In the early years of her long career, Stevie Nicks frequently worked with session musician Waddy Wachtel. Together, the two worked on one of Nicks’ most popular songs, “Edge of Seventeen.” In a 1999 interview, Wachtel admitted that “Edge of Seventeen” was too similar to the Police’s 1979 song “Bring on the Night.”
Stevie Nicks and Waddy Wachtel worked together on ‘Edge of Seventeen’
“Edge of Seventeen” was released on Nicks’ debut solo album Bella Donna, which was released in 1981.
According to Music Spotlight Magazine, “The song’s arrangement was inspired by the Police’s 1979 cut ‘Bring on the Night.'”
In a 1999 interview with Musician magazine, Wachtel admitted that he and Nicks “ripped” the Police “off” with “Edge of Seventeen.”
“I had never heard ‘Bring On the Night,’ and at that session they told me they were going to do this song based on this feel. I had heard something about the Police, but I didn’t know what they were talking about,” Wachtel told Musician magazine.
He continued, “Then about two years ago, I had the radio on, and on comes what sounds like ‘Edge of Seventeen’ – and all of a sudden, there’s Sting’s voice! I thought, ‘We ripped them off completely!’ I called Stevie that night and said, ‘Listen to me, don’t ever do that again!'”
‘Edge of Seventeen’ is one of Stevie Nicks’ most popular songs
After rising to fame for her role in Fleetwood Mac, Nicks made her solo debut in 1981 with Bella Donna. “Edge of Seventeen” is the sixth song on the tracklist.
Over the years, “Edge of Seventeen” has remained one of the most iconic songs in all of Nicks’ discography. The guitar opening of “Edge of Seventeen” which is similar to the Police’s “Bring on the Night” is also immediately recognizable to fans.
“Onstage, the beginning of that song is like a break for Stevie. I’d be standing there, playing that riff for around three minutes, before she’d even start singing! By the end of the tour I was able to break walnuts with my right hand,” Wachtel told Musician magazine about the guitar in “Edge of Seventeen.”
Stevie Nicks and Waddy Wachtel are longtime collaborators
In addition to working with Nicks as a session musician, Wachtel also accompanied the singer on tour and worked as her music director.
“I told Stevie that [the forced break due to the pandemic] was the first time I unpacked my suitcase. I come home and that thing lays open in my closet because any minute I’m going out on the road. If not with Stevie, I’m going somewhere to do a session,” Wachtel told Best Classic Bands.
He continued, “Then, all of a sudden, there was no travel. Finally… my suitcase was empty. (laughs) And usually I know how to pack for a gig because my stuff stays in it. I had to start from scratch. She cracked up.”