Sitting comfortably in her Tucson, Ariz., house with a stunning view of the mountains in the distance, we talked to ’70s rock icon Stevie Nicks, who’s back in the public eye with her new album, Street Angel.
So, do you still leave the house wearing platform boots?
Heck, yeah. It’s no act. I wear the ones with six-inch heels, in every color. I have them all handmade. I wear the shawls and the boots to the grocery store, and people trip out. They look at me like I’m from outer space, and I know they’re thinking, Well, it’s really her.
How many shawls do you own?
Around 30. They’re piano shawls. Many go up on the ceiling — I have an artist friend who drapes them up there for me and makes French canopies out of them.
What do you miss most about the ’70s?
The music. There were all those rock greats, like Led Zeppelin, Cream, the Rolling Stones. I loved listening to the radio then. Now I turn it on, and I spend all my time zipping down the dial trying to find something decent.
I thought for sure you’d say you miss lava lamps most of all.
I can’t say I miss those because I still have them. Actually, they’re wave lamps. Remember them? Mine are still functional.
I’ve heard that you have a hard time tilting your head back because you believe you’re the reincarnation of Marie Antoinette. Is this true?
When I was little, my ballet teacher brought this to my attention — that I could not put my head back — and we came to the conclusion that I must have been put to death in a previous life, like Marie Antoinette. It’s weird, this reflex. Like when I go into the beauty parlor, I can’t put my head back in the sink for a shampoo.
But on the cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage, you are shown with your head thrown back.
I hated posing for that more than life. And then, when I shot the video for “If Anyone Falls,” the director wanted me to dance with this guy and throw my head back, and I couldn’t do it. We had to call in a backup singer to do it. I called her my stunt neck.
I see that you’ve lost a lot of weight. Does that mean we can look forward to commercials that begin, “Hi, I’m Stevie Nicks for Slim-Fast”?
No. I really didn’t do anything special. I’m just careful now with what I eat. My main problem used to be that I’d wake up in the middle of the night, and this voice would go off in my head that would order me to the refrigerator. Now I just swim regularly and eat healthily before turning in.
I also notice that your hair is straight.
I stopped perming it. [Laughs] So the secret is out: All these years I’ve been a Lilt addict.
What is the most personal song you have ever written?
Probably “Sara.” It’s about myself, and what all of us in Fleetwood Mac were going through at that time. The true version of that song is 16 minutes long. It’s a saga with many verses people haven’t heard.
There is a line in that song, “When you build your house, I’ll come by.” Is that about Don Henley, whom you were dating at the time?[Laughs] That is true.
Did he ever build the house, and did you ever drop by?
He did. And I was in it before he finished it.
What’s the worst rumor you ever heard about yourself?
That I was a wild and crazy black-magic witch. And that I was flying around my house on a broom. When I first heard this, I was touring and wearing black stage outfits, and I immediately mothballed them. I had two dresses made up, in pink and in blue. I called them my Easter-egg dresses. The truth is, I believe in good spirits, not bad.
A couple of years ago, David Letterman mercilessly tormented you by showing clips from your “Stand Back” video, where you appear to be walking backward on a treadmill. Did this upset you?
No, I loved it. People think I don’t have a sense of humor about myself, but I’m here to tell you that I do. A friend of mine made a compilation tape of all the shows Dave spoofed me on, and I watched it in hysterics. You couldn’t pay for that amount of publicity.
Fleetwood Mac reunited to perform at the Clinton inaugural, where you sang his campaign theme song, “Don’t Stop.” Do you have a favorite Bill Clinton moment?
One thing that sticks out about that performance is something nobody saw, because it was edited out. We were playing the song, and Mr. Clinton walked up on the stage to join us. I started to move toward him, and he got this terrified look on his face like, “Oh my God, Stevie Nicks is coming toward me, and this is being watched by 18 million people.” He looked so terrified and uncomfortable that I just handed him my tambourine and said, “Go to it, Mr. President.” And he did — he rocked out.
Why’d you give him the tambourine?
Well, for me, when I was standing onstage with nothing to do and feeling strange, I’d always grab one and start slapping it. When your hands are empty, a tambourine can make you feel very worthwhile.
Ryan Murphy / Us / August 1994