Culture

The enchanting story of Stevie Nicks, the Mabinogion and Harry Styles

10 Oct 2021 4 minutes Read
Stevie Nicks, The Mabinogion, Harry Styles

David Owens

It’s an unlikely line-up whichever way you look at it.

One is a famed rock legend, one is a boyband star, the other are the fabled tales from Wales.

However, all three look set to be brought together for an ambitious creative project.

Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks is working on a TV miniseries based on a famous story from The Mabinogion – which it’s hoped will star Harry Styles.

The project is based on the band’s 1975 hit ‘Rhiannon’ and the singer’s more than 40-year obsession with the tale of the magical otherworldly goddess from the Welsh folk tales.

Nicks introduces the song on stage as “about an old Welsh witch” and also copyrights her songs ‘Welsh Witch Music’.

Stevie Nicks (Credit: Wiki Commons)

The genesis for this love affair with the tale from Wales, blossomed when the US star discovered the Rhiannon character in the early 1970s through a novel called Triad by Mary Bartlet Leader.

The novel is about a woman named Branwen who is possessed by another woman named Rhiannon. There is mention of the Welsh legend of Rhiannon in the novel, but the characters in the novel bear little resemblance to their original Welsh namesakes in the Mabinogion.

“It was just a stupid little paperback that I found somewhere at somebody’s house, lying on the couch,’ Nicks explained in an interview with Classic Rock magazine. “It was called ‘Triad’ and it was all about this girl who becomes possessed by a spirit named Rhiannon.

“I read the book, but I was so taken with that name that I thought, ‘I’ve got to write something about this.

“So I sat down at the piano and started this song about a woman that was all involved with these birds and magic.”

Mabinogion

It was only after writing the song that Nicks learned about the legend of Rhiannon, and was amazed that the haunting song lyrics uncannily applied to her Welsh namesake.

A fan sent her four paperback novels in a Manila envelope five years after she first wrote ‘Rhiannon’ in 1973 that explored all the mythology behind the song.

Included in the envelope was Evangeline Walton’s adaptations of the Mabinogion, which Nicks then bought the rights to after being “transfixed” by the prose.

Evangeline Walton’s Mabinogion novels

It was then the musician started to research the Mabinogion story and began work on a Rhiannon project, initially unsure of whether it would become a movie, a musical, a cartoon, a TV series or even a ballet.

Over the years there have been several Rhiannon-centred Stevie Nicks songs to emerge from this ongoing project, including ‘Stay Away’ and ‘Maker of Birds’: Nicks wrote the Fleetwood Mac song ‘Angel’ from the band’s 1979 album ‘Tusk’, based on the Rhiannon story.

The singer had revealed in interviews last year that working on a Rhiannon movie had been her priority after Fleetwood Mac had finished touring in 2019.

After intending the Rhiannon story to be adapted as a movie the project became so big in scope it’s now being turned into a television miniseries.

Nicks confirmed the plan in a new interview with the Los Angeles Times, telling the US newspaper that she has already signed a deal with a studio to make the miniseries, although she did not disclose which studio.

The ‘Rhiannon’ miniseries is set to explore the mythology and folklore surrounding the fabled story.

According to the Times, Nicks has 10 songs she never released that she is holding onto in order to include in the Rhiannon miniseries.

The musician said she had no plans to star in the project herself, although she revealed she is keen for her friend, One Direction star Harry Styles to appear in the series.

Styles has acting experience having had a supporting role in Christopher Nolan’s war thriller “Dunkirk,” which marked his acting debut in a feature film and is set to take on a much bigger acting role in Olivia Wilde’s upcoming psychological thriller ‘Don’t Worry, Darling’, as the male lead in the film opposite ‘Midsommar’ and ‘Little Women’ star Florence Pugh.

Nicks told the Times that Styles “is definitely in the running,” adding, “I’m going, ‘Harry, you cannot age one day. You have to stay exactly as you are.’ I’ve already sold him on it.”

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Notta Bott
Notta Bott
11 days ago

Maybe Welsh actors would be a better idea

Vaughan
Vaughan
11 days ago
Reply to  Notta Bott

None have shown any interest up until now.
They’ve left it to an American to initiate things!

j humphrys
j humphrys
11 days ago

Diolch, Stevie!

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
11 days ago

I’m aware that Stevie Nick based her onstage persona on the Goddess Rhiannon and seen interviews with her saying how she was fascinated with her after reading in the Mabinogi. Although ‘I’m constantly amazed mixed with bemusement how much Welsh mythology is used in films & TV series that never references Wales? It’s partly our fault due to our lack of self-awareness and knowledge but primarily suppression of our language & history by England. Examples. The Arthurian Legends. There’s been countless films made about Arthur, Merlin & Guinevere.. And the legend of Jack the Giant Killer. It was a tale… Read more »

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
11 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Indeed – even our own mythology has been stolen from us! ☹️

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
10 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Yn hollol! I find the adoption of King Arthur as a hero by the English especially perverse. If Arthur had been victorious then the English would have been vanquished. But, then, it isn’t really the English who’ve adopted Arthur. The Norman French did. The most famous knight of all, Lancelot, is Lancelot du Lac, after all. So perhaps, in a way, Arthur did beat the Saxons at the last battle!

David Harking
David Harking
9 days ago
Reply to  Huw Davies

If Arthur was king of the Britons, they would surely be Welsh-Breton. I suppose then they would have fought against the English/French? Can someone enlighten me?

Tim Smith
Tim Smith
10 days ago

Evangeline Walton’s novels are excellent source material.

arthur owen
10 days ago

The more photos of Stevie Nick the better,.atthough this may be an Owenite obsession.

j humphrys
j humphrys
10 days ago
Reply to  arthur owen

……………Back ‘o the queue, Arthur!

Shan Morgain
10 days ago

As a dedicated PhD researcher of the Mabinogi and Rhiannon in particular, I was delighted when Nicks talked about this a year ago. Although her song was originally not connected to the Mabinogi Nicks blew it open to a worldwide audience of millions. She also painted a Rhiannon portrait.I remember dancing wild to ‘Rhiannon’ in the 70s when the world was young. Someone please get an update. Harry Styles would make a cute Pwyll. (My name on my message here is linked to my research website which is a bit neglected die to final stage PhD but has some good… Read more »

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