Stevie Nicks delivered a rousing speech at her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, following a reverent introduction from protégé Harry Styles. Nicks is the first woman, the first member of Fleetwood Mac, and the 23rd artist in Hall of Fame history to be inducted twice: she was first inducted in 1998 with Fleetwood Mac, and again in 2019 for her work as a solo artist. Eliciting laughs and ample cheers from the crowd, Nicks dished on the making of her first solo record, 1981’s Bella Donna: “I [wanted] to make a Tom Petty album,” she said Friday night. “Straight up rock and roll. I have two great girl singers, Laurie and Sharon that are amazing, and we’re going to be Crosby, Stills & Nash.”
Nicks got her musical start when she joined Lindsey Buckingham’s psychedelic rock band, Fritz, in the late Sixties. They later formed the duo Buckingham Nicks before joining Fleetwood Mac. Their contributions on the band’s 1975 self-titled LP and 1977’s Rumours helped turn the group into not only one of the best-selling bands of all time, but one of the most culture-defining artists of the decade.
While still an active member of Fleetwood Mac, Nicks launched her solo career with Bella Donna. The album produced multiple hit singles, including “Edge of Seventeen” and the Tom Petty duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” She has since released eight solo albums, with the most recent being 2014’s 24 Karat Gold: Songs From the Vault. “I feel really blessed to be able to be the Gemini that I am and be able to hop back and forth between my solo career and Fleetwood Mac. My solo career is truly the reason why Fleetwood Mac is still together because I get bored easily,” she told Rolling Stone in 2016. “That’s why every time I go to work on my solo career, I try to make it as different from Fleetwood Mac as I possibly can so that it really is two worlds. When I feel ready to go back to Fleetwood Mac, when we do our next tour in a year and half, I’ll be ready to go back to Fleetwood Mac, and it’ll be good.”
It was a year after the original line-up reunited for their famed The Dance tour, when Nicks was first inducted alongside Fleetwood Mac in 1998. “Nobody expects to ever go in it. But when you get that little invitation, you’re dancing around your house because there is nothing better than being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” the star told Rolling Stone soon after the announcement of her inclusion in this year’s class of inductees. “Being inducted into it twice, for your own work out of the band — there really isn’t anything better than that, to be able to be in both clubs. It’s the ‘You’re in it because you’re in a band’ club and the ‘You’re in it because of your solo work’ club.”
Here’s what Nicks had to say at Friday’s ceremony.
This speech thing that I was supposed to give now has been following me down — the sound of its voice will haunt me for the [next] two weeks. It’s not hard for me to go and play for you, but it’s very hard for me to try to tell you — thank you for for this, for being the first girl in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — twice!
Sometimes I just couldn’t tell great stories. Because it’s like easy — if I’m telling a story about Prince, I can say, ‘He picked me up in his purple Camaro. And we went out to his purple house in a suburb outside Minneapolis, nobody knew where I was. And we wrote a song called, “It’ll Take You Days to Find Her”? And I can actually tell you a great story about that because it is what it is. But for me to tell you a story from my heart, about what this means to me, is very hard … because this has never happened to me before. [It’s only happened for] 22 men and four — zero women, and now one woman.
[Now] I’m like, ‘Hey man, I can do it!’ Now I’m telling all my friends. The girls in Haim? I’m like, “Okay you guys, you gotta really get it together now. One of you needs to step away. And don’t break up your band, just do an album so you have it. Because it’s gonna take 20 years before you get recognized, again! So you’ll already be like, 60. Again, this is the problem of getting in. I started Bella Donna in 1979. I had been in Fleetwood Mac for not even four years, more like three-and-a-half years… This is a hard thing to do. Because you have to — the times are different. It’s like — it’s going to be hard, But I know there’s somebody out there that will be able to do it because I’m going to give you all the directions and I’ll do enough interviews and say what to do.
I wanna tell you that everybody in my life gave me ideas of what I could say to you — I have to just say this because I don’t have my glasses on, I can’t even read it — but I’ve read it so many times in the middle of the night, crying going like ‘Shit I don’t even know what I’m gonna say up there.’ This morning at 4:30 my assistant came in and I’m laying there, and my little Chinese Crested [dog] lays right on my stomach and she’s looking at me like… ‘It’s so late.’ And she goes, “Are you done?” and I’m going “No I can’t do it. I have to go to bed. I don’t know what I’m going to say. I’m just gonna have go out there and… six minutes is not very long. So let me move right on — six minutes for me! I majored in Speech Communication in San Jose State!
The second I called my mom and said, “I have to quit because me and Lindsey have to move to L.A., because the music is in San Francisco, and record deals are in L.A.. We have to go tomorrow.” My mom said, “Okay, that’s fine, but we will be withdrawing all financial support.” I said, flat out, “I know mom. I know, and I’m up to the challenge. Three waitress jobs, two cleaning lady jobs, it was cool.” Lindsey worked on the music, I worked on food and carrying glasses. I rather enjoyed it because I could get out of the house and go into the real world instead of being in the cave with all the guys who were just laying around smoking pot and messing up my house.
It’s like I go, “Excuse me? Excuse me? Can I just step over your feet and your pot and everything so I can straighten this place up?” I don’t get paid for doing this at my own house, but I will do it for you because I know you guys work hard. That’s just a little bit of a moment of how we got before Fleetwood Mac. I want to tell you that this solo album thing, I started thinking about this. I only know this because my friend Paul Fishkin, in 1976 who then became my boyfriend after we went to this convention at the Acapulco Princess, which I like to call the Tequila Convention because the first night, everybody had the little necklaces. One of you may have been there, the little necklace around your neck, and they come and they fill it with tequila. Who is going to waste tequila?
Everybody was so drunk that nobody served us for three solid days, and then it was over. So everybody went to the airport and left, but not me. I stayed, because I’m going like, “I’m already down here. Somebody else paid for it, so I’m going to enjoy this vacation.” Paul and me, I said to him, after playing Rumours, which is not even finished, but still really cool the night before, I didn’t even hear it because I passed out as soon as I pushed play, but some people must have heard it because they spoke about it later.
I said, “No no, it’s other songs, more demos,” and he goes like, “Okay.” We go out on the beach and I plan for 15 or 20 songs, and he goes, “Wow, that’s a lot of songs. Okay.” He’s a record man, so we go back to L.A. and New York. We start going out, and I find out because Paul tells me, a year later when I said to him, [whispers] “Do you think there’s any way that I could do a discreet solo album, that would not break up Fleetwood Mac?” I’m going like, “It’s a secret.” He’s like, “I think so. I think if you’re kind and loving, and you tell them that you will always put them first, and they will always be at the top of your priority list, they will understand and they will stay. Go do what you want to do and have fun. We’ll see you later.”
That’s what we eventually did. Yes, my amazing band is still together and very strong today. Last but not least, which probably won’t be last but not least, they can’t get me off this stage. I want to thank, first of all, very quickly, Paul Fishkin because he was the wise man who said, “You can do both, and you can have both. You just have to do it with love. That’s all.” Then I was introduced to his partner Danny Goldberg who became our group guru and our calm coach who kept us calm. I was gone all the time, so they were talking about this and trying to put it together calmly and serenely.
I’m off in the world doing Rumours and Tusk. They’re working behind the scenes to see if they can make this happen. Then it happened. We formed a record company called Modern. We went to Mr. Doug Morris at Atlantic, my hero. I said, “So Doug, what I want to do is I want to make a Tom Petty album, straight up rock and roll. I have two great girl singers, Laurie and Sharon that are amazing, and we’re going to be Crosby, Stills & Nash. I’m going to be Stills and they’re going to be Nash and Crosby.
“So it’s going to be straight up rock ‘n’ roll, but we’re going to sound like Crosby, Stills & Nash. And Doug’s like — “Fan-fucking-tastic.” Sorry, didn’t mean to swear. So then I said, “Who produces Tom Petty?” He goes, “Jimmy Iovine.” I say, “Can you set me up with Jimmy Iovine?” And he goes, “Yeah, I can. I’ll give him a call.” He calls Jimmy and he sets us up to go and have dinner. We go and have dinner and I tell him the same thing. Tom Petty, straight-up rock album, but we want to sound like Crosby, Stills & Nash. He goes, “Okay, I can do it. I haven’t done a girl album in a while.” We go, “Okay, good.”
We both went back to L.A. because he was there finishing Tom’s record. We get there, and 10 days later — I moved in with Jimmy. It’s just how it was… I moved in with Jimmy. I learned to make tiny pizzas, and waited for him to finish Tom’s album. Meanwhile, me and Laurie and Sharon are practicing all our three-part harmonies, which Jimmy and nobody else really wanted to hear. We were going to be damned if we weren’t gonna be on that album, being Crosby, Stills & Nash. We got so good during that next six weeks, that when he was done and we started Bella Donna, we were ready.
We walked in and we made an album in three months — which is unheard of, especially in those days. We were focused. We were together. We were organized, and we made a great album. Then Jimmy came to me and said, “We have a problem Stevie. We made a great album, but you don’t have a single.”
I’m like, “Seriously? We don’t have a single, and you didn’t tell me until now?” He goes, “Well I though it would work out. I thought one would come to my head and it didn’t, but I have a plan. Tom Petty says you can have “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.” It’s already recorded. He’ll sing it with you. And… Problem solved!”
I finally got to meet Tom Petty — who Jimmy had kept me a secret from, because he didn’t want Tom to get pissed off — and think that his attention was going to be taken away because he had a new girlfriend. I liked it in the basement. It was fine. I got to hear everything, eavesdrop all through it. Anyway, Jimmy, Doug, Paul, Danny — also Irving Azoff — I had to hire him in 1976 because my mother said, “You better get some help here, because you don’t have anybody taking care of your money.” So I hired Irving, who gladly said, “Sure I’ll do it!” Not having any idea that he’d still be sitting here tonight, going like, “Sure, I’ll do it!”
My press agent, Liz Rosenberg who I met in 1976, who is still present, and press agenting for me. She’s the best. She’s the Rona Barrett of today. I adore her. She’s elegant and incredible. Talk to her if you can. She’ll get you in the newspaper. Then there was Howard Kaufman who passed away a little while ago — he then became my manager when Irving had to go become the president of a record company. That was okay, because all have to branch out!
Let’s see, and Sheryl [Louis], who when Howard passed away, then took on the mantle of being my manager — which is no easy thing, because I don’t agree with anything anybody says — especially when it’s a girl! Thank you Sheryl for giving it your all. Anyway, you all have been a fantastic, fantastic audience … Thank you! If you ever need a keynote speaker, somebody to talk to, someone to talk to a group of people — I am your girl.