Stevie Nicks is mourning the death of her longtime friend and musical collaborator, Tom Petty. The Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers frontman died of cardiac arrest at age 66, according to the Los Angeles Times. And while he was known for his musical collaborations with everyone from Prince to Bob Dylan, nothing was more special than his bond with Stevie Nicks.
Nicks and Petty had a 40-year friendship which was spearheaded by the Fleetwood Mac songstress. When asked to summarize his friendship with Stevie Nicks, Petty once described the relationship to the Toronto Sun.
“Have you got a couple of hours? She’s a good friend. I’ve known her since 1978 and she’s insisted on being in my life. Some of my best musical memories of her are sitting on the couch and just playing the guitar while she sings.”
Tom Petty talked about his friendship with Stevie Nicks to author Paul Zollo for the book Conversations with Petty, revealing she was a huge fan of his band and that she pursued him relentlessly. Petty admitted he was a little leery about working with the Fleetwood Mac singer.
“Stevie came to me around ’78,” Petty said, according to American Songwriter. “And she was this absolutely stoned-gone, huge fan.”
“And it was her mission in life that I should write her a song. And we were a little wary of Stevie. We didn’t quite know whether to like Stevie or not, because we kind of saw this big corporate rock band, Fleetwood Mac, which was wrong, they were actually artistic people. But in those days, nobody trusted that sort of thing and we just kept thinking, ‘What does she want from us?'”
Stevie Nicks’ persistence paid off. Petty wrote the 1981 song “Insider” as a duet with Stevie. “Insider” appeared on the Heartbreakers’ album Hard Promises, but the duo was better known for the song “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” which they recorded for Nicks’ debut solo album, Bella Donna. The song received heavy airplay back in MTV’s early days.
Tom Petty was also a heavy influence on one of Nicks’ most famous solo songs, “Edge of Seventeen,” which got its name from a conversation the rock goddess had with Tom’s then-wife, Jane.
“It’s an awesome song,” Stevie told NPR. “And I do it every single time I end my set, you know. But that song is about Tom Petty, it’s about the death of John Lennon. It’s about a lot of strange things all mushed into one song.”
While Stevie Nicks already had her own band with Fleetwood Mac, her devotion to Tom Petty has been well documented.
“Had Tom Petty called me up one day and said, ‘If you want to leave Fleetwood Mac to be in the Heartbreakers, there’s a place for you,’ I might well have done it,” Stevie told Rolling Stone. “Anytime! Today!”
Petty and Nicks both juggled fame with drug addiction. They became so close that Tom later gave Stevie a memento she would cherish forever. According to Rolling Stone, Stevie once talked about 27 shows she did with Tom while on tour with him in 2006.
“Tom made me a little platinum sheriff’s badge that had 24-karat gold and diamonds across the top and said ‘To Our Honorary Heartbreaker, Stevie Nicks.’ On the back it says ‘To the Only Girl in Our Band.’ I keep it on my black velvet top hat. It goes with me everywhere,” Stevie gushed.
“It’s probably the most beautiful piece of jewelry a man has ever given me, ever.”
Of course, many people have wondered if Tom and Stevie’s friendship ever turned into anything more. Petty was married, first to Jane Benyo, then later to Dana York, for most of the time that he knew Stevie Nicks. And the two usually insisted that their relationship stayed in the friend zone.
But Petty biographer Warren Zanes told Salon he “pushed” the couple question to Tom when interviewing him, and the rock legend’s response opened up more questions than answers.
“I pushed on this question, saying to [Tom], after he told me they weren’t a couple, ‘You sure sound like a couple,'” Zanes recalled. “Tom looked at me and said, ‘We had our times.'”
Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ friendship lasted for four decades as the two supported one another through divorce, depression, and drug addiction.
“She came into my life like a rocket, just refusing to go away,'” Petty once said.
Stevie Nicks has not yet issued a statement on the death of her longtime friend Tom Petty.
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]