You’re So Vain: The Possible Men On Carly Simon’s List

Long before Taylor Swift became a star with her heartbreak anthems, Carly Simon laid the groundwork with “You’re So Vain.” The hit propelled Carly into stardom and is still one of her most recognizable songs. Part of its enticement is the mystery around who exactly she was singing about. Fans have speculated for years, but Carly finally starting leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to the truth. Read on to see all the possible subjects of the song, and which one Carly finally admitted was her source of inspiration.

She Started Out As A Duo With Her Sister

The Simon Sisters
GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images
GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

Though many of us know Carly Simon as a solo artist, she first hit the music scene as part of a duo. It consisted of herself and her sister, Lucy Simon, and they called themselves The Simon Sisters.

The pair were first signed in 1964 and they went on to put out three albums over the course of the next five years. In 1969, Lucy decided to take a break from recording to start a family, leading Carly to embark on a solo career.

Making It Big With “You’re So Vain”

Carly Simon
Michael Putland/Getty Images
Michael Putland/Getty Images

The very next year after The Simon Sisters split, Carly was signed to Elektra Records. Her first album as a solo artist featured “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be,” which was her first top ten hit.

Carly’s second album had the hit “Anticipation,” but it wasn’t until her third album that came out in 1972 that she became a star. The song “You’re So Vain” hit number one, as did the album. They even earned Carly multiple Grammy nominations!

Mick Jagger Sang Backup On “You’re So Vain”

Mick-Jagger
Keystone Features/Getty Images
Keystone Features/Getty Images

Deep in the background of “You’re So Vain” are vocals lent by none other than Mick Jagger! The Rolling Stones lead singer didn’t even get credits for his vocals being in the song, but it didn’t escape the attention of fans.

Since Mick was in the song, some wondered if Carly might be singing it about him. We’re not sure why someone would want to be a part of a song that depicts them in a negative light, but rumors still swirled anyway.

Carly Admitted That She Had Major Chemistry With Mick

Carly Simon Portrait Session
Ed Caraeff/Getty Images
Ed Caraeff/Getty Images

Though Carly put the rumors about Mick to rest in 1983, she did have something else to reveal about him in her 2015 memoir, Boys in the Trees. The singer admitted that she and Mick had crazy chemistry while recording “You’re So Vain.”

It didn’t help when Mick’s wife at the time, Bianca, called Carly’s fiancé the night before the wedding to say that the musicians were having an affair. Carly denied the accusation, but one thing’s for sure: the song was far from being about Mick.

Carly Married James Taylor The Same Year Her Hit Came Out

Carly Simon and James Taylor Singing
Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

You know that fiancé we just mentioned that Mick Jagger’s former wife called? He was musician James Taylor, who Carly was married to for more than a decade. The pair tied the knot the same year that “You’re So Vain” propelled Carly into stardom.

Some fans speculated that the song might be about the very man she betrothed herself to. Though it seems a little odd, we’d imagine sharing the spotlight with someone in your same field could be tough at times.

Rolling Stone Magazine Confirmed It Wasn’t James

Taylor and Simon at Movie Preview
Getty Images
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns/Getty Images

After the song came out, Rolling Stone magazine had an interview with Carly where they set the record straight. Though she didn’t reveal who the song was about, she did say, “It’s definitely not James.”

One reason fans were so sure it might be him is because of the line, “Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia.” The year the song came out, James did take a jet to Nova Scotia! Carly pointed out in the interview that it wasn’t a Lear, though.

A Music Video Suggested In Might Be David Bowie

Ziggy-Stardust
Richard Creamer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Richard Creamer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Rumors began to swirl when a newer music video for “You’re So Vain” came out in 2010. Fans thought they heard a clue a couple of minutes into the song, when the name David is whispered backwards.

Fans began speculating that it was David Bowie who the song was about this entire time. After all, the song did come out the very same year that David emerged as Ziggy Stardust. Perhaps Carly thought his theatrics were a little bit much.

Carly Confirmed That “David” Held Significance

Carly-Simon-Performing
Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images
Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images

Anyone trying to solve the mystery became even more obsessed when Carly admitted that the whisper did refer to the subject of the song. However, that didn’t necessarily mean it was David Bowie.

There were many Davids in Carly’s life, both in and out of the music industry. For all her fans knew, the person could be someone who isn’t even in the spotlight. However, there was another famous David that came to the fan’s minds.

Another Clue Pointed To David Cassidy

David Cassidy
Photoshot/Getty Images
Photoshot/Getty Images

The whispered “David” wasn’t the first clue that Carly gave about the mystery man. In a previous interview, she said that the person’s name included the letters A, E, and R.

Clearly, Carly was a big fan of puzzles and loved teasing her audience. Fans concluded that it must be singer and actor David Cassidy. Though his first and last name doesn’t include E or R, his middle name, Bruce, does! He was definitely a possibility.

Carly Hasn’t Revealed Who The Real David Is

David Cassidy
Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Since Carly has yet to confirm or deny that the mystery David is Bowie or Cassidy, the only way to know is through the process of elimination. David Cassidy’s early rise to fame suggests he could be the guy.

The actor landed a spot on Broadway shortly after finishing high school early. He was discovered while performing and landed a contract with Universal Studios. It wasn’t long after that the young man became a teen idol on The Partridge Family.

Another Suspect Was Carly’s Ex, Cat Stevens

Photo of Cat STEVENS
Sylvia Pitcher/Redferns/Getty Images
Sylvia Pitcher/Redferns/Getty Images

Before Carly Simon a household name, she dated a fellow musician named Cat Stevens. The two met while getting ready for a show at the Troubador, which was Cat’s first performance in the states.

The star rose to prominence in the United Kingdom in the late ’60s. By the early ’70s, he and Carly were romantically involved and writing songs about one another. Carly’s “Anticipation” and “Legend in Your Own Time” is reportedly about Cat, so of course, people thought “You’re So Vain” might be, as well.

Here’s Why Cat Was Still An Option

Cat-Stevens
George Wilkes/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
George Wilkes/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

At this point you might be thinking, didn’t we just establish that the mystery man’s name is David? While this is true, Carly revealed that the song might actually be about multiple men.

Since the singer’s other songs about Cat paint him in a better light, it seems doubtful that he was the subject of “You’re So Vain.” Then again, their short-lived relationship did come to a close around the same time that the hit came out.

Producer David Geffen Was Another Possibility

David Geffen
Michael Putland/Getty Images
Michael Putland/Getty Images

David Geffen rose to prominence as first a talent agent before co-founding Asylum Records in 1971. He entered the public eye when he dated Cher in 1973, shortly after the singer divorced her long-time music partner Sonny Bono.

Since David was in the spotlight around the time that “You’re So Vain” came out, fans began to wonder if he was the subject of the song. Especially after the “David” clue came out, the producer seemed like a definite contender.

Carly May Have Admitted David Geffen Was A Subject

GettyImages-186438994
Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage
Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

There was one person Carly supposedly felt comfortable enough to admit the truth to, and that was Howard Stern. We are not sure why she would tell a radio personality her big secret, but that’s what Howard claims.

He also says that one of the names may have been David Geffen, but he “forgot.” Carly put an end to the nonsense in 2010 by stating she hadn’t yet met Geffen when she wrote the song.

Warren Beatty Even Thought It Was About Him

Warren Beatty
Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images
Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images

After seeing the success of his sister, Shirley MacLaine, Warren Beatty decided to try his hand at acting. He went on to have a massively successful career, garnering 15 Academy Award nominations for acting, directing, producing, and writing, sometimes for the same film!

To top it off, Warren produced a benefit concert in 1972 with massive names like Barbra Streisand and Quincy Jones. The same year, “You’re So Vain” came out, and Warren knew it was about him.

At Last Carly Admitted It Was Warren Beatty!

Carly Simon posed on a chair circa 1971.
GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images
GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty Images

Warren Beatty wasn’t just a suspect because he’s great at everything in his field. It was also because he had dated Carly Simon. The singer finally caved in 2015 when People magazine agreed to put her on the cover if she’d revealed the mystery man.

She only had to give up who one verse was about, and she chose the second one, which is all Warren. The singer joked, “Warren thinks the whole thing is about him!”

Carly And Guitarist Dan Armstrong Broke Up In 1971

Keith Richards playing an Ampeg Dan Armstrong guitar.
David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images
David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images

Fans suspect that “You’re So Vain” might also be about Dan Armstrong, a guitarist Carly dated until 1971. Since they broke up the year before the song came out, it would certainly make sense chronologically.

Dan not only played the guitar; he also made them. Dan’s clear Plexiglas guitars and basses were so renowned that Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones performed with one. The line of instruments was even named the Ampeg Dan Armstrong.

Carly Already Wrote One Song About Her Ex Dan

Carly Simon
Brownie Harris/Corbis via Getty Images
Brownie Harris/Corbis via Getty Images

Supposedly, Dan used to boast they he was the only electric guitar specialist in the world. It sounds like his success as a luthier may have gone to his head, which could be a reason for Carly to call him vain.

On top of that, Carly had already written a song about Dan once before! Her debut solo album released in 1971 featured “Dan, My Fling,” which was clearly about the relationship. Furthermore, Dan’s full name has an A, E, and R in it.

Jack Nicholson Was Another Ex Of Carly’s

Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

One ex that Carly Simon got candid about in her memoir was actor Jack Nicholson. The news that the two were together has left some fans wondering if he was one of the men she referenced in “You’re So Vain.”

After more than a decade of subpar work, Jack got his big break in 1969 by landing a role in Easy Rider. By the time he met Carly, Jack was well on his way to stardom.

Jack Broke Carly’s Heart

Photo of Carly SIMON
RB/Redferns/Getty Images
RB/Redferns/Getty Images

With fame comes lots of incredible dating prospects, and Jack found himself torn while dating Carly. In her memoir, she revealed that the actor was seeing someone else at the same time as her.

It turns out that Jack had strong feelings for this other woman and felt he needed to tell Carly about it. Though she wasn’t very committed to Jack, it did still hurt the singer’s feelings. Whether or not it was enough to accuse him of being vain is a mystery.

Carly Simon Met Sean Connery When She Was 20

Sean Connery And Family
Terry Disney/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Terry Disney/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In 1965, Carly Simon and her sister, Lucy, had the chance to meet the late and great Sean Connery. At the time, he was one of the biggest actors in Hollywood thanks to his starring role as James Bond.

The Simon Sisters used their famous dad, the cofounder of publishing house Simon & Schuster, to get a chance to meet the actor. Fans thought this meeting may have left a poor taste in Carly’s mouth, but she hasn’t confirmed the rumor.

Sean Connery Was The First James Bond

Sean Connery as James Bond
Getty Images
Getty Images

Any James Bond fans will know that Sean Connery was the first of many actors to nail the role. Before Sean was an actor he was a bodybuilder! His charm and good looks helped him break into the acting industry, though it took a decade to do it.

When you hit the ground running with a role like James Bond, how could you not be a little vain? That was at least the thinking behind some fans who thought he might be a subject of the song.

Kris Kristofferson Was Another Relationship Gone South

TORKIL ADSERSEN/AFP via Getty Images
TORKIL ADSERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

Another one of Carly’s many flings was with rocker Kris Kristofferson. The musician’s career took off in the mid-’60s, and he even dated Janis Joplin for a time. By the early ’70s, he turned his focus towards acting, starring in the 1976 edition of A Star Is Born alongside Barbra Streisand.

In her memoir, Carly described their relationship as a “slam-dunk deranged month.” It’s no wonder that fans took this information as a reason to think he might be the subject of her song.

Carly Knew Kris Wasn’t The One After A Plane Ride

Carly-Simon-Strumming
Gems/Redferns/Getty Images
Gems/Redferns/Getty Images

Though Carly was smitten with Kris’s songwriting ability, their relationship couldn’t go far. The day she knew they wouldn’t last came when they boarded a plane together. Carly had a fear of flying and was looking forward to having Kris as a comfort.

When the plane took off, she put her head on his shoulder, but the feeling was not mutual. Instead of reassuring her, Kris closed himself off with a newspaper. The feeling of rejection could have fueled Carly to include Kris in her hit song.

Carly Was Off Again On Again With Director Bob Rafelson

Bob Rafelson In 'Five Easy Pieces'
Columbia Pictures/Getty Images
Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

Another one of Carly’s flames was Bob Rafelson, a director who is regarded as playing a key role in the New Hollywood era of the ’70s. Funny enough, he worked with another man on this list: Jack Nicholson!

Though their relationship only lasted for a few weeks, it was a turbulent time. They were an off-again, on-again kind of pair. That’s all the more reason why fans thought he might be one of the people on the list.

Bob Was Married At The Time!

Jean-Marc ZAORSKI/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Jean-Marc ZAORSKI/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

One thing that makes Bob definitely a possibility as the subject of “You’re So Vain” is the fact he was married at the time he was seeing Carly! Obviously, it takes two to tango, but you’d have to get her book to hear all the details directly from Carly.

Their fling came to a halt and Bob and his wife at the time, Toby, ended up divorcing in 1977. Before they did, though, he apparently told Toby about the affair during a karma cleaning session.

Carly And Terrence Malick “Weren’t The Easiest Fit”

On the Set of Badlands
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Another New Hollywood director that Carly had a relationship with was Terrence Malick. The two met through a mutual friend while Terrence was working on a New Yorker piece about Che Guevara.

Carly admired Terrence’s passion for his work as he talked with a “fervid enthusiasm” about Che. She found herself wanting to be the object of his affections, but ultimately found that they “weren’t the easiest fit.” Fans now wonder if he’s one of the subjects in her song.

Terrence Is Known To Be A Private Person

Gary Miller/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Gary Miller/FilmMagic/Getty Images

If this is the first time you’re hearing about Terrence Malick, there’s a reason for that. Unless you’re a film buff, you may have been completely unaware of the director because he likes to keep himself as far from the radar as possible.

Terrence has even been known to avoid movie premieres and interviews. If there’s one thing this director values, it’s privacy. We’re not sure how he felt about being included in Carly’s memoir, let alone a suspect of her song!

The Last Two Men Have No Idea Who They Are

Carly SIMON
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns/Getty Images
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns/Getty Images

Though Carly admitted that one of the men she references in “You’re So Vain” is Warren Beatty, the other two are a mystery. Furthermore, she says that those men have no idea that they’re the subjects.

Carly clearly revealed Warren since he already figured it was him, anyway. As for the David hint, we’ve seen that it doesn’t really give much away since it’s a common name in Hollywood. It seems that the singer doesn’t want to give it all away.

The Answer May Never Be Revealed

Carly Simon Performing
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The question remains if Carly will ever state who the men are. It’s one of those things where the puzzle is more enticing than the answer, so perhaps she’s keeping it hidden to stay relevant.

Even Carly has admitted she can’t believe people are still curious who it is. Perhaps the question has helped the hit stand the test of time as people continue to try and sort out what it refers to. At the very least, listeners can insert their own vain exes into the song.

She Loved Music From An Early Age

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Purple_Rain526/Reddit
Purple_Rain526/Reddit

Stephanie Lynn Nicks has always had an interest in music, fostered by her grandfather Aaron “A.J” Nicks, who performed country and western music in local clubs. He would bring the future rock icon to sing duets with him starting when she was only four or five years old.

Later, when Stevie was in grade school, he would make plans to take her on tour, a plan that was quickly nixed by her protective mother.

Becoming “Stevie”

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Paul Natkin/WireImage
Paul Natkin/WireImage

When young Stephanie Lynn Nicks was still learning to talk, she was unable to pronounce her first name and simply went by, “Tee-dee.” This eventually turned into “Stevie,” the stage name that she still uses to this day.

She even goes by “Stevie” in her acting roles, and played herself as a recurring character, “The White Witch,” in the television series American Horror Story. This picture was taken during a 1978 performance.

Fascination With Dogs

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Fin Costello/Redferns
Fin Costello/Redferns

Nicks is a lifelong dog-lover. One of her first dogs was an Afghan named “Branwen” after a character in a novel who was the sister of another character, “Rhiannon.” Her poodle Ginny was her constant companion during the recording of Rumours.

A Chinese Crested Yorkshire Terrier named “Sulamith Wulfing” was her longest surviving pup and she even had mini shawls and dresses created to match her owner’s. Stevie’s latest dog is another Chinese Crested named “Lilly.”

Her Grandfather Taught Her To Sing Harmony

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Richard E. Aaron/Redferns
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

Stevie Nicks’ grandpa taught her a lot about music including influencing her distinctive and haunting singing style. “I always go for the harmony,” she told Rolling Stone. “And that’s been since I was really little, because my granddad was a singer, and he would bring me 45s and he’d say, ‘You’re a harmony singer. You’re a perfect Everly Brother.’”

In this circa 1976 photo, Stevie’s wearing a shirt from Torrance, California-based Obie Lighting Productions.

She And Lindsey Buckingham Met In High School

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Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images
Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images

One of the most famous songwriting couples in the world, Stevie Nicks’ relationship with Lindsey Buckingham arose from playing music. They were in high school together, meeting when Nicks saw Buckingham playing “California Dreamin'” during an after-school Christian youth-club meeting and she jumped in to harmonize.

Soon, their band “Fritz” was opening for psychedelic rock icons such as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, both of whom Nicks credits as major influences on her style. Nicks and Buckingham became romantically involved after Fritz broke up.

“I Want To Be A Star, I Don’t Want To Be A Cleaning Lady”

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Richard McCaffrey/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Richard McCaffrey/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In the early seventies, Nicks and boyfriend/songwriting partner, Lindsey Buckingham, were still unknown to the pop-music world. They had released one album, Buckingham Nicks, but commercial success was elusive and they were dropped by their record label. To make matters worse, Buckingham came down with a bad case of mononucleosis, leaving Stevie as the sole breadwinner for a time.

She waited tables and cleaned houses for a while, a situation which may have inspired the spoken quip on an early demo of her song “Sara,” where she is heard to say, “I want to be a star, I don’t want to be a cleaning lady.” This photo was taken circa 1974.

Recording “Rhiannon”

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Fin Costello/Redferns
Fin Costello/Redferns

Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac on New Year’s Eve, 1974, along with Lindsey Buckingham, her songwriting partner and boyfriend. One of her first songwriting contributions to the newly updated line-up was “Rhiannon,” a song that, according to Nicks, was about “an old Welsh witch.”

Early live performances of the song included an extended musical crescendo during which her vocalizations and wild movements were described by bandmate Mick Fleetwood as “an exorcism.” This studio photo was taken in 1975.

Rumours Was A Massive Hit

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Ebet Roberts/Redferns
Ebet Roberts/Redferns

Released in 1977, the album Rumours contains some of Nicks’ most memorable compositions. “Dreams,” “The Chain,” and “Gold Dust Woman” were all major hits for Fleetwood Mac. The ensuing tour to promote the album cemented the band’s reputation for electrifying live shows as well for a non-stop backstage excess.

As a result of the success of the album and tour, Nicks purchased two large homes, one in Phoenix, Arizona, and another located just above Sunset Boulevard dubbed, appropriately enough, “Fantasy Land.”

Christine And Stevie On A Tour Bus

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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

As the two lead female voices in Fleetwood Mac, Nicks and bandmate Christine McVie shared a special bond. McVie was married to bass player John McVie (who contributed the “Mac” part of the band’s name) and had already been recording and touring for over half a decade when Nicks joined.

Stevie used to call her “Mother Earth,” as she filled in the role of mentor and provided a grounding influence for the famously eccentric artist. Not that McVie didn’t have her share of fun: “I once threw a cake out the window which landed on top of a taxi.” Here they are on a tour bus in 1976.

“Stand Back”

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prettyinc/Pinterest
prettyinc/Pinterest

Stevie Nicks’ solo album, The Wild Heart, debuted in 1983, following a year of great personal highs and lows for the songwriter. After losing her best friend Robin Anderson to cancer, Nicks married Anderson’s widower, hoping to help raise their new son. One of the standout songs on the album is “Stand Back,” which was initially written in the car on her wedding day as she sang along to “Little Red Corvette” by Prince.

She later called Prince to tell him about her inspiration and he immediately came to the studio and recorded the famous synthesizer parts. Although not credited in the liner notes, Prince and Nicks split the royalties for the song in half.

Magical Energy

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Richard E. Aaron/Redferns
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

Stevie is known for being an expressive dancer on stage, but the party doesn’t end there. During the recording sessions for her first album with Fleetwood Mac, she would dance nearly non-stop, as if she was possessed by the music, even as the other members were performing overdubs and other monotonous studio work.

As recording engineer Ken Caillat recalled, “She believed she had magical powers. She probably thought she was chanting up a good mix.”

Backstage Photography

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Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

A self-diagnosed insomniac, Nicks decided to use all of her late-night free time to learn photography. An early pioneer of the selfie, she developed her dreamlike style by documenting her private moments backstage and in hotel rooms while on tour. Her tool of choice was the Polaroid camera armed with a wired remote control.

She eventually released many of her never-before-seen portraits in an art exhibition, “24 Karat Gold,” curated by fellow musician Dave Stewart from eighties pop powerhouse, the Eurythmics. Here she is backstage at a concert in Los Angeles in 1985.

The Excess Of The ’70s

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Mick Fleetwood was blown away by Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar playing on his and Nicks’ debut album, Buckingham Nicks, and jumped at the chance to fill the spot recently vacated by the former Mac guitarist, Bob Welch.

At the band’s first official meeting with the newest members of the group, Stevie had just gotten off work from her restaurant job where she was required to dress as a flapper from the 1920s. In a true show of seventies rock excess, the rest of the band arrived in a pair of white Cadillacs.

She Has A “Shawl Vault” For All Her Stage Costumes

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Paul Natkin/Getty Images
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Stevie Nicks is known for her unique style which often includes one of her custom shawls. During her live shows, she will often change shawls depending on what song is being performed.

“Rhiannon,” “Gold Dust Woman,” and “Edge of Seventeen” are just a handful of the songs that have an associated cover-up. She even has a massive, temperature-controlled “shawl vault” where the wraps are preserved when she is not on the road.

A Touching Tribute From Tom Petty

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On her album, “Bella Donna,” Nicks asserted herself as a powerful solo performer, stepping outside of the massive shadow of Fleetwood Mac’s success. The album’s first hit single, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” was the only track not written by Nicks. It was written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell with the music performed by the Heartbreakers.

Not long before his death, Petty was quoted as saying, “some of my best musical memories of her are sitting on the couch and just playing the guitar while she sings.” This photo was taken on September 18, 1981, in Irvine, California.

She Could Be A Distraction In The Studio

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Fin Costello/Redferns
Fin Costello/Redferns

Despite writing Fleetwood Mac’s only number one Billboard hit, “Dreams,” Nicks was often seen as an irritation in the recording studio by her partner, Lindsey Buckingham, a notoriously ill-tempered perfectionist.

This was only compounded by what the rest of the band noted was her nearly effortless ability to write good songs. Ken Caillat, the band’s engineer, was quoted as saying, “she only knew about three chords, and she could make 30 songs out of them.”

The Tambourine Is An Accessory

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Michael Putland/Getty Images
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Stevie is often seen onstage playing tambourine, but it’s really just a fashion accessory and is muted with gaffer tape. Usually adorned with ribbons, it fit in perfectly with her gypsy-inspired style and gave her something to do with her hands during long instrumental jams.

When she handed her tambourine off to Bill Clinton as Fleetwood Mac played his 1993 inauguration ball, the president appeared confused when he was unable to produce any sound from it.

Sweet Success

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Richard E. Aaron/Redferns
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

After the success of the Rumours album, Fleetwood Mac’s record company, Warner Bros., was eager to get the band back in the studio to record more hits. Tusk was the resulting double album. The level of experimentation musically (as well as narcotically) during the recording sessions for Tusk is legendary.

At the time of its release, it was estimated to be the most expensive rock and roll record ever made. Despite critical adoration and album sales of over four million, it was considered a failure by Warner Bros. simply by comparison to its predecessor.

Being In Fleetwood Mac Kept Her Ego In Check

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GAB Archive/Redferns
GAB Archive/Redferns

In 1997, Nicks sat down with Spin to discuss her career. “I think if I had just done my solo career and had been able just to be me, I probably would’ve been more ego’d out than I was,” she admitted.

“Being in a group of five really does keep your ego in place. It’s not as easy to get totally conceited when you’re in a band.” This group shot is from 1975.

“Sara, You’re The Poet In My Heart”

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frncll/Pinterest
frncll/Pinterest

Described by Nicks as her favorite song, “Sara,” from the 1979 album Tusk, was originally 16 minutes long, with many of the original verses edited out to suit the time limitations of an LP. Much speculation on the meaning of the lyrics has been written throughout the years, with Nicks seeming to confirm them all.

This lyrical collage touches on her relationship with Mick Fleetwood, Fleetwood’s future wife, Sara Recor, as well as Nicks’ unborn child with Don Henley of the Eagles. “If I ever have a little girl I will name her Sara,” Stevie said.

Stevie Is A Mystic

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Richard McCaffrey/ Michael Ochs Archive/ Getty Images
Richard McCaffrey/ Michael Ochs Archive/ Getty Images

Nicks’ strong spiritual side comes through in her music and lyrics and she has always had a firm belief in mysticism and the power of magic. The subject has fascinated her as long as she can remember, due in no small part to her mother’s love of fairy tales.

She also believes that she has had past lives and that at some point she may have been beheaded! “I totally believe in magic. Because my life, I think, has been very magic, and magical things have come true for me time after time after time,” she said.

Backstage, Circa 1985

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Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

This was the same year she released Rock a Little, her third solo studio album. Fleetwood Mac was on a lengthy break at the time, which came about after their 1982 album Mirage.

Rock a Little had several hit singles, including “Talk to Me,” “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?” and “I Can’t Wait.” This album was extremely popular in Australia and became the country’s sixth biggest-selling album of 1986.

As Her World Began To Change

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Anthem/Polydor
Anthem/Polydor

In 1974, everything changed for Steve Nicks. She, along with Lindsey Buckingham were asked to join the band Fleetwood Mac. It all happened after Keith Olsen played their track “Frozen Love” for Mick Fleetwood. The drummer was so impressed that he asked Buckingham to join their band. He agreed on one condition, they would bring on Stevie, too.

The band thought it was a good idea, turning their British group into more of an Anglo-American band. They weren’t disappointed with their choice. It was obvious, after the first rehearsal, that Fleetwood Mac was going to be something special.

Magic With The Tambourine

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Janet Knott/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Janet Knott/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

When it comes to her music, Stevie Nicks is very mystical She sways with the lyrics she’s singing, sometimes opting to twirl around with an intricate shawl while playing her tambourine with her eyes shut.

In 1979, during a concert at the Boston Garden, fans were able to see Nicks in her element: eyes closed on stage while smiling along with whatever her band was playing behind her. If we had to guess, we’d say they were playing something off their infamous 1977 Rumors album.

With Husband Kim Anderson

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Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

As mentioned, Stevie Nicks lost her best friend Robin Anderson to cancer and married her widower Kim Anderson in order to help raise their child.

Here are Stevie and Kim in a rare photo snapped in 1983. Nicks later expressed regret for the marriage. “I had this crazy, insane thought that Robin would want me to take care of Matthew,” she said. “But the fact is, Robin would not have wanted me to be married to a guy I didn’t love. And therefore accidentally break that guy’s heart, too.”

The World At Her Fingertips

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Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images
Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images

Stevie Nicks released her second solo album in June of 1983. The Wild Heart wound up going double platinum, featured three hit singles, and made it to number five on the Billboard albums chart — a seemingly regular place for Nicks’ albums and songs.

The album only took Nicks a few months to record, an amazing feat considering she had just come off the Mirage tour with Fleetwood Mac. But due to personal things going on in her life, she needed to express herself artistically. The album has sold over two million copies in the United States alone!

A Romantic At Heart

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Barry King/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images
Barry King/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

Here’s the songstress in a more punk-rock look than we’re accustomed to seeing on her. As mentioned earlier, Stevie was into music from a very early age and despite the different looks she’s tried, she has remained a romantic at heart.

You know, the man of my dreams might walk round the corner tomorrow. I’m older and wiser and I think I’d make a great girlfriend. I live in the realm of romantic possibility.”

A Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

On October 10, 1979, Fleetwood Mac was honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a Star. At the time, Stevie Nicks and the rest of the band had gained world-wide fame, with over ten studio albums and a couple of tours under their belts it seemed as though they were in it for the long haul.

So, it came as a bit of a surprise when Nicks released a solo album not even a year later, in 1980. Her first solo work was called Bella Donna, and it received critical acclaim. The album had four hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and Rolling Stone even dubbed her “the Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll.”

The Year She Met Bob Dylan And Tom Petty

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Doris Thomas/Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Doris Thomas/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

After finding success as a solo artist, Nicks went on to record three more studio albums by 1985. But she ran into a bit of a snag with the third one. Originally titled Mirror Mirror, the singer wasn’t entirely thrilled with the outcome of the 1984 album, opting to revamp the entire thing before releasing.

The result was 1985’s Rock a Little. This particular album brought her on the road with none other than Bob Dylan and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. This photo was taken in 1986.

Deep-Rooted Friendship

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Rick Diamond/Getty Images
Rick Diamond/Getty Images

In this 1977 photo, Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks perform onstage at The Omni Coliseum, located in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite some really rough times together, the two are lifelong friends and share a bond that not many other people have.

“We felt like, together, we were a force of nature,” Stevie said in 2013. “And we made a pact, probably in our first rehearsal, that we would never accept being treated as second-class citizens in the music business. That when we walked into a room we would be so fantastic and so strong and so smart that none of the uber-rockstar group of men would look through us. And they never did.”

With Her First Guitar

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mizzlizbeth1/Pinterest
mizzlizbeth1/Pinterest

As mentioned, Stevie Nicks loved music from an early age and had this experience to share about getting her first guitar and writing her first song, “I’ve Loved and I’ve Lost, and I’m Sad But Not Blue.”

“It was my 16th birthday – my mom and dad gave me my Goya classical guitar that day. I sat down, wrote this song, and I just knew that that was the only thing I could ever really do – write songs and sing them to people.”

She’s Always Coped With Stage Fright

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stevienicks/Instagram
stevienicks/Instagram

In 2019, Stevie shared this up-close-and-personal selfie to her Instagram page. It was less than a week until her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and she admitted that she was nervous. Stage fright is something she’s always had to cope with during her career, but she’s found ways to channel the nerves into excitement.

This induction was record-breaking, as it made Nicks the first woman to ever be inducted into the Hall as a member of a group and for her own solo career.

Stevie Nicks On Stage Fright

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Michael Putland/Getty Images
Michael Putland/Getty Images

About stage fright, Stevie thinks it might be the secret to “magical” music. “If you have stage fright, it never goes away,” she once said. “But then I wonder: is the key to that magical performance because of the fear?”

This photo shows Nicks singing on stage at a performance in 1977. If she’s feeling any trace of stage fright or nerves here, it’s not visibly apparent in any way.

US Festival, 1983

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Paul Natkin/Getty Images
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

While 1983 brought with it Stevie Nicks’ album The Wild Heart, it also brought festivals, tours, and benefits. Nicks was lucky enough to perform at the second-ever US Festival at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, California, a music and cultural festival that began in 1982. Then, she headed to UCLA for a Rock N’ Run benefit, which is where this photo was taken.

From June 1983 to November 1983, Nicks toured the United States, promoting her album. And to top off the whirlwind year, she also appeared on Saturday Night Live, singing “Nightbird” and “Stand Back.”

“Buckingham Nicks”

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Richard E. Aaron/Redferns/Getty Images
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns/Getty Images

Stevie Nicks had some band experience before joining Fleetwood Mac. She first met Lindsey Buckingham, her boyfriend at the time, at Menlo-Atherton High School. Buckingham invited her to sing in his band Fritz. Later, they became a musical duo called Buckingham Nicks.

In January 1975, Mick Fleetwood heard Buckingham and Nicks sing “Frozen Love.” The photo shows Stevie Nicks singing early in her career in 1975. Fleetwood asked Buckingham to replace their guitarist, but Buckingham said that he and Nicks were a “package deal.”

Hall Of Fame Performance, 1998

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Bruce Gilbert/Newsday RM via Getty Images
Bruce Gilbert/Newsday RM via Getty Images

This performance was especially special to Fleetwood Mac; it was when they were inducted into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. In 1998, the band performed at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan to celebrate their award.

However, Stevie Nicks would end up being welcomed into the Hall of Fame twice! In 2019, Stevie Nicks entered the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. To this day, she is the only woman to be in the Hall of Fame twice.

Musical Influences

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Richard E. Aaron/Redferns
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

As with all music stars, Stevie Nicks was a huge music fan early in life. She often locked herself in her room to listen to vinyl, staying in her “own little musical world.” Her early influences included Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.

Nicks was also influenced by movies. She frequently cited the 1939 film “Wuthering Heights” as an inspiration for her lyrics. Many of her songs focus on the undying love of people who are separated from each other.

Fifth American Music Awards

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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In January 1978, Fleetwood Mac won their first music awards. Here, the band celebrates backstage after earning the American Music Awards for their album, Rumours. They would end up winning three more American Music Awards 1978, 1983, and 2003.

Rumours also won Grammy awards and Juno awards. Stevie Nicks also got nominated for other awards, such as the best duo vocals for “Silver Springs” and “The Chain.” Although her vocals didn’t win many Grammys, they garnered a lot of attention.

Answers About Her Religion

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Michael Putland/Getty Images
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Many people have questioned whether Stevie Nicks is a Pagan, based on her style of dress and song themes. Nicks has responded saying that she is not Pagan or Wiccan. However, she does appreciate the aesthetics and romance of the occult.

Some of her songs are based on Pagan themes. For instance, the song “Rhiannon” is about a Welsh witch. Rhiannon is the Celtic goddess of horses. On stage, she would often wear black or white because those colors look good.

Leaving The Band

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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac set to work on their fifteenth studio album in 1989. Behind the Mask saw moderate success in the United States, but was wildly popular in the UK where it was certified platinum and charted as the number one album. The tour of this album would be Nicks’ last with the band.

After the conclusion of the tour, Nicks and Mick Fleetwood got into a dispute of the 1977 song “Silver Springs.” While Nicks wanted to put it on her upcoming album Timespace: The Best of Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood wanted to save it for the Fleetwood Mac box set. The dispute resulted in Nicks’ departure from the band.

Tango In The Night

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Richard E. Aaron/Redferns
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

In 1985, Fleetwood Mac began work on their fourteenth studio album, Tango in the Night. Unfortunately, due to her Rock a Little album recording sessions and scheduled tour, Stevie Nicks had little time to work in-studio with the band. So, she would send out demos for them to work on in her absence.

Apparently, her being away from the rest of the band was of no consequence because when the album released in 1987, it went on to be the band’s highest-grossing album right before Rumours.

Three Sold-Out Nights At The Cow Palace, 1979

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Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images
Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images

In 1979, Fleetwood Mac played three sold-out shows at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. From December 14 through the 16th, the band delighted the audience at the legendary venue during their huge Tusk tour.

Nicks considered herself somewhat of a Bay Area local, since her family moved to California when she was growing up, and she attended school at Menlo-Atherton High School. It was during her senior year there that she met Lindsey Buckingham.

Keeping The Audience Spellbound In 1979

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Paul Natkin/Getty Images
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Always one for getting lost in the music, Stevie Nicks fans are no strangers to watching the artist get lost in her music. Especially if her wardrobe happens to include long, willowy sleeves or a little bit of fringe. But no one cared about the twirling once the singer began singing.

When this photo was taken in 1978, Fleetwood Mac was at the end of their Rumors tour, Nicks and the rest of Fleetwood hurried back to the studio. Nicks, personally, had a backload of songs she wanted to start recording. And, in 1979, the band released Tusk.

Another View Of Rhiannon

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Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images
Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images

In 1975, Fleetwood Mac obtained worldwide success off their tenth studio album, Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks’ song on the album, “Rhiannon,” is now among the top 500 greatest songs of all time, according to Rolling Stone.

For fans who were lucky enough to see Nicks perform the song, Mick Fleetwood said it was almost like watching an exorcism. Nicks just lost herself in the music, twirling around and whipping her thick curly hair back and forth. We can imagine it was a sight to see!

Always Dramatic

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Paul Natkin/Getty Images
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Even with all of her success during her solo career, Stevie Nicks has never won a Grammy Award. She has been nominated for the award eight times but has never been honored with a win. Ironic, considering she is the only woman in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to be inducted not once but twice.

And let’s not forget all of the albums she’s worked on that have had major success around the globe. But we will give credit where it’s due. Nicks won Album of the Year with Fleetwood Mac in 1978 for Rumours.

With The Band, 1975

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GAB Archive/Redferns
GAB Archive/Redferns

In this promotional photo of Fleetwood Mac, we’re treated to the smiling faces of Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, and John McVie.

This was taken in 1975, the same year their self-titled album was released on July 11. As Mick Fleetwood later recalled of the album, they “[r]ehearsed for 10 days and went in and made the album. That was it. It was just a great sense of circumstance.”

Live At The Oakland Coliseum

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Richard McCaffrey/ Michael Ochs Archive/ Getty Images
Richard McCaffrey/ Michael Ochs Archive/ Getty Images

Stevie Nicks’s wardrobe and dancing may have been influenced by her childhood. Her mother was a bit overprotective, not letting Nicks out of the house often. She spent her childhood reading fairy tales and fantasy stories.

Nicks carried these stories of magic, whimsy, and mystery into her aesthetic. Her outfits, such as in this 1977 performance, reflected mystical characters. She once claimed that she doesn’t post much on social media because she’s “all about mystery.”

Didn’t Originally Plan To Be A Musician

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Richard E. Aaron/Redferns
Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

Nicks didn’t initially plan to become a musician. She and Buckingham attended San Jose University before eventually dropping out. Nicks studied speech communication, and she planned to become an English teacher.

One semester before graduation, Nicks dropped out of college. She and Buckingham decided to pursue their music career instead. While she worked toward success, she worked odd jobs to stay afloat. It was a historic decision; she is now a recognizable face and a household name.

She Opened For Legendary Acts

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Doris Thomas/Fairfax Media via Getty Images
Doris Thomas/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

When she first started dipping her toes in the music industry, Stevie Nicks had the help of some famous people. While singing in her first band, Fritz, Nicks opened for the mega talents of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, huge names of the 60s and 70s.

In later years, Nicks would cite working with both Joplin and Hendrix as key parts in her growth as an artist. And considering the name she made for herself in the entertainment industry, we’d say that she did a fine job of growing as a singer.

Opening Up About Not Having Children

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Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images
Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images

Throughout her career, Stevie Nicks has repeatedly been asked about her romantic relationships and her views on having children or raising a family. In a 2002 interview with InStyle, she opened up about not having kids and what that meant for her.

“Do you want to be an artist and a writer, or a wife and a lover? With kids, your focus changes,” Nicks said. “I don’t want to go to PTA meetings.”