Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty: Inside their decades-old friendship
In the 1970s, Tom Petty was at the height of his fame. It was during this time that he moved to Florida, toured with his band the Heartbreakers and rubbed shoulders with those in the rock 'n' roll community. Among the friendships that he forged, one would last forever.
It was 1978 and Stevie Nicks met Petty for the first time. Nicks, or the queen of rock 'n' roll, became friends instantly. She was drawn to his theatrics, his stage presence and according to reports, she wanted to abandon her band and join Petty's Heartbreakers.
Years later, Petty told his biographer Warren Zanes that Nicks came into his life like a "rocket" which refused to go away. The two shared a friendship that's envious. Nicks and Petty would collaborate, perform together and be a constant source of support in each other's lives.
Zanes wrote in the singer's biography, "Petty's friendship with Nicks would finally be one of the few human constants in his life outside of his band, management, and crew. She'd come in and out over decades."
They first collaborated in 1981. They created their duet, Insider, as part of Petty's album, Hard Promises. In the same year, they created Nicks's memorable song, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, which they would play again a few weeks before his death in London's Hyde Park.
Speaking about their performance, she once said, "It’s really easy for Tom and I to be theatrical on stage because we both like it. If you have a duet and one of the [people] isn’t into being theatrical, you can’t do it because they think you’re stupid," Entertainment Weekly quoted her as saying.
But it wasn't just music that brought them closer. She helped him through his first marriage to Jane Benyo, who inspired Nicks's iconic hit, Edge of Seventeen. In the 80s, she realised that his marriage to Benyo was falling apart and helped him focus on his music. Nicks motivated him to tour with Bob Dylan in 1986, at a time when he wanted to call it off owing to family troubles with Benyo. She went too, and performed with Dylan and Petty.
Years later, he would do the same for her. When Nicks was in rehab for addiction to Klonopin, the singer visited and helped her get back to song writing.
"You don’t need help to write a song. You just need to get over this experience that bummed you out so bad. The relationship you were in is over, it was over a long time ago, and you need to move on," he told her. And she wrote Hard Advice.
If there's a reason why their friendship has lasted through the decades, perhaps it's because of their deep understanding of each other. It was music that introduced them but it was their 'fiery chemistry' that furthered their friendship. It's tough to describe friendships such as these because it was moments in each other's life that cemented their friendship.
When the Toronto Sun asked Petty to define his relationship with Nicks, the singer simply said, "Some of my best musical memories of her are sitting on the couch and just playing the guitar while she sings."
This wasn't the first time that Petty had to answer this question. When his biographer asked him about his relationship with Nicks, he said, "We had our times."