When Stevie Nicks broke away from Fleetwood Mac in the early eighties she did so with the wind beneath her wings and one hell of a backing band ready to produce her new album Bella Donna.
It was Nicks’ first chance to shine and she did so like the glittering crown jewel she was. Expertly backed by Tom Petty and many of the Heartbreakers on the record, she also welcomed Don Henley of the Eagles and Roy Bittan of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band into the studio.
The results would confirm that Stevie Nicks was a star in her own right. Fleetwood Mac may have given her license to explore the studio but out on her own, Nicks was really shining. As much as writing and recording an album is one of Nicks’ most cherished pleasures, she will always be a performer over everything else.
Without her band, however many of them were ex-lovers, it felt a possibly daunting task when Nicks scheduled her White Winged Dove Tour of 1981. With so many of her expert studio band already contracted to other bands or otherwise engaged she would only be able to entice Roy Bittan to come on tour with her. It was looking like a lonely place for Nicks.
“She’s the only artist I toured with other than Bruce,” Bittan told Rolling Stone in 2015. Bittan had just finished a gruelling tour of The River with Springsteen and was likely feeling fatigued. But he rallied for Nicks, “She asked me to go on the road, and I had some time off – I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. It gave me a chance to reinterpret some of the Fleetwood Mac stuff. We began ‘Rhiannon’ real slow, almost a classical version of it. Then after the first verse the whole band would kick in. It was a fantastic experience.”
It is this incendiary performance of Nicks’ cherished track that we see below. Taken from Nicks’ White Winged Dove tour in 1981, Stevie Nicks takes to the stage to satisfy her audience with her second encore and a dose of her Fleetwood Mac past as a way of helping them to realise that Nicks had a bright future.
Below see those moments as Nicks arrives as the Fleetwood Mac singer gone solo but as the final notes of her favourite song about witch conclude, the image of Nicks as a star in her own right was permanently burned into the mind’s eye of all those who attended.