Stevie Nicks Received Life-Changing Advice From Tom Petty

When Stevie Nicks heard Tom Petty’s music, she knew she wanted to know him. She formed a relationship with him out of sheer willpower, and they eventually became close friends. Nicks often turned to Petty for advice. On one occasion, when she was feeling particularly vulnerable, Petty gave advice that helped her out of her fragile state. 

Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty stand in front of microphones and sing. Tom Petty plays the guitar.
Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty | Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Stevie Nicks loved Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Nicks first tried to connect with Petty while she was working on her solo career. She admired his work and wanted him to help with her debut solo album.

“She was this absolutely stoned-gone, huge fan,” American Songwriter reports that Petty said in the book Conversations With Tom Petty. “And it was her mission in life that I should write her a song.”

Petty and his band weren’t sure how to feel about Nicks.

“We were a little wary of Stevie,” he explained. “We didn’t quite know whether to like Stevie or not, because we kind of saw this big corporate rock band, Fleetwood Mac, which was wrong, they were actually artistic people. But in those days, nobody trusted that sort of thing and we just kept thinking, ‘What does she want from us?’”

Eventually, though, she wore him down. He helped her with the album, and the two became friends.

She received important advice from the late musician

In the mid-1990s, Nicks left rehab after dealing with an addiction to Klonopin. After eight years of using Klonopin followed by a difficult period in rehab, she wasn’t sure if she could write as well as she used to. 

“I was at my house in Phoenix – I had come out of rehab – and I had dinner with him at the Ritz-Carlton,” she told Rolling Stone. “I had a visitation from an old boyfriend, right after my rehab, and it had shaken me. I asked Tom if he would help me write a song.”

As they had collaborated before, it seemed a safe bet that Petty would help her out. Instead, he refused.

“He said, ‘No. You are one of the premier songwriters of all time. You don’t need me to write a song for you,’” she explained. “He said, ‘Just go to your piano and write a good song. You can do that.’” 

He believed that writing was not a problem for her. Instead, he thought she needed to address certain challenges in her life.

“You don’t need help to write a song,” Petty told Nicks, per Billboard. “You just need to get over this experience that bummed you out so bad. The relationship you were in is over, it was over a long time ago, and you need to move on.”

She called the resulting song “Hard Advice,” which she wrote about the conversation with Petty.

Stevie Nicks still talks about Tom Petty as if he’s alive

Nicks was devastated by Petty’s death in 2017. When she speaks about him these days, she tries to use the present tense, wanting to feel as though he’s still available to speak with her.

“Even when I talk about him now onstage, I talk about him like he is not dead — because I don’t want him to be dead,” she told NPR. “So I talk to him like he’s still down the street and I can, like, pick up the phone and call him.”

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

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