Stevie covers memories with her country musician grandfather, the recording contract that almost changed her life, and the possibility of writing a book, in Tim McGraw’s biweekly radio show
Stevie Nicks talked about her life and career on “Beyond the Influence: Radio with Tim McGraw” on Apple Music, a podcast recorded earlier this summer. In between segments, Tim played Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and “The Chain,” and Stevie’s solo hit “Leather and Lace.”
The first topic was about Stevie’s formative years in music. She talked about her early memories of singing with her country musician grandfather, A.J. Nicks, as a child. “He had like a 100 45s, singles, and he and I sat in my little bedroom on the floor with a little record player and we played everything from Buddy Holly to super, super country stuff. I can remember at one point he said to me, ‘You’re a harmony singer.’ And I didn’t really know what harmony was. ‘That’s your sweet spot, that’s what you prefer to do.’ [From that point onward] I started to really listen to those records.”
Stevie then segued into a curious story about nearly accepting a country music recording contract with 20th Century Fox at the age of 18, a deal that her father had brokered. She pondered how her life might have been different if she had accepted the deal. “What if I had signed that contract with 20th Century Fox when I was 18. I graduated in 1966, so what if I had moved to Los Angeles in 1968 when Joni (Mitchell) and Crosby, Stills, & Nash and Neil Young and that whole entire lay of the canyon and all that that was very, very inspirational for me…what if I had moved there then? I would have A: Never joined Fleetwood Mac because I would’ve never known them. And I think to myself, so God, would I have been married to one of those guys or what would my life have been? Because I would have definitely met him for sure because I would have made that happen for myself. I would have said, ‘Well, I wanna know Joni Mitchell and I wanna know Stephen Stills ’cause he’s my favorite guitar player, so I wanna know him.”
It was the same determination that Stevie applied to her solo career. “I said to (Bella Donna producer) Jimmy Iovine, ‘Listen, I’ve got two girl singers and they’re really good and we all sound really different and this is my band — me and Sharon and Lori — and we wanna sound like Crosby, Stills & Nash. Period. End of conversation. And he’s like, ‘Okay! We can do that.’ Think how different my life would have been had that contract not been torn up.”
After passing on the 20th Century Fox deal, Stevie spent time in the psychedelic rock band Fritz, with Lindsey Buckingham, in the late 1960s. “We played for two years. We played all up and down San Francisco, way past San Jose and Monterey. We opened for Jimi Hendrix for 75,000 people at Santa Clara Fairgrounds. We opened for Chicago at the Fillmore West. It was really exciting. It was like being in training. The reason why it was so easy for Lindsey and me to walk into Fleetwood Mac was because it was so similar to Fritz. That’s where we really learned to be in a band…all of us working on our songwriting and learning to be a team. I loved being in a band.”
So when Stevie joined Fleetwood Mac in the mid-1970s, it was an easy transition for her. “Fleetwood Mac was my team. “I had them and I felt safe. So I felt like, ‘I’m not trying to break up this band, I’m just trying to actually keep this band together.’ Because what’s going to keep this band together is me being able to make the odd solo album here and there when you guys are doing other things.”
When Tim asked Stevie about the possibility of releasing a movie about her life, she said, “It would be such a long movie, you know what I mean? That would be the problem. What I just told you, I have like thousands of more hours that I could tell you stories that would just make you laugh so hard.”
But capturing all of those stories in a book is still a possibility. “I think that what I would do first, and only lately have I thought this, I might sit down at some point across the kitchen table with some of my girlfriends who have been there for a lot of it and put on a tape recorder and just start talking from the very beginning,” she said.
Stevie conceded that she would include the topic of drugs but in a measured way. “I would very gracefully go over the drugs because I don’t feel like that they defined my life. I managed to save myself. I got through some pretty scary moments, but I saved me, nobody else saved me. I survived me. I mean I survived my cocaine. I survived it myself. I checked myself into rehab. Nobody did that for me, I did it. That’s like with my whole life, you know?
“So I would dance over those parts just to give the wisdom out to people, but mostly, I would just tell all of these fun, funny stories that I’ve been telling you because those things I would love to share. And if I could get it into a book, it would be like Twilight. It would be like four books. And then, if I thought that was great, then I might say, ‘Well, maybe we could do like a four-part (movie) thing, you know?’ I used to say, ‘Absolutely no — not writing a book, not making a movie, and don’t ask me to make a musical! Hate ’em, except for Wicked, it’s my favorite. If I could be in Wicked 20 years ago, I would have tried out for it.”
“But otherwise…I don’t have a problem sharing what’s happened to me in my life because most of everything that’s happened to me, I think, has been pretty marvelous.”
Wrapping up the interview, Tim thanked Stevie for being a shining influence on him and his family. “You’re such a light. You’re an inspiration to me, you’re an inspiration to all women. And like I said a million times, you’re an inspiration to my daughters and my wife. I could spend hours and hours talking to you and just listening to you.”
About Beyond the Influence
Throughout his life and career, Tim McGraw has been influenced by those he’s known and those he’s only known from afar. On his biweekly radio show, the country superstar aims to deepen his understanding of how people, music, and moments have influenced us on a human level. With each new episode, McGraw explores this idea through his own journey as well as with some of the most influential people in their craft. And while themes or guests will vary per episode, the celebration and gratitude shared in these personal moments is what connects them all together.