When Stevie Nicks ‘Completely’ Ripped Off the Police
Stevie Nicks was very clear on what she wanted to achieve when she turned her attention to recording “Edge of Seventeen.”
She later admitted that she’d never heard a dove’s call, even though the Fleetwood Mac icon represented it in her vocals. There was also a song by the Police that she wanted to imitate: “Bring on the Night,” from 1979’s Regatta de Blanc.
Guitarist Waddy Wachtel was lost. “I had never heard ‘Bring On the Night,’” the Bella Donna sideman told Musician in 1999, “and at that session they told me they were going to do this song based on this feel. I had heard something about the Police, but I didn’t know what they were talking about.”
In fact, he didn’t completely appreciate the similarities between “Edge of Seventeen” and “Bring on the Night” for years. “I had the radio on, and on comes what sounds like ‘Edge of Seventeen’ – and all of a sudden, there’s Sting’s voice!” Wachtel said. “I thought, ‘We ripped them off completely!’ I called Stevie that night and said, ‘Listen to me: Don’t ever do that again!’”
Listen to Stevie Nicks’ ‘Edge of Seventeen’
She was more careful next time. “Stand Back,” from her very next solo album The Wild Heart, was directly inspired by Prince’s “Little Red Corvette.” This time, she spoke to Prince and actually got him involved in the recording.
Decades later, Wachtel admitted there was an upside to having borrowed the Police riff. “Onstage, the beginning of that song is like a break for Stevie,” he said. “I’d be standing there, playing that riff for around three minutes, before she’d even start singing! By the end of the tour, I was able to break walnuts with my right hand!”
Listen to the Police’s ‘Bring on the Night’
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There have been more than 40 of these outside projects, which deepen and add to the band’s legacy.
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