Stephen Davis’ new biography sets the record straight and gives Nicks her due ... The author also covers (sans tabloid sensationalism) Nicks’ numerous romantic affairs inside and outside of the Fleetwood Mac extended family. Most noteworthy among these lovers are the Eagles’ Don Henley and Joe Walsh (the latter the love of her life), and record-industry mogul Jimmy Iovine. He doesn’t hide, however, his bemusement at the spacey and mystical side of Nicks’ personality, her 'girly-girl' fascination with makeup and clothes (at times, her fashion sense has been as important to her female fans as her music), and her immersion in Welsh mythology following the success of 'Rhiannon' ... Davis has written a compelling and fascinating account of her life. If you’ve been touched by Nicks’ music, you’ll enjoy this book.
...the reader gets a solid chronology of Nicks’s musical career, both with Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist. Davis is especially good at explaining the details of studio production and describing the extravagant and sometimes grueling conditions of the endless touring by both the band and Nicks on her own ... Because Gold Dust Woman is an unauthorized biography, Davis relies on previously published material to create his portrait of Nicks...There’s nothing wrong with this, but something is amiss with the overall project. Nicks herself never quite develops in any new way; she’s more talked about than talking herself, and Davis seems reluctant to interpret or expand on his subject ... I wonder, too, if Davis actually likes his subject. For every description of Nicks’s 'golden presence,' there’s many more that are condescending and sexist.
Devoted followers won’t find major new stories in this unauthorized biography...Relying on published interviews, transcripts, and Nicks’ own writing, it’s certainly an exhaustive account, and endlessly detailed ... Without Nicks’s cooperation, it makes sense that Davis can’t always delve beneath surface explanations of her actions. But it’s still jarring to see the occasional unexplored bomb thrown out ... It’s clear that Davis respects Nicks’s musical talent, at least, and that he’s assembled a great deal of information. Still, after all the quotes, reports, facts and rumors, we’re left thinking Nicks has secrets and stories that remain untold.
...a workmanlike biography ... How did she survive being in a band with not one but two acrimonious ex-lovers? Why did she ever put up with Buckingham, who is portrayed from the very beginning as angry, sarcastic, boorish, cruel, and even violent? Gold Dust Woman has a lot of detail about buffets, drug quantities, costumes, and tour schedules, but I never really expected it to answer those kinds of questions. Answers would have required Nicks to speak to a biographer, to remember accurately, and to be honest. None of that seems likely to ever happen ... Gold Dust Woman almost incidentally eliminates the glamour and romance of the accepted narrative. It becomes evident early on that Buckingham was bizarrely possessive of Nicks and verbally abusive, and that their relationship was already 99 percent over before they joined Fleetwood Mac. Davis alludes throughout the book to the fact that Buckingham could be physically abusive but tends to stop just short of direct accusation.
Given the 'unauthorized' character of the book, Nicks’ impressions and feelings are more or less secondhand, quoted from interviews by others or guessed at by band mates and friends. This is less a problem than it might be, since Nicks has been fairly open, at least since the early days when the band kept her under wraps. As usual, the author is good at keeping readers—even those not totally enthralled by Nicks’ music—turning pages. Things get slower when Davis recounts her solo career.