How Stevie Nicks became a Gen Z icon

As Stevie Nicks prepares to headline Hyde Park seven years after supporting Tom Petty on the same stage, we explore the legacy that keeps on giving

At the 2010 GRAMMYs, 20-year-old Taylor Swift was on top of the world. The young singer-songwriter had just won four awards at the ceremony, including the coveted Album of the Year for Fearless, making her the youngest ever winner of the award at the time. This most legitimate seal of approval from the powers that be was a triumphant comeback for Swift following Kanye West’s stage invasion at the VMAs the previous year. But the real jewel in her tiara? A duet with Stevie Nicks.

Nicks did not initially feel quite as positive about the idea of singing with Swift. In her 60s and several decades into her career, Nicks then felt that the comparisons drawn between herself and Swift would be unkind. “She’s 20 years old, 5 ft. 11 in. and slender; I’m 40 years older and, to be frank, neither of the other two things!” wrote Nicks for Time. “I was not about to stand next to this girl on national television. But her little face just lights up like a star, and I couldn’t say no.”

Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon (Official Music Video) [HD Remaster]

So, in front of the world, Swift got to take the stage with one of her personal heroes for a mashup of ‘Rhiannon’ and ‘You Belong With Me’. As Nicks feared, the performance was met with criticism, but not for herself – some believed that putting Swift beside Nicks drew too much attention to the younger artist’s weaker vocals. “Taylor shortened her career last night,” wrote music critic Bob Lefsetz, adding that Swift was “too young and dumb to understand the mistake she made.” But Nicks was steadfast in her support of Swift, writing of her admiration for the younger girl’s talent. “Taylor reminds me of myself in her determination and her childlike nature,” she said. “It’s an innocence that’s so special and so rare.”

‘Women supporting women’ is not a concept invented by Gen Z. Solidarity between women did not originate on TikTok, and it’s not something that teenagers and twenty-somethings understand better than the generations of women that came before them. But it is an idea on which the women of Gen Z place a great deal of value. One of the most damning insults – and one that regularly crops up in TikTok comment sections – is that indictment that someone is “not a girl’s girl”. This description is reserved for girls who don’t look to raise up other women but instead feel themselves to be in competition with them; who put down, belittle, and make snide comments. The music industry has traditionally fostered this behaviour – female rivalry has sold records for decades (Swift herself has been involved in her fair share of famous feuds) – but Nicks, who never holds back support for younger artists and whose relationship with bandmate Christine McVie remained loving and mutually supportive despite a culture that sought to pit them against each other, is treasured.

Stevie Nicks - Edge of Seventeen (Official Music Video)

Of course, she always has been. The (often misogynistic) criticism she’s faced pales; what we remember now is how much we have always adored her. But these past few years, it seems we love her more than ever. Nicks has gone from supporting Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at BST Hyde Park in 2017 to headlining the stage in 2024, without releasing any new music. As with so many music industry phenomenons these days, the difference has a lot to do with TikTok.

Gen Z’s renewed interest in Nicks can’t be pinned on any singular event, but if we were to pick an origin point, it would probably be a viral TikTok from 2020. In the video, @420doggface208 skateboards down a road lip-syncing to ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac and chugging Ocean Spray (that’s really the entire thing). The video took off, inspiring hundreds of copycats, and suddenly Gen Z were listening to Fleetwood Mac en masse.


♬ Dreams (2004 Remaster) – Fleetwood Mac

Unwittingly, @420doggface208 had created the perfect audience for a TV show that was yet to be released. Amazon Prime Video’s Daisy Jones & The Six premiered in 2023. Based on Taylor Jenkins Reid’s already very popular book and heavily reminiscent of the story of Fleetwood Mac, the show again sparked generational interest in the group. Nicks, almost 75 years old, was suddenly the epitome of cool amongst young people on the internet. From her story, to her style, to her sound, Gen Z had fallen in love with Stevie Nicks. And Nicks herself acknowledged how closely tied she was to Daisy Jones, writing on Instagram that the show made her feel “like a ghost watching my own story”.

“It was very emotional for me,” she added. “I just wish Christine could have seen it. She would have loved it.

Gen Z tastemakers like Harry Styles, Lorde and Olivia Rodrigo have all spoken about Nicks’ influence on them. Female singer-songwriters throughout history have expressed how much they owe her. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, first as a member of a band that some critics at the time claimed she delegitimised by being a woman, and then as a hugely successful female artist striking out on her own. But the magic of Nicks isn’t just in her legacy – it’s in her willingness to embrace how the industry moves forward, and to love what young people love.

Nicks herself has spoken quite a bit over the years about her friendship with Swift following that GRAMMYs performance. In 2023, at a show in Atlanta, she thanked Swift for writing Midnights track ‘You’re On Your Own Kid’, a song that Nicks claimed helped her to grieve the loss of Christine McVie. The humility and genuine emotion with which she spoke led to another outpouring of love for her online. Part of the reason that we love and continue to love Nicks so much is not just because she gave us great music in an industry often ready to undermine art made by and about the experiences of women; It’s the way in which she continues to advocate for music with mass female appeal. How she, as someone whose ‘cool’ badge could not be more firmly in place, frequently reminds us that something is not made uncool simply by nature of being mainstream.

“I never don’t tell the truth,” Nicks told in 2023. “And I think that’s something that if Taylor Swift, who is my friend, if Taylor got anything from me, that’s what she got”. She added: “I think that’s maybe why my songs connect with people – because I’m telling them their own story.”

You only have to scroll through TikTok for a short time to know that the artists ruling Gen Z today are experts at doing exactly that.

Stevie Nicks will play Glasgow, Manchester and London this July. Find tickets here.

Photo credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage