So the story goes (as heard around the internet) that Stevie Nicks was inspired to write her hit, “Stand Back” when she heard Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” on the radio. On her car radio, to be specific.
“Little Red Corvette” was released as a single on February 9, 1983.
“Stand Back” was released as a single on May 19, 1983.
So. When Nicks was in the studio recording “Stand Back,” she called Prince to let him know that she had kind of ripped off his song, and, to ask Prince to play on her song. Within an hour after Nicks had called him, Prince showed up at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles. He ended up playing synthesizers on “Stand Back.”
Is the story true? Well, most things on the internet are true, right? If you’re skeptical and tend not to believe everything you read on Wikipedia, there are several accounts of the story of Stevie Nicks, Prince, and the recording of “Stand Back” in Stevie Nicks’ own words at this site: http://www.inherownwords.com/standback.htm (A version of the story also appears in an April 27, 2016 article about Nicks on Billboard http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/7348575/stevie-nicks-amazing-relationship-prince
I love this story, because “Stand Back” is the first song by Stevie Nicks that I ever got excited about. It was the first song by (or including Stevie Nicks) that I was stoked to hear playing on the radio. (Plus, now that I’ve heard the story of “Stand Back,” I can’t listen to the song or watch the video without picturing Prince, his lip curling, his hands hovering over a Roland Jupiter-8, saying under his breath: “That’s right, Stevie Nicks. I am going to play the motherfucking shit out of the keys on this song that came from my song.”)
“Stand Back” is not exactly a pop song. It’s not an under-the-radar song. It’s not a hard rock song. But the song is fierce. When I first heard it, I wanted that fierceness for myself.
That continues to be the draw for me with Stevie Nicks. Her authority and originality. Though she dresses in flowing, feminine, witchy get-ups, Stevie Nicks is powerful.
To see Nicks’ strength in action, you don’t need to go any further than Fleetwood Mac’s performance of “Rhiannon” on the British television show “The Old Grey Whistle Test” in 1976. Nicks is wearing one of her signature outfits, a black dress with a plunging V-neckline, and sleeves that make her look as if she has wings. When she sings harmony with the rest of the band, she appears fragile, feminine, and even meek. But when she cuts loose at the end of the song, she is commanding and full of desire.
Here’s what I know: a woman who hears a hit song by Prince on the radio, is then inspired by Prince’s song to write her own song, then spends an evening of her honeymoon working on that song, and then, finally, calls the Purple One Himself to tell him about her song and ask him to collaborate with her – that woman is a true badass.
Stevie Nicks is a fairy-tale-dress-wearing badass with mermaid hair; a woman who, when she sings, fixes you with her fierce stare and says what she wants to say. Even if what she wants to say is that she’s vulnerable.