Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty
If Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers had said “leave Fleetwood Mac and come and join us,” I probably would have joined Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. — Stevie Nicks
Stevie came to me around ‘78. And she was this absolutely stoned-gone huge fan. And it was her mission in life that I should write her a song. And we were a little wary of Stevie. 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?” And then, of course, she turned into one of my great, great friends forever. But Stevie was really adamant about me writing her a song. — Tom Petty
Stevie Nicks always joked that if she had the opportunity to join one band, it would have been The Heartbreakers. The result of Nicks and Petty’s friendship is a handful of absolutely fantastic tracks.
Petty initially wrote “Insider” for Nicks, but ended up falling hard for the song and kept it for himself, releasing it on 1981’s Hard Promises (which is named after a lyric from the track) with Nicks supplying the harmonies. Petty made up for that snub with "Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around," one of the all-time great rock ‘n’ roll duets, released on Nicks’ 1981 solo album, Bella Donna. Petty wrote another track for Nicks, "I Will Run To You,” which she released on her follow-up, 1983’s Wild Heart.
My personal favorite though is a demo version of Petty’s playful Full Moon Fever ditty, "Apartment Song." Nicks stopped by one day, liked the song, they had a few drinks, and cut the vocals over a single take. Her harmonies really are tremendous here: playful, raw, and powerful. That vibrato she lays down on the line “I’m okay most of the time” is out of this world. Unfortunately, Petty opted to release the version without Nicks, and relegated her contribution to the eventual Playback boxset.
Nicks also appears on The Heartbreakers’ live album Pack Up The Plantation to perform “Insider” and the mid 1960s Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche song, “Needles and Pins.” She’s performed several Petty songs herself in concert over the years, including “I Need To Know” as far back as 1981. Below, check out Nicks taking the lead on “I Need To Know” with The Heartbreakers at Bonnaroo in 2006.
Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics, in town to write songs for Nicks and other musicians, went to a party at Nicks’ house the night after she had broken up with Joe Walsh of The James Gang and Eagles. According to Stewart, when all the partygoers disappeared to do coke in a bathroom, he went upstairs to bed. He awoke early the next morning to find Nicks in his room trying on Victorian clothing. In a Howard Stern interview, he related the scene to something out of Alice in Wonderland. Later that morning, he heard Nicks tell Walsh, “Don’t come around here no more.”
Stewart wrote the song and initially attempted to have Nicks record it, but after tensions with producer Jimmy Iovine (another former lover of Nicks) boiled over, Iovine passed it on to Petty.