Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty are two iconic figures in the history of rock and roll. Both artists enjoyed immense success and shared a deep bond that lasted for over four decades. However, their relationship didn't start off smoothly. In fact, Petty initially had reservations about Nicks when they first met. Let's delve into the story behind their friendship and how Nicks became the “only girl” in Petty's band.
The Fan Becomes the Friend: A Rock and Roll Connection
Stevie Nicks was already a superstar when Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers burst onto the music scene. Fleetwood Mac, Nicks' band, had released their self-titled album in 1975, followed by the massively successful Rumours in 1977. Despite her own success, Nicks found herself captivated by Petty's debut album in 1976. In a Rolling Stone essay, she revealed that she became an instant fan, admiring Petty's unique voice and the synergy between the band members.
Stevie Nicks: More Than Just a Fan
Nicks' admiration for Petty went beyond being just a fan. She had bigger plans for their meeting. In Conversations with Tom Petty, Petty recalled how Nicks approached him with a clear mission—to write a song for her. Nicks was determined, and this unwavering dedication would eventually pay off.
A Rocky Start: Petty's Initial Reservations
Despite Nicks' enthusiasm, Petty and the other members of The Heartbreakers were initially skeptical of her. Petty admitted in his biography that they weren't particularly welcoming to her when she first started hanging around. Their resistance wasn't due to indifference towards Nicks' talent, but rather their aversion to superstars. It took time for Petty to realize Nicks' authenticity and genuine nature.
Breaking Barriers: Nicks and The Heartbreakers
Nicks found solace in Petty's then-wife, Jane Benyo, as she formed a close relationship with her. Unfortunately, this connection also introduced Nicks to the world of drug use. While other band members were put off by Nicks' association with a “big corporate rock band,” they soon discovered that Fleetwood Mac remained true to their artistic roots. Petty explained that back then, they were skeptical and wondered what Nicks wanted from them.
Nicks' Bold Move: Joining The Heartbreakers
After Fleetwood Mac's 1979 album Tusk faced mixed reviews, Nicks approached Atlantic Records president Doug Morris with a audacious proposal—to become a part of The Heartbreakers. However, she was met with a resounding “No” due to Petty's strict rule of “No girls allowed.” Undeterred, Nicks sought to collaborate with Petty's producer, Jimmy Iovine. Their professional relationship quickly took a romantic turn, marking the beginning of a new chapter for Nicks.
Success Comes in a Surprising Package
As Nicks worked on her first solo album, Bella Donna, Iovine faced a challenge—he believed the album lacked a standout single. That's when he presented Nicks with “Stop Draggin' My Heart Around,” a song co-written by Mike Campbell of The Heartbreakers. Petty sang back-up vocals on the track, cementing their collaboration. Despite Iovine's initial doubts, the album produced enduring hits such as “Leather and Lace” and “Edge of Seventeen.” However, “Stop Draggin' My Heart Around” became Nicks and Petty's biggest hit, solidifying their friendship.
A Lasting Friendship: Musical Legends and Kindred Spirits
Nicks and Petty continued to support and perform with each other throughout their careers. Their bond remained unbreakable, evident when they reunited for the last time before Petty's untimely passing in 2017. Nicks shared in her Rolling Stone piece that after 27 joint performances in 2006, Petty presented her with a platinum sheriff's badge, declaring her the “Only Girl in Our Band.”
- The Fan Becomes the Friend: A Rock and Roll Connection
- Stevie Nicks: More Than Just a Fan
- A Rocky Start: Petty's Initial Reservations
- Breaking Barriers: Nicks and The Heartbreakers
- Nicks' Bold Move: Joining The Heartbreakers
- Success Comes in a Surprising Package
- A Lasting Friendship: Musical Legends and Kindred Spirits