Petty met Nicks while he was recording his group's album Damn The Torpedoes. She asked him half-jokingly if he could write her a song that she could record for her first solo album. Petty didn't take her request seriously at first. Nicks reiterated her request a year later as Petty was putting together his Hard Promises album. Petty wrote a ballad called "Insider" at his home, played it to the Heartbreakers (to their approval), recorded a demo with his band, and sent the demo to Nicks. After listening to the demo of "Insider," Nicks visited Petty at his studio, taped the song with Petty and the Heartbreakers, then gave the tape to Petty, saying, "You love this so much... YOU take the song." He did, and included it on Hard Promises.
Shortly after "Insider" was finished, Petty and company recorded a song that he and guitarist Mike Campbell composed about a year earlier - "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" - and sent that demo to Nicks. She loved it, saying, "That's what I wanted all along." Eventually Nicks and Petty decided to do it as a duet and recorded their voices over the demo's instrumental track.
Nicks wanted Petty to produce Bella Donna. He gave it a shot, but it didn't work out and Jimmy Iovine was brought in. This created an interesting situation as Iovine and Nicks began living together while they were making the album.
This was the biggest hit for either Stevie Nicks (as a solo act) or Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (who had a competing single out - "Woman In Love" - that didn't chart). Five years later, they joined forces again and hit #37 with a live version of the Springfields/Searchers classic "Needles and Pins."
In addition to being The Heartbreakers' guitarist, Mike Campbell has played on albums by many other artists, including several by Stevie Nicks. He told us how this came together:
"I had written the music and Tom had written the words. The Heartbreakers had recorded a version of it with Jimmy Iovine, and Jimmy being the entrepreneur that he was, he was working with Stevie, and I guess he asked Tom if she could try it, and it just developed from there. We cut the track as a Heartbreakers record and when she decided to do it we used that track and she came in and sang over it." (Read more in our interview with Mike Campbell
A few years after this was released, Dave Stewart of Euryhmics wrote "Don't Come Around Here No More
," which he and Iovine started producing for Nicks. By this time, Iovine and Nicks had broken up, and when she came over to work on the song, things didn't go well and she stormed out. Iovine brought in Tom Petty and they completed the song with him, something Nicks knew was fair considering "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" went on her album. (as told in The Dave Stewart Songbook
On her 2001 album Trouble In Shangri-La, Nicks thanks Petty in the liner notes. She asked him to write another song for her, but he refused and encouraged her to write it herself. After that conversation, she started writing songs for the album.
This had the good fortune of being released around the time MTV went on the air. They didn't have many videos at the time, so this got a lot of airplay. It introduced a younger audience to Nicks and Petty.
During the recording of this song, Stevie Nicks met Tom Petty's wife and asked her how old she was when she met him. She replied "At the age of seventeen," but Petty's wife had such a strong country accent that Stevie thought she said "Edge Of Seventeen," which provided the title for one of her most popular songs. (thanks, Gypsy - Cleveland, OH)
In the liner notes to her TimeSpace album, Stevie Nicks said: "Jimmy (Iovine) played this song to me while he was still finishing Tom's album; it was one of those songs that Tom was not going to do, and he told Jim that I could do it. I wasn't used to doing other people's songs, so I didn't really like the idea at first, but I loved Tom Petty, so I agreed to try. So we went into the studio and sang it live, together. I was completely entranced, and I instantly fell into love with the song. Duets were the things I loved the most... maybe this was a second beginning. And we would sing like no one else, and nobody else would ever sing like us." (thanks, Shawna - Phoenix, AZ)