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Music

Stevie Nicks on why her short romance with Don Henley was "special"

Steve Nicks has had a string of high-profile romantic dalliances. Undoubtedly the most notorious was with ex-Fleetwood Mac bandmate Lindsey Buckingham, with their split being a major influence on the writing and nature of the band’s 1977 magnum opus, Rumours. However, her romance with Eagles drummer and co-vocalist Don Henley remains a significant one.

Their short-lived liaison at the end of the 1970s would prove to be one of the inspirations for the song ‘Sara’, which appears on the Rumours follow-up, the 1979 effort Tusk. A heartfelt ballad, it was written after Nicks’ relationship with Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood ended following her discovering his relationship with her best friend, Sara. Also inspiring the song’s origins was her unexpected pregnancy with Don Henley. 

Henley and Nicks entered into a short-lived relationship after her she’d split from Fleetwood. It was such a whirlwind romance that, for a time, Henley even debated marrying Nicks. In 1979, Nicks became pregnant by the Eagles man but, at the time, decided to have an abortion.

Nicks has made it clear over her career that she chose not to settle down or have children because of the demands of her profession. She told ABC Downtown in 2001: “My mission maybe wasn’t to be a mom and a wife; maybe my particular mission was to write songs to make moms and wives feel better”.

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Nicks has also confirmed that if her and Henley’s child had been born, she would’ve named it Sara. “Had I married Don and had that baby, and had she been a girl, I would have named her Sara,” Nicks told Billboard magazine, per a report in Mercury News

Despite their split, Henley and Nicks remained friends. Famously, in 1981, they dueted on the song ‘Leather and Lace’, which appeared on her debut solo album, the critically acclaimed Bella Donna. It was such a success that it peaked at number six on the US Billboard Hot 100 for almost a month, showing that they both still had it. In the years following, the two even hit the road together in 2005 for The Two Voices Tour

Appearing on American television in the ’80s, Nicks discussed her relationship with Henley and explained how it was different from her others: “Well, Don always treated me very special. He always kinda treated me like we were married, in that strange sorta way, he still does, whenever I see him. I think he found in me something that he has not probably found since, and that was somebody that was very…”

She concluded:”It was 1976, this was right after the beginning of when Fleetwood Mac really made it, and The Eagles had been big for a long time. So, he found a very different kind of girl in me than in most of the women that he was used to hanging out with, and we had a very special relationship because of that.”

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