Tom Petty’s furious reaction to Stevie Nicks ‘accidentally’ stealing one of his songs
The late Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks shared a great friendship which was fruitful both on and off stage. However, like any relationship, it had ups as well as its downs. One example of a fractious time between the two of them came after Petty found out that Nicks had inadvertently stolen one of his most well-known songs.
Their friendship between the two began in 1981, a time when Nicks decided she wanted to be in Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers which, I’m sure we can all agree, would have been an incredible meeting of minds. However, the potential collaboration broke Petty’s golden rule of “no girls allowed”.
During Nicks’ show at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown on September 15, 2017, she discussed the making of her 1981 solo album, Bella Donna. Nicks detailed her visit to Atlantic Records’ then-president Doug Morris and made her pitch for the record: “So, listen, what I’d really like to do is be in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ band. He says, ‘No. That’s not going to happen.’” Nicks smiled, and relayed Morris’ next comment: “You obviously haven’t heard Tom Petty’s mantra: ‘No girls allowed.’”
Stevie Nicks’ ‘Ooh My Love’ was originally a very different beast to the one that has become a cult classic among hardcore Nicks fans since it featured on her underrated 1989 album The Other Side of the Mirror. The track is one that she never released as a single or has even been played live, which might have something to do with the origin of the track which Nicks isn’t exactly proud of.
The track originally was a complete rip off of Tom Petty’s iconic ‘Runaway Trains’ which was all a complete accident according to the Fleetwood Mac star.
“I stole that from Tom Petty — accidentally!” Nicks told Yahoo! Entertainment. “I picked up the wrong cassette at Tom’s one night, a tape of Mike Campbell’s instrumental demos. Tom would get them first, and then the ones he didn’t want, Mike sent them to me. I accidentally arrived home one night with a cassette — I thought it was mine, but it was Tom’s. It just said, ’24 Demos From Mike Campbell.’ It had the song that inspired ‘Ooh My Love,’ which became ‘Runaway Train[s]’ for Tom.”
Nicks said she then brought the song to Fleetwood Mac, she said she then “sang my lyrics over it. We started to record. I loved it so much, I called Tom and said, ‘Listen to this!’ What an idiot, right? Let’s play him the song you stole over the phone! Tom just starts screaming at me on the other end of the phone. I’m realizing, ‘How stupid are you, Stevie?’ So I had to go in the next day and tell Fleetwood Mac, ‘Guess what, we can’t do this song.’ ‘Why can’t we do it?’ ‘Because I stole it from Tom Petty, and I’m absolutely a total criminal and a thief.'”
Nicks felt so embarrassed about the incident that she erased the recording but kept on to the lyrics which were put to use on the version of the fan-favourite track.
“Then way later, years down the road, I sat down at the piano and tried to recall it,” she said. “I wrote ‘Ooh My Love’ on the piano: ‘In the shadow of the castle walls… of course, I don’t know near as many chords as Mike Campbell does. All I remembered was that distant enchanted melody. … Me and Tom and Mike Campbell, we’re like quintessentially three parts of one person.”