Stevie Nicks ‘Stands Back’ While Prince Works His Magic
Even on the day in 1983 that she married now ex-husband Kim Anderson, Stevie Nicks couldn't refuse her muse. As the couple drove out to Santa Barbara for their honeymoon, Nicks heard Prince's "Little Red Corvette" on the radio and felt inspired.
“All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I’m singing along, going, ‘Stand back!’” Nicks recalled to Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show. “I’m like, ’Kim, pull over! We need to buy a tape recorder because I need to record this.’ And so we do – we careen off the freeway to find a radio, record shop or something, and we go in and we buy a little tape recorder.”
Instead of celebrating their nuptials, the couple stayed up “all night long” working on what would become “Stand Back,” the lead single from Nicks' 1983 solo album The Wild Heart. “We get the song, and I’m basically using Prince’s instrumental melody," the singer admitted. "What I’m singing along is very, very different from what he’s singing. I’m singing in and out of all of the holes.”
Though the Fleetwood Mac songstress technically wrote "Stand Back," she's long admitted the track "belongs" to Prince, whose synthesizer work is even on the recording, but never received a credit on the album. Once it was written borrowing the "Little Red Corvette" melody, she called Prince, told him of her inspiration, and asked him if he would meet her at Sunset Sound studio in Los Angeles. Twenty minutes later, he was there. According to Prince Vault, the date was Feb. 8, 1983.
Nicks played Prince her song and was pleasantly surprised by his response. On hearing the track, the Purple One went over to a keyboard and began playing new parts. “That was the coolest thing we’ve ever heard,” Nicks remembered. “Takes him an hour; he gives me a little ‘I don’t really know you’ hug, and, he’s gone. Like a little spirit.”
"He was so uncanny, so wild," Nick noted in the book Rock Lives. "He spoiled me for every band I've ever had because nobody can exactly re-create — not even with two piano players —what Prince did all by his little self."
Released on May 19, 1983, "Stand Back" went to No. 5 in the U.S. Billboard Top 100, and marked the beginning of a long relationship between the two iconic musicians. At one point, following a Fleetwood Mac show, Nicks was flattered to realize Prince was putting the moves on her.
"We get into his purple Camaro and bomb out onto the freeway at 100 m.p.h. I’m terrified, but kind of excited too,” she recalled, but quickly added that things stayed platonic. “I get on the plane and the rest of the band are like [drum fingers, rolls eyes],” she laughed. “I’m like, ‘What? Nothing happened.'”
Nonetheless, their musical collaboration "turned into a really amazing relationship," even though the two didn't spend a lot of time together. "Is my heart broken? Absolutely," Nicks told Billboard after Prince's death in 2016.
One thing the legendary musicians disagreed on was drug use: "He hated them. And he hated that I did drugs and that's probably why we didn't hang out more," Nicks explained to the Associated Press. "He was worried that I would die of an accidental drug overdose and my sadness is that he did die of an accidental drug overdose. He's up there looking down, saying to me, 'Sweetie, I can't believe it happened either.'"
"Stand Back" wasn't the duo's last attempt at a collaboration. After working together on her song, Nicks asked Prince if he'd like to team up on another tune. In response, he sent her a demo of the title track to the soundtrack for Purple Rain, asking her to write lyrics for the music.
“It was so overwhelming, that 10-minute track, that I listened to it and I just got scared,” Nicks remembered. “I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it. I wish I could. It’s too much for me.’ I’m so glad that I didn’t, because he wrote it, and it became ‘Purple Rain.'”
Watch Stevie Nicks' 'Stand Back' Video
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