn't quite settle on music as a career choice until she dropped out of college shortly before graduating with a major in speech communication. She'd intended to pursue a career in teaching, but ultimately turned to music instead.
When "Fritz" found its end in '72, both Buckingham and Stevie kept on producing music together. Their nightly recording sessions on Buckingham's own tape machine would ultimately prove handy to Polydor Records when they were given a record deal. Polydor used their recordings for their "Buckingham Nicks" release in '73.
Trouble and Odd Jobs
"Buckingham Nicks" went over poorly in sales and Polydor quickly dropped the two artists following the release's failure. This left them in a tough situation and, to make matters worse, Lindsey began suffering from mononucleosis. Stevie set about working a number of odd jobs to support them both at the time. They lived in whatever places they could, including the homes of producers Keith Olsen and Richard Dashut.
This period was a low point in more ways than the above. Unfortunately, the two young musicians were introduced to cocaine during this stressful time.
While living with Dashut in 1972, Lindsey landed a new opportunity with the Everly Brothers and set off on tour with them. Stevie spent the time writing songs, but her inner state was shaky. Her songs reflected regrets concerning her lost career in teaching and her relationship with Lindsey. Her parents were supportive and offered an out by paying for her to return to college if she wanted to. Luckily, fate was waiting on the line with a phone call.
Stevie Meets Fleetwood
Upon receiving a call from Mick Fleetwood in 1974 about replacing the band's guitarist, Lindsey insisted the band take in both himself and Stevie. A dinner discussion at a later date sealed the deal and the British band became British-American. Their album "Fleetwood Mac" became a massive success and Stevie's own song "Rhiannon" would go on to become one of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" according to Rolling Stone.
Stevie quickly gained recognition for her passionate performances and signature fashion (developed by designer Margi Kent). Behind the scenes, however, her relationship with Lindsey grew strained. The two called it quits as a couple before the release of Fleetwood Mac's next album. They kept up their work as members of the band though, and even joined forces as backup singers for other acts. Their relationship formed foundation for future songs, though. Notably "Go Your Own Way" (Lindsey's song about Stevie) and "Silver Springs" (Stevie's song about Lindsey).
When "Rumours," the band's next album, came out in '77, a song written by Nicks would become the band's only ever Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping track. That track was "Dreams" and never in her wildest ones did Stevie anticipate what would transpire later that same year.
Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks ended up romantically involved. Their relationship was not welcome, especially given Fleetwood's married status and they quickly ended it. Mick's marriage still ended in divorce the following year.
An album, a label and More for Nicks
Next up on the band's release radar would be "Tusk," the band's 12th studio album. However, a single album wouldn't do for Stevie as she launched her own solo career soon after.
Tusk came out in 1979 and featured songs and sounds considered some of Fleetwood Mac's most experimental. Though the album was influential to numerous artists and genres, it was considered a commercial failure in comparison to their previous release.
While the band had been recording tracks for "Tusk," Stevie recorded her own demos for what would eventually become "Bella Donna." Along with Danny Goldberg and Paul Fishkin, she founded Modern Records under which she released her own music.
"Bella Donna" was a total success and topped the Billboard 200 chart with ease. With such a successful release, it should have come as no surprise that Rolling Stone would name her "Queen of Rock and Roll." Things were looking up, but not for long...
Stevie in the 80's
Just as Bella Donna began seeing such success in 1981, Nicks was made aware of an impending tragedy that would shake her to her core. The looming threat of death for her best friend Robin who'd been diagnosed with leukemia soured her success with sorrow.
Compounding the bad news was Robin's pregnancy. She birthed a son and made Stevie his godmother. In 1982, Robin then succumbed to her illness - plummeting Nicks into grief. Bereft and mourning her friend, Stevie decided to marry her widowed husband in an attempt to better care for her child. The two divorced mere months later.
Freshly devastated by this development, Stevie returned to record "Mirage," Fleetwood Mac's next album. The very next year, she released her own second album "The Wild Heart" which went double platinum. Two tours and a slew of successful performances followed suit. In 1985, her 3rd studio album "Rock a Little" would come out to great success as well. The following year saw her touring with Tom Petty and Bob Dylan overseas, as well as a major life change.
Stevie's use of cocaine had gradually gone from recreational to an addiction. As it turned out, a part of her longed to follow in the footsteps of her idols Janis and Jimi, even to an early passing. Thankfully, she was made aware of her problem during a visit with a plastic surgeon and chose to check into the Betty Ford Center for help. In 30 days, she went from carrying a gram of cocaine with her at all times to sobriety, though she’d taken up a prescription for Klonopin to help stave off a relapse.
With a new lease on life and an album on the way ("Tango in the Night"), Stevie was back on track in her life. "Tango in the Night" would ultimately become the band's second-highest-grossing album of all time. Unfortunately, not everything went so smoothly as its release.
Lindsey Buckingham made a decision to quit the band before their tour - resulting in an ugly spat between himself and Nicks. Buckingham was replaced and the tour was made, though Stevie succumbed to the familiar struggle of addiction; this time, to her Klonopin prescription. An ironic twist given the prescription's intended purpose...
In the face of Stevie's illness, the tour had to be suspended and started back up in '88. That same year, she'd begin work on her next solo album "The Other Side of the Mirror" with a producer she'd later fall in love with (Rupert Hine). The album was a commercial success upon release in 1989 and the accompanying tour that same year went over well, despite Nicks noting her Klonopin dependency has since left her void of all memories from the period. More music with Fleetwood Mac would follow, but also more trouble.
Nicks in the 90's
In 1990, Fleetwood Mac's new album "Behind the Mask" released successfully, but Mick and Nicks had a falling out. Stevie quit the band but would reunite with the original lineup 2 years later to play "Don't Stop" at Bill Clinton's inauguration. The president had chosen the song for his campaign.
Nicks was notably ill at ease as her prescription predicament approached a tipping point. After an injury at her home due to side-effects of the drug, she underwent an arduous hospital detox process that lasted over 40 days.
In 1994, Stevie put out another solo album entitled "Street Angel." The album went over poorly and her tour was an equal disappointment. Fans were fed up with her for having gained weight, mostly due to the effects of Klonoprin and she took a stronger interest in her health in response to the negative attention - avoiding live performances until she was healthy again.
Come '96, Nicks would set differences aside to collaborate with Lindsey on "Twisted" for the movie "Twister." More movie music came next, but also a full reuniting with Fleetwood Mac for a new tour. The tour was named "The Dance" and it's accompanying live CD was hugely successful. Stevie's health had largely improved before the tour.
2 Years after "The Dance," the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and presented with an "Outstanding Contribution" award at the BRIT Awards. Before the year ended, Stevie also released a box set of her solo music with Warner Music entitled "Enchanted" to widespread acclaim.
Stevie at the Turn of the Millennium
Stevie's solo album release of 2001 opened up new opportunities for her as the 00's began. "Trouble in Shangri-La" revitalized Nicks's standing as a solo artist - garnering praise, awards and even a Grammy nomination. The album featured collaborations with Natalie Maines, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan and Macy Gray.
The accompanying tour for "Trouble in Shangri-La" was also a success despite difficulties with bronchitis and the events of 9-11.
The very next year, Stevie would return to Fleetwood Mac to help record yet another album by the name of "Say You Will." The album and 2 year world tour went relatively well, but Stevie found little enjoyment in it all. Fellow band-mate Christine McVie hadn't joined in and Stevie had struggled to work with Buckingham during production. She took a couple months to recover from the stresses of the tour before embarking on a number of solo performances across the country.
Some time late in 2004, Nicks set about donating hundreds of autographed iPod Nanos loaded with hand-selected music to wounded military personnel. She ultimately founded a charity to support wounded soldiers called "Stevie Nicks' Band of Soldiers."
A couple years later, in 2007, Stevie's best-of album "Crystal Visions" would unveil to relative success, followed in 2009 by "The Soundstage Sessions" (her tenth solo album and first live album). That same year, she went on tour with Fleetwood Mac yet again - playing the band's greatest hits.
Stevie in Modernity
As 2011 rolled in, so did the release of Stevie's solo album "In Your Dreams." She had produced this album with the assistance of Dave Stewart of Eurhythmics fame.
For the first time, Nicks took mostly to television for the sake of promoting her new music. She starred as a guest on more than 5 shows when her album released, including "The Tonight Show," "The X Factor," "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Dancing with the Stars." "In Your Dreams" was quite well-received all-around and even debuted high up on the Billboard 200 (number 6). She'd continue making appearances on T.V. with some regularity from then on.
2013 saw the experienced star touring once more with Fleetwood Mac and even releasing fresh material with the band on a four-track EP simply called "Extended Play."
More T.V. time was given to Stevie for her appearance in the eerie "American Horror Story" series' third season. Nicks played a "white witch" and performed a bit of her own music on the show in 2014. That same year, she released yet another album called "24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault" and took off on tour to promote it. As of yet, her most recent studio release has been as a collaborator on singer Lana Del Rey's song "Beautiful People Beautiful Problems."
It is clear that Stevie Nicks's dedication to her craft has taken her on a roller coaster ride through life and love. Through ups and downs, trials and successes, she has stayed true to her purpose in music and inspired millions in the process.
By no means is her long-standing career yet over, though. More music must be on the way.