When they toured together last fall, Stevie Nicks and the Pretenders received good notices and good box office for this pairing of iconic female rock artists. The two are continuing their tour this winter, including a stop on Feb. 23 at Reno Events Center.
“I adore her,” said Pretenders leader Chrissie Hynde about Nicks in a recent interview with Rock Cellar magazine. “Stevie’s shows are great and she’s a darling. She’s got an incredible voice, and it’s a good audience.”
Hynde said that getting this tour together was down to luck.
“It was just availability,” Hynde said. “Management asked if I was into it, you know, how all tours come about. It just depends on who’s going out, who’s available, what’s compatible.”
Both Hynde and Nicks certainly have built careers with distinctive voices. Born in Arizona, Nicks first found national stardom as a Los Angeles resident. Since 1975, she’s been one of the vocalists and songwriters for Fleetwood Mac, all during the UK band’s golden commercial years. Since 1975, she has sung several of the Mac’s biggest hits, including “Rhiannon,” “Dreams,” “Gold Dust Woman,” “Gypsy” and “Sara.”
She started her solo career with the album “Bella Donna” in 1980, which had two duets as hits, “Leather and Lace” with Eagles’ Don Henley and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (on the first leg of the Nicks/Pretenders tour, Hynde has joined Nicks onstage for that last song). Other solo hits for Nicks include “Stand Back” (which features Prince on keyboards), “If Anyone Falls,” “Edge of Seventeen,” “Rooms on Fire” and “I Can’t Wait.”
The boss of her solo career
Nicks left Fleetwood Mac in 1990 and continued her successful solo career, but a reunion with the band at President Bill Clinton’s inaugural party in 1993 led to continued work with the group. Today, she divides time between work with the Mac and her solo career.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Nicks talked about this dual work ethic.
“Fleetwood Mac is a team,” she said. “When you’re on a team everybody has the same vote — except in this particular team, Lindsey (Buckingham, Mac guitarist/vocalist) has a little bit of a stronger vote than anybody else. I love being part of a team. We argue all the time, but we always have.
“In my band, there is no arguing. I am the boss. My solo career is probably the reason Fleetwood Mac is still together in 2016, because I was always happy to leave Fleetwood Mac, and I was always happy to come back, too.”
Her last solo album was “24 Karat Gold,” a 2014 work that featured new recordings of unreleased songs from her past catalog of songs.
What will happen with her future in the Mac is up for debate of late. Nicks recently told the London Evening Standard that she is reluctant to write and record new material of any kind.
“With the Internet, the way that kids listen to music, all the streaming, and the fact that if they’re very savvy, if they want to get it and not pay for it, they can,” she said. “It goes against the grain of our whole belief in, ‘You write a song, you record it, and you put it out there and people should buy it.’”
Life as a Pretender
Hynde’s path in rock has been more clear cut: it’s mostly been as singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist with her band the Pretenders. Born in Ohio, Hynde moved to England soon after high school to become a journalist and musician. Starting during the punk rock fervor of 1978, the Pretenders were an instant sensation with early rock hits such as “Brass in Pocket,” “Tattooed Love Boys” and “Kid.”
“It was kind of a do-it-yourself time and it was really not about musicianship, it was about personality and attitude,” Hynde told the Guardian newspaper recently about starting her career. “I am very grateful to punk, because I was a girl and I felt like if I got in a band I’d be kind of a novelty act, but punk was all about non-discrimination. No one cared, because it was punk, so you know anyone could do anything they wanted.”
Even after two members of her band died of drug overdoses, Hynde and longtime drummer Martin Chambers continued with the group. Through the past decades, they’ve teamed with others for more hits that balance louder rock with bright pop and folk influences. Among their best known songs are “Back on the Chain Gang, “Middle of the Road,” “I’ll Stand By You,” “Night in My Veins” and “Don’t Get Me Wrong.”
After releasing a solo album in 2014, Hynde returned as the Pretenders for “Alone.” While it does not feature Chambers, he is still touring with the band, which includes James Walbourne on guitar, Nick Wilkinson on bass and Eric Heywood on pedal steel guitar.
Hynde told Billboard magazine recently that she was fine with releasing what was ostensibly a solo album as the new one from the Pretenders.
“I’ve always worked in the context of a band,” she said. “For me it’s all about bands. The solo thing is actually kind of a turnoff. So I went into it with that mind.
“One other thing I’d like to add is that, for the last few years I’ve been kind of harboring a secret depression, which is that I thought bands were on the way out or just over. It’s all this singer-songwriter stuff now. But just in the last year I’ve been getting a real sense of bands coming back. I hope that happens. Because I think it’s very thin on the ground for actual bands.”
Hynde told the Guardian that she plans to continue working as long as she can.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are, who you are,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 12, if you draw, you draw. If you’re 85 and you paint, you paint. I’ll make music as long as I can sing and stand up and hold a guitar and I feel like doing this."