Bella Donna is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter and Fleetwood Mac vocalist, Stevie Nicks. Released on July 27, 1981, the album hit the album hit #1 on the U.S. Billboard charts in September of that year with sales of 297,000 copies, remaining there for one week. Bella Donna was awarded Platinum status by the RIAA on October 7, 1981, less than three months after its release, and has since been certified quadruple-platinum.
The album spawned four substantial hit singles during 1981 and 1982: the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-penned duet "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" (#3), the Don Henley duet "Leather and Lace" (#6), the iconic "Edge of Seventeen" (#11), and country-tinged "After the Glitter Fades" (#32). Bella Donna would mark the beginning of Nicks' trend of calling upon her many musician friends and connections to fully realize her sparse demo recordings. Along with friends Tom Petty and Don Henley, Nicks brought in famed session musician Waddy Wachtel, Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band pianist Roy Bittan, and Muscle Shoals session man Donald "Duck" Dunn of Booker T. & the MGs. Though Bella Donna's personnel list includes some 20 musicians, the album is very much Nicks' own work, with all but one of the songs on the record written by her. The album also marked the first recording featuring Nicks' backing vocalists, Sharon Celani and Lori Perry, who still record and tour with Nicks today.
Nicks began work on Bella Donna in 1979, in between sessions for her third album as part of Fleetwood Mac, Tusk, released in October that year. The initial recordings for the album were in demo form, with Nicks accompanying herself on piano or electric piano for songs that were initially planned for inclusion but later shelved, such as "Lady from the Mountains," "Castaway", "Gypsy" (later resurrected for Fleetwood Mac's Mirage in 1982), and "I Sing for the Things" (later re-recorded for 1985's solo album Rock a Little).
Further demos were recorded during Fleetwood Mac's extensive ten-month world tour of 1979–80 including a notable April 1980 session with Tom Petty that ultimately went unused; following the tour's end in September 1980, work with a full band of other musicians commenced. Among the earliest songs recorded during the autumn 1980 sessions were "Blue Lamp", "Outside the Rain", and "How Still My Love."
Numerous sessions and multiple takes ensued, including various re-recordings, well into the spring of 1981, when the final songs for the album, "Edge of Seventeen" and "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around", were completed. A trove of finished material for the album, with the same band of musicians, was not included on the official ten-song 42-minute album release in the summer of 1981 – "Blue Lamp", which was released instead on the Heavey Metal soundtrack later in 1981, "Gold and Braid", performed live in concert during Nicks' 1981 concert tour, and "Sleeping Angel", released on the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack in 1982. These three songs feature on her Enchanted boxed set in 1998. "If You Were My Love", "The Dealer (aka Mistress of My Fate)", and "Julia" remain unreleased completed takes.
Nicks recorded several solo piano demos for the album that were not recorded with the full band personnel, such as "China Doll", "Christian (Spinning Wheels)", and "Stay Away", and other songs were attempted but not completed with the full band, such as "Belle Fleure" and "Sanctuary." Nicks attempted some of the unreleased songs for future albums but a wealth of material from the Bella Donna era remains unreleased. However, some of these demos have recently surfaced as bootlegs on peer to peer sites and primarily youtube.com.
On her Enchanted boxed set release in 1998, remastered versions of some Bella Donna tracks ran noticeably longer in some instances, notably "Leather and Lace".
Video footage of the album sessions can be found on the DVD portion of Nicks' 2007 retrospective release Crystal Visions: The Very Best of Stevie Nicks.
All songs written and composed by Stevie Nicks except where noted.
|2.||"Kind of Woman" (Nicks, Benmont Tench)||3:12|
|3.||"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" (Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, performed by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)||4:04|
|4.||"Think About It" (Nicks, Roy Bittan)||3:35|
|5.||"After the Glitter Fades"||3:31|
|6.||"Edge of Seventeen"||5:28|
|7.||"How Still My Love"||3:54|
|8.||"Leather and Lace"(performed by Stevie Nicks and Don Henly)||3:44|
|9.||"Outside the Rain"||4:18|
|10.||"The Highway Man"||4:48|