How A Silent Movie Actress Inspired Stevie Nicks To Quit Doing Drugs

by Zach Seemayer 11:00 PM PDT, September 28, 2014
Photo: Getty Images

In a recent interview with Billboard, singer Stevie Nicks talked about her turbulent past with the band Fleetwood Mac, and about the massive cocaine addiction she used to have that, according to Nicks, could have easily killed her.

Interviewer Rob Tannenbaum asked Nicks, "Didn't a doctor warn you in the '80s that if you did one more line of coke, you might have a heart attack?"

"He said I'd have a brain hemorrhage, actually," Nicks responded.

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The subject came up when Nicks opened up about her song 'Mabel Normand', off her upcoming album 24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault. Mabel Normand was an actress in the silent movie era whose career began to spiral after getting addicted to cocaine.

Normand ended up dying of tuberculosis at 37, after her health was degraded by drug use.

"I saw a documentary of her in 1985, when I was at my lowest point with the blow," Nicks revealed. "I was watching TV one night, the movie came on, and I really felt a connection with her. That's when I wrote the song. Less than a year later, I went to rehab at Betty Ford."

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However, the Billboard interview wasn't the first time Nicks opened up about Mabel Norman's influence on her.

In an interview with Out, Nicks told the magazine, "In 1985, I was dancing at the edge of danger myself, just like [Mabel Normand] was. I was just doing so much coke. And it had already backfired on me completely. I saw this documentary, and I felt this union with her. 'Oh my God, the same thing that happened to this woman in the '20s is happening to me in the '80s — how can this be?' Then she died, and that really scared me. She was rich, she was famous, she had everything. She had it all. And I very well could have died just as easily as she did."

And it wouldn't have been hard to lose everything to that addiction. On ABC's 20/20, Nicks was asked how much she spent on cocaine, back in the day. According to the singer, she spent millions. She supported this when she appeared on Oprah's Master Class in 2013, and said that, "Two weeks' worth of cocaine could have paid our rent for six months."

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Nicks also said, "I used to carry a gram of cocaine in my boot at all times. It was the first thing I thought of when I woke up in the morning and the last thing I thought of before I went to bed."

Ultimately, Nicks says she wrote 'Mabel Normand' and an inspiration and a warning for people struggling with drug addiction.

"I wanted it to be something that somebody having a problem with drugs can sit down and listen to 5,000 times," Nicks told Out. "Try to let it be an epiphany for you, 18-year-old person that is doing a lot of coke and smoking heroin and taking ecstasy and is on a dead-end road to hell."