Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham's Psychedelic Rock Band Fritz
Stevie Nicks was just a teenager when she first made music with classmate Lindsey Buckingham in 1966. "I was a senior in high school and Lindsey was a junior," she recalled in a 1981 interview with The Source. "And we went to a Young Life meeting – which was a religious meeting that simply got you out of the house on Wednesday nights – and he was there and I was there and we sat down and played 'California Dreamin'.' I thought he was a darling." Around the same period, Buckingham started performing in a group initially known by the unwieldy name of "The Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band." Later shortened just to "Fritz," they played talent shows at their alma mater, Menlo-Atherton High School, as well as student dances and family parties across suburban San Jose. When their lead singer dropped out, Buckingham remembered his brief Young Life duet two years earlier. "He called me up and asked if I wanted to be in a band," Nicks remembered. "And so, I was in this band with him for three and a half years – a band called Fritz."
Nicks, who had been writing more folk-oriented songs, initially found it jarring to be in this band of novice psychedelic warriors. Keyboardist Javier Pacheo penned most of the material, delivering bold and moody titles like "Empty Shell," "Eulogy," "Existentialist" and "Crying Time." Nicks' country bent, born out of her childhood in the Southwest, helped broaden the band's sound. Soon she was contributing originals of her own, including "Funny Kind of Love" and "Where Was I." Several years into her tenure, a student newspaper at Cañada College described Fritz as playing "quite a variety of music, mainly rock with no definite style. They play all types of rock, including country, folk rock and hard rock." A demo cut at San Mateo's Action Recorders in late 1968 offers a clear glimpse of their chameleonic abilities.
The group's reputation continued to grow, and Nicks began balancing her speech communication courses at San Jose State with concerts supporting rock superstars including Santana, the Steve Miller Band, the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, and Chicago. "We opened up for all of these really big bands. We played up and down the Peninsula to Monterey and came down through the other side of San Francisco and all the way to Sacramento," she said in a 1997 interview with BAM magazine. "Every Friday and Saturday we opened almost every big rock show that came through the area." The chance to watch Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix at close range would have a marked impact on her own performance style. "I saw him play once," she said of Hendrix, "and I remember thinking, 'I want to wear white fringe. I want to tie a beautiful scarf in my hair."
Nicks and Buckingham had a platonic relationship throughout their time in Fritz, but as the group started to splinter they were drawn together by their mutual ambition – and budding romance. By 1971 they made the painful decision to head to Los Angeles and try to make it as a duo. "We had to tell these other three guys – that we loved – that we were going to break up the band, and that Lindsey and I were going to Los Angeles. It was very difficult."
Not long after their arrival they began working with Keith Olsen, an engineer and producer at the famed Sound City Studios, and by 1973 they had completed their debut, Buckingham Nicks. Despite positive reviews, the record bombed upon release, and their deal with Polydor Records evaporated. For a time Nicks believed her dreams of stardom had also gone up in smoke. "Up until that point I had been thinking of quitting it all and going back to school because I was sick of being miserable and I hate being poor," she told The Island Ear in 1994. "When they [Polydor] dropped that record, we were completely depressed. Then three months later Mick Fleetwood called."