Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty enjoyed an incredibly fruitful working relationship over the years. Within Petty, Nicks found a partner who not only helped her achieve the wild success her solo career deserved but also provided a friendship and a guiding hand. Petty even gave Nicks a piece of advice that she still adheres to now. “I asked Tom if he would help me write a song. And he said, ‘No. You are one of the premier songwriters of all time. You don’t need me to write a song for you.’ He said, ‘Just go to your piano and write a good song. You can do that.’”
The advice that Nicks was given would result in her 2014 song ‘Hard Advice’, which is a thank-you note to Petty’s method of tough love, which gave her the confidence boost she didn’t want to hear at the time but instead needed. She also revealed: “The chorus goes, ‘Sometimes he’s my best friend.’ It was really ‘Sometimes Tom’s my best friend‘.” The rocker would provide a perfect counterbalance to Nicks, and when they did officially collaborate, they always proved to be a golden couple.
The 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”.
A laughable but all-too-real occurrence in the comparative boys club that rock was at the time. Luckily, Petty and the band saw the light and eventually worked with Nicks — but not before some convincing took place. However, when they did get together to record songs, there was always magic in the air, none more so than on ‘Needles and Pins’.
The duo got together to record the cover for Petty’s first official live album Pack Up The Plantation: Live!, and it was a heartening moment for Petty, in particular. “Some of my best musical memories of her are sitting on the couch and just playing the guitar while she sings,” Petty told the Toronto Sun in 2014. The song is the perfect vehicle for their friendship.
Written by Sonny Bono alongside Phil Spector, the track is a classic piece of pop that perfectly exemplifies their relationship. When performing in 2017, Petty perhaps encapsulated their partnership by saying: “In 1978, we had just put out our second record, and I began to get calls from someone I never met before, but she was really nice,” Petty said when introducing Nicks at his 2017 show in London’s Hyde Park. “And over the years, we’ve become very close, and she is the honorary girl in our band — Stevie!”
Friends, perhaps lovers, but certainly partners, few artists shared as fruitful a relationship as Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks. Below, we have a full-fat taste of that relationship with their 1985 cover of ‘Needles and Pins’.