Rhiannon (song)

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Single by Fleetwood Mac
from the album Fleetwood Mac
B-side"Sugar Daddy"
Released4 February 1976 (US)
RecordedFebruary 1975
Length4:11 (album version)
3:46 (single version)
Songwriter(s)Stevie Nicks
Fleetwood Mac singles chronology
"Over My Head"
"Say You Love Me"

"Rhiannon" is a song written by Stevie Nicks and originally recorded by Fleetwood Mac on their eponymous album in 1975; it was subsequently issued as a single the following year.

"Rhiannon" was voted #488 in The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine. Its US chart peak was in June 1976, when it hit #11.[3] It peaked at #46 in the UK singles chart for three weeks after re-release in February 1978.[4]

The song is referred to as simply "Rhiannon" on Fleetwood Mac albums, except on the 2003 and 2016 remasters of Fleetwood Mac and the 2018 compilation Don't Stop - 50 Years, on which the title "Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)" is used. The single version also used this title when it was originally released to the European and American markets.

Live performances of the song were sometimes prefaced with Nicks saying, "This song's about an old Welsh witch." During 1975–1980, Fleetwood Mac's live performances of "Rhiannon" took on a theatrical intensity not present on the FM-radio single. The song built to a climax in which Nicks' vocals were so impassioned that, as drummer and band co-founder Mick Fleetwood recalled, "her Rhiannon in those days was like an exorcism."[5]


Nicks 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 (both Rhiannon and Branwen are major female characters in the medieval Welsh prose tales of the Mabinogion).[6]

After writing the song, Nicks learned that Rhiannon originated from a Welsh goddess, and was amazed that the haunting song lyrics applied to the Welsh Rhiannon as well. Nicks researched the Mabinogion story and began work on a Rhiannon project, unsure of whether it would become a movie, a musical, a cartoon or a ballet. There were several Rhiannon-centered songs from this unfinished project, including "Stay Away" and "Maker of Birds." Nicks wrote the Fleetwood Mac song "Angel" based on the Rhiannon story.[6]


Billboard described "Rhiannon" as a "haunting song" with an "infectious melody."[7]


Fleetwood Mac



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[17] Silver 250,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ "ACM Awards: Lady Antebellum, Stevie Nicks Rock 'Golden' Performance". Billboard. 6 April 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  2. ^ Fontenot, Robert. "Oldies Music Encyclopedia: "Soft Rock"". About.com. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  3. ^ Rock Movers & Shakers by Dafydd Rees & Luke Crampton, 1991 Billboard Books.
  4. ^ The Great Rock Discography. Martin C. Strong. Page 378. ISBN 1-84195-312-1
  5. ^ "Stevie Nicks - Behind the Music". rockalittle.com.
  6. ^ a b "Stevie Nicks on Rhiannon". inherownwords. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  7. ^ "Top Single Picks" (PDF). Billboard. February 28, 1976. p. 64. Retrieved 2020-07-13.
  8. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1976-05-22. Retrieved 2020-05-11.
  9. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4128a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  10. ^ "Fleetwood Mac Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 88.
  12. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 5/29/76". tropicalglen.com.
  13. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc) |format= requires |url= (help). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  14. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 26, No. 14 & 15, January 08 1977". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on March 19, 2016. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  15. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1976/Top 100 Songs of 1976". www.musicoutfitters.com.
  16. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1976". tropicalglen.com. Archived from the original on 2018-10-20. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  17. ^ "British single certifications – Fleetwood Mac – Rhiannon". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 30, 2018. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Rhiannon in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  18. ^ "Glen Cook aux Utopiales 2011 : l'interview". Elbakin.net.

External links[edit]