Jenny Boyd, the ex-wife of drummer Mick Fleetwood, has written It’s Not Only Rock ‘n’ Roll: Iconic musicians reveal the source of their creativity. Boyd writes extensively about Fleetwood Mac, based on several hours of interviews with each band member. Excerpts from the book appear below.
Singer and songwriter Stevie Nicks was encouraged musically by her parents, but her ultimate inspiration was her grandfather, whose songwriting ability greatly influenced her. She fondly recalled her early years: “My mom said that I started singing when I was very young. They always had music going for me because I seemed to have such a love for it. Even as a baby in a crib, I wanted music. My dad’s father was a country and western singer, so he brought music into my life as soon as I was able to understand music at all. I was singing duets with my grandfather when I was four. My grandfather rode the railway trains across the country and played in different places. He played harmonica, fiddle and guitar. He wasn’t a great musician, but he was a really good songwriter. I’m kind of the same way. I consider myself a good songwriter, but I don’t consider myself a very good musician.”
As I listened to the various stories of how these musicians struggled to succeed in their careers, I was struck by the amount of courage and determination necessary to surmount the uncertainties. I remember when Fleetwood Mac first met Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Although the two had recorded an album together, they were still struggling to make ends meet. Stevie was waitressing long hours to cover her expenses as a musician. In our interview, she recalled those tough times, along with the obsession she had to be a musician: “I wrote my first song on my sixteenth birthday. I finished that song hysterically crying, and I was hooked. From that day forward when I was in my room playing my guitar, nobody would come in without knocking, nobody disturbed me. My parents were very supportive and wouldn’t let anyone disturb me until I came out. They’d even let me miss dinner if necessary, it was that important. They could hear that I was working, at 16 years old, and they would leave me alone. I started singing in assemblies at school and in folk groups. I sang whenever I could, for whatever I could possibly find to do; if it had anything to do with singing or music I did it.
“There were times when I was between 20 and 27 – before I joined Fleetwood Mac – that my dad would say, ‘How long are you going to do this? You have no money, you’re not happy, you work constantly, you work at restaurants, you clean houses, you get sick very easily, you’re living in Los Angeles, you don’t have any friends, why are you doing this?’ And I would just say, ‘Because it’s just what I came here to do.’”