Home » EXCLUSIVE: Rock and roll’s queen still reigns

EXCLUSIVE: Rock and roll’s queen still reigns

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Between Fleetwood Mac, the Sound City Players, Lady Antebellum and a steady solo career, Stevie Nicks shows no signs of slowing down

By Josh Baron
Photography by Danny Clinch
Relix
April/May 2013

Nearly 50 years into her music career, Stevie Nicks is still hustling. After two years of promotion, she wound down the tour for her latest solo record, In Your Dreams—her seventh—in September, having spent part of her summer rejoining Rod Stewart for another leg of their Heart & Soul tour. Less than a month later, she was making the film festival rounds doing press for her first movie, the documentary In Your Dreams about the making of the album. (Producer Dave Stewart also co-directed the picture.)

By January, she was on the road with the Sound City Players, an ad hoc group of artists that included John Fogerty, Rick Springfield, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick and Lee Ving of Fear, backed by the Foo Fighters. After four dates with the Sound City Players, Nicks was back in Los Angeles rehearsing with Fleetwood Mac for their forthcoming tour. (During that time, she also managed to rehearse for a 90-minute set with country act Lady Antebellum, taped as part of CMT’s Crossroads series.)

“A long time ago, Fleetwood Mac wouldn’t have been happy—pre-1981, [pre-] Bella Donna—about me doing other stuff because it was all about Fleetwood Mac at that point,” says the singer shortly after arriving in New York for the Sound City Players show this past February. “After I did my solo album, I saw them down and said, “Listen, guys. I’m not going anywhere. I just need a vehicle for some of these many, many songs that will never make it onto the Fleetwood Mac records.’”

One of those songs—the tough-love rocker “You Can’t Fix This,” which appears on the new Real to Reel album as part of Dave Grohl’s Sound City film project—is presently a major focus for her. And, one might argue, as personal a song as she’s ever written.

The Old Dreams and the New Realities of Rock and Roll

While on tour in Australia in November 2011, her 18-year-old godson Glen Parrish died of drug-related causes at a fraternity party at UCLA. (The exact cause of death remains unknown.) Nicks—who was the first to hold the boy after his birth—says the high school senior battled heroin addiction, among other substance abuse issues.

“For me, I remember the little fourth grader [or] the little second grader that would sit on my lap and was so sweet and kind,” she says. “Glen, for a long time, lived in my house in Phoenix with all of us. My sister-in-law Lori pretty much raised Glen, [my niece] Jessie and [Glen’s little sister] Callais. … Something like that happens, and it reaches out like tendrils. It touches so many people.”

The lyrics are about more than just the young Parrish—they’re about the halcyon days of Fleetwood Mac: “Dancing with the devil/Call it respect, call it fear/But we never allowed the devil to come to the party/We were careful in our own way/We walked through the darkness/We made a pact not to dance with the devil.”

Nicks identifies the song’s devil as both the idea of “overdoing it with drugs,” with the first-hand knowledge that kids today are ingesting an unholy “cauldron” of substances and, with regard to Fleetwood Mac, heroin.

“We were told in the very beginning: ‘Don’t do it,’” she recalls of the ‘70s. “It will be the one thing that burns you down. So we never did and we never hung out with people that did that.” Ironic as Nicks’ anti-drug cry may seem, given that Fleetwood Mac’s  cocaine habit is the stuff of legend, her attitude suggests—as the line “We were careful in our own way” reflects—that the band members had an innate sense of responsibility that isn’t present in the young partiers of today. “Hopefully, it’s going to do exactly what I wanted,” she says of “You Can’t Fix This.” “It’s going to give Glen’s death a voice.”

While she won’t be performing the song on the current Fleetwood Mac tour, fans will hear other new tunes. Two—“Sad Angel” and “Miss Fantasy”—were refined by Lindsey Buckingham and Nicks out of a possible eight that had been sketched out in early 2012 by “the boys” of the band. A third, “Without You,” has its genesis in the Buckingham Nicks II sessions, which morphed into 1975’s Fleetwood Mac.

Speaking of Buckingham Nicks, their original—and only—album has never been released in any digital format. For their 40th anniversary this year, the duo hopes to re-release the record. “We hope that we can figure out a way to shoot this record out because we want people to have it,” she says. “It’s not hard to understand why—when we joined Fleetwood Mac and added Christie [McVie]—it became such an amazing group.”

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