The talent and force of nature that is Stevie Nicks is undeniable. Her style and charisma riveted the world and her music defined a generation. But beyond that, she found her voice in a time and place where women struggled to be heard.
As part of Fleetwood Mac, Stevie co-wrote and sang on Rumours, one of the most successful, best-selling albums of all time. It became their legacy and songs like “Go Your Own Way,” “Dreams,” and “The Chain,” would mark the cornerstone of their success for decades to come. Fleetwood Mac made history and would be acknowledged as one of the most influential rock bands to come out of that era. But there was much more music in Stevie to give. Paul Fishkin, who was President of Bearsville Records and dated Stevie Nicks at the time, played a pivotal role in Stevie’s decision to inevitably launch a solo career. “She loved being in the group, but she was overflowing with artistic ideas, and she needed more than that, to be constrained by three songs a record and constrained by the fact that she couldn’t do anything else.”
The decision to start a solo career wasn’t an easy one and was met with both opposition and doubt. Even though her loyalty was still to Fleetwood Mac, starting projects outside of your group wasn’t something that was encouraged, especially in the ’70s. Going solo was considered the kiss of death by industry standards. But Stevie made the leap of faith and joined Modern Records, founded by Paul Fishkin and Danny Goldberg. She would go on to record her next five solo albums with the label, including quadruple-platinum Bella Donna. Not only was Stevie a massive success as part of Fleetwood Mac, but she gained the recognition she deserved as a solo artist, marking her place in history as a legend and an icon.
Stevie Nicks is a powerful songwriter and songstress, but she is also a pioneer. She broke the status quo of what women in the industry were supposed to be and forged her own path. She wore what she wanted, sang what she wanted, and didn’t let anyone else define who she was. In a conversation I had with Paul, he so eloquently said:
“If you have the strength to do what you want in the way you want to do it and not be a prisoner of what our society and culture demand of us, if you have the absolute faith in what you wanna do and have the balls to do it, that’s a heroic idea…to not be in fear of what the rules are telling you to do. Just do what you feel is the best for your creativity and not compromise it, and so Stevie had that belief in herself and that belief in the idea that her artistic view and creativity was important for her and that she would do it and not let anybody discourage her from doing that. She was in a man’s world, but she wasn’t going to let herself be talked out of what she was doing. And even though at times she got intimidated by male musicians, and they hurt her feelings, she stood up to that.”
Stevie Nicks believed in her abilities, had faith in herself, and was fearless when it came to sharing her music with the world. There was strength in her vulnerability, and beauty in her fight. She went her own way and laid the blueprint for countless others to follow, even to this day.
It takes nerves of steel to stand on your own as a female artist in the face of adversity and in the faces of those who doubt you. It takes courage to be willing to share your gift, at the risk of opening yourself up to criticism. And it takes a hero to do it all with grace.
Stevie Nicks is and always will be a pioneer, an icon, and a hero.