Sisters, Ann and Nancy
Wilson are the creative spark behind
Heart, a hard-rock group who initially
found success in the mid-'70s, only to reach greater
heights after engineering a major comeback a decade
later and still going strong today. The daughters of a
Marine Corps captain, Ann (born
June 19th, 1950) and
Nancy (born March 16th,
1954) grew up in both Southern California and
Taiwan before the Wilson family settled in Seattle,
Washington. Throughout their formative years, both were
interested in folk and pop music; while Ann never took
any formal music lessons as a child (she later learned
to play several instruments), Nancy took up guitar and
flute. After both sisters spent some time at college,
they decided to try their hand as professional
Heart was actually formed in
1963 by bassist Steve Fossen, and
friends Roger Fisher and Mike Fisher; initially dubbed
the Army, they later became
White Heart before settling on simply
Heart at the beginning of the 1970s.
They moved to Vancouver, British Columbia after Mike
Fisher found out he was to be drafted by the United
States Army. After her arrival in the group, Ann became
romantically involved with guitarist Mike Fisher; when
Nancy joined in 1974, she in turn began
a relationship with guitarist Roger. Soon after Nancy's
arrival, Mike Fisher retired from active performing to
become the band's sound engineer. After gaining a
following in Vancouver, Heart was
approached by Shelly Siegel, the owner of the Canadian
label Mushroom; augmented by keyboadist Howard Leese and
drummer Michael Derosier, they recorded and released
their debut progressive concept album Dreamboat
Annie which featured the hits Crazy
On You, Magic Man and the title track.
1977 saw the steady rise in
popularity with the hits Barracuda, Kick It
Out, and Little
Queen. But their third album
Magazine would be still-born following
the demise of Mushroom Records but was saved from the
scrap heap by CBS Records who accomodated the band by
re-issuing it (along with a now rare picture disc). The
band also moved back to Seattle after the US government
declared amnesty for all American Draft Dodgers.
A succession of hit albums followed but the
line-up began to suffer losses with the departure of
Fisher (in 1980) and then Fossen and
Desrosier the following year; the trio would go on to
additional fame as 3/5 of Alias in the late '80's.
After a re-configuration in 1982
with the addition of bassist Andes (ex-Spirit, Jo Jo
Gunne, Firefall) and drummer Carmassi (ex-Gamma),
Heart would find a second life as a
synth-pop band through the mid-80's. Their comeback
eponymous release in 1985 sported four
Top-40 hits on Billboard including the band's first #1
hit These Dreams (ironically
sung by sister Nancy).
Their back-to-back follow-up, Bad
Animals (1987), featured three
Top-20 hits on Billboard including their second #1 in
the guise of Alone. Lightening
would strike a third time with the album
Brigade (1990) and its three Top-25
hits including the #2 hit on Billboard All I
After three successive World Tours the band decided
to release the live album Rock The House
Live after which Andes left. Another studio
album followed in 1991, Desire
Walks On after which Carmassi
Heart took a sabbatical from the
limelight and the sisters decided to get in touch with
their roots (and avoid the entire grunge wave in
Seattle) by re-inventing themselves as the blues-rock
act The Lovemongers.
The band, which is still an ongoing concern,
consists of sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, their longtime
songwriting partner Sue Ennis (keyboards) and Seattle
musicians Frank Cox (guitar) and Ben Smith (drums).
In 1992 their version of Led
Zeppelin's Battle Of Evermore
appeared on the Singles movie
soundtrack. By year's end they had released a four-song
With the return of Howard Leese the duo returned to
the touring stage as Heart and did 'unplugged'
engagements across North America which culminated in the
album The Road Home.
1997 saw the staggered return of
The Lovemongers with their first
full-length album Whirlygig.
Heart fans were in-turn treated to a
lengthy greatest hits package. Howard Leese has
continued on as session player for such acts as Sister
Mary, Dana Anton and Stuart Smith and composed the score
to the documentary Puget Sound Journey.
In 1998 Heart returned with live
shows and a new line-up of Frank Cox and Ben Smith (both
Lovemongers), Howard Leese, Jon Bayless, and Scott
Olson. Also that year, Sony released a
Greatest Hits album which
included the Diane Warren-penned ballad
Strong, Strong Wind.
1999 saw a Summer solo tour
billed as 'Ann and Nancy Wilson', in addition, Nancy
released her first ever solo and live record in one
package, Live At McCabes!!
2000 and 2001
produced another hectic schedule for the two sisters as
well as seeing Howard Leese starting to pick up some new
gigs with Paul Rodgers. Appearances for
the girls included the Women In Rock
benefit show, Teatro ZinZanni musical,
as well as contributing to the soundtrack for the movie,
2002, saw Heart
complete a full US Tour for the first time in 4 years.
They also found time to release a greatest hits
collection on CD, Essential Heart.
2003 saw a DVD
released from the 2002 Summer Of Love
Tour and another nationwide tour was
successfully completed during the Summer time called the
Alive in America Tour!
And in 2004, their first studio
album in many years, Jupiter's Darling,
was released in the Summer, followed shortly
afterwards by a full European and
In 2006, Heart kicked off the touring year with a VH1 Tribute special (Heart & Friends) featuring performances by Alice in Chains (joined by GNR's Duff McKagan and Pantera's Phil Anselmo), Dave Navarro, Carrie Underwood, Gretchen Wilson, and Rufus Wainwright.
VH1 honored Heart again at VH1 2007 Rock Honors. DirecTV broadcast a 30th anniversary concert special of Dreamboat Annie, (a DVD and CD were released in October). And in September, the first-ever solo project by Ann Wilson (Hope & Glory) was released by Rounder Records. Many special guest artists participated in this landmark project, including Elton John, k d lang, Gretchen Wilson, Wynonna Judd, Alison Krauss, Rufus Wainwright, Deana Carter, Shawn Colvin, and Nancy Wilson.
In 2008, Heart hit the road for a 40+ city tour with Journey and Cheap Trick, voted Billboard's "Best Touring Package" of 2008. Another 15 cities with Journey filled out Heart's 2009 touring year which visited more than 70 cities, capped off by their headline performance at the KLOS Christmas Party at Nokia Live in Los Angeles.
Heart completed their last album, with Grammy winning producer, Ben Mink, entitled, "RED VELVET CAR", released on August 31st, 2010!!
In the Summer of 2012, "STRANGE EUPHORIA" saw it's release. The first definitive career-spanning, multi-label boxed set retrospective chronicling the seminal American rock band Heart, personally curated by Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson. A carefully-considered anthology of biggest hits and best-loved songs set alongside deep catalog treasures, rarities, demos and live performances. "STRANGE EUPHORIA" consists of three compact discs, one DVD, and a bonus CD of five Led Zeppelin cover tracks in a deluxe box.
Also in the Summer of 2012, Ann and Nancy Wilson's Autobiography, "KICKING & DREAMING", saw it's first publication. Ann and Nancy, with the help of critically acclaimed and bestselling music biographer Charles R. Cross, recount a journey that took them from a gypsy-like life as the children of a globe-trotting Marine to the frozen back roads of Vancouver, where they got their start as a band, to the pinnacle of success and sometimes excess.
"FANATIC", Heartís 14th studio album, the hard-rock successor to 2010's Top 10 debut "RED VELVET CAR", is released in October 2012. "FANATIC" premieres 10 new essential performances from sisters Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson. It ranks as one of the Wilson Sisters most rock & roll albums to date. With Grammy-winning producer Ben Mink at the helm once again; it's a celebration of their life spirit: Ann and Nancy are fanatics about love, art and truth.
...and so the story continues...