It was only right that Harry Styles and Stevie Nicks found each other.
He was the de facto frontman of one of the most successful lad bands of all time, a group that came together serendipitously and had a great run before the gents went their separate ways. She’s the frontwoman of one of the most successful and legendarily dramatic bands of all time, a group that had a good run for the better part of 50 years. Both incredible singers and natural spotlight-commanders. Both known for their inimitable fashion choices.
The 29-year-old from the English town of Redditch and the 75-year-old from Phoenix, Ariz., mutually admired each other’s talent from afar (perhaps one was more familiar with the other at first) and now they call each other friend at any distance.
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“He’s Mick [Fleetwood]’s and my love child,” Nicks quipped to Rolling Stone in early 2019. “When Harry came into our lives, I said, ‘Oh my God, this is the son I never had.’ So I adopted him.”
Figuratively speaking, of course, as Nicks also gets along famously with Styles’ actual mum, Anne Twist.
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Styles brought Anne, sister Gemma, some friends and a couple of his band mates to a Fleetwood Mac (sans Lindsey Buckingham) show in London in 2019 and their considerable presence did not go unnoticed.
Before she launched into “Landslide,” Nicks told the sold-out crowd at Wembley Stadium, “I’d like to dedicate this to my little muse, Harry Styles, who brought his mother tonight. Her name is Anne. And I think you did a really good job raising Harry, Anne. Because he’s really a gentleman, sweet and talented, and, boy, that appeals to me. So all of you, this is for you.”
But talking to Rolling Stone, Nicks said that loved Styles and was “so happy” he “made a rock & roll record—he could have made a pop record and that would have been the easy way for him. But I guess he decided he wanted to be born in 1948, too—he made a record that was more like 1975.”
She’d had her eye on Styles’ burgeoning solo talents for awhile by then, however.
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“When we did the last Fleetwood Mac show, on my birthday, it was the nicest birthday I’d had in 10 years,” she told the Daily Mail in 2017. “Harry Styles brought back a cake. Mick has kind of adopted him. There are just women in Mick’s family and Harry is that tall, lanky musical son he always wanted, so they keep in touch.”
A few weeks after that interview, she joined Styles onstage for the first time at the Troubador on L.A.’s Sunset Strip, site of countless history-making musical moments over the years. Styles happily announced to the crowd that he was “losing my s–t in a cool way.”
They started with his “Two Ghosts,” then sang “Landslide,” and concluded with “Leather and Lace,” Styles seamlessly covering Don Henley’s half of the lyrics. As she sang, he bowed down accordingly, calling her “the queen of everything.”
“I’m pretty sure that this was going to be up there with one of the best nights of my life,” Styles said. And in all honesty, singing “Landslide” during soundcheck together “was even cooler for me than the show—just me and her, in an empty Troubadour,” he told Rolling Stone.
Unsurprisingly, Styles was also among the artists who performed at the 2018 MusiCares Person of the Year concert honoring Fleetwood Mac, joining the band on a rendition of “The Chain.” And by 2019, Nicks wasn’t just at the parties, she was being consulted on the product, too.
“I met Stevie Nicks last night at the Fleetwood Mac concert in Philly and she reasserted that she had heard the entirety of Fine Line and said it was incredible and that we aren’t ready!!!” Trey Taylor, an editor at The Face, tweeted in November 2019 ahead of the release of Styles’ second solo album.
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“It was pretty crazy,” Styles recalled to Howard Stern of playing his yet-to-be-released music for Nicks. “So I’d just kind of finished the record and she said, ‘Oh I want to come hear the album.’ And she was with all her ladies…a little witches coven.”
“And they’re so used to living nocturnally—you know, they wake up really late and then they kind of live through the night ’cause they’re, you know, witches,” he explained, delving further into the perfectly apropos metaphor, Nicks’ almost supernatural presence being part of her charm.
“So it’s getting to like 3 a.m. playing the album, I’m like, ‘I’m kinda tired’ and they’re right in their prime,” Styles continued. “They’re really like, ‘Oh, this is like daytime for us.'”
And to think this all started with a fan, standing in front of a girl, offering her baked goods.
“Piped her name onto it. She loved it. Glad she liked carrot cake,” he recalled to Rolling Stone in 2017 about surprising her with post-show sweets in 2015. (A little digging shows that carrot appears to be Nicks’ birthday cake flavor of choice since at least the 1970s.)
Incidentally, a vinyl copy of Nicks’ 1989 solo album “The Other Side of the Mirror” was one of the items that was visibly in use in Styles’ London flat when a Rolling Stone interviewer came calling in 2019.
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That March, Styles answered the call to induct Nicks into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist (Fleetwood Mac has been in since 1998), making her the first female artist to be inducted twice, and stood in for the late Tom Petty to perform “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”
In his tribute to “the magical gypsy godmother who occupies the in-between,” he said, “If you’re lucky enough to know her, she’s always there for you. She knows what you need: advice, a little wisdom, a blouse, a shawl—she’s got you covered. Her songs make you ache, feel on top of the world, make you want to dance, and usually all three at the same time. She’s responsible for more running mascara—including my own—than all the bad dates in history combined. That is true Stevie.”
Styles also said, “She is both an adjective, and a verb—to quote my father, ‘That was very Stevie Nicks!’ or to quote my mother, ‘I Stevie Nicks’ed that s–t so hard.’ Mick Fleetwood calls her the ‘fearless leader.’ She is ‘Mama Lion’ to her friends. She is the family member that you can always count on. I hope she knows what she means to us, what she means to yet another generation of artists who look to her for inspiration and trailblazing courage. That is true Stevie.”
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Nicks may have accidentally referred to One Direction as ‘NSYNC backstage while talking to reporters, but if she thinks Styles got his start with ‘NSYNC, that’s her prerogative.
Styles said during the ceremony that being a fan of Nicks was like being a friend because of how her music spoke so personally to countless people, making you feel both singled out and less alone.
“I was lucky enough to play with her at the Troubadour a few years ago, and all I could do was watch,” he continued. “The show is no longer yours, it’s hers, and you take a knee as she takes it from you, and that is true Stevie.”
“She is more than a role model—she’s a beacon to all of us,” he concluded. “Whenever you hear her voice, life gets a little bit better. When she sings, the world is hers, and it is yours. She is everything you’ve ever wanted in a lady, in a lover, in a friend.”
Nine months later, she glided onto the stage for her surprise appearance at Styles’ one-night-only December 2019 engagement at L.A.’s Great Western Forum to celebrate Fine Line. “It wouldn’t be an album release without this young lady,” he said. “I have a feeling that you’re going to enjoy this as much as me.”
Naturally they brought the house down with “Landslide.” Though, even if May 26 is Nicks’ birthday, we’re not so sure that Nicks is getting older, too.
(Originally published May 26, 2020, at 12:02 p.m. PT)
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