Tom Petty on Rumors He and Stevie Nicks Were a Couple: ‘We Certainly Had Our Times’

Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks were close friends and collaborators whose relationship sparked rumors that the two were romantically involved. Both deny that they ever dated, but the rumors persisted. In an interview, Petty’s biographer mentioned that, based on Petty’s description of his relationship with Nicks, it sounded like they were a couple. Here’s how the Heartbreakers’ frontman responded.

A black and white photo of Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty singing into microphones. Petty plays the guitar.
Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty | Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks were close friends

When Petty and Nicks first met, he did not know what to make of her. 

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

Petty explained that megastars didn’t impress him. Despite this, Nicks was a “stoned-gone” fan of the Heartbreakers and wanted Petty to work on her solo album. Through persistence on her part, she formed a lasting friendship with Petty.

“She came into my life like a rocket, just refusing to go away,” Petty said in Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes.

There were rumors that the two dated

Petty and Nicks’ close friendship and collaboration on “Insider” and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” led to speculation that they were a couple. They could rely on each other for advice and support. Nicks even abandoned her responsibility to promote her new music to support Petty on tour in Australia

Petty explained that they could be honest with one another. He once insulted her in a discussion about music, but he was glad they could have those kinds of conversations.

“‘You need someone to remind you what you’re capable of,'” he told her. “‘You get too easily distracted by bulls****ers that want to make a hit. I don’t know why you’re doing all this synthesizer rock.’ I was probably an a**hole when I think about it. But I was free enough with her that I could do that.”

Zanes pointed out that in the way Petty described Nicks, they sounded like a couple. After hearing this, Petty looked like “a man who can’t argue the point.”

“Well, we were close …” Petty responded. “We were never what you’d call ‘an item.’ But we certainly had our times.”

Rumors about Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks caused problems with his girlfriend

True or not, the rumors that Petty and Nicks were romantically involved caused problems with his future wife, Dana York. When she was coming to visit Petty, she saw a gossip magazine that claimed Petty and Nicks were a couple.

“So Dana thought I was full of s***, just using her while I was dating Stevie Nicks,” he said. “Dana wasn’t from this world of ours. Trying to take someone who’s not from show business and convince them that this bulls*** goes on all the time, that it’s not real? It takes a minute.”

The story upset York, but Petty convinced her that it wasn’t true. The pair married in 2001.

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