Why Is Everyone in SF Obsessed with Stevie Nicks?
By Peter Lawrence Kane
Stevie Nicks turned 66 years old not long ago, and she’s everywhere. She sang a duet on Jimmy Fallon, with him as Tom Petty. She was on American Horror Story: Coven, having played herself – possibly because Ryan Murphy can’t resist writing his love of her straight into his characters’ minds. She even did a weather report.
With her vampish hedonism and love of shawls and Victoriana, there is something delightfully absurd about Stevie Nicks’ persona that seems to resonate in San Francisco. She is approachably, unpretentiously weird. As a drag icon for years – although the Night of 1000 Stevies is a New York thing – she’s a recurring specter on the scene. We asked some creative current and former Bay Area residents their thoughts on this brilliant woman, the goth-witch draped in chiffon who sings white-bread songs with universal appeal.
And although they’re skipping San Francisco for Sacramento and San Jose, Fleetwood Mac will tour this fall, in their full lineup. Just in case you were wondering.
One of the last weekly T-Shacks I went to was their “Stevie Nicks” nights at The Stud. In retrospect I see now why they needed a bigger venue – it was the only time I’ve been trampled at a drag show! I even fell to the ground, and was walked on by giant heels. Thankfully I am resilient, and used the emergency exit to get away. Even though “Stand Back” can sometimes evoke memories of the drag-trauma, I refuse to give up my love for the White Witch. – Jimmy Swear, resident DJ, the Lone Star Saloon
I'm too young to have followed Stevie's history of coked-out drama, but I live for the heartfelt intimacy in her music, ranging from brilliant masterpieces like the somewhat awkwardly danceable "Stand Back," to the overplayed (but I don't care!) "Landslide," to my favorite of favorites: "Wild Heart" (but only in the unreleased practice-session version that some kind soul posted to YouTube). I'll say it: she's one of the best songwriters of all time. And of course, how can you not like a girl in a shawl? – Little Miss Hot Mess, drag queen, Santa Cruz
The first concert my parents allowed me to attend was Peace Sunday, an anti-nuclear day of protest, at the Rose Bowl on June 6, 1982. As if art directed, when the moon rose over Pasadena, Stevie took to the stage. Her familiar voice, the soundtrack of my childhood ripped through me when she sang “Sara” and “Edge of Seventeen” (which I was at the time). There was a woman at the corner of the stage, who had been signing for the deaf all day and had gone unacknowledged. Stevie twirled around the interpreter, put her shawl-covered arm around her and dramatically bowed to her at the end of the song. Stevie Nicks is MY diva. – Matthew James DeCoster, executive board member, Litquake
Stevie Nicks saved my life. As a sensitive young gay boy, I used to lay alone in my bedroom and stare at my Fleetwood Mac poster. I would stare at her image, play "Landslide" over and over, and think, "Only Stevie understands me." – Heklina, drag impresario
I think her songs are perfect for karaoke. In fact, I ignore all Fleetwood Mac songs not sung by Stevie Nicks. – Julia Leeman, 6th grade math teacher
As a child I used to have a recurring dream in which an invisible witch cackled maniacally as she tickled me. Stevie Nicks sounds like that witch. So it took me a while to warm up to her but now I'm totally a fan. – Rotimi Agbabiaka, actor
My thoughts on Stevie Nicks: in 1982 I did a lot of roller-skating to “Edge of Seventeen.” – Rob McLaughlin, managing writer, Menlo Park/SF
Stevie Nicks made me gay. There, I said it. At four years old, I recall her on MTV within a white-haze video, wearing a glimmering, purplish, phosphorescent shawl that looked as if she mugged Liberace's grandmother. My life was altered. I was in love. I made a drink up about two years ago in the White Witch's honor: Equal parts St. Germaine and Jameson, a squeeze of a Meyer lemon and a sprig of lavender: The Stevie Nicks. – Jenn Koscielniak, “the nice cook in the kitchen at Zeitgeist”
Stevie Nicks wrote “Stand Back,” “Wild Heart,” and “Landslide.” That alone guarantees a lifetime of my adoration. To paraphrase Sandra Bernhard, ‘She sang it, she snorted it, she fucked it – she lived it.’ What current musician can touch her? Besides, no one is going to Night of 1000 Rihannas. – Don-Scott Cooper, general manager, American Conservatory Theater
Stevie Nicks isn't merely a fine singer/songwriter, she's a force of nature and a true original like we rarely see these days. Her contributions to Fleetwood Mac are deservedly legend, of course. I might love her first two solo albums even more. The hits you know, but deep cuts like "Nightbird" and "The Wild Heart" are just as superb. She's so awesome that having a (now ex-boyfriend) who wrote poetry "inspired" by Stevie couldn't kill my love for her. – Thomas Inskeep, pop critic, The Singles Jukebox
The White Witch? I loved her on Coven! – Sudhir Popat, chef
To a kid growing up in the '80s during the satanic panic, she was a shining beacon of occult light. I grew up in a very religious home. My mom burned a lot of my books and records and games one summer while I was visiting my dad. I was devastated, but one of the records she didn’t burn was Belladonna. I guess Stevie had enough hippie pop cachet to stay off my mom’s Satan-busting to-burn list. And I saw her a couple Halloweens ago – she was the entertainment at this schmancy party I worked at. And the old gal has still got it. – Ric Ray, art director
The liner notes on Timespace speak for themselves: “And the white wing dove takes flight.” They are a must-read. – Scott Hirsch, tech marketer
Stevie Nicks is the voice I most adore from Fleetwood Mac, although the others are compelling enough. Perhaps it's how she allowed us to embrace our flowing hippie girl in an era fraught with tube tops and stacked Candie's-style heels. Go with it girl, and add a drape of black lace and/or white lace. My collection of scarves, accessories and animal-themed blankets are a direct wink in the mirror to beautiful Stevie. – Mary Ladd, writer