Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks became friends during a tempestuous time in the life of the Fleetwood Mac singer. Starting as a solo star, in truth, Nicks would rather have been one of The Heartbreakers, but that was off the table, so she instead made it her objective to infiltrate their inner circle, and she more than succeeded.
It was 1981 when their paths would first cross thanks to Jimmy Iovine, who worked with Petty on his third album, Damn The Torpedoes, and they remained close afterwards. When Nicks decided to make music outside the prism of Fleetwood Mac, she realised that was the blueprint she wanted to follow and duly recruited Iovine for her debut. Nicks even dated the producer for a brief period, which paved the way for her to grow close with Petty. While working on Bella Donna, the Americana icon would regularly drop by the studio, and Nicks was forced to conceal her childlike excitement.
In fact, Petty even wrote the album’s lead single, ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’, and handed Nicks her biggest hit outside of Fleetwood Mac. Over the decades, the duo regularly shared the stage with their final performance occurring in 2017, at Hyde Park in London, with 60,000 watchful eyes in attendance.
Speaking about her love of the late singer in Warren Zanes’ Petty: The Biography, she said, “I just fell in love with his music and his band,” Nicks reflected. “I would laughingly say to anyone that if I ever got to know Tom Petty and could worm my way into his good graces, if he were ever to ask me to leave Fleetwood Mac and join Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, I’d probably do it — and that was before I even met him.”
Once she did get to know him, her love only intensified. His death is something that still haunts Nicks to this day, and during her speech at the MusiCares Awards in 2018, Nicks made sure to pay tribute to her late friend. “The loss of Tom Petty has just about broken my heart,” she emotionally told the crowd. “He was not only a good man to go own the river with, as Johnny Cash said, he was a great father, and he was a great friend, and he was one of my best friends. My heart will never get over this.”
Their final performance was mere months before his death, and fittingly, they delivered a rendition of the song which started it all, ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’. At one point, Nicks even tells the crowd, “You know that Tom Petty is my favourite rock star”.
Watch the performance below.