Rock heroine Stevie Nicks rose to stardom in the ‘70s as Fleetwood Mac’s talented songstress. With her raspy voice and dreamy looks, Stevie has an undeniable aura about her. Band member Mick Fleetwood once mentioned that seeing her perform “Rhiannon” on stage was like witnessing an exorcism.
But Stevie spiraled into such heavy drug abuse during her career that, at one point, she seriously needed a form of exorcism to get all the toxins out. In between spacey, wasted moments and incestuous love affairs with band members, Stevie Nicks magically managed to rock it out on stage to become the ultimate Queen of Rock and Roll.
Let’s see how she put the whole world under her spell.
Stevie was born Stephanie Lynn Nicks on May 26, 1948, in Phoenix, Arizona. She became Stevie after pronouncing her name as “tee-dee” time and again. Stevie was instantly thrown into a world of fantasy thanks to her overprotective mother, who loved to coddle her with different fairy tales and ghost stories.
Her dad, on the other hand, was an outspoken president of a food company. His job meant that the family moved around a lot, and Stevie was able to meet all sorts of people and explore different sceneries. She lived in Los Angeles, El Paso, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, and even San Francisco.
Stevie’s grandfather, Aaron Jess Nicks Sr., was a country artist whose dreams never really took off. But he had high hopes for his granddaughter. He noticed she was musically talented when she was just four years old and encouraged her to sing her heart out in duets with him.
She joined his gigs at local bars and gin mills, giggling and dancing her way on and off stage. She was only five when she began performing on stage with him, and even though her voice wasn’t mind-blowing at the time, her stage presence was undeniable.
Stevie wrote her first song the very same day she was gifted her first guitar. It was a present for her Sweet 16, and she was determined to make good use of it. And what better way to do so than to write her own material? She called her song, “I’ve Loved, and I’ve Lost, and I’m Sad but Not Blue.”
From that point onward, Stevie viewed songwriting as an outlet for everything. From feelings of sorrow to feelings of joy, she loved that she could translate those emotions into words. “From that minute, it was very clear to me that this was what I was going to do.”
Stevie knew she wanted to become a musician, but she also knew that the path wasn’t going to be easy, and a backup plan was needed. So, she attended San Jose State University, where she majored in speech communication and planned on becoming an English teacher.
But she dropped out of college just one semester before graduation after a close friend persuaded her to follow her real dream – music. This close friend was Lindsey Buckingham, the man who would become both her lover and music partner.
Lindsey knew Stevie from high school, and when they met again in college, he immediately recalled her distinctive singing voice. Meeting her was great news for him. He had a band called Fritz, and Stevie was just what the group needed to take their music to the next level.
Stevie was flattered and agreed to join. But she honestly had no idea what she was getting herself into. She described them as a “really heavy San Francisco rock and roll band,” and it took her time to get used to their fast pace and aggressive sounds.
Lindsey and Stevie’s time together slowly evolved into something more than two friends with a shared musical interest. The duo fell in love. Stevie expressed her passionate feelings in her lyrics and trusted Lindsey to arrange the music accordingly.
“Whatever her music was, I was her soulmate who knew exactly what to do with it,” Lindsey explained. When Fritz disbanded, they formed the duo “Buckingham Nicks” and spent even more one-on-one time together. A blooming romance was inevitable…
Buckingham and Nicks’ ultimate mission was to get their music out there. They recorded their songs on a small tape machine and hoped someone would notice their talent. In 1972, someone did. Producer Keith Olsen listened to their tapes and landed them a deal with Polydor Records.
“They were meant to sing together,” Olsen noted. Finally, Stevie was getting the recognition she felt she deserved. From her teenage years cooped up in her room listening to records to actually recording one herself! She could not have been happier.
Her happiness didn’t last very long because their first album, Buckingham Nicks, didn’t do so well. Both the duo and the label were extremely disappointed. Tragically, just as their career seemed to be taking off, Polydor Records dropped them.
Stevie recalled, “Lindsey and I thought that the world had ended. We’ve had a taste of the finer things: We’ve recorded in a big studio, we’ve been introduced to fabulous musicians, we’ve met a lot of people… We are very proud of our record. And it just gets dropped. And we are back to square one.”
Square one wasn’t a comfortable square to be in. To support herself, Stevie worked at random jobs like waitressing and even cleaning producer Olsen’s house. Whatever the job was, she took it. She started second-guessing her music career and whether she would really be able to pull it off.
Stevie was so distraught she thought of heading back to school. She told her parents if she didn’t make it in the next six months, she would come back home. Her parents comforted her and told her if she wanted to enroll in school again, they would gladly pay for her studies.
Just when Stevie felt her dreams were slipping away, her partner, Lindsey, received a phone call that would forever change their lives. It was Mick Fleetwood from Fleetwood Mac. He heard one of their demos and invited the two to join his English Blues band (although he initially wanted only Buckingham to join).
The duo contemplated for a bit but eventually decided to go for it. Stevie recalled: “I went out and bought all the Fleetwood Mac records and listened to them back-to-back. I then reassured Lindsey: ‘I think it’s okay to join them. We’re not going to lose ourselves.’” They then accepted the offer.
Stevie described her time with Fleetwood Mac as “one big outrageous morning-to-night party every day.” She also mentioned that their first self-titled album was an easy-breezy operation. The experience was new and fun because everyone was just getting to know each other.
It took them around three months to record an album that would go on to sell five million copies. Their song Rhiannon became the album’s first hit, and Stevie began to develop her image as rock’s witchy, mystical star.
When it was only the two of them (Stevie and Lindsey), things were fine. But when they joined the band, things started to get rocky. “We couldn’t be together and also work together. I couldn’t have him telling me my song isn’t good, knowing he’s saying that because he’s angry about our relationship,” Stevie explained.
The two eventually broke up. But the band was working on their Rumours album, so despite their breakup, they had to see each other every day. “It’s not normal, not healthy,” Lindsey recalled, “We had to work together. But there were times when I had the urge not to want to do that.”
Rumours was a living hell to record, and it took the band a year to complete it. But it proved to be their best one. On April 2nd, 1977, after just two months in stores, it hit number one on the charts. It sold 25 million copies, making it the best-selling album the world had ever heard.
The group became rich overnight. Stevie revealed, “We all went out and bought a bunch of stuff. Expensive stuff. Houses, cars, I mean, we spent a lot of money.” Looks like the intense emotions between band members paid off.
Stevie’s newfound fame and success became entangled with her breakup from Lindsey, and all of it mutated into this very surreal reality. Her way of coping? Drugs. A magical white powder that would keep her up and going for hours upon hours.
“In the first couple of years, it was very much something to get energy from,” Stevie explained, “I’ve got 15 interviews, 10 shows, 20 fittings, I can’t do it all, I’m too tired. I’ll never get through this if I don’t do some cocaine.”
By the 1980s, Stevie’s drug habit had become so detrimental she was on the verge of collapsing. She once asked a plastic surgeon about her nose, and he replied, “Well, I think that next time you do a hit of cocaine, you could drop dead.”
At the height of her addiction, she hid grams of cocaine inside of her boots at all times. You know, just in case she would need a little pick me up. Eventually, she really was picked up. But off the floor and right into rehab. “I realized I was going to have to stop doing drugs, or else they would kill me,” she confessed.
Stevie finally checked herself into a 30-day treatment program at the Betty Ford Center. What made her make that brave step towards recovery? Other musicians who weren’t so strong, including Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. She didn’t want to end up like them.
She thought, “I would be very sad if some 25-year-old lady rock and roll singer 10 years from now said, ‘I wish Stevie Nicks would have thought about it a little more.’ That’s kind of what stopped me and made me really look at the world through clear eyes.”
Now, this is terribly distorted. As Stevie checked out of rehab for her cocaine addiction, her doctor gave her a tranquilizer named Klonopin, which, lo and behold, became her new go-to drug. From one substance to the other, Stevie was going downhill yet again.
Her abuse of pain killers had become so bad that she tripped and bashed her head one day on a fireplace. She passed out on the spot and, upon waking up, understood she had to check into rehab for the second time: “I’m one of those people who doesn’t injure themselves. I was horrified to see that blood. I hadn’t had enough wine. I knew it was the Klonopin,” Stevie revealed.
In 1987, right before Fleetwood Mac’s Shake the Cage tour, Stevie and her ex, Lindsey, got into a really ugly fight. A fight that didn’t involve only curses and insults. It got physical. Lindsey allegedly grabbed Stevie and threw in a slap.
Other reports have it that Lindsey chased her around the house and even strangled her. In response, Stevie threatened to have him killed. Ultimately, bassist John McVie broke the whole thing up. But what was the fight even about? Apparently, Lindsey wanted out of the band, and Stevie wasn’t having it.
Stevie’s life at the time was anything but calm. Her emotions fueled her songwriting, and she had a bunch of lyrics just waiting to be sung. But Fleetwood Mac had two other songwriters, so there was only room for around three of four of her songs.
Frustrated, Stevie contemplated on going solo for a while and eventually went for it. She explained: “It had nothing to do with me wanting to leave the band and had everything to do with just wanting another outlet to sing my songs.”
When producer Paul Fishkin met Stevie, he knew from the beginning she could make it on her own: “She was the hottest female in the world at the time. I never had any doubt she could sell millions of records.” He created a new label just for her solo work – Modern Records.
When her bandmates found out, they were less than pleased. Stevie explained, “Everyone was worried. What if the record was a flop? Then that would hurt the band. What if it was a hit? That would hurt the band too.” Either way, Stevie’s solo career threatened Fleetwood Mac, but Stevie promised them her career wouldn’t come at the band’s expense.
Paul knew that if Stevie were to go solo, she would have to reinvent herself. He felt it was important for her to steer clear from her celestial godmother image and become a rocker instead. It took some time for rock stations to take her seriously; they were still hung up on her Fleetwood Mac appearance.
But Stevie proved to everyone she was worth playing on the radio. In 1981, she came out with her solo album Bella Donna, and it peaked at No.1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Rolling Stone crowned her “The Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll.”
It was hard not to fall for Stevie. She had these warm, brown doe eyes and a playful smile. And on top of all that, she was extremely talented. Watching her on stage enchanted her fans and bandmates alike. This brings us to romance number two – Mick Fleetwood.
Mick admitted, “I was very much in love with Stevie.” But he knew that before he could dive into it, he had to come clean in front of her ex, Lindsey. Weirdly enough, Lindsey shrugged it off: “By that time, our armor was pretty thick. I don’t think anyone could have done anything that would have surprised me.”
Jimmy Iovine was the genius behind Stevie’s debut album Bella Donna. But, like Paul Fishkin, he believed Stevie had to leave her Fleetwood past behind and approach her solo career as if this was her first time recording. Fleetwood Mac had protected her like a little baby, but her coddling days were now over.
Stevie recalled Iovine’s tough love: “[He told me] You are not a solo artist in any way, shape, or form. You have been protected like a little baby egg for seven years.” Luckily, Stevie wasn’t intimidated by his words. On the contrary, they inspired her to become that much better.
As I mentioned before, Stevie was hard to resist. And Jimmy Iovine fell for her too as they worked together on her solo album, Bella Donna. Stevie reminisced, “Jimmy was everything. He said I will be with you there to make you strong enough to do this.”
But Jimmy didn’t want his other clients to know about his affair, for fear of losing them. So, when singer Tom Petty came to his studio one day, he hid Stevie in the basement: “I said ‘Look, Stevie, you’ve gotta understand. Tom doesn’t know you. And the basement’s like a set-up basement — it’s nice. When he comes, just stay down there, you know?”
The same day Stevie’s solo album hit No.1 on the charts, she found out her best friend Robin Anderson had leukemia: “I never got to enjoy Bella Donna at all because my friend was dying. Something went out that day; something left.”
Stevie explained, “She had been in my life since I was 14. She was the one person that knew me for the person I really was and not for the famous Stevie, and it was good to have someone who knew the real you besides just your mom and dad.” Within months, Robin was gone.
The real tragedy here is the son Stevie’s friend left behind. A newborn baby boy who never got to spend time with his mom. Heartbroken and in a haze, Stevie made the rash decision to marry Robin’s widower, Kim Robinson, to create a family for the baby.
Their marriage lasted three short months, and looking back, Stevie described her decision as “completely deranged.” To this day, this impulsive, grief-stricken arrangement was Stevie’s only marriage. And even though it didn’t last, she still kept a close eye on her step godson.
After Stevie recovered from her Klonopin addiction, her post-rehab-look wasn’t what the crowd was used to. She put on a lot of weight during her painkiller detox, and audiences weren’t too nice about it. Her appearance became the main focus, and her accomplishments as a singer were sadly overlooked.
The public’s criticism got under her skin, and, in 1994, she vowed never to step on stage again. For over three years, Stevie lived in a self-imposed exile. She struggled with depression and low self-esteem but was strong enough to channel those emotions into her notebook, coming up with more and more new songs.
In the spring of 1998, Stevie finally returned to the spotlight with a three-CD box set titled, Enchanted, which she described as the most personal and raw work she had ever created: “There’s a memory and an experience that goes with each one of the songs.”
Her come back encouraged a new generation of female rockers to come forth with their music and dare to be bold and unapologetic. Courtney Love described Stevie as “a very sophisticated songwriter” and “like your fairy-princess-godmother who’s, you know, gonna save you.”
To this day, Stevie remains the only woman to have two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions: one in 1998, along with her Fleetwood bandmates, and one in 2019 as a solo artist. When asked about her incredible achievement, Stevie said, “I definitely broke a big rock’n’roll glass ceiling.”
Stevie has always been upfront about the difficulties of performing in a male-dominated field. She once mentioned a pact she had with bandmate Christine McVie: “If we were ever in a room of super famous guitar players that didn’t treat us with the respect that we thought that we deserved, we would just stand up and say, ‘This party’s over,’ and we would walk out.”
When Mick Fleetwood approached the duo with his offer, his intention wasn’t necessarily to have Stevie join the band. It was Buckingham he was interested in. But Lindsey made it clear he and Stevie were “a package deal.”
Fleetwood was hesitant at first, but today he can confidently say it was an incredible decision. Stevie added color and a “theatrical passion” to the group, and without her, Fleetwood Mac would not have reached their professional heights.
Throughout her life, Stevie Nicks had numerous love affairs and one really impulsive marriage. But none of those relationships gave birth to a child: “My mission maybe wasn’t to be a mom and a wife; maybe my particular mission was to write songs to make moms and wives feel better,” Stevie explained.
The singer doesn’t feel lonely by any means. According to Stevie, she has many kids, including her stepson, nieces, and other godchildren: “I have lots of kids. It’s much more fun to be the crazy auntie than it is to be the mom, anyway.”
When Stevie went on stage, her appearance was hard to ignore. She wore velvet shawls, chiffons, and flowing draped dresses that gave her a fairy-like look. Stevie told Harper’s Bazaar: “I didn’t want to look like anyone else. That’s why I never went to any of the big designers.”
Her dramatic looks evolved with the years. But her most recognizable item, which pretty much outlived whatever fashion phase she was going through, were her platform boots. At just five foot one, her towering boots were a must.
Stevie opened up about her Fleetwood Mac song, Sara, and explained it was inspired by an abortion she had in 1979. The unborn baby was a result of her relationship with Eagles’ member Don Henley: “Had I married Don and had that baby, and had she been a girl, I would have named her Sara.”
So, why didn’t she have Sara? According to Stevie, it would have wrecked Fleetwood Mac’s career: “I knew that the music we were going to bring to the world was going to heal so many people’s hearts and make people so happy. And I thought: You know what? That’s really important.”
Stevie confessed that of all her passionate romances, her greatest love was Eagles’, Joe Walsh. Their relationship wasn’t as famous as her other ones, and it also didn’t last as long. But she would have married Joe. He was the love of her life.
“I was very content with him all the time. That’s only happened once in my life. This man, if he’d asked me to marry him, I would have,” Stevie revealed. The two eventually broke up because things became too intense.
So how much does Stevie spend on her outrageous outfits? According to her tax filings from 1991, the singer spent $270,000 for makeup, hair styling, clothes, a home office, and management fees. But with the millions she has accumulated, we doubt she ever notices the charges that come off her account.
The legend is in her 70s and has been in the music industry for five decades, yet she’s still raking in insane amounts of money. As of today, Stevie’s net worth is around $120 million. In December 2020, the singer sold an 80% interest in copyrights to Primary Wave for an impressive $80 million.
Stevie founded “Stevie Nicks’ Band of Soldiers,” a nonprofit organization that assists wounded military personnel. In 2004, she bought hundreds of iPods and loaded them with uplifting songs, which she then handed out to wounded servicemen and women she visited in Navy medical centers in Washington D.C.
“I call it a soldiers’ iPod. It has all the crazy stuff that I listen to, and my collections I’ve been making since the 1970s for going on the road when I’m sick … or the couple of times in my life that I have really been down, music is what always dances me out of bed.”
Despite all her success, Stevie has never taken a Grammy home as a solo artist. The only time she’s been awarded the sought-after trophy was in 1997 when Fleetwood Mac took home the prize for their best-selling album, Rumors.
But no hard feelings. Even though she’s been nominated eight times and has never won an individual award, Stevie knows what an incredible force she was (and still is) in the music industry.
It isn’t easy for a woman to grow up in the public eye. Especially when you’re used to being a charming and attractive young force. So many go for Botox as a way to cling on to their disappearing looks. Stevie has gone under the knife as well, but she totally regrets it.
“Let me tell you, Botox only makes you look like you’re in a satanic cult. I only had it once, and it destroyed my face for four months. I would look in the mirror and try and lift my eyebrow and go: ‘Oh, there you are, Satan’s angry daughter.’ Never again!”
Stevie Nicks isn’t afraid of death. And not because she’s an immortal witch (although some people would argue otherwise), but because she believes in life after death. Ever since her mom passed away in 2012, Stevie believes she’s been receiving visits from her here and there.
She revealed: “[I] was standing in the kitchen with really bad acid reflux and I felt something almost tap my shoulder, and this voice go: ‘It’s that Gatorade you’re drinking.’” Stevie has no doubt in her mind it was her mom telling her not to “drink any more of that sh*t.”