Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin seem to exist in completely different eras of popular music. Nicks is a pop-rock titan who commanded the late 1970s and early ’80s with her unique brand of mystical lyrics and monster hooks, while Joplin was a psychedelic starlet of the late ’60s who fused blues with rock and roll in a trailblazing tour de force.
Nicks has been vocal about her admiration of Joplin, but the truth is that the two are more closely connected than most might think. “From Janis, I learned that to make it as a female musician in a man’s world is gonna be tough, and you need to keep your head held high,” Nicks said. “From Jimi [Hendrix], I learned grace and humility,” she added.
While initially there seems to be at least a five-year gap between Joplin’s death in 1970 and Nicks’ rise to stardom with Fleetwood Mac in 1975, that five-year gap is also representative of the age gap between Nicks and Joplin. Music had changed quite a bit in the time between Nicks and Joplin both being some of the forerunners in female-fronted rock music, but they were closer to being contemporaries than the general public usually associates them as.
While a part of the band Fritz, which also had a young guitarist by the name of Lindsey Buckingham as a member, Nicks got the opportunity to open a show for Joplin and Hendrix, along with a host of other acts. “It was a big huge show in San Francisco,” Nicks said during her appearance on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show. “There was like 20 bands on. There was you, there was 15 more bands, and then there was Jimi Hendrix,” she added.
Fritz was apparently extended their stay a little too long, and Nicks says that she heard a raspy voice yelling at them to get off the stage. That voice happened to belong to Joplin. To most people, being admonished by one of your heroes might have been rock bottom, but Nicks took it all in stride. “Being yelled off the stage by Janis Joplin was one of the greatest honours of my life,” she said, proudly.