The first Stevie Nicks solo album ‘Bella Donna’ was released on 27 July, 1981. It has just turned 40.
Nicks had been working on ‘Bella Donna’ for two years. The sessions started in between work on Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk’ and we completed after the Tusk tour in 1980.
The two final songs recorded for the album turned out to be the two most important tracks ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’ and ‘Edge of Seventeen’.
‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’ was written by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell and featured The Heartbreakers with Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn on bass. The song was written for The Heartbreakers but Heartbreakers producer, and Nicks’ boyfriend of the time Jimmy Iovine. Iovine was also working on the Nicks album and talked Tom into letting Stevie try it. The two had previous recorded together on the track ‘Insider’ from The Heartbreakers’ ‘Hard Promises’.
Nicks wrote ‘Edge of Seventeen’ after coming to terms with grief with her uncle dying in the same week as John Lennon. Iovine was a friend of Lennon’s and had engineered his ‘Walls and Bridges’ album.
Another key track from the album was ‘Leather and Lace’, a duet with Don Henley of Eagles. Nicks had written the song for Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter’s ‘Leather and Lace’ album but they did not use it. Her version peaked at no 6 on the US chart.
Nicks and Henley were a couple over 1978 and 1979. Her song ‘Sara’, from Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk’ album is about their unborn child.
‘Bella Donna’ was a number one album in Australia and the USA for Nicks. It reached no 11 in the UK.
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