A Fight Over Stevie Nicks’ Early Talent Broke Up Her Family for 2 Years
Stevie Nicks’ talent has been apparent from an early age. She began singing before she could read and always knew that music would be a big part of her life. This talent was apparent to her family, too. Her grandfather and parents argued over whether or not they should promote her singing. The fallout damaged the family dynamic for the following two years.
Stevie Nicks began performing at an early age
When Nicks was young, she had a close relationship with her grandfather, Aaron Nicks. He was a dedicated but unsuccessful musician who played the guitar, fiddle, and harmonica. She began singing with him, which is when he learned she could harmonize. Aaron would test her capacity to pick up harmonies by ear, and she proved she had an innate ability to do so.
Aaron began taking a four-year-old Nicks to nearby bars to perform. Together, they would sing and charm crowds, and Nicks learned to love performing. He would also pay her 50 cents for joining him.
“I remember singing with my granddad and feeling even at that young age that music was definitely going to be a part of my life,” she said in the book Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams, and Rumours by Zoë Howe.
Her grandfather and parents had a fight about her performing
Given the success Nicks had performing in bars, Aaron wanted to take their duo on the road. He saw the potential for great success in his granddaughter. Nicks’ parents disagreed. Though they were supportive of their daughter, they didn’t want their five-year-old touring. The family was also preparing to move to New Mexico and had just welcomed Nicks’ younger brother.
Aaron didn’t want to accept their decision, which resulted in a huge fight. When Nicks’ parents refused to concede, Aaron stormed out of the house. He refused to speak with the family for the next two years.
“He went away for two years and we never saw or heard from him,” Nicks told Rolling Stone. “I was very upset. I still have a cassette of him and me singing ‘Are You Mine.’”
They eventually made amends, however, and Nicks credits her grandfather as one of her earliest inspirations.
Stevie Nicks wrote her grandfather a song that she never played him
After high school, Nicks began pursuing music in earnest. Two years before she had her big break and joined Fleetwood Mac, she wrote a song dedicated to Aaron. She felt that she could never play it to him, though, because it included lyrics about his death.
“I knew he was going to die,” Nicks said, “and I didn’t ever play it for him, because there was a line in it that said, ‘I can still hear him playing though he’ll soon be gone.’ I couldn’t change that line, and I couldn’t sing it to him. That was when I decided I would never write another song that I could not play or show to somebody, ’cause he should have heard that song.”
Years after Aaron’s death, Nicks would dedicate her first solo album, Bella Donna, to him.