If you go
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12
Where: Town Toyota Center
Information: 667-7847, towntoyotacenter.com
Secrets of the Heart
The Wilson sisters gave a revealing behind-the-scenes look at their formative days in their joint memoir “Kicking and Dreaming,” released in paperback last month. Here are a few stories:
The Wilsons are descendents of a hatchet-wielding pioneer woman, Hannah Dustin. She was taken prisoner by American Indians in the late 1600s. After watching her infant daughter murdered, she escaped captivity and returned six weeks later to exact her revenge. She killed a man, two women, six children and collected a 25-pound bounty for their scalps. The book is dedicated to her.
The Wilsons were raised in a military family and moved from town to town following their father’s career in the Marines. The oldest sister, Lynn, was the rebel of the family.
Ann, the middle child, was shy and stuttered. She learned how to get over her speech impediment by singing. Nancy was the youngest sibling and was obsessed with the Beatles — not as a fan girl in love but as a young musician who wanted to be them.
The band formed in Canada, not Seattle. Ann was living in a hippie commune with Michael Fisher, a draft-dodger. The songs “Crazy on You” and “Magic Man” were based on their relationship.
Nancy dropped out of college — she was studying art and German at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. — to join the band with Ann and the Fisher brothers (Mike and Roger) in Canada. She later dated Roger.
A sleazy publicist got Heart’s first hits on the airwaves by bribing radio disc jockeys with cocaine and hookers behind the Wilsons’ backs.
Heart’s first gig was in a Canadian bar called Lucifer’s, where the manager chided them for playing too loud and bringing in the wrong kind of crowd. He suggested they play disco and wear matching outfits.
Ann wrote the song “Barracuda” in anger after a male reporter approached her after a show and implied that the Wilson sisters were also lesbian lovers.
— Rachel Hansen, World staff
Before Ann and Nancy Wilson became a pioneering force for women in rock, they came to Wenatchee to party and play music along the banks of the Wenatchee River at the Apple Blossom Festival.
“We had a great time, I’ll tell you what,” Ann said with a mischievous chuckle. “That was even before Heart got together. I think I was 19.”
More than 40 years later, Ann will return to Wenatchee with her sister Nancy on guitar to perform for more than 2,800 people Saturday at the Town Toyota Center. As of Tuesday, more than 700 seats remained unsold.
At 63, Ann Wilson’s voice sounded as deep and smooth as ever when she spoke to The World from her son’s high school football game last week. The famous singer raised a boy and girl, both adopted, on her own in Seattle. Nancy, 59, has two twin boys by her ex-husband Cameron Crowe.
Ann said the crowd here can expect to hear a little bit from every decade, and maybe a Led Zeppelin song or two, on Saturday. Heart typically waits until the day of the show to put together a set list, depending on how the band is feeling, where they’re playing and for how long.
“We’re going to light a fire. It isn’t just going to be one of those shows where you sit on your hands and hear the same-old, same-old,” Ann said.
Hers was one of the first female voices in hard rock, and Nancy was one of only a few female guitarists. Together, their career has spanned 40 years from the first hits, “Crazy on You” and “Magic Man,” in 1976, through a power pop phase in the ’80s, (“Alone” and “Never”) and back to the band’s rock roots in the 2000s.
The past year has been a big one for the Seattle sisters. Heart, along with Jason Bonham, left Robert Plant visibly moved after their performance of “Stairway to Heaven” as the finale of the Kennedy Center’s tribute to Led Zeppelin last December. The performance went viral and resulted in an iTunes single, bringing in a new generation to Heart’s fanbase. In April, Heart was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Two months later, the Wilson sisters were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“We’re playing for a wide demographic,” Ann said. “We see people who have been Heart fans since they were 16 and in their 40s now. We also see 30-somethings who saw ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on YouTube. Maybe they weren’t born when ‘Stairway to Heaven’ came out, but they come out to hear that poetry and that kind of music being played. It’s great to see their faces light up.”
Their 14th album “Fanatic,” released a year ago, takes a hard turn toward grunge and metal with Nancy’s gritty, heavy guitar and Ann’s soaring yell.
“The rock we play now weighs a ton more than the way used to play rock in the ’70s,” Ann said. That’s not to take anything away from the band back then. We used to play everything faster and clippier and a lot more frenetic.”