By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Michelle Tyler of the Fleetwood Mac tribute act Mirage has heard the words many long to hear: Stevie Nicks would like to meet you.
Tyler, who was playing in the Nicks-only band Belladonna, was performing acoustically with her husband when a woman approached her backup musicians backstage.
She said her husband was Steve Real, Nicks’ vocal coach, and she was so impressed that she was hoping to get Tyler on the phone with the legendary singer. Unable to get to Tyler, she recorded Belladonna with her phone and sent it to Nicks.
“They flew my husband and I up to Reno and we went backstage during a meet and greet,” Tyler recalls. “I said, ‘Hi Stevie. I’m Michelle Tyler. I think you heard me on a phone call?’ She put her hands on my shoulders and said, ‘We tried so hard to get that call through. It was great to hear somebody doing a good job with my music.’ She then leaned in and said, ‘I’ll tell you what. Anytime you want to take over, you just let me know. I’ve about had it.’”
The two shared a laugh and that was the first of a handful of meetings.
“She’s been very supportive, and her backup singers have said imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” she says. “That’s the only endorsement that Stevie would give anybody. They’re not a band that goes around and does that. Saying I could take over at any time, that was a pretty good pat on the back.”
Fans can see what Nicks admires when California-based Mirage plays Casino Arizona on Friday, November 19, and Saturday, November 20.
Mirage sticks with the “Rumours”-era of Fleetwood Mac.
“We’re very authentic,” she says. “Everyone plays an actual role. We play the very biggest hits, the best of Fleetwood Mac. We have a lot of visuals going on.
“If the venue permits, we have a synced multimedia show. Otherwise, we still do a 90-minute show with a lot of costume changes. It’s a high-energy show. We like to get the audience involved. It’s good for all ages and families.”
Before Mirage, Tyler helmed Belladonna that focused on Nicks’ solo career. After 15 years, Tyler and her musicians transitioned into Mirage.
“I’ve been playing Stevie Nicks for almost 20 years,” she says. “In Belladonna, I was the only one dressing up and portraying a character. Belladonna is still on our books. It’s a big show. It’s an eight-piece band with backup singers and two guitar players. It’s hard to take on the road. It’s more expensive.
“But we focus on Mirage now.”
Her husband, Bob Weitz, plays the role of John McVie and music director. His day gig is as a Warner Bros. engineer who won an Academy Award for designing equipment. They started their career playing the bar and nightclub circuit but evolved into tribute acts.
“Becoming a famous rock star is like winning the lottery,” she says. “There are so many talented people out there on any given day, at any club in LA, there are singer-songwriter showcases and you can hear phenomenal people. You’re wondering why they play there for no money?
“It’s luck, timing and talent in that order. Talent is the last thing. Anyway, I was asking myself, ‘Am I going to be a rock star?’ Eventually, it became a career.”
Tyler explained she does not ever tire of the music. She loves her job and the music. Plus, meeting Nicks is a bonus.
“When you meet somebody — whether they’re a movie star or rock star — you have a certain perception. None of us really know these people. We only know what we see.
“You hope they’re nice people. They’re warm. I’ve met strangers and a lot of people. She was actually warm and friendly and down to Earth. She made me feel like I was the one who was the star. She sent me to make me calm.”
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, November 19, and Saturday, November 20
Where: Casino Arizona, 524 N. 92nd Street, Scottsdale
Cost: Tickets start at $15
Info: 480-850-7777, casinoarizona.com