Thirty years ago, Stephen Davis wrote “Hammer of the Gods,” a book about Led Zeppelin that’s widely considered to be the gold standard of rock ’n’ roll biographies.
“It’s still in print because fans identify with the band beyond their music,” says Davis, who lives in Milton. “For their fans, Led Zeppelin had a mystical thing, some epic grandeur that went beyond just the music.”
Not many musical acts have enchanted their audience in the same way, Davis says, except for maybe Stevie Nicks. And that’s why he chose the Fleetwood Mac frontwoman as the subject of his latest unauthorized bio.
In his just-released “Gold Dust Woman” Davis portrays Nicks, 69, as a fiercely ambitious — and ethereal — singer-songwriter who has succeeded despite being abused and belittled by her longtime bandmate and former lover Lindsey Buckingham.
“The guy was mean to her, she dumped him, and she became a much bigger star than him,” Davis said. “Through steely determination, Stevie became the queen of the whole scene, maybe the last female rock star.”
“Gold Dust Woman” is Davis’s 19th book, joining previous biographies of Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones, Levon Helm, Mick Fleetwood, Jim Morrison, Aerosmith, Carly Simon, and Guns N’ Roses.
“I wanted to call it ‘Guts, Glory, Chiffon,’ ” Davis joked, referring to Nicks’s habit of cloaking herself in fringe, blanket coats, capes, and flowy chiffon.
For the sake of the band — Fleetwood Mac is set to go on a global tour in 2018 — Buckingham and Nicks have mostly reconciled their differences, though they’re hardly close.
“Oh, they do this fake thing where they sing ‘Landslide’ together and Lindsey gets down on one knee and kisses Stevie’s hand,” says Davis. “Then they turn their backs on each other and mutter ‘[expletive] you.’ It’s all stage craft and it works. The fans love it.”
Over the years, reporting and research has taken Davis to New York, LA, Europe, and Morocco, but he does most of the actual writing in his home office in Milton.
“I like Milton because it’s so boring,” he says. “I bought this house in 1976. Milton didn’t even have a restaurant that served a glass of wine with your meal until 2006.”
So what’s next? Maybe a book about the complicated history of guitarist Tom Scholz and the band Boston, whose 1976 debut album has sold nearly 20 million copies.
“I’ll probably get sued, but I’ve never been sued, so that’ll be a new experience,” Davis says.