Unmistakeable quivering vocals, otherworldly lyricism and a hint of black magic: it’s all just part of the potion that has seen Stevie Nicks prevail through the last 50 years of rock history.
As a member of Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist, the singer-songwriter has sold over 140 million albums and penned over 40 Top 50 hits.
It’s an impressive career and at 70-years-old, Nicks’ is set to make history as the first woman to become a double inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ahead of her induction, we’ve rounded up five career-defining tracks from the most bewitching woman of rock.
5. ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’ (with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) (1983)
Upon pitching her critically-acclaimed solo debut in 1981, Bella Donna, Nicks’ explained to producers that she wanted to be a member of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. She was told no, instead settling for the next best thing: Petty’s producer Jimmy Iovine. The pair started a personal relationship and, in a bid to keep it secret, Iovine would hide her in his basement whenever Petty visited to record. Eventually, Iovine connected the pair for the duet ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’ – and it was a roaring success. The song became the biggest hit of Nicks’ solo career, and Petty’s highest ever charting track.
4. ‘Stand Back’ (1983)
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Nicks’ recalled her “strange friendship” with the late pop icon, Prince. The pair were a musical match made in heaven – and ‘Stand Back’ embodies that, marrying Nicks’ mystifying lyricism with a gritty, energised melody inspired by Prince’s ‘Little Red Corvette’. When she was in the draft stages of writing the track, Nicks phoned Prince to run the tune by him: “I phoned Prince out of the blue, hummed a melody, and he listened. He came over within the hour. He listened again, and I said, ‘Do you hate it?’ He said, ‘No,’ and walked over to the synthesizers that were set up, was absolutely brilliant for about twenty-five minutes, and then left. He was so uncanny, so wild, he spoiled me for every band I’ve ever had because nobody can exactly re-create—not even with two piano players—what Prince did all by his little self.”
3. ‘Planets of the Universe’ (2001)
Initially recorded as a demo for Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, ‘Planets of the Universe’ certainly wouldn’t feel out of place among the turbulent themes of disintegrating relationships which permeated in the 1977 release. Nicks re-recorded the track as a solo endeavor for her 2001 release Trouble in Shangri-La. It boasted a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and a top spot on the dance club charts.
2. ‘Edge of Seventeen’ (1981)
At first glance, you might think this track is about an older woman seducing a younger man. But Nicks’ music has never been without enigma, and nowhere is that more clear than the perplexing lyrics and haunting intensity which come into play on ‘Edge of Seventeen’. Born from a conversation Nicks had with Tom Petty’s wife Jane about how the couple met (“She told me that when she met Tom he was ‘at the age of seventeen’,” the singer told NBC Radio’s The Source in 1981. “But she had this incredible Southern drawl so it sounded like ‘edge of seventeen’.”), it was initially meant to be about Tom and Jane’s relationship, but soon came to represent violent death, influenced by the sudden passing of Nicks’ uncle and Beatles icon John Lennon, with the lines “words from a poet and a voice from a choir” and “white-winged dove” both referring to the late Lennon.
1. ‘Gold Dust Woman’ (1977)
Drugs, leaving a bad relationship, and the trapping intensity of being a member of Fleetwood Mac in 1977: ‘Gold Dust Woman’ is absolutely overwhelming. Written during the band’s turbulent sessions for Rumours, which were notoriously fuelled with break-ups, strife, and high cocaine consumption; it stands as an example of Nicks’ symbolic lyricism, and her strength to create something undeniably beautiful in her lowest moments.