Stevie Nicks Reveals 'I Was the Worst Drug Addict'

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(photo: Rolling Stone)

Fleetwood Mac singer says early life in the band was “dangerous”

Stevie Nicks remembers her early days in Fleetwood Mac as an exciting, glorious time. “How could you not be happy? You were going with a drop-dead-gorgeous man who sang like an angel, and the world was yours,” she tells Rolling Stone in the magazine’s newcover story, detailing how she joined the band with her then-boyfriend, Lindsey Buckingham, in 1975. “I mean, things were looking up.”

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But rising success came with dangerously increased cocaine use, and Nicks did not hold back, sharing just how deep she fell into addiction with writer Brian Hiatt. 

"All of us were drug addicts, but there was a point where I was the worst drug addict," she says about the mid-Eighties, when her addiction had peaked. "I was a girl, I was fragile, and I was doing a lot of coke. And I had that hole in my nose. So it was dangerous."

The hole in Nicks’ nose came from a self-medication misstep, when she began to treat her migraines with a solution of aspirin in water that she squirted up her nose. “I thought I was being the best, most hygienic nurse ever,” she says.

It was during an earlier era, when the band recorded their 1979 album Tusk, however, that tensions in the band and the musicians’ drug abuse reached a nasty pinnacle. “That really didn’t help our irritability levels,” Nicks says of her rocky post-breakup relationship with Buckingham. “If you’re not happy with someone, then just go do some coke and see how much unhappier you can be. But you think that crap is helping you, so you do it because you think you’re getting better. You think you’re like, immortal, like you’re just going to live forever, when you’re doing coke in the beginning.”

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Tensions weren’t only taut because of the drug use. Buckingham was still dealing with the breakup and Nicks says he became aggressive and temperamental on tour.

Close friend and duet-partner Tom Petty was extremely worried about Nicks’ drug use. “I did all I could to talk her into getting some help and getting right,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I was very worried about her. To the point that if the phone did ring and they said, ‘Stevie died,’ I wouldn’t have been surprised.”

Nicks attended rehab twice over the course of her life. First, for cocaine, at the end of her 1986 Rock a Little tour, and then again in 1993, to fight an addiction to Klonopin that was prescribed during her first rehab stint by a doctor she calls “Dr. F—-khead.”

The singer revealed that the only drug she still uses is marijuana, which she reveals is more of a “creativity aid” than anything else. “When I’m writing, I will allow myself to smoke a little bit of pot,” she says. “It’s my one little thing that I can do. If I’m sitting at the piano and I’m writing, then I’m not out driving around in a car. Nobody is here, nobody sees me. I am not smoking with anybody. It’s just me, and it’s my choice. I use it as a tool, and I’m very careful, you know? And I get results. However, if I thought it was going to lead me back to something worse, I’d stop.”

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Still on tour with Fleetwood Mac, Nicks is currently dealing with back pain from her extremely physical deliveries of her iconic song “Gold Dust Woman.” The track’s lyrics tell the story of “a woman digging her grave with a coke spoon,” and while performing the song in concert, Nicks lets loose during the song’s lengthy breakdown.

"The adrenaline hits me, and it’s like I could twist my head right off my body," she says of her back pain. "And I really hurt my back. I need ice every single morning when I wake up. I go, ‘You gold-dusted out last night.’ It’s the drug addict in ‘Gold Dust Woman’ who is breaking her back. She’s out there and she’s looking for drugs, and I’m trying to create that situation onstage so people get what it’s about, which was a very heavy, bad time in my life."

In the revealing cover story, Nicks also speaks openly about the current status of her relationship with Buckingham, past romps with ex-boyfriends both famous and otherwise, her maternal role for young artists like Vanessa Carlton and how she’s dealt with the recent passing of her mother. She also teases the memoir fans have been desiring for her to release, though she notes it won’t be “the dirty sex book they want.”