It is not uncommon for musicians to draw inspiration from other musicians and incorporate elements of their work into their own compositions. However, there is a difference between being influenced by someone’s work and outright copying it. In the music industry, there have been numerous cases of plagiarism lawsuits where artists have been accused of copying another artist’s work.
Because of her lengthy and successful relationship with Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks’ remarkable solo career is sometimes forgotten. Even a talented songwriter could find it difficult to avoid copying songs that already exist in their original form.
In the music business, musicians frequently accuse one another of plagiarism. As a result, when a certain Stevie Nicks song was published, people began to wonder why the melody seemed so recognizable.
The third single from Stevie Nicks’ debut album Bella Donna, which was released in early 1982, featured the song “Edge of Seventeen,” which is still considered to be her biggest hit. Despite the vocal representation of a dove’s call by the Fleetwood Mac legend, she later acknowledged that she had never heard one. She also intended to emulate “Bring on the Night” from the Police’s Regatta de Blanc album from 1979.
The conversation Stevie Nicks had with Tom Petty’s first wife, who recalled meeting Petty “around the age of seventeen,” served as the basis for the song. Nicks mistook the phrase “at the brink of seventeen” because of Jane Petty’s strong southern accent.
Nicks had also planned to create a song on Tom and Jane Petty’s first encounter, but tragedy in both her own life and in the popular culture world changed the course of the possible song. Nicks lost her uncle Jonathan in 1980, the same week that Mark David Chapman killed John Lennon.
Jimmy Iovine, Nicks’ partner, and producer was close friends with Lennon and was understandably saddened by his demise. Nicks believed that she was powerless to lift him out of his despair. Nicks took a plane at about the same time to Phoenix, Arizona, to visit his uncle Jonathan, who had died of cancer and was now in the hereafter.
Nicks actually “ripped off” a song by The Police from 1979, according to her Bella Donna guitarist Waddy Wachtel, even though the song’s lyrics were inspired by the deaths of two people connected to her. The track that was brought forward was ‘Bring on the Night‘. Wachtel said, “I had never heard ‘Bring On the Night’, 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.”
He added, “I had the radio on, and on comes what sounds like ‘Edge of Seventeen’ – and all of a sudden, there’s Sting’s voice!. I thought, ‘We ripped them off completely!’ I called Stevie that night and said, ‘Listen to me: Don’t ever do that again!'”
When Nicks’ band performed the song live, it gave Nicks a break and gave Watchel a chance to build his strength. He said, “Onstage, the beginning of that song is like a break for Stevie. 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!”