Stevie Nicks performs at the Worcester Centrum, June 3 and 4
LOWELL – A funny thing happened when Keith Olsen popped a demonstration tape into the machine in his recording studio 11 years ago, and it was the beginning of Stevie Nicks’ Midas touch.
Not only did the sound that swelled from the speakers win Olsen the job of producing Fleetwood Mac’s next album, as he had hoped, but it also gave the band its super-seller lineup. The tape, so the story goes, was of the Olsen-produced album Buckingham Nicks, a record by the West Coast duo Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.
Nicks, the sultry, raspy-voiced singer, brings her solo tour through Worcester this Tuesday and Wednesday, June 3 and 4. Peter Frampton, a longtime rocker experiencing renewed success, opens the shows. Some tickets remain for both nights.
What followed the merger of the Mac and Buckingham and Nicks was multi-platinum success, thanks to albums named Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, Tusk and Mirage. Hit singles danced up the charts with ease. But relationships within the band eroded, and while it made for some strong music, the splits made it tough to work together, too.
Nicks mustered her spirits and her talents, put together crack studio backing, including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and released Bella Donna. The album, named for belladonna, the second most hallucinogenic drug in the world, featured many of the mystical ramblings and haunting melodies that had been a signature of Nicks’ work with Fleetwood Mac. But gone were the other members of the band, and the sharing of the microphone and the responsibility for the outcome. Some critics slammed Nicks for her tendency toward spacey lyrics, but “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” a duet with Petty and band, was a smash.
Other solo Nicks albums, including 1983’s The Wild Heart and the recent Rock A Little, followed, and Nicks is the most successful member of Fleetwood Mac to hit the road and the recording studio alone.
Nicks, who turned 38 Monday, was born in Phoenix, Ariz., and first performed with Buckingham in a San Francisco area band named Fritz, which played the Bay Area from 1968 through 1972. The two, who had become romantically involved, broke off from the band and eventually recorded the Buckingham Nicks album. After Bob Welch left Fleetwood Mac (which had formed in 1967 as a blues band but enjoyed only moderate success), drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie were looking for a studio when they heard Olsen’s work with the duo.
The re-formed Fleetwood Mac’s first, self-titled effort, helped considerably by the success of the single “Rhiannon,” a Nicks composition, sold fast and heavily and stayed on the charts for 122 weeks. Its sales topped five million.
Rumours, which hit the racks two years later, chronicled the personal breakups after the success (Nicks and Buckingham and McVie and his wife, keyboardist Christine), was one of the biggest sellers of all time, as fans snapped up 15 million copies worldwide. Tusk was the band’s creative peak, as Buckingham led the Macs in experimental directions, and Mirage, from 1982, was a solid, steady hunk of pop-rock.
Through it all, Nicks added considerably to the band’s success, penning several hit singles (most notably “Rhiannon,” “Dreams” and “Sara”) and taking her place as one of rock’s biggest sex symbols. But Nicks, a dancer, was as prone to throat nodes in concert as she was to whirling around onstage like a possessed backwoods witch, and was known as an inconsistent performer, sometimes unable to sing.
Fleetwood Mac has been in the studio recently, and the release of a new record is imminent. Feelings weren’t as strained as they have been in the past, ifs been said, and Nicks had so much fun while adding her vocal parts that she wanted to stay longer, but had to hit the road in support of Rock A Little. While that’s good news to fans of the band, Stevie Nicks will probably continue to do just fine on her own, too.
Guitarist Frampton, whose latest album, Premonition, is something of a comeback from a few dismal efforts, is riding on the success of a basic rocking sound and a hit single, “Lying.”
Tickets for the Stevie Nicks concerts on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 3 and 4, are available at the Centrum box office, 755-6800.
Who: Stevie Nicks
Where: Worcester Centrum
When: June 3 and 4. 8 p.m.
David Perry / Lowell Sun / May 30, 1986
(This article was transcribed by Stevie Nicks Info)