Classics Du Jour


How Prince Inspired a Hit for Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks Stand Back
Stevie Nicks in the “Stand Back” music video

With Stevie Nicks set to become the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice (first as a member of Fleetwood Mac and now as a solo artist), we’re revisiting one of our favorite videos from the iconic singer’s solo career.

As the story goes, even on the day of her first and only (albeit short-lived) marriage, Stevie Nicks was unable to resist the calling of the musical muse.

The story of “Stand Back”

On January 29, 1983 the raspy-voiced queen of rock was driving up to San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara with her new husband Kim Anderson when Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” came on the radio. Hearing the song for the first time struck a creative spark and she began singing along, adding her own vocals over Prince’s melody. 

Inspired, Nicks excitedly shouted at her new husband to pull off the highway and find somewhere to buy a tape recorder so she could capture the new tune on tape before she lost it.

“So we pulled over somewhere and got the tape,” Nicks explained in the liner notes for her 1991 greatest hits album Timespace. “It just gave me an incredible idea.”

With the celebration of their nuptials taking a backseat to the burgeoning song, the newlyweds stayed up all night so that Nicks could finish writing “Stand Back”. She subsequently recorded a demo of the song in their honeymoon suite. 

The Fleetwood Mac frontwoman could easily have kept the origins of the song to herself. After all, it’s not obvious that “Little Red Corvette” is the inspiration behind “Stand Back.”

However, Nicks says that she has always felt the song “belongs” to Prince. In fact, Nicks split the song royalties with him 50-50 even though Prince’s contribution is uncredited.

In the studio

On February 8, shortly after returning to the studio, Nicks called Prince to tell the story of her new tune. She asked him to take a listen and give his approval before she did anything more with it. Much to her surprise he was not at home in Minnesota but was actually in L.A. Within twenty minutes the Purple One arrived at the studio.

“[He] walked over the the synthesizers that were set up, was absolutely brilliant for about 25 minutes and then left,” Nicks recounted to Timothy White for his book Rock Lives .“He was so uncanny, so wild, he spoiled me for every band I’ve ever had because nobody can exactly recreate – not even with two piano players – what Prince did all by his little self.”

Fun Fact: Stevie Nicks’ sister-in-law Lori Perry-Nicks also appears on the track, providing background vocals, as well as Toto‘s Steve Lukather.

Nicks has said that one of her greatest regrets is that she and Prince never had the opportunity to perform the song live together.


Making the music video

When it came time to shoot a music video for “Stand Back”, director Brian Grant (who did many of Queen’s early ’80s videos) was tasked with the job. The extravagant concept video that resulted, known as the “Scarlett Version”, never aired on TV.  It featured Nicks in a Gone with the Wind type scenario, but in the end, she hated it. 

In the critically-acclaimed I Want My MTV , Nicks said of the rejected video: “It didn’t go with the song at all. It was so bad, it was almost good. I tried to act, which was horrific. We used a house in Beverly Hills that we accidentally set on fire. I almost got killed riding a horse.” 

The Scarlett version can now be found (with Nicks’ commentary) on the DVD supplement of her 2007 collection Crystal Visions – The Very Best of Stevie Nicks.

After the first video was scrapped, choreographer Jeffrey Hornady was brought in to direct a second.  This much simpler – and much lower budget – video features performance clips of Nicks singing into a microphone surrounded by glass walls and mirrors, interspersed with classic 80’s choreographed dance sequences. 

In the liner notes for TimeSpace, Nicks also wrote:  “[‘Stand Back’] was to become one of the most important of my songs. I’ve been doing this song for years, Fleetwood Mac does it also, and I never get tired of it. ‘Stand Back’ has always been my favorite song onstage because when it starts, it has an energy that comes from somewhere unknown and it seems to have no timespace. I’ve never quite understood this sound, but I have NEVER questioned it.”

And neither have we! Enjoy this throwback to 1983’s “Stand Back” and the inimitable vocals of Stevie Nicks.

Stevie Nicks – “Stand Back” Official Music Video

12 Rock & Roll Romances That Inspired the Music

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