Tom Petty Once Said Stevie Nicks ‘Does Not Live in the Real World’

Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks were close friends for decades, so he could offer insight into her offstage personality. While he spoke affectionately about their friendship, he also shared that he doesn’t believe she lives in the real world. Though Nicks disputed this assertion, Petty was not the first person to express this type of belief. 

Stevie Nicks wears a purple shirt and skirt and Tom Petty wears a floral shirt. They both stand in front of microphones.
Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty | Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty were close friends

When Nicks and Petty first met, she was determined to be his friend and musical collaborator. He wasn’t sure about this.

“We weren’t really welcoming to her,” he said in Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes. “It wasn’t like she received a lot of warmth. We weren’t impressed by superstars — it just wasn’t our nature.”

To Petty, Nicks represented corporate rock. He wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted with him. After some time, however, Nicks wore him down. They collaborated on her debut solo album and eventually formed a friendship. She even accompanied him on tour in Australia instead of promoting her album because he was in a “delicate mental spot.”

“Having Stevie along was very good for me,” Petty said, per the book Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks by Stephen Davis. “It changed the channel. Stevie was lighthearted, and she so loved music.”

He described her as someone who does not live in the real world

After being friends with Nicks for many years, Petty commented on what she was like in person.

“It’s like when you’ve got a sister in the family that nobody wants to talk about much,” he said, per the book Fleetwood Mac on Fleetwood Mac: Interviews and Encounters. “Stevie,” he added, “does not live in the real world.” 

These comments indicate that Nicks, while loveable, is eccentric. Nicks bristled at the statement. She explained that she does live in the real world, but she had to deal with her life changing dramatically once she joined Fleetwood Mac.

“Tom lives in the same world that I do,” she said. “Because both of us became huge successes very young, we made a lot of money, and that changes your life immediately — and those things change for you, you don’t even try to change them. They take you out of the real world, but they don’t need to change who you are.”

After years as a celebrity, Nicks said that the kindest thing anyone has ever said to her is that she’d hardly changed a bit.

Tom Petty isn’t the only person who has described Stevie Nicks in this way

Though Nicks asserts that she has not changed very much, her bandmate Christine McVie expressed a similar sentiment to Petty in 1984. She explained that while the two women were close friends in the 1970s, fame had changed Nicks.

“Ten years ago, she really had her feet on the ground, along with a tremendous sense of humor, which she still has,” McVie told Rolling Stone. “But she seems to have developed her own fantasy world, somehow, which I’m not part of. We don’t socialize much.”

Despite this, McVie and Nicks have patched up their friendship. When McVie returned to Fleetwood Mac after a 16-year hiatus, she revealed that their friendship had never been better.

RELATED: Stevie Nicks’ Onstage Ensemble Helps Her Hide the Feature She Dislikes Most About Herself