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San Jose Mercury News Interview: Trouble in Shangri-La < Stevie Nicks < Main Page

San Jose Mercury News Interview: Trouble in Shangri-La



Stevie Nicks wouldn't take back the years she spent on cocaine.

She doesn't regret that she never married, or that she has no kids, or the failed relationships with her Fleetwood Mac partners Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham.

Her one regret -- her trouble in Shangri-La, to refer to her latest album title -- is the near decade, starting in 1986, she spent wasted on antidepressants prescribed, supposedly, to help her kick the 15 years' worth of cocaine.

"For eight years, I didn't do anything worth remembering," says the newly invigorated singer, back in the Bay Area for concerts in Mountain View tonight and Concord on Wednesday. "My creativity was gone. Klonopin and Prozac sucked it out of me. I had a beautiful house in L.A. I stayed home. I watched TV and listened to music. That is so not me."

It took her 45 more days of detox, she says, to get off the prescribed drugs and find the "real Stevie."

She says the drugs were prescribed by a psychiatrist after friends encouraged her to try some post-Betty Ford Clinic therapy. They wanted her to try Alcoholics Anonymous, but she tried a doctor instead. "Too bad I didn't get lost that day. His idea was that this would keep me off cocaine. But I was miserable, and I gained weight."

Now she is spreading the word about the drugs -- with extreme candor, she says -- to help others who may have the same problem.

But otherwise, at 53, Nicks is having a good time of it, back in musical paradise, shedding the weight and regaining her musical vision.

Her new album was inspired by O.J. Simpson's trial. "I was touched by the idea that someone so beloved could reach paradise and screw up that badly. Here is a man who could have been rich the rest of his life. He had a fabulous life, and he just couldn't handle it.

"I've seen so many people screw up paradise, including myself."

The album, with guest appearances by Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, Sheryl Crow and Buckingham, has received her best reviews in more than a decade. Meanwhile, her song "Edge of Seventeen" from 1981 has been sampled by Destiny's Child and is the core of that trio's hit, "Bootylicious."

Nicks is touring through the summer and then -- to the delight of fans -- will rejoin Fleetwood Mac to record an album in December and begin a tour. With Christine McVie and her keyboards out of the band this time, Nicks says the sound will toughen up and be more rock and bluesy.

And it all started right here.

"When I think of going home, I think of Menlo-Atherton High School and San Jose," says Nicks, who began her singing career while studying speech communication at San Jose State University and playing clubs and opening concerts all over the Bay Area with a group that included Buckingham, called the Fritz Raybine Memorial Band.

Those years prepared her for what would come next. Playing the Fillmore and other large venues, opening for the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Chicago and Santana, she got an idea of how to project herself.

She left San Jose for L.A. in 1971 and continued working with Buckingham, and in 1974 the duo was asked to join Fleetwood Mac. Within five months, the revitalized band had recorded one of the biggest-selling records in history and was out on the road.

"Within six months we were rich and totally famous," Nicks recalls. She was living every rocker's dream. "I didn't have to go through a lot of the stuff a lot of women in music have to go through. For our first shows, we had first class tickets and limos.

"Driving the country in a van, carrying equipment, I couldn't have done it. I don't know that I would have stuck with it. I probably would have become a teacher or worked for a broadcasting company."

From the start, she cultivated her mystical, swirling dervish image with long flowing dresses, scarves and leotards. "I wanted to be sexy without being overtly sexy," she says. "I didn't want to be remembered as a sex symbol. I knew that wouldn't last."

So she would offset her see-through chiffon with big boots and layers of ponchos or scarves. Her outfit on her latest album looks the same as the ones on 1981's "Bella Donna" and 1977's "Rumours."

And when you go to her shows, you see dozens of fans dressed just like her.

"It's trippy. It's very trippy. I can only be flattered. My idea worked. People got that it's a cool outfit."

As for marriage and settling down, Nicks thinks maybe it will happen in another decade, when she is ready to end her career. She says she never has much time to devote to anything else.

Date: 2001-12-02         Number of views: 2655

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