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Women In Rock 2002: Stevie Nicks, at 54, Is Still the Coolest Chick in the Room

In our second special issue on women who rock, 'Rolling Stone' celebrates the women out there battling to make music on their own terms

October 31, 2002
stevie nicks 2002
Stevie Nicks performs in Los Angeles.
L. Cohen/WireImage

Stevie Nicks is always fun to talk to – she's candid (that tantalizing history!), warm and surprisingly funny. The hip big sister to musicians such as Sheryl Crow is still making vital, viable music in her fifties. She has been holed up with Fleetwood Mac for the last couple of months, working on an album, which will be in your hands by spring, followed by a major tour. (There's also a new Fleetwood Mac greatest-hits collection out this month.) Nicks phones from her Los Angeles home before she heads off to the studio at her usual time of 2:30 P.M. – her idea of an early morn. Because Christine McVie is sitting it out this time, Nicks is the only woman in the band, so she has certain concerns that the fellas do not. "There is a tub of red licorice in the studio, fifteen boxes of Wheat Thins, Doritos and Fritos – my favorite thing," she says. "It's a boys' kitchen, full of great stuff. And I just say to myself, 'You can never eat this, or you will weigh 170 pounds at the end of this project.' I walk in like I've got tank armor on."

How goes it in the studio? Your relationship with the band has outlasted most marriages.
A lot of times it's just me and Lindsey [Buckingham]. You know, we have a lot of the same problems that we've always had, which is our egos. And we've had a lot of fights. But we spend hours talking – we're like a bunch of girls sometimes. We'll be putting a guitar part on, and all of a sudden we'll be talking about something that happened on the Tusk tour, and two hours later we're still talking about it. And we're filming a documentary at the studio, so there's a crew with us at all times. There were a couple of times where I've gotten just furious and walked out of the room, yelling, and I've nearly run over the sound guy. It's like the TV show Big Brother. If we could vote each other out, we'd all be fine! My vote would come up "Lindsey." Lindsey's would say "Stevie" [laughs].

Women Who Rock Greatest Breakthrough Moments: 1975, Stevie Nicks Joins Fleetwood Mac

Some women we've talked to have said it's nearly impossible to have a family and a musical career. You made a choice, and it was your career.
If I had gotten married to someone in my twenties, I'd have grandchildren now. And I'd be rocking in a fabulous chair on my fabulous porch somewhere. So it is so different, my life. All these younger women who are singers – I sometimes think they see their future in me, and it's not such a good thing. I made a choice to not be married and not have children, because I wanted to be a big-time rock & roll star. And people can get mad at me for saying this, but I did not feel that I could do both. I would have been, I think, a great mom, and I would not have put my career first once I had a baby. Sheryl Crow is a dear friend, and I know she looks at me and goes, "Do I have that baby now? Or do I want to be Stevie when I'm fifty-five? And if I do, that means I can never stop working." Even in my really bad, drugged-out days, I didn't go away. I still toured, still did interviews. I never gave up the fight. That's why I'm who I am today, because I didn't leave. And I think I made the right choice.

Which female musicians do you admire?
I love Sheryl Crow. She called me this morning already. She calls me from the road, and I cheer her up. And I love Gwen Stefani. I think she maybe is the reincarnated Mae West.

How has music changed for women in your lifetime?
People always ask me, "What do you think of Britney Spears? What do you think of this group, or that one?" I always say, "Well, they're great." But now . . . I think they all went too far. Their jeans got too low, their tops got too see-through. Personally, I think that sexy is keeping yourself mysterious. I'm really an old-fashioned girl, and I think I'm totally sexy.

Right on!
And I wouldn't have any problem saying to any of these girls, "You know what? If you want to be around in twenty years, you'd better get your act together. And get back to your music." What Britney should do is go back into the studio and get some great songs, and make a great record. And change her fashion style a little bit. Bring back her mysterious persona again. Otherwise it's like, if you see somebody running down the street naked every single day, you stop looking up.

This story is from the October 31st, 2002 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

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Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

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