Tom Petty Accidentally Set Stevie Nicks Up With a Boyfriend and Wouldn’t Have Been Happy If He Found Out

When Stevie Nicks began to work on her debut solo album Bella Donna, she was hopeful that Tom Petty would help her with it. He reluctantly agreed but quickly realized that it wouldn’t work out. He told this to a disappointed Nicks, and to make up for it, he recommended her to his producer, Jimmy Iovine. Nicks and Iovine soon started up a romantic relationship, something that would have upset Petty if he found out. 

Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty sing into microphones. Petty plays the guitar.
Tom Petty & Stevie Nicks | Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Stevie Nicks desperately wanted to work with Tom Petty on her debut solo album

Though Nicks and Petty would eventually become close friends, he was initially wary of her. 

“We were a little wary of Stevie,” American Songwriter reports that he said. “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?'”

Despite this, Nicks wanted Petty to work on her album. Though he initially said he had too much to do, Nicks insisted that she would fit her schedule to accommodate his. He agreed to produce one song as a trial run. He did not enjoy the experience.

“I realized I couldn’t do this,” he said, per the book Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks by Stephen Davis. “There were too many hangers-on, just too many to have to get through. We never had guests in the studio. I wasn’t used to it.”

He inadvertently introduced her to a future boyfriend

Petty told Nicks that he wouldn’t be able to produce the album, but he recommended her to his producer, Iovine. Iovine agreed, and he and Nicks hit it off. They got along so well, in fact, that they soon began dating. Within a few days, Nicks had practically moved into Iovine’s house. 

Though Petty was the reason for the collaboration, they knew they had to keep the relationship secret. He wanted Iovine to focus on the Heartbreaker’s album and would be upset if the producer gave more attention to his girlfriend’s work.

“So Jimmy had this house in Sherman Oaks,” Nicks said, “and I was pretty much living there, but whenever Tom would come over I would hide in the bedroom downstairs. Jimmy didn’t even want to mention me to Tom.”

Eventually, they told Petty about the relationship, but several months after they got together. Neither of them wanted to upset Petty with the knowledge that he had inadvertently set them up.

Stevie Nicks recruited Tom Petty’s wife to help her befriend him

Eventually, the relationship between Petty and Nicks became less contentious. With a little help from Petty’s wife, Jane Benyo, they became good friends. Nicks befriended her, and they tried to think of ways to bring the two musicians closer together.

“Jane and I figured it out long before Tom had any idea that we were scheming. And we did scheme,” Nicks said, per the book Fleetwood Mac on Fleetwood Mac: Interviews and Encounters. “I knew we would be good together — I’m not joining the Heartbreakers or anything: I’m just a friend.”

Their scheming worked, and Nicks and Petty formed a friendship that would last decades.

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