July 1981: Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty Release "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"

Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty
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Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The worlds of Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty collided in the late '70s when Petty was recording Damn The Torpedoes. The Fleetwood Mac chanteuse was smitten with Petty's music and asked him to write her a song she could record.

“Stevie came to me around ’78,” Petty recalled in Conversations with Tom Petty. “And she was this absolutely stoned-gone, huge fan. And it was her mission in life that I should write her a song. And we were a little wary of Stevie. We didn’t quite know whether to like Stevie or not, because we kind of saw this big corporate rock band, Fleetwood Mac, which was wrong, they were actually artistic people. But in those days, nobody trusted that sort of thing and we just kept thinking, ‘What does she want from us?’”

Nicks wouldn't take no for an answer, however, and a year later, Petty fashioned a demo of the ballad "Insider" for Nicks to premiere on her debut album. She visited Petty's studio to record the song with him and the Heartbreakers, but insisted he keep the tape, saying, "You love this so much...you take the song." The soft tune would come packaged in The Heartbreakers’ 1981 album, even lending its lyrics to give the album its title Hard Promises.

In return, Petty would gift Nicks another song from the Hard Promises sessions that he and guitarist Mike Campbell had composed a year earlier: "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." He sent the demo to Nicks' producer Jimmy Iovine, who also produced his Hard Promises. 

When presented with the tune, Nicks asked, “Is this the right thing to do? I only get 11 songs [on Bella Donna] and one of them won’t be mine," but was reassured by the two and given the green light as they encouraged her, “You don’t have a single on this record. And here’s a single for you.”

"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" premiered as the first single of Nicks' first solo album on July 8, 1981, and ascended to No. 3 on the Billboard charts, while the accompanying music video aired on repeat on the infantile MTV. 

When Nicks and Petty reunited to tour together in 2006, Petty gave her a platinum sheriff’s badge that said “To the only girl in our band" that cemented her status as an “Honorary Heartbreaker.” 

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