Cocaine-caning, complex and contrary, the emotional and professional whirlwind that constitutes the Stevie Nicks story is a gift to any prospective biographer. Delivering insight and arch-browed critique, however, is a harder proposition.
In Visions, Dreams And Rumours, expertly researched and assembled from a plethora of media sources, Howe microscopically details the love affairs, addictions and musical processes that constitute a publicly lived life, presaging much of today’s celebrity culture.
There’s plenty of crossover in Nicks’s passions and proclivities, with the lines between addiction and love often blurred: any armchair psychologist could be forgiven for venturing that coke, booze, Klonopin, Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and Don Henley play virtually interchangeable roles.
Shakespearean levels of drama, excess and hubris keep the pages turning, though it’s all unfortunately dampened down by a somewhat cloying and curiously pally tone. Enthusiasm for a subject is one thing, supposition and bold hyperbole another. On Nicks and Buckingham, Howe states: “It is surely rock’s greatest and most difficult romance,” and, on waitressing, “Stevie has subsequently always made an effort to be kind to waiting staff: she knows what they’re going through after all,” sentences that frustrate and irritate in equal measure.
And though lightly qualified, by the time Chapter 12 opens with a look at astrological compatibility in Nicks’s relationships, it’s clear that we’re in hagiography territory.