“Through The Looking Glass” reflects on Stevie Nicks’ success over more than four decades

By on July 25, 2019

Steve Nicks was the first woman, the first member of Fleetwood Mac, and the twenty-third artist in the history of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to be inducted twice: first, in 1998, as a member of Fleetwood Mac, and earlier this year, in 2019, she was inducted for her work as a solo artist.

Unfortunately for Ms. Nicks, she is not always given the credit she so richly deserves, especially by the so-called “serious” rock press. Stevie Nicks: Through the Looking Glass — a two-hour-plus documentary from 2013, now streaming on Night Flight Plus — attempts to “redress this neglect by telling the full story of Stevie in a manner it has not been told before.”

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Illustration found here

This documentary claims to cover her entire story, from the early days when she and then-boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham recorded as a duo before they were both asked to join Fleetwood Mac, all the way into her hugely successful solo career.

Alas, much of the focus here, however, is on Nick’s time with Fleetwood Mac, particularly the recording of Rumours (1977) and Tusk (1979).

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The film features everything you’d expect to see in a fairly comprehensive biographical music doc, including rare film footage and archive photos.

There are, of course, lots of interviews here with people who’ve worked with Nicks, like record producer Keith Olsen, Rumours producer Ken Caillat (author of Making Rumours), and, Rick Vito, Buckingham’s replacement in Fleetwood Mac.

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There’s also critical commentary about Nicks by some of the usual suspects you see in these British-made docs, like Nigel Williamson, Ann Powers, Chris Ingham, Bud Scoppa and Robert Christgau, who doesn’t appear to like either Fleetwood Mac or Stevie Nicks’ solo recordings, making him a curious choice for inclusion.

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On the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s website, Nicks — who they call “Rock and Roll’s Mystic Poet” — says she has “always thrived and shined on collaboration.”

The website mention several of her partnerships, including Don Henley, David Crosby, and Tom Petty, as well as her work with producers like Jimmy Iovine and David A. Stewart.

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The website also mentions the “unmistakable vocal timbre of Stevie Nicks’s voice,” which, in the documentary, Keith Olsen describes as “…this nasally thing that is almost on the verge of being a goat.”

Goat-like or not, Nicks’ vocals can be heard all over hugely successful pop hits recorded by Fleetwood Mac, and on numerous solo albums, including her debut, 1981’s Bella Donna, and 1983’s The Wild Heart, which gave her another Top Ten single with “Stand Back.”

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Much of the rest of her entry on the Hall of Fame’s website focuses on her looks, however, and how she “brought velvet and chiffon into the leather-and-denim world of rock.”

It goes on to mention that her signature “rock and roll gypsy” look includes shawls, top hats, and fingerless gloves.

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We’re sure a lot of Stevie NIcks’ detractors would probably agree that her real impact on rock ‘n’ roll is indeed very much based on her iconic look.

Let’s just all agree that whether or not she was even worthy of induction in the Hall of Fame, Stevie Nicks has been a major force in pop music for more than four decades.

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Read more about Stevie Nicks below.

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At the end of 1974, Fleetwood Mac had just lost their lead guitarist/songwriter Bob Welch, who’d split just before recording sessions were to begin for their next album.

Welch had written and sung much of the material they’d recorded on their last few albums, so drummer (Mick Fleetwood), bassist (John McVie) and lead vocalist/keyboardist (Christine McVie quickly realized that they needed to find another songwriter for the group.

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A chance meeting between Fleetwood and an acquaintance, Thomas Christian, inside the fabled Laurel Canyon Country Store in November 1974, led to Fleetwood Mac finding their next recording studio when Christian suggested they check out Sound City, a studio in nearby San Fernando Valley (usually just called “the Valley”).

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It was at Sound City that engineer Keith Olsen played Fleetwood demos he produced by a little-known California duo called Buckingham Nicks: Lindsey Buckingham (b. October 3, 1949, and raised near Palo Alto, CA) and Stevie Nicks (b. May 26, 1948, in Phoenix, AZ).

As Olsen says in the documentary, “The Stevie Nicks songs had that little bit of folky lightness, and Lindsey’s material had this deeper sense of feel.”

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The duo were available too, having recently been dropped by their record company, Polydor, who had issued their album Buckingham Nicks.

Buckingham was doing session work and touring with Don Everly, and Nicks was working as a waitress and she’d even cleaned Olsen’s home for cash.

An invitation was extended to Buckingham and Nicks to join Fleetwood Mac; they were mostly interested in Buckingham, but he said he would only take the gig if Nicks was brought aboard too.

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It was with this newly-expanded lineup that they would record their Fleetwood Mac album, released in July of 1975.

Propelled by singles like Nicks’ #1 pop chart hit “Rhiannon,” the album would climb to the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 album charts and remain in the Top Forty for fifteen weeks and the Top Ten for thirty-seven weeks.

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As successful as the self-titled so-called “white album” was, 1977’s Rumours was even more successful, and it helped turn Fleetwood Mac into not only one of the best-selling bands of all time, but one of the most culture-defining artists of the decade.

Watch Stevie Nicks: Through the Looking Glass and other music documentaries on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.