Stevie Nicks had a call from a surprising white knight during the lockdown. Just as people in the UK were offering up their spare tins of tomatoes or dropping off prescriptions for vulnerable neighbours, that same sense of community spirit was flourishing in LA. But when the Fleetwood Mac singer picked up her phone to an offer of help, it was Harry Styles on the line. “He called a couple of times and said if you guys need anything, I can drop by,” says Nicks, 72, who was isolating at her Spanish Colonial home in Santa Monica with one goddaughter, one roommate, one assistant and three dogs.
Of course, Stevie and Styles go back. She’s previously joked that the 26-year-old is “Mick [Fleetwood]’s and my love child”, while he called her “a magical gypsy godmother”. Their love-in continued last year, when the Gucci muse inducted Nicks into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (her second time), and joined her on stage for a rendition of “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”. So perhaps it’s no wonder that, when the over-70s were instructed to stay at home in March, it was Stevie that Styles thought of on his Erewhon run.
“He is an amazing man,” says Nicks over the phone from California. “He’s so talented, he is a really, really great artist, and he’s so funny. He could actually have a TV show, like James Corden or Johnny Carson – he could do that. When you’re with Harry Styles, you’re not with a famous person, he’s just Harry.”
Nicks is somehow this effusive even though it’s close to 3 am in LA. She’s “nocturnal”, so our transatlantic call was deliberately scheduled to take place in the middle of the night, but she admits 2020 has seen what was once simply a lifestyle choice suited to a rock goddess constantly on the road tip over into something approaching insomnia. “It used to be I could sleep from 5 am to 1 pm,” she says. “Now I don’t go to sleep until 8 am. I need therapy, or I need someone to hit me on the head with a hammer.”
The performing and touring that has been a constant in Nicks’s life for half a century came to an abrupt halt with the onset of the pandemic in March. By May, she was working on the tour film she’s on the line to talk about, but before that, the lockdown hadn’t triggered the explosion of productivity in the singer it seemed to in some. “I didn’t find it to be terribly creative,” Nicks says. “All the creative people I know said the same thing. I was just sitting around watching TV.”
Now, the singer says, more than six months into a pandemic, with smoke from California’s devastating wildfires still lingering outside her windows and a “disturbing” Donald Trump back on the campaign trail: “I just want the light at the end of the tunnel to appear.” If nothing else, this year has been a good time to immerse herself in putting the finishing touches to Stevie Nicks 24 Karat Gold The Concert, which was filmed over the course of two nights on her sell-out 2017 tour. “It was the most fun solo tour I ever did,” Nicks says.
The resulting film captures the tour’s mixture of classic tracks and “totally off the top of my head” anecdotes from Nicks, like how she feels the late Prince’s presence on stage with her; how the love triangle in the Twilight films inspired her songwriting; and how Jimi Hendrix influenced her wardrobe. “I would look over to the side of the stage and people would be waving like, ‘Wrap it up!’” Nicks recalls, though she says editing the film was mostly a case of “taking all of my goofy ‘likes’ out. I say ‘like’ all the time.”
On stage, the still youthful septuagenarian cuts much the same figure that was first etched into rock fans’ consciousness back in the ’70s, with her tumbling blonde mane, inky fringed layers, fingerless gloves and platform boots. It’s up there with Madonna’s Gaultier bra and her friend Prince’s purple suits on the iconic signature looks front – and it existed in Nicks’s head from the earliest days of Fleetwood Mac.
When a friend put her in touch with the designer Margi Kent to help her put together a tour wardrobe in 1975, the singer told her: “I’m going to draw you who I want to be.” “I drew a stick girl,” recalls Nicks. “She was wearing a little riding jacket nipped in at the waist, and a filmy handkerchief skirt that was kind of ragged at the bottom. I was working as a waitress and a cleaning lady five months before this, but I said, I want beautiful handmade suede platform boots that are high but not bulky. And I want a top hat, which I will find out on the road myself.”
The ponchos came later, she says. “I remember that some really cute guy had bought me a poncho in South America somewhere, and it looked great over a skirt and boots. I thought, I wonder if Margi could make that? And she did. I probably went on the next tour with two chiffon skirts, two jackets, two pairs of boots and two ponchos. Everything I wear on stage now is just another iteration of that little stick girl.”
And what about at home in Santa Monica, with the return of live music still a painfully distant prospect? Stevie is still in her signature black, she confirms. “But I have retired the platform boots at home, I have to say.”
Stevie Nicks 24 Karat Gold The Concert will be in cinemas on 21 October. The 2CD and digital/streaming releases will be available on 30 October
Kerry McDermott / British Vogue / October 14, 2020