Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks
By Stephen Davis
St. Martin’s Press
There have been a rash of Fleetwood Mac books in recent years, as well as another full-length bio on the band’s ethereal, chiffon-and-lace draped witchy gypsy front woman (2015’s Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams and Rumors by Zoe Howe). But this one by Davis, well-famous for his essential Led Zep tome Hammer of the Gods and co-writer of Mick Fleetwood’s first, 1990 autobiography, is essential.
While he does occasionally delve into some prurient prose (not to mention a string of nicknames for cocaine), this is as likely a solid and objective look at Stevie Nicks and her career as will ever come out. And the meticulous Davis utilizes both previous sources and new interviews and research.
Davis is particularly interested in discussing Nicks’ hardcore fans – who often dress in her distinctive looks (see Manhattan’s annual “Night of 1,000 Stevies”) and find deep meaning in her Enchanted Crystal Visions. He also notes that she had a Squad of dedicated female friends/associates/hangers-on long before Taylor Swift (a huge fan of Nicks herself) did.
Outside of Fleetwood Mack, the book dives deep into Nicks’ solo career, the only member of the Mac to have a truly successful one. Many of her contributions to the band’s catalog are among their biggest and most-lasting hits (“Rhiannon,” “Dreams,” “Gypsy,” “Sara,” “Landslide,” and “Gold Dust Woman”).
Don't forget that Rumours was the #1 album on the charts for eight months, a plateau impossible to reach today by anyone. Still, it’s interesting to note her often lack of power with the band, which was mostly run creatively by Lindsey Buckingham and business wise by Mick Fleetwood.
He also takes to task her former boyfriend Buckingham, who comes off as petty, vindictive, jealous, and condescending in a wildly up and down relationship. While he admirably insisted that he and Nicks – who were struggling as a duo - were a “package deal” when Mick Fleetwood asked him to join the group, Davis recounts the endless times he was just a jerk to her. Especially as she and not he emerged as the band’s fan favorite and onstage focal point.
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Her romantic adventures are documented extensively, though Davis has her quoted several times as saying the love of her life was not Buckingham with decades of drama, bandmate Mick Fleetwood, platonic close friend Tom Petty, or “Leather and Lace” lover Don Henley, but the last’s former and current bandmate…Joe Walsh!
Nicks’ own extensive struggles with drug abuse (both illegal and prescription), fluctuating weight, and crippling self-criticism are also delved into. And it’s interesting how she can’t stand to watch many of her ‘80s videos today because of how strung out she looks.
The interesting thing is that the Fleetwood Mac story is still evolving. When Nicks nixed the opportunity to work on a new album, the two other songwriting Macs came out with the Buckingham McVie album and tour (which recently stopped in Sugar Land).
But all five members have committed to an 18-month world tour that will commence next year. No one’s saying it’s a “farewell” jaunt, but let’s just say if you haven’t seen them yet…this would be a good time.