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The Women of Heart: Ann and Nancy Wilson

The Women of Heart: Ann and Nancy Wilson

The band Heart put out hit singles you may have heard of, such as Magic Man and Barracuda.

They may be as wildly popular as some bands, but they have their following and their awards.

Today, we’re discovering more about Ann and Nancy Wilson, their greatest hits, and what they’re up to today. 

The Story of Heart

The sisters grew up in a very musical family. Their mother played the piano, and their father conducted the United States Marine band. Nancy began playing the guitar at age 12 when she stayed home from school sick. Ann started singing lessons as a young teen to boost her confidence.

The two girls formed several short-lived bands together throughout their childhood before hitting it big with Heart in the mid-1970s. 

Formed as The Army in 1967, the Seattle-based band underwent several name changes before landing on Heart. In 1972, the original band members Steve Fossen (bass) and Roger Fisher (guitar) placed an ad in the newspaper for a lead singer and found Ann Wilson. Within a year, the group relocated to Vancouver. Ann’s younger sister Nancy joined in on guitar and backup vocals shortly after that. 

In 1976, Heart’s debut album Dreamboat Annie unexpectedly cracked into the Top 10 on the Billboard charts. Their eighth album, Heart, released in 1985, reached #1 on the charts. The prolific band released sixteen studio albums over 40 years before taking a hiatus in 2016. 

Heart’s Best-Known Songs

You may wonder if you’ve heard some of Heart’s biggest hits. Let’s take a look at some of their chart-toppers.

Crazy On You

Heart released Crazy On You in 1975 as their first single in America. Inspired by a blues tune, Ann Wilson wrote the song as an ode to her boyfriend at the time, the band’s manager, Mike Fisher. Nancy Wilson opens the song with an acoustic guitar solo. Then her boyfriend at the time, the band’s guitarist, Roger Fisher, joins with a screaming electric guitar solo.

You may have heard this song in some movies, including Captain Marvel, or sampled in Eminem’s song Crazy in Love.

Magic Man

Magic Man, another song by Ann about Mike Fisher, was released in 1975. It peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This song received airplay on the radio largely due to a radio promoter bribing DJs with cocaine and prostitutes. It has since become one of Heart’s most recognizable hits. The song can be heard on Netflix’s TV show release, Firefly Lane

In a 2022 interview about the song, Ann Wilson said, “it’s pretty interesting to look back on all that naiveté and just what it’s like when you fall in love for the first time. It’s so powerful, it becomes a lifestyle. That song is a ‘leaving home’ song. So, I sing it as my 21-year-old self, just taking off into the world.”

Barracuda

Ann’s legendary vocals can be heard belting out the song Barracuda on Heart’s 1977 album Little Queen. The entire band collaborated to write this song about the predatory practices of the record industry. The lyrics say, “no right, no wrong, you’re selling a song…‘sell me, sell you,’ the porpoise said, dive down deep now to save my head.”

Specifically, they wrote the song about their previous record label who released an entire album of songs that Heart didn’t want published. The band played this legendary song at their inauguration into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. 

Why Did Heart Go on a Hiatus in 2016?

During a concert in 2016, Nancy’s 16-year-old twins accidentally left the door open to Ann’s RV. Ann’s husband physically attacked the boys as retaliation for leaving the door ajar and later pled guilty to the assault charges. Shortly after, Heart announced a hiatus, promising that the group would not permanently disband. 

In an interview with Rolling Stone following the incident, Nancy said, “I’m an eternal optimist because I’m from a really strong, tight family, and I don’t think any drama that’s temporary is going to change our strong relationship.” During this time, Nancy went on a solo tour with her band Roadcase Royale. The touring group featured some former members of Heart. 

Ann told rolling stone that she “sees a positive way forward…right now, we’re supporting each of our families.” She then performed a solo tour as Ann Wilson of Heart. 

In 2019, Nancy and Ann finally reunited in New York City to raise money at a charity concert called Love Rocks. The band, featuring a new rhythm section, toured for the remainder of 2019 with the Love Alive Tour. 

What Is Heart Doing Now?

2023 will be the 50th anniversary of Heart’s beginnings, and Nancy and Ann have been planning a celebratory reunion. The sisters have yet to play a show since the shutdowns of 2020, so fans are incredibly excited to see what they have in store.

Ann Wilson has recently begun to write music again and eagerly awaits an opportunity to share it with the world. She released a solo album in April of 2022 called Fierce Bliss. “[Music] is a calling for me,” says Ann in an interview with KIISFM, “I’ll do it for as long as I can.”

Nancy released her debut solo album called You and Me in 2021. She’s been touring Canada throughout 2022, billed as Nancy Wilson’s Heart. 

We’re Crazy On Heart

Maybe you love the Heart hits like Magic Man and Crazy On You discussed in this article. Perhaps you prefer some of their deeper cuts like Allies and Never. Regardless, we can all agree that Ann Wilson’s powerful vocals and her sister Nancy’s classic rock guitar playing created an iconic rock and roll band. And we’re looking forward to their 2023 tour!

What’s your favorite Heart song? Let us know in the comments!

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