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The inside story of how Prince and Stevie Nicks inspired each other


Prince and Stevie Nicks might not seem like they have much in common from the outside looking in, but one small peek behind the curtain will reveal just how many parallels the two artists have between them. Not only are they inventive songwriters with careers that spanned decades, but Prince and Nicks also blend a sense of personal image and theatrics with inherent femininity—or even androgyny—in order to invent a specific style that works for them and their audiences.

However, one thing most people might not know about the pair is how they directly inspired one another, specifically motivating each other to write incredible songs — as if either of them needed help doing that in the first place.

As the story goes, Stevie Nicks actually wrote ‘Stand Back’ after hearing Prince’s ‘Little Red Corvette’. In 1983, shortly after marrying Kim Anderson, the pair were driving when they overheard Prince’s new song on the radio. “All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I’m singing along, going, ‘Stand back!’ I’m like, ‘Kim, pull over! We need to buy a tape recorder because I need to record this’,” Nicks once explained. “And so we do – we careen off the freeway to find a radio, record shop or something, and we go in and we buy a little tape recorder.”

The Fleetwood Mac singer continues: “We get the song, and I’m basically using Prince’s instrumental melody,” Nicks said. “What I’m singing along is very, very different from what he’s singing. I’m singing in and out of all of the holes.”

So, how did Prince feel about all of this? Well, you could say he gave his blessing, considering when Nicks called him to ask for his help finishing the song, he was at LA’s Sunset Sound Studio in 20 minutes. “He spoiled me for every band I’ve ever had because nobody can exactly re-create — not even with two piano players —what Prince did all by his little self,” Nicks explained. And she still maintains that the song “belongs to Prince” in her eyes. 

With that, did Prince feel the same way about Stevie Nicks? As luck would have it, he definitely did, considering the same thing happened the other way around when Prince wrote ‘When Doves Cry’ after hearing ‘Edge of Seventeen’. Detailing the incident, Nicks explained: “He was inspired by ‘Edge of Seventeen’ to write ‘When Doves Cry’. That’s really when he and I started to sort of be friends. From that moment onward at the very end of ‘Edge of Seventeen’ I go, ‘I know what it sounds like, I know what it sounds like, I know what it sounds like when doves cry. It sounds like you.”

Similar to how Nicks had to get to work right away, Prince took his inspiration, immediately getting to work and recording every instrumental for the song himself. In fact, he even recorded the bass part but ripped it from the mix at the last minute. He said, “Sometimes your brain kind of splits in two – your ego tells you one thing, and the rest of you says something else. You have to go with what you know is right.”

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