The Grammys charitable organization MusiCares honored Fleetwood Mac for its annual pre-Grammys fundraising concert, and as expected Stevie Nicks’ acceptance speech was one of the most entertaining moments of the evening. She talked warmly about her relationship with the group’s fans, getting older and more, but after speaking for several minutes, she paused poignantly, and then launched into a tribute to her longtime friend and collaborator, Tom Petty.
Petty not only launched her solo career by essentially giving her their duet, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” but he was also there for her on many occasions later. Nicks has spoken many times of when she felt herself at a creative dead end in the 1990s and asked him to write songs with her — he gently refused, reminding her that she is a songwriter and she just needed to do it herself. Petty died of an accidental drug overdose in September.
“The loss of Tom Petty has just about broken my heart,” she said, gesturing to his daughter Adriana, who was in the audience. “He was not only a good man to go down the river with, as Johnny Cash [once] said [about Petty], he was a great father and a great friend — he was one of my best friends. My heart will never get over this. He [was honored at MusiCares] last year and he spent a lot of time after that night talking to me a lot about how much important it was to him. And maybe he was talking about it because he was ill. He fought his way through that [final] tour — he should have canceled and gone home and gone to the hospital. But not Tom, he was gonna go down that river. So, God bless him, he finished his tour at the Hollywood Bowl — three shows — and one week later he died. But he got down the river.”
“So Tom, I know you’re standing next to me. As you always have been for so many years. And he loved MusiCares.”