Stevie Nicks introduces herself to the world as a solo star with ‘Edge of Seventeen’ in 1981
Stevie Nicks is one of the most iconic figures of rock and roll. But becoming the first woman to ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t happen by chance, you have to earn it. With Fleetwood Mac, Nicks was the jewel in the band’s crown but out on her own, she became the Queen of Rock.
The solo career of Stevie Nicks would be a pathway for so many other artists to follow. She went out on her own, away from some famous bands and arguably did it better than ever before. ‘Edge of Seventeen’ was Nicks’ all-powerful introduction to her solo career.
Nicks the Queen of Rock was born when Jimmy Iovine moved away from working with Tom Petty to take on her 1981 album Bella Donna. “It was Jimmy that said, ‘I will produce your record and we’ll make you a Tom Petty record, expect it’ll be a girl Tom Petty record,’” Nicks recalled. “I found that very exciting and I was jumping off the walls. That’s how it all started.”
The song wasn’t the first release from Nicks under her new guise away from Fleetwood Mac and Lindsey Buckingham but, there was something different to ‘Edge of Seventeen’ from the first two singles ‘Stop Draggin My Heart Around’ and ‘Leather and Lace’. Those two releases both featured Nicks singing as part of a duet.
While the ‘Rhiannon’ singer was naturally excited to have the great Tom Petty and Don Henley provide ample vocal support on the two previous releases, ‘Edge of Seventeen’ suddenly meant more knowing that Nicks was finally out on her own. While the performance Nicks delivers below on December 13th is defiant, the song was inspired by scarier times.
She told Entertainment Weekly, “This was written right after John Lennon was assassinated. That was a very scary and sad moment for all of us in the rock and roll business, it scared us all to death that some idiot could be so deranged that he would wait outside your apartment building, never having known you, and shoot you dead.”
It clearly resonated with Nicks who continued, “That was so unacceptable to all of us in our community. So the white dove was John Lennon, and peace,” aslo revealed in a previous interview that, as well as Lennon, the impact of her Uncle’s death had deeply affected her. “I have to deal with it every single night when I sing it. That’s why I can [sing it]. When that song starts, I go back to that week. And it’s not like I try.”
“I don’t make a physical effort to do it. In my mind, my little time-space, I’m back in the house at Encino finding out that news, and when I sing it to everybody, I try to make them understand in a way that I was talking about without actually telling them. That’s why I can sing ‘Edge of Seventeen’ just like I wrote it yesterday. Because it will never, ever lose the intensity. I will never forget how I felt when that happened to me.”
This is the reason that ‘Edge of Seventeen’ was Stevie Nicks’ real introduction to the world. The moment Nicks set out her stall as one of the most authentic, emotive, connected and creative singer the rock world has ever seen. To top it all off she has the fiery performance to capture an audience and a bewitching vocal capable of pulling any mythical boat to it’s sirenic death.
Stevie Nicks is the Queen of rock and roll and ‘Edge of Seventeen’ was her introduction to the court. Watch below her 1981 performance which is brimming with the possibilities of a career that was about to unfold.
It seems only right that the song was included in Stevie Nicks’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction saying before she let the guitarist deliver that all-knowing riff Nicks tells the crowd, “Go with the pain”.
About the induction, Nicks – equality-driven as she is – hoped that it would change the current induction process, “My biggest hope is that I have opened the door due to the fact that there’s 22 men who have gone in twice and zero women,” she told Rolling Stone. “I think that’s really a little off balance. That’s what I’m hoping, that what’s happened here to me will give all the little rock and roll stars that are just waiting out there a little hope that they can also do what I do.”