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Music

The classic Prince song that "scared" Stevie Nicks

@SamWKemp

Stevie Nicks may be known for her fearless persona, but even she was intimidated by the prospect of co-writing a song with Prince. Here, we explore why Nicks was forced to back out of a collaboration with the great artist after fully understanding the scale of the undertaking.

Nicks’ strength of will saw her become one of the biggest music stars on the planet, both as part of Fleetwood Mac and as a solo act in her own right. She’s crafted some of the most instantly-recognisable songs in the pop canon, developing a reputation as an expert lyricist in the process. You’d assume someone with that kind of CV wouldn’t flinch at the prospect of writing lyrics for another artist, but you’d be wrong. There was one song that Nicks simply couldn’t pluck up the courage to tackle, and maybe when you discover what that song was, you’ll understand why.

We begin with one of Prince’s most popular singles, a track called ‘Little Red Corvette’. Released in 1982, the track’s infectious melody inspired ‘Stand Back’ from Nicks’ album The Wild Heart. She once recalled how the song came on the radio when Stevie and her husband, Kim Anderson, were driving to Santa Barbara for their honeymoon.

As Nicks told Ultimate Classic Rock, something about the combination of Prince’s dulcet tones and the motion of the car pulsing along the tarmac inspired the singer: “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.’ 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 experience made one thing very clear to Nicks: she needed to collaborate with Prince. In an attempt to make that dream a reality, she made a phone call to the musician, explaining that ‘Little Red Corvette’ had inspired the track she was working on in the studio. Within half an hour, Prince was outside. According to Nicks, he walked over to the synthesisers and “was absolutely brilliant for about 25 minutes and then left. He spoiled me for every band I’ve ever had because nobody can exactly recreate – not even with two piano players – what Prince did all by his little self.”

Following that first interaction, Nicks expressed an interest in co-writing with Prince. She’d already had huge success with her Tom Petty collaboration, ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’, and this felt like the next logical step. However, when the moment arrived, and Prince sent Nicks an early demo of ‘Purple Rain’, the singer was struck dumb by the sheer magnitude of her task. “It was so overwhelming, that ten-minute track … I listened to it and I just got scared. I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it…. It’s too much for me.’ I’m so glad that I didn’t, because he wrote it, and it became ‘Purple Rain.'”

Personally, I’d love to hear what Nicks would’ve bought to ‘Purple Rain’, but some things just aren’t meant to be, and maybe it’s better that way. You can revisit the track below.