Fleetwood Mac Viewed Stevie Nicks as the ‘Baby Sister’ They Didn’t Take Seriously

Fleetwood Mac never took Stevie Nicks seriously, and it frustrated her. She would write songs, but the rest of the group wouldn’t take her abilities seriously. Nicks said they viewed her as the “baby sister” who was always dependent on them.

Nicks went through what some great songwriters go through in famous bands. The Beatles didn’t let George Harrison shine with his songs either. However, that all changed when she started her solo career.

Fleetwood Mac at the Los Angeles Rock Awards in 1977.
Fleetwood Mac | Richard Creamer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Fleetwood Mac treated Stevie Nicks as the ‘baby sister’

In an interview with Rock magazine, Nicks explained where she fit into Fleetwood Mac. She said that they saw her as the “baby sister.”

“My relationship with Fleetwood Mac will never change,” Nicks said. “I will always be the baby sister, the one that is left out a little bit. My solo work allows me not to feel bad about it and enjoy them (Mac) for what they are, instead of worrying about not being included enough.

“That’s what I used to get upset about. They were not even close to using my full potential. But now I know I have something else to go to.”

In 1982, Nicks told High Times that Christine McVie’s work often excited her. She always jumped to help her. It was a chance to do something.

“Yeah, when I really love something that she does, I really get in there and help her with it,” Nicks explained. “She can do it alone, she really doesn’t need anyone, but when she writes something that I really take to heart, then I go for it. I stay up all night with her and we work on it.”

Nicks continued, “I drag Lindsey and her in there and make them sing, because that’s what they forget—they forget that there’s three of us and how good we sing. I irritate them to death, it’s like a little bug. Especially because I am not going to stand by and watch no singing go on this album.

“They’re players, they get really wrapped up in the playing of it, and I don’t get to play. I don’t have anything to do. I sit around and watch them play—it’s boring. The thing I do real well is vocal production. I can really get them happening on singing, but if it wasn’t for me, there wouldn’t be nearly half the vocals.”

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Fleetwood Mac didn’t take Nicks seriously

Even after some of Nicks’ best songs gave Fleetwood Mac success, it still took them some time to take her seriously. Rock magazine mentioned that Nicks once said she hadn’t received her peers’ recognition she’d hoped for. They asked her if that had changed.

“Pretty much,” Nicks replied. “I’ve written down songs on a thousand pieces of paper for the last 10 years and thought, ‘If only they would respect me as a songwriter,’ That’s all I ever really wanted. Performing and singing was a wonderful addition, but the thing I wanted most — especially from Mac — was them to say to me ‘You’re a pretty good songwriter.’

“It took them a long time to realize that I wasn’t kidding around, that I’m very serious about my writing. It mattered to me what they thought and that they realized that I was striving toward a certain excellence. They had that excellence, but I had to strive a little harder for it and make them believe that I really cared that much.”

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She felt controlled in the band

Nicks started her solo career in 1981. She hated that Fleetwood Mac controlled her. She told BAM magazine that Lindsey Buckingham always changed and arranged Nicks’ songs.

“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to see if I could do it myself,” Nicks said. “When you work with somebody who is that much in control, and who has always been that much in control–from, like, 1970 on–you forget that you’re even capable of doing something yourself.

“I’d write my song and then Lindsey would take it, fix it, change it around, chop it up and then put it back together. Doing that is second nature to Lindsey, especially on my songs.”

“It’s difficult to be a girl in a big rock ‘n’ roll group for six years,” Nicks told US Magazine in 1981. “You’re very protected and dependent. For so long you’re not allowed to make your own decisions that suddenly you don’t want to anymore. Doing my solo album was the only step I could take to show I still had control.”

Nicks said recording Bella Donna was also about seeing if she could do it herself. “They knew that I had to go and do this by myself because I had to prove to myself that I could exist on my own,” Nicks told High Times in 1981.

Jimmy Iovine, Nicks’ producer, helped her. He showed her how to become the artist she needed to be to record a successful album.

“It was made very clear to me from the very beginning that if I was gonna do this, I was no longer the coddled, dependent baby of Fleetwood Mac,” Nicks said.

Thankfully, Nicks made a name for herself. She’s the only woman to have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice, after all.

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