Not everyone gets to be Stevie Nicks.
In fact, virtually no one does. Besides the Queen of Rock and Roll herself that is. And perhaps by virtue of her White Witch magicks, Nicks’ howling, freebased crystallization of thickened, garish synthpop and towering E Street Band dynamics (oh, and that incomparable voice) have lived on through more than one new generation of heirs. Ahead of Stevie's State Fair Grandstand performance tonight, here are the best of them.
Rilo Kiley was the Fleetwood Mac of 2000s indie-rock, both in their fractured coupling (guitarist Blake Sennett was definitely Lindsay Buckingham) and in how Jenny Lewis’ voice began to tower above the music over time, creating a need for the music to become larger and more spacious. Ryan Adams (Tom Petty in this analogy) turned Lewis’ finest own album The Voyager into the ultimate Nicks solo masterwork that never was.
Steviest moment: “She’s Not Me” imagines a parallel universe where “Free Fallin’” was sung by Ms. Wild Heart herself.
Haim may be the most Nicks-xeroxed band of all time, with their synthetic-organic textures ripped straight from 1985 and the husky vocal delivery of all three Haim sisters. Imagine if Wilson Phillips was just Stevie cloned three times and you have a good idea of what they’re trying to pull off.
Steviest moment: This year’s “Want You Back” bounds along a scratch-guitar line and rushed syncopated vocals just like “Edge of Seventeen.”
Courtney Love gets her rough ‘n’ tumble growl from one indisputable place, and while Joan Jett is a good guess, rock’s premier arena-rock shaman was a clear spiritual antecedent during a particularly Fleetwood Mac-absent period in popular rock.
Steviest moment: With love to her spooky “Gold Dust Woman” cover from the Crow 2: City of Angels soundtrack, Courtney’s most Nicks-indebted gem would be the jangling, Pretenders-like “Awful” (from 1998’s Celebrity Skin), which tried to recreate Stevie’s ‘80s power-pop long before it was back in vogue.
Billy Corgan (who happened to collaborate with Love on Celebrity Skin) was another of the grunge years’ only bearers of the Mac torch with his wispy, hyperromantic delivery and overloaded, well-treated guitar tracks. Early Smashing Pumpkins power ballads in particular combined the arena attack of Nicks’ ’70s work with the languid studio professionalism of her ’80s hits.
Steviest moment: Corgan got “Landslide” on the radio again in 1994, and his early attempts at sparkling epics like “Rhinoceros” and “Drown” have an offhanded charm in their widescreen devotion to soaring stadium-alt that recalls nothing so much as “Silver Springs” remixed by Kevin Shields.
Lana Del Rey
The closest thing to a Stevie-esque cultural figure in 2017 pop doesn’t sound so much like Nicks vocally or musically, but you can hear her attempting to fill the queen's boots as a misty, unforgettable stage presence.
Steviest moment: Del Rey’s duet with Nicks, this year’s “Beautiful People Beautiful Problems,” is the missing link between the ragged romanticism of the teacher with the narcotized longing of the student.