#BookReview – STEVIE NICKS: Visons, Dreams & Rumours by Zoe Howe

stevie-nicks

Lyrical visionary, enduring style icon, and one indispensable fifth of post-Peter Green megaband Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks is one of the most recognizable figures in rock ’n’ roll history―very much Fleetwood Mac’s “Queen Bee,” as Mick Fleetwood himself described her. With gold and qua­druple platinum solo albums under her beaded belt, Stevie Nicks has enjoyed the ultimate in rock ‘n’ roll success as a recording artist―but this charmed life has come as a result of hard graft, self-belief, and a devotion to creativity above all; hers has been a journey of intense highs and lows.

This new biography, a celebration of the Stevie Nicks phenomenon, takes us on her journey from peripatetic Midwest childhood to her explosion onto the music scene as chiffon-swathed rock goddess, right up to present day. Including exclusive inter­views with some of Stevie’s associates and collabo­rators from over the years, author Zoë Howe explores the mystique while retaining the magic of this modern-day musical sorceress and wise woman of rock.

Published: February 2015

Amazon / Amazon UK / Amazon CA

 

My Review

Biographies can offer a wide range of information and insight. This one mostly sticks to the evolution of Stevie Nicks’ music career, along with her love life and drug abuse as it coincides with her music. It’s important to note that Nicks did not participate in this biography. The author does not interview Nicks or anyone else for this book. All the material is gathered from old interviews and books already published. While that entails a whole lot of research, we don’t get any new information or personal insight from Nicks as she reflects back on her life. Conclusions are mostly conjecture based on a compilation of interviews Nicks and her bandmates have done over the years, as well as books already published by people who knew her. In fact, a good deal of the content is borrowed quotes from other books and interviews.

This book excels at giving us a full chronology of Stevie Nicks’ recording career. If you want to know the stories behind the songs she writes, you’ll find a lot of that information here. Her songs are quite personal, and I enjoyed learning the inspiration behind many of her lyrics.

Stevie admits her songs always start as simple sketches; she’d present them to the band and then they would be arranged. This was rarely easy; handing over her songs meant handing over her control, and apart from anything else, all of her songs were personal and precious to her.

As far as the way Stevie Nicks is portrayed here, she comes off as childish, insecure, spoiled, self-centered, and, at times, mean. I don’t know whether any of that is true about her – and I cling to the hope that it is not – but, whether intentionally or not, that is how the author shows her to us.

Let it be known that the chiffon-clad rock queen image was no stage act. This was no Stevie Nicks all the time, particularly in the studio, where she always looked stunning. The great care Stevie took over her outfits was at least partly because she was playing a part even offstage, and the costume, or uniform as she refers to it, will have given her confidence, almost like a suit of armour.

The author’s writing style is conversational, and the content flows well. The only issue I had came with spelling. The author is British but Nicks is not, and yet many of the quotes attributed to Nicks used British English spelling. It’s a minor issue but one I found distracting.

Overall, this is an easy and interesting read following the trajectory of Stevie Nicks’ career as she rises to fame. If your focus is mostly on her music, then you’ll probably love this book. If you’re looking for information on her childhood, family relationships, and honest reflections on how things have worked out in her life, you will probably be disappointed.

 

Thanks for reading. 🙂