Julie's Reviews > Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks

Gold Dust Woman by Stephen Davis
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bookshelves: e-book, biography, pop-culture, rock-bio, music, 2017

Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks by Steven Davis is a 2017 St. Martin’s Press publication.

She rings like a bell through the night
And wouldn't you love to love her?
She rules her life like a bird in flight
And who will be her lover?
All your life you've never seen a woman taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised to you heaven?
Will you ever win?
Will you ever win?



In the past year or so, I’ve read several rock memoirs and biographies with very mixed results. I swore them off for a while because I found myself losing respect for the artist, or because the biographer did a very poor job and I felt the subject deserved better.

But, I’ve been a fan of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks since junior high, but Stevie has always been somewhat of an enigma, so I when I saw this biography, I caved and took a chance on this book.

Some may view Fleetwood Mac with no small amount of disdain, feeling they represent the very picture of bloated, overproduced corporate rock. But, I don’t care. The first time I heard the Nicks/Buckingham incarnation of the group I fell hard.

Ironically, it was a Christine McVie’s voice that made the biggest impression on me, not Stevie’s, and I still maintain she is a vastly under appreciated vocalist. However, when I first heard ‘Dreams’ I found myself grudgingly admitting that Stevie’s haunting vocals were deserving of the same respect.

Over the years, and in between tours and reunions with Fleetwood Mac, I loved Stevie’s collaborations and duets with Tom Petty and Don Henley and instantly felt a vast appreciation for her solo material as well.

So, it goes without saying that I loved the music. But, like many others I was also curious about Stevie’s well- crafted mystical aura, was captivated by her fashions, and mesmerized by her stage performances.

Introducing ‘Rhiannon’ as a song about a Welsh witch, sparked speculation that Nicks was into the occult or was a witch herself. Her fashions and hairstyles were copied by scores of women attending concerts, who wanted to look ‘very Rhiannon.’

But, Stevie’s personal life? Well, it’s complicated.

Reviews of biographies and memoirs are hard for me to write. With a memoir I feel free to leave a personal opinion about the subject. The author has put themselves out there and can expect a bit of scrutiny, but with a biography, especially an unauthorized one, I feel it may be best to focus on how the biographer presented the material, if it was well researched and documented and if the author managed to capture the essence of his subject- or not.

In this case, I felt the author did an admirable job of organizing the material, going in chronological order, offering insights into Stevie’s upbringing, her musical roots, and her journey to stardom. He did not put words in her mouth or attempt to analyze her feelings, and for the most part remained neutral, not allowing his personal opinions of Stevie to surface in his writing. There was only one occasion where I felt the author attempted to gloss over or sugarcoat the facts by avoiding certain key words surrounding a very personal and delicate situation.


Watching it all unfold, it is easy to see the ways in which Stevie changed and developed over the years, going from Lindsey Buckingham’s protégé, to a headlining act, surrounding herself with top writers and musicians, taking center stage and owning it.

I can’t say I would want that kind of lifestyle for myself. It sounds rigorous and lonely, and not at all glamorous, fraught with terrible pitfalls that wrought ghastly consequences. While there were incredible professional triumphs, there were also many pitfalls, and embarrassing lows, most of which are common traps in the life of a rock star.

As with any unauthorized biography, you may find a few discrepancies, but, overall, I felt like the book was as true and honest as possible, and was very respectful to the artist. But, remember, Stevie's presence is notably absent, as is the case with many unauthorized bios.

I suppose, when you get right down to it, any of us can write one of these, if you have some skill as a writer, the resources, and the time and organizational skills, but here someone has done all the work for us! It would have been nice if Stevie had been a part of it, since it appears she has flatly refused to write a memoir.

Overall, I was pleased with how the biography turned out. Stevie Nick’s musical achievements are balanced with her interesting history and personal life. I don’t know if I got a real feeling of true happiness or contentment from Stevie, or if the book captured Stevie's spiritual essence, at all. It seemed as though she was always working, working, working, or going through a personal crisis. I think her thoughts these days tend to lean more towards resignation and acceptance, which does seem to give her a measure of peace.


Her journey has been a fascinating one, for sure, and she’s still out there surrounded by that trademark mythical aura, performing and working regularly, even as she approaches her seventh decade.

As a rock biography I've read better, but I've also read far worse. This one did have some little known facts and some information regarding early television appearances I don't remember after all these years, and reminded me of all the great FM songs I never stopped listening to, and passed down to my own kids, as well as the many solo hits Stevie had.

Alexa/Echo has been ordered to play a lot of Fleetwod Mac the past few days.
3.5 stars rounded up.
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Reading Progress

November 22, 2017 – Shelved
November 22, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
November 22, 2017 – Shelved as: e-book
November 22, 2017 – Shelved as: biography
November 22, 2017 – Shelved as: pop-culture
November 22, 2017 – Shelved as: rock-bio
November 22, 2017 – Shelved as: music
December 1, 2017 – Started Reading
December 8, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017
December 8, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 69 (69 new)


RedemptionDenied Great review, Julie!


message 2: by StMargarets (new)

StMargarets I heard that song as I read the lyrics! I know what you mean about a biography that can capture the spirit of a person. It sounds like this one is factual and balanced and fair - but just misses capturing Stevie's personality/allure.

Great review! Now I'm going to dig out some old albums. :)


message 3: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn Great review. Having lived in a guest house of a rock group for some years in L.A. and having seen much and heard many stories from some prominent players in that crazy world, I'm very curious as to how much was revealed. Guess I'm going to have to get it! Thanks again for a wonderful review.


Tammy Excellent review, Julie! If you’re in the mood for a well written “rock” biography, I would suggest The new biography of Joni Mitchell.


message 5: by David (new) - added it

David R. Dowdy Very nice review of a great person of music!


message 6: by Frances (new)

Frances I've enjoyed Fleetwood Mac's music Julie; sounds like a fairly well written bio! Good review!!


message 7: by Kaceey (new)

Kaceey Excellent review Julie!:-)


Julie Frances wrote: "I've enjoyed Fleetwood Mac's music Julie; sounds like a fairly well written bio! Good review!!"

Thank you, Frances!!


Julie Kaceey wrote: "Excellent review Julie!:-)"

Thank you, Kaceey!!


Julie David wrote: "Very nice review of a great person of music!"

Thank you, David!!


Julie Tammy wrote: "Excellent review, Julie! If you’re in the mood for a well written “rock” biography, I would suggest The new biography of Joni Mitchell."

Thank you, Tammy!! I placed a hold on the Joni Mitchell book a the library. Thanks for the recommendation.


Julie RedemptionDenied wrote: "Great review, Julie!"

Thank you, RedemptionDenied!!


Julie StMargarets wrote: "I heard that song as I read the lyrics! I know what you mean about a biography that can capture the spirit of a person. It sounds like this one is factual and balanced and fair - but just misses ca..."

Thank you, StMargarets!! Those songs are timeless. Enjoy!


Julie Carolyn wrote: "Great review. Having lived in a guest house of a rock group for some years in L.A. and having seen much and heard many stories from some prominent players in that crazy world, I'm very curious as t..."

Thank you, Carolyn!! Some old news any fan would probably already know, but there was plenty of behind the scenes drama. Buckingham!! That guy was insane. But, loads of affairs, back stabbing, drugs, excess, big egos. It sounds crazy. It's amazing they all survived it.


message 15: by Karen (new)

Karen Great review! It’s on my list as I’m a fan. I seriously wanted to know more about her and Don Henley


Julie Karen❄️ wrote: "Great review! It’s on my list as I’m a fan. I seriously wanted to know more about her and Don Henley"

Thank you, Karen!! FYI- Henley took up a limited amount of space here, but certain rumors were confirmed- love 'em and lear 'em. SMH.


message 17: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Excellent review Julie! My mom played Fleetwood Mac albums in the 70's and 80's when I was a teen and I continue to play them now. I also think Christine's voice is my favorite in the band but Stevie is fantastic too. My 18 year old niece is a huge fan of the Rumours album (she has it framed on the wall of her dorm). The music stands the test of time :) Tom Petty has been my favorite since high school and so I love their collaborations and deep friendship.


Julie Melanie wrote: "Excellent review Julie! My mom played Fleetwood Mac albums in the 70's and 80's when I was a teen and I continue to play them now. I also think Christine's voice is my favorite in the band but Stev..."

Thank you, Melanie!! I love that these songs have been so enduring!! I have been a HUGE fan of Tom Petty since high school. I have his bio queued up to read next.


message 19: by Maureen (new)

Maureen Fabulous review Julie😄


Julie Maureen wrote: "Fabulous review Julie😄"

Thank you, Maureen!!


message 21: by Melanie (last edited Dec 09, 2017 01:19PM) (new)

Melanie Julie wrote: "Melanie wrote: "Excellent review Julie! My mom played Fleetwood Mac albums in the 70's and 80's when I was a teen and I continue to play them now. I also think Christine's voice is my favorite in t..."

I saw Tom many times in concert through the years. Luckily I went this past summer. If I had chosen not to go I would be even more devastated than I already am. My BF read Petty The Biography by Warren Zanes last year and LOVED it. Is that the book you are planning to read? (I had a pic of TP in my locker in high school that had lip prints on it from all my friends kissing it with lip gloss on). 🙂


Julie Melanie wrote: "Julie wrote: "Melanie wrote: "Excellent review Julie! My mom played Fleetwood Mac albums in the 70's and 80's when I was a teen and I continue to play them now. I also think Christine's voice is my..."

Yes, this is the book I have! I'm relieved it was well received!! I've seen one of Petty's concerts, took my kids with me. Such great memories. My daughter and I are still having a hard time even listening to his music right now. I'm devastated.


message 23: by Maureen (new)

Maureen Wonderful review, Julie! Love Stevie and would so love to see a biography of my favorite female vocalist, the “Queen of rock”, Linda Ronstadt, same era.


message 24: by Crumb (new)

Crumb Great review, Julie!


message 25: by Rita (new) - added it

Rita Fantastic review, Julie! I've been a fan of Stevie Nicks for as far back as I can remember. I enjoy Fleetwood Mac, but I actually prefer her solo work or pairing with other artists. She's very open about her battle with cocaine but this sounds like the perfect book to learn more about her. Thank you for bringing this book to my attention


message 26: by Rita (new) - added it

Rita Maureen wrote: "Wonderful review, Julie! Love Stevie and would so love to see a biography of my favorite female vocalist, the “Queen of rock”, Linda Ronstadt, same era."
I do know that she has Parkinson's disease and can no longer sing because of it. She was one of my favorites too.


Julie Maureen wrote: "Wonderful review, Julie! Love Stevie and would so love to see a biography of my favorite female vocalist, the “Queen of rock”, Linda Ronstadt, same era."

Thank you, Maureen!! Oh, I'd love to read a bio of Linda R. !!


Julie Rita wrote: "Fantastic review, Julie! I've been a fan of Stevie Nicks for as far back as I can remember. I enjoy Fleetwood Mac, but I actually prefer her solo work or pairing with other artists. She's very open..."

Thank you, Rita!! If you are a fan, I think you'll really enjoy this one!! Happy reading!!


Julie Rita wrote: "Maureen wrote: "Wonderful review, Julie! Love Stevie and would so love to see a biography of my favorite female vocalist, the “Queen of rock”, Linda Ronstadt, same era."
I do know that she has Park..."


I've heard that too. Very sad. She had such a great voice!!


Julie Crumb wrote: "Great review, Julie!"

Thank you, Crumb!!


message 31: by Zoeytron (new)

Zoeytron Many memories touched on there. Enjoyed your review, Julie.


Julie Zoeytron wrote: "Many memories touched on there. Enjoyed your review, Julie."

Thank you, Zoeytron!! It did for me, too!


message 33: by Annie (new)

Annie Fleetwood Mac will always be one of my favorites, especially their Rumours album. They were one of the bands at my first concert at 13 and then the headliner at my second concert.


Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader This sounds like so much fun, Julie! Beautiful review!


Julie Annie wrote: "Fleetwood Mac will always be one of my favorites, especially their Rumours album. They were one of the bands at my first concert at 13 and then the headliner at my second concert."

Oh wow! That's amazing! You would probably find this book of interest, then. I'm so glad their music as endured over the years. Rumours was my favorite album, too.


Julie Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader wrote: "This sounds like so much fun, Julie! Beautiful review!"

Thank you, Jennifer!! It did bring back lots of memories!


message 37: by Annie (new)

Annie As you said in your review, I'm a little afraid of learning too much. Then when I hear their music, that may be what I think about instead of just enjoying the songs.


message 38: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn C. I have always loved Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac so I'll have to look into this one. Thanks for the great review, Julie! :)


message 39: by Jaline (new)

Jaline Excellent review, Julie! I also loved "The Fleetwood Mac Sound" and didn't care if it was cool or not. They always had something 'special' going on and are probably appreciated more now than they were 'then'. :)


message 40: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Great review, Julie!!!


Julie Deanna wrote: "Great review, Julie!!!"

Thank you, Deanna!!


Julie Jaline wrote: "Excellent review, Julie! I also loved "The Fleetwood Mac Sound" and didn't care if it was cool or not. They always had something 'special' going on and are probably appreciated more now than they w..."

Thank you, Jaline!! I agree! I think I took them for granted back in the day, but now I really appreciate the songs and talent a lot more.


Julie Marilyn wrote: "I have always loved Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac so I'll have to look into this one. Thanks for the great review, Julie! :)"

Thank you, Marilyn!! Enjoy!!


message 44: by Tzipora (new)

Tzipora I don't know that Stevie has ever flat out refused to write a memoir. I've seen quotes from her claiming she was waiting until a lot of people were dead (especially the wives of many prominent men in her life!) but considering how many of those men (at least Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood for sure) have significantly young wives.. yeah, we'll see if that ever happens!

What I find interesting is just a year or two ago another prominent bio of Stevie was released. I have that one though I've never gotten around to reading it (such a diehard fan and read a bunch of bios of the band in general growing up, I'm not sure how much I'd learn!) but I love the cover of this book so much and I'm a bit of a collector- really of Mac and Stevie stuff and books too. So I'll probably get it.

Thanks for the review, from one lifelong fan to another. BTW- interesting what you said about Christine. I agree she is incredibly talented and her voice is underrated but I think too many of her songs, especially some do the biggest radio hits, are very much that cooperate rock, overproduced fluff variety and that's a shame. She has some absolute gems for sure (Brown Eyes off Tusk is my very favorite) and if you haven't heard the album her and Lindsey put out this year, I highly recommend it. I'm so sad the band won't all get together for one last FM album because it seems like all of them are at the top of their game. Probably the best work on the songwriting side I've seen from Christine (at least consistently). But for sure I've always felt like Stevie and Lindsey both have more depth in their songs and lyrics... even if we sometimes have no clue what Stevie is singing about or she picks the occasional odd phrasing. Haha. And Lindsey is a bit too out there/ experimental for my tastes. Though I don't know, I hated Tusk growing up for all of Lindsey's weirdness but that album has grown on me so much. And since it has both Brown Eyes and Sisters of the Moon (what I think is probably Stevie's best with the band and one of the most delicious quintessential Mac songs, right up there with The Chain) I think Lindsey's experiments sometimes have overshadowed the best work of his band mates.


Julie Tzipora wrote: "I don't know that Stevie has ever flat out refused to write a memoir. I've seen quotes from her claiming she was waiting until a lot of people were dead (especially the wives of many prominent men ..."

Let me know how you feel about that other biographical book about Stevie. I'd be interested in seeing if there is anything more to add than this book has. I will listen to the Lindsey/Christine album - thanks for recommending it!


message 46: by Joe (new)

Joe Valdez Julie wrote: "Ironically, it was a Christine McVie’s voice that made the biggest impression on me, not Stevie’s, and I still maintain she is a vastly under appreciated vocalist."

Agreed, Julie. Excellent review. I also agree that most rock biographies I pick up are lazy cash grabs and this one just barely moves the needle for me.


Julie Joe wrote: "Julie wrote: "Ironically, it was a Christine McVie’s voice that made the biggest impression on me, not Stevie’s, and I still maintain she is a vastly under appreciated vocalist."

Agreed, Julie. Ex..."

Thank you, Joe!!!


message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

(lighter extended and lit)
encore!


Julie paulie wrote: "(lighter extended and lit)
encore!"


Thank you, paulie!!


Julie Ana wrote: "Great review Julie. I love Stevie Nicks ;)"

Thank you, Ana!!


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