How Stevie Nicks Almost Died Filming a Video for ‘Stand Back’

When MTV launched in 1981, it ushered in a new era of promotion centered around music videos. They were works of art, often separate from the song that accompanied them, which in turn helped develop new film techniques and technological advances.

First, though, there had to be a silly season with a new era of victims moving in the wrong direction. Mainstream television had already learned the adage to never work with children or animals, but in the rock world many still had to figure it out for themselves. Stevie Nicks was one of them.

That Fleetwood Mac star had ambitious plans for her 1983 solo single “Stand Back,” but it turned out to be an expensive and dangerous mistake.

This was to be “my first and last attempt at writing a video,” Nicks said in 2012 I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. “I decided it was going to be a Civil War scene. It was crazy; it didn’t go with the song at all. It was so bad, it was almost good. I was trying to act, which was terrible. We used a house in Beverly Hills that we accidentally set it on fire. I was nearly killed by riding a horse: he went straight into a grove of trees, and the crew of the car driving alongside screamed, ‘Jump!’

“So we looked it back and I said, ‘This can never come out. I don’t care if it costs $1 million.’ Irving Azoff, my manager, said, ‘You’re an idiot.’ We knew that ‘Stand Back’ was going to be a big hit and we had to have a video, so we hired another director and I paid for two complete videos.”

Original director Brian Grant admits that “there was a lot of experimentation, some good and some bad. As a director, it was like someone else paid for me to go to film school. For Stevie Nicks’ ‘Stand Back,’ I dreamed up the idea of do Gone With the Wind in three minutes. I wanted to direct feature films and I thought this would help prove myself. When Stevie saw the video, she hugged me and said, ‘I look fat.’ And she remade the video with another one – a simple, boring, dance routine video. That’s life.”

Watch Stevie Nicks’ second ‘Stand Back’ video

Daryl Hall freely admits that he was “not aware of how much money was spent, much to my shame and sorrow.” At the time, record companies worked with the understanding that they would pay half the cost of a video, while the artist paid the other half. “I was too stupid to realize that all the stuff was being charged to me anyway,” Hall admitted I want my MTV. “People loved spending my money.”

While filming a promo for Hall & Oates“Maneater” in 1982, “somebody decided that the video wouldn’t be complete unless we had an actual panther, a man-eating animal, in the video,” Hall added. “It appeared for a second and a half in the video and probably cost $10,000. This South American black panther was tethered to the floor so it wouldn’t attack everybody. Of course it got loose in this giant studio in LA and went into the rafters, 50 feet up. No one could bring it down. That’s when I left the building.”

Watch Hall & Oates’ ‘Maneater’ video

Later in the decade – after Def Leppard more or less got away with shooting their “Animal” video in one real circusOzzy Osbourne decided to ignore what he had learned about bats and pigeons and turn his attention to pigs for his “Miracle Man” promo. He filled an English church with a bunch of them to warn people who follow false religious leaders.

“When the music went on, the pigs all went shit at the same time – because it was so damn loud in there,” Osbourne later recounted. Guitar world. “The playback started and they all went together pffffffttt! Sixty pigs shit! I wore a brand new pair of suede boots and I never wore them again.”

Watch Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Miracle Man’ Video

Still, none of them can top Helen Schneider. For some reason, she felt the need to include a confused goat in her 1981 version of “Shadows of the Night,” which later became made a hit (sans goat) of Pat Benatar.

Watch Helen Scheider’s ‘Shadow of the Night’ video

Legends who never had a no. 1 Single

It is all the more surprising when you consider the success that so many of them had by any other measure.

Stevie Nicks talks life after music

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