The Queen of Rock’n’Roll reveals how she almost got kicked out of Australia for singing with Tom Petty
STEVIE Nicks could have done with some fans in the Australian government in 1986.
As she kicks off her 24 Karat Gold tour of Australia with The Pretenders, the Fleetwood Mac superstar reveals she was almost banned from the country after joining Bob Dylan and Tom Petty on stage for an impromptu performance during their True Confessions tour.
Nicks had tagged along on the tour with her good friend Petty for a holiday, and when Dylan spied her standing side of stage at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, he beckoned her to join them on the mic for “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” and “Like a Rolling Stone.”
THE NIGHT STEVIE SANG WITH BOB DYALN AND TOM PETTY IN SYDNEY
The Queen of Rock’n’Roll repeated her star cameo the next night and the following day found a letter, and not one of the fan variety, slipped under her hotel room door.
While fans were thrilled by the unexpected bonus of her appearance on stage, she had contravened the country’s immigration laws with the performance because she didn’t have a working visa.
“Tom’s wife couldn’t make the trip so I said I would go and keep those guys in line. I got to have fun just being a fan and had one of the most amazing months of my life,” she says from Perth, where the tour launched this week.
“I got to sing with them two nights and then I was told by the Australian government I would never be allowed back in the country, not with Fleetwood Mac, not by myself as a solo artist, not as a tourist if I did that again. I couldn’t even stand on stage to play a tambourine. So that was that.”
Of course Nicks has made many visits back to Australia with the Mac and as a solo artist and as a tourist in the three decades since and now winds up the wildly successful 24 Karat Gold tour here.
The concert showcases some of her best loved songs and the stories behind them, including “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” her signature duet with Petty. She sings it each night with Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde.
Nicks was on a break from her world tour when the renowned rocker died suddenly last month and is still wrestling with her grief as she begins the final Australian leg.
“My whole grief process hasn’t really started yet,” she says.
“Tom is in a lot of my stories and I am going to have to find a way to deal with that, to tell the story of how ‘Stop Dragging My Heart’ came into my life, how it saved my life with the Bella Donna album. I will just go with my heart … I was the only girl ever in the Heartbreakers.”
The 24 Karat Gold tour was inspired by the 2014 album of the same name which exhumed songs from her vault, stretching from 1969 to 1987.
The concert setlist not only draws from that repertoire but revisits songs from her Buckingham Nicks duo with then partner and future Fleetwood Mac member Lindsey Buckingham, as well as the Mac classics “Rhiannon,” “Gypsy,” “Gold Dust Woman” and “Landslide.”
She says the biggest surprise of the concerts thus far has been the emergence of “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)” which she recorded on her 2011 record In Your Dreams, as a fan favourite.
Nicks wrote the song in Brisbane while on tour with the Mac in 2009, inspired by the second film in the famed Twilight vampire series.
It took on a far more personal resonance for her after the death of her friend Prince last year.
“That song made a great record but in stage, it was harder to get the whole intimate idea of the vampire love story of Bella and Edward across. So we broke it down and it seems to have become a real favourite with everybody,” she says.
“Strangely enough, even though it was about the Twilight saga, the song became more about Prince to me, about our friendship.”
STEVIE NICKS JOINED HARRY STYLES TO SING LANDSLIDE
As Nicks confronts the mortality of her fellow rock gods and beloved musician friends, she has become the Godmother of Rock to the millennial pop generation.
With more than 150 million albums to her credit with Fleetwood Mac and as one of the most successful female solo artists of the past five decades, the 69-year-old great has abundant wisdom to share with her wide-eyed admirers including the Haim sisters and Harry Styles.
Styles was clearly in awe of his legendary guest when she joined him at a secret show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles in May as he launched his debut solo album.
“Mick (Fleetwood) and I have actually adopted Harry Styles; he’s the very tall and handsome 23-year-old son we never had,” Nicks said, laughing.
“We just love him; he’s really talented and he’s a nice guy with beautiful manners.”
Her new best friend though is her tour buddy Chrissie Hynde. The pair had never met ahead of The Pretenders agreeing to go out on the tour last year.
Nicks had been warned Hynde could be prickly and didn’t make friends easily. This commanding woman of song was even bizarrely advised not to shake hands with the Pretenders rocker.
So when they finally met backstage at a Nicks concert, the first thing she did was ask Hynde why.
“I go running up and ask her why I couldn’t touch her hands and she told me it was because somebody had crushed her hand once and it freaked her out,” Nicks recalled.
“I told her to give me her hands — I think I have magic hands — and I took them in mine and told her ‘I am never going to hurt your hands’ and somewhere in that moment, I knew ‘We are good’.
“She’s a hoot, she likes me and she doesn’t like many people.”
For those who might raise an eyebrow about the absence of one of her most poignant songs Sara from the setlist, Nicks reassures fans it will return when she reunites with her Fleetwood Mac band mates for a world tour next year.
“I don’t feel bad leaving it out because it will go back in next year when Fleetwood Mac comes around again. It’s better I save it for Fleetwood Mac.”
Stevie Nicks and The Pretenders perform at the ICC Sydney on Tuesday and Wednesday, A Day On The Green, Bimbadgen Estate, Hunter Valley, November 11, A Day On The Green, Sirromet Qines, Brisbane, November 12, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne on November 16 and A Day On The Green, Rochford Wines, Victoria on November 18.
Kathy McCabe / Herald Sun (News Corp Australia Network) / Saturday, November 4, 2017