(Stevie Nicks during a Fleetwood Mac performance in 1978. Photo: Richard E. Aaron, Redferns)
On the occasion of Stevie Nicks’ imminent induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist (she was previously inducted as a member of Fleetwood Mac in 1998), Peter Hartlaub and I dug through the archives to look back on how The Chronicle covered her through the years.
(Stevie Nicks, 1970 Photo: Hulton Archive, Getty Images)
As she frequently likes to remind us, Stevie Nicks has deep roots in the Bay Area. She was born in Phoenix, but her family moved West when she was a teenager.
Nicks graduated Menlo-Atherton High School, where during her senior year she met her future musical and romantic partner, Lindsey Buckingham.
As a duo, they made their first demo recordings in Daly City while they attended San Jose State University.
And once she joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975 along with Buckingham, helping it become on of the most popular bands in the world, she made sure to come back often, both with the highly combustible group and as a solo artist.
“That’s where it all started,” she told The Chronicle. “It’s where I belong. It’s been years since I lived there, but to this day it still feels like home.”
First mention in The Chronicle: The first mention of Stevie Nicks in The Chronicle arrived in 1974, when the pre-Fleetwood band Buckingham Nicks opened for Hoyt Axton for six days at The Boarding House in San Francisco. (“HOYT AXTON also Buckingham Nicks,” the ad read.) Axton was credited as “a strong live performer.” Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were not reviewed.
First Bay Area concert with Fleetwood Mac: Nicks played her first Bay Area gig with Fleetwood Mac at Day on the Green in Oakland in early 1975, then returned for three nights at the Winterland Ballroom. Joel Selvin’s review on Dec. 1, 1975, the first mention of Nicks in The Chronicle by her full name, hailed the new band and mentioned her “harsher, piercing vocals.”
(Dec. 14, 1979: Stevie Nicks takes the lead during a Fleetwood Mac performance at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Photo: John Storey, The Chronicle)
“Tusk” at the Cow Palace: Fleetwood Mac played three sold out nights from Dec. 14-16, 1979, at the Cow Palace in the “Tusk” tour. Selvin called Nicks “the weak link in the entire show,” but she was as always the most photogenic band member. Photographer John Storey’s image of Nicks under the Cow Palace spotlights is an all-time great Chronicle rock photo.
Stevie Nicks — Always the Hippie: Nicks gave an interview to The Chronicle after the release of her hit solo album Bella Donna in 1981, crediting the Bay Area for shaping her as a performer. “My influences were straight out of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix,” Nicks told The Chronicle in 1981. “For me, in terms of what I was going to do on stage, how I was going to sing and write, that was my rock ‘n’ roll Bible. San Francisco was for sure the whole reason I did this.”
(Stevie Nicks circa 1986 Photo: HANDOUT)
Shoreline steals show from Nicks: In 1986, a solo Nicks was the first headliner at Bill Graham’s brand new Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, performing under the tent top that “looks like the world’s biggest brassiere”. Selvin wrote, “The precious poetic content of her lyrics read more like Hallmark than Dylan Thomas, but the romantic soap operas she spins obviously find their mark with her audience.”
(Stevie Nicks, left, and Lindsey Buckingham perform together at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies Monday Jan. 12, 1998. Photo: Kathy Willens, AP)
Fleetwood Mac Thinks About Tomorrow / Band shakes off rust at reunion session: A decade later, Nicks was back with Fleetwood Mac and Selvin dropped in on one of the band’s rehearsals in May 1997: “Stevie Nicks fluffed the opening line to ‘Dreams.’ Twice. She can be forgiven for her nervousness. Not only was she filming a concert for MTV and recording a live album, but she hadn’t played with her colleagues from Fleetwood Mac in more than 15 years. She stepped to the mike for her first lead vocal of the evening and blew the entrance to a song she has sung a thousand times.”
Hearing Old ‘Rumours’ / Fleetwood Mac about the same as before: In October 1997, the band’s comeback tour made it to Shoreline. Selvin was not impressed. “Nicks looked tired, a fatigue that her heavy layer of cosmetics couldn’t disguise, but the crowd’s adoration appeared to energize her as the proceedings progressed.”
Q & A With Stevie Nicks: In April 1998, Nicks was once again a solo act, touring in support of a box set called Enchanted and contemplating her life choices. “I don’t think the world is going to have that much of a problem with me not being married or having a family. I don’t think that’s why I came here.”
(Stevie Nicks in concert in 1998. Photo: Brett Coomer, Special to the Chronicle)
Stevie Nicks Still Twirls In the Spotlight: At her solo concert in support of Enchanted, once again at Shoreline, in August 1998, she gave the audience full Stevie. Chronicle critic Neva Chonin noted, “She assembled invisible runes in the air with snaky hand gestures, twirled a seemingly endless array of shawls, draped herself seductively over the microphone during ‘Rhiannon’ and stomped her platform boots to the beat for the crowd-pleasing rocker ‘Stand Back.'”
(Stevie Nicks in 2001. Photo: BW)
‘Trouble’ and paradise / Nicks goes solo again on new ‘Shangri-La’: With a new solo album, Shangri-La, Nicks opened up to me about her substance abuse problems in this interview from 2001. “Even though her years of cocaine abuse left a hole in her head the size of a Sacajawea gold dollar, she claims that the Klonopin did far more damage. ‘It was not my drug of choice,’ she says. ‘I’m not a downer person. I was looking for things that made me want to clean the house and shop, write songs and stay up for four days. I was sad and I was sick. I didn’t really understand right up until the end that it was the Klonopin that was making me crazy.'”
(Fleetwood Mac in 2003. Photo: CLIFF WATTS, AP)
Fleetwood Mac rocks harder than ever as old songs mix well with new: In 2003, she was back with Fleetwood Mac at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. “When Nicks crooned the elegiac line, ‘I’m getting older, too,’ (from ‘Landslide’) the deafening cheers ricocheted off the venue’s concrete walls.”
(Singer Stevie Nicks Photo: Kristin Burns)
Gold Dust Woman: In 2003, at 57, she dismissed the suggestion of retirement in an interview with Bill Picture. “Honestly, they’ll probably be wheeling me out onstage in a wheelchair with rhinestones and raven feathers hot-glued to it.”
Rock sweetheart, soldiers’ angel: And in this 2007 interview with Sylvie Simmons, Nicks talked about staying grounded in the face of impossible fame. “I’ve always tried very hard to stay who I was before I joined Fleetwood Mac and not become a very arrogant and obnoxious, conceited, bitchy chick, which many do, and I think I’ve been really successful.”
(Stevie Nicks is projected on screen during a Fleetwood Mac concert at SAP Center on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in San Jose, Calif. Photo: Jim Gensheimer, Special to The Chronicle)
Revamped Fleetwood Mac highlights its history in hit-studded San Jose concert: In November, Nicks returned to San Jose with the newly reconstituted Fleetwood Mac, which is now operating without Buckingham. Warren Pedersen wrote,”San Jose concert was particularly special for singer Stevie Nicks, who turned 70 this year but hasn’t ditched her shawls or heels. It was a homecoming of sorts for Nicks, who took several moments to give the city a proper shout-out.”
Peter Hartlaub contributed to this article.
Aidin Vaziri / San Francisco Chronicle (Web Edition) December 13, 2018