Stevie Nicks is one of the most influential female musicians of all time. Her work in Fleetwood Mac, and on her own, has gained her widespread critical and commercial acclaim. It is safe to say; the powerful female artist category would not be the same without Nicks. Florence Welch, Taylor Swift and Courtney Love would not exist in the way they do without Nicks’ pervasive influence.
There are a few key reasons that mark Nicks out as an icon. Firstly, her career has spawned a wide array of musical modes of high quality, marking her out from her peers. Secondly, she is highly versatile and has managed to move with the times. This has dramatically increased her longevity. She has worked with Dave Grohl, Lana Del Rey and Sheryl Crowe, to name but a few contemporary heavyweights.
Furthermore, she is a huge LGBTQIA+ icon. For the past thirty years, there has been an annual party in New York called the Night of 1000 Stevies. This includes drag, performance art, impersonators and vocal tributes to the Queen of Fleetwood Mac, what’s more, the event is Nicks approved. She also made a cameo in American Horror Story: Coven in 2014. She summed her loveable essence up when asked by the writers if they could use her music for the show. That year she recalled: “I said, ‘That’s perfect! Because that’s exactly how I like to affect people. I want people to put my songs on because they are unhappy and need a boost to dance around their apartment a little and feel good. That’s why I write. Of course, you can use my music. Take it!'”
Clearly then, Nicks has made an indelible mark on music since joining Fleetwood Mac and ex-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham in 1974. However, it begs the question: where did it all truly start for the high priestess of Californian rock and roll?
In 2011, Nicks revealed that watching the legendary supergroup Buffalo Springfield play live changed her life, and set her on her path to stardom. This formative moment was to be the crystal ball for Nicks and showed her her future. In recounting this significant moment, Nicks places us at the epicentre of the Californian counterculture moment of the 1960s, the Haight-Ashbury scene of San Francisco.
One song from this 1967 show had a particularly significant impact on her. Buffalo Springfield‘s classic song ‘Rock & Roll Woman’. “Hearing this for the first time was like seeing the future. (Sings) ‘And she’s coming, singing soft and low…’ When I heard the lyrics, I thought: that’s me! They probably wrote it about Janis Joplin or someone like that, but I was convinced it was about me. I saw Buffalo Springfield at the Winterland Ballroom at the time, and it could not have been better. They were a very Californian band, and it was the height of the Haight-Ashbury scene.”
Nicks recounts a gloriously hopeful and creative time, “my parents had moved to San Francisco in my final year of high school, so I was new and didn’t know anyone. But music was everywhere, everyone was listening to the radio all the time – I was living in the middle of a music revolution.”
This period, show, and hearing ‘Rock & Roll Woman’ made Nicks the icon we all love today. The road was fraught with many ups and downs, which have been well documented, but the significance of this individual moment cannot be understated. Nicks recalls, “by 1968 I was in a band with Lindsey”. In a nutshell, the rest was history.
Watch Fleetwood Mac perform ‘Rhiannon’ below.