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Music

The drugged-out music video Stevie Nicks finds hard to watch

While Fleetwood Mac were long in the tooth by the mid-1970s, their peak was yet to come. In 1974, drummer Mick Fleetwood was looking to replace Peter Green, the original guitarist for the band, and came across Lindsey Buckingham in his search. The guitarist had, at that time, made a small name for himself performing with his partner Stevie Nicks and touring with the Everley Brothers in 1972. 

Upon asking Buckingham if he would like to join Fleetwood Mac, he agreed, but only if his girlfriend, Nicks, could come along as an extra pair of hands on the singing and songwriting front. Fleetwood accepted, deciding that a new voice could add something to the band’s sound. As it transpired, this was one of the best decisions Fleetwood would ever make.

With the revitalisation of Buckingham’s guitar expertise and Nicks’ ethereal lyrical and vocal contributions, the band released their most popular record to date with their eponymous 1975 album. This chart success was consolidated two years later with the release of Rumours, which remains to this day Fleetwood Mac’s most popular and best selling album. 

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The album famously showed the band at their best and worst. I say “best” with regards to the music, but “worst” regarding the state of utter chaos the group was in at the time. The album was fraught with conflict, reflecting the tension in the band’s various strained relationships and infidelities. The final ingredient added to the chaotic cauldron that spawned Rumours was cocaine. By the late-1970s, the band members had formed particularly strong addictions to the stimulant — as seemed customary for the entertaining elite of the 1970s and ‘80s. 

Entering the 1980s, Nicks looked to spread her wings and pursue a solo career to allow more air time for her lyrics and some much-needed breathing space from her bandmates. She shot straight to number one with her debut solo album, Bella Donna, in 1981, and retained a similar level of commercial success with 1983’s The Wild Heart

By the mid-1980s, Nicks was still seemingly on the top of her professional game with the release of Rock A Little in 1985, but this period marked a notably dark moment for the singer. Shortly after the tour supporting the album, Nicks joined Bob Dylan on tour with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in Australia. Just before leaving for Australia, Nicks was warned by a plastic surgeon of health problems or death if she didn’t stop her cocaine habit. She recalled the conversation on The Chris Isaak Hour in 2009: “I said, ‘What do you think about my nose?’ And he said, ‘Well, I think the next time you do a hit of cocaine, you could drop dead.'” 

In the 1980s, we had entered the age of MTV, and so, naturally, an increased value was put upon creating videos to accompany the release of singles. Nicks recalled that in the mid-1980s, she would regularly take drugs on the set of her music videos. But one video that she really can’t stomach in hindsight is ‘I Can’t Wait’ from Rock A Little. “I look at that video, I look at my eyes, and I say to myself, ‘Could you have laid off the pot, the coke, and the tequila for three days, so you could have looked a little better?'” she stated in the book I Want My MTV. “It just makes me want to go back into that video and stab myself.”

In an interview with The Mirror Nicks recalled considering the premature rock ‘n’ roll deaths of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix: “I saw how they went down, and a part of me wanted to go down with them,” she added. “But then another part of me thought, I would be very sad if some 25-year-old lady rock and roll singer ten years from now said, ‘I wish Stevie Nicks would have thought about it a little more.’ That’s kind of what stopped me and made me really look at the world through clear eyes.”

Nicks ultimately saw value in a healthy life and got clean in the late 1980s. However, some of Nicks’ friends were concerned that she might relapse and recommended seeking out a Klonopin prescription from her psychiatrist. This, counterintuitively, led Nicks down another dark path into a Klonopin addiction which impacted live performances with Fleetwood Mac in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. “Klonopin was worse than the cocaine,” she later said. “I lost those eight years of my life. I didn’t write, and I had gained so much weight.”

In 1993, Nicks, fortunately, put a stop to her damaging relationship with Klonopin by ceasing her prescription and entering a painful 47-day detox in hospital. The road has looked clearer for Nicks ever since.

Watch the music video for Stevie Nicks’ ‘I Can’t Wait’ below.

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