Heart is a rock band which came out of Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, British
Columbia. Going through several lineup changes, the only constant members of the group are sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson.
The group rose to fame in the 1970s with their music being influenced by hard rock as well as folk music. After diminishing in
popularity by the mid-eighties, The band created a major comeback in 1985, experiencing further success with their power
ballads throughout the rest of the decade. By the mid-1990’s, Heart left their eighties sound and went back
to their hard rock roots which they continue to play today. They have sold over 30 million albums worldwide.
Heart was ranked 57 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.
The Wilson sisters grew up in
Southern California and Taiwan before their Marine Corps father retired to the Seattle suburbs. After attending college
they returned to Seattle, with Nancy working as a folksinger and Ann joining a hitherto-..all-male local group in 1970. (This
group was formed in 1963 by Steve Fossen and Roger and Mike Fisher as The Army. They later changed their name to White
Heart, and shortened it to Heart in 1974.) Upon joining, Ann became Mike Fisher’s girlfriend, and when Nancy
joined in 1974, she became involved with Fisher’s brother, lead guitarist Roger.
The band moved to Canada. After many one-nighters around
their new home of Vancouver the group recorded a demo tape with the assistance of producer Mike Flicker and session
guitarist and keyboard player Howard Leese. Soon after Leese became a full time member of the group. The same team
then cut the debut album Dreamboat Annie, which attracted the attention of the newly formed Mushroom Records in 1975,
a Vancouver-..based label run by Shelly Siegel. Upon release in Canada the album sold an impressive 30,000 copies,
no doubt benefitting from Canadian Radio-..television and Telecommunicati..ons Commission (CRTC) Canadian content
regulations. In the US Siegel released the album first in Seattle, where it quickly sold another 25,000. With two hit
singles - "Crazy on You" (35, 1976) and "Magic Man" (9, 1976), - Dreamboat Annie eventually sold over a million copies.
Songs of this era can be played on Canadian radio to satisfy CanCon content requirements.
By early 1977, Heart had broken its contract with Mushroom Records and signed with CBS’ subsidiary Portrait,
a move that resulted in a prolonged legal battle with Siegel. In retaliation, he released the partly completed Magazine
at the same time that Portrait released Little Queen. A Seattle court ruled that Mushroom had to recall Magazine so
that the group could remix several tracks and re-do vocals before re-releasing the disc. (They had wanted the album taken
off the market completely.)
Little Queen, with the hit "Barracuda" (11, 1977), became Heart’s second million-..seller; Magazine
and the double-..platinum Dog and Butterfly followed suit in 1978. After the 77-city Dog and Butterfly tour the Wilson-Fisher
liaisons ended; Roger was fired from the band and Mike was no longer their manager. Roger Fisher formed his own band
in the Seattle area. Longtime guitarist Howard Leese and Nancy took up guitar slack, and her childhood friend Sue Ennis
helped out on song collaborations... The group then released Bebe Le Strange in 1980.
Following the release of Private Audition in 1982, Fossen
and Derosier left the band. Both Private Audition and 1983’s Passionworks, (featuring new bassist Mark Andes
and new drummer Denny Carmassi), failed to go gold, putting Heart at a career crossroads.
In 1984, Ann Wilson recorded a duet with Mike Reno of Loverboy called "Almost Paradise". The song was featured
on the soundtrack of the movie Footloose and hit number 7 on the pop charts.
In the music video "Alone"Then, the group’s first album for Capitol, simply titled Heart (1,
1985), sold five million copies on the strength of four Top-10 hits: "What About Love?" (10, 1985), "Never" (4, 1985), "These
Dreams" (1, 1986), and "Nothin’ at All" (10, 1986). By that time, the group had abandoned their earlier hard-rock
aspirations to make slick, radio-friendly pop.
In June 1986, Nancy Wilson married journalist, screenwriter, and director Cameron Crowe; she had made a cameo
appearance in his movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1982. Bad Animals (2, 1987), too, contained a chart-topper,
in the power ballad "Alone", as well as "Who Will You Run To?" (7, 1987), and "There’s the Girl" (12, 1987).
In 1989, Ann Wilson and Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander had a 6 hit with their duet "Surrender to Me." Brigade
(3, 1990) became Heart’s sixth multi-platinum LP and added three more Top-25 hits to its catalogue, the most
notable of which was "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You".
Following a 1990 tour, the Wilson sisters put together an informal acoustic
group called The Lovemongers with Sue Ennis and Frank Cox; a four-song EP that included a version of Led Zeppelin’s
"Battle of Evermore" came out in late 1992, and the quartet performed several times in the Seattle area. The Lovemongers
released a full-length album titled Whirlygig in 1997.
When Heart re-emerged with Desire Walks On (48) in 1993, Mark Andes had left the band and Shuyler Deale played
the bass. For the group’s subsequent tour, Heart was joined by bassist Fernando Saunders and drummer Denny Fongheiser
(replacing Deale and Carmassi). The band offered live acoustic versions of its best-known songs on 1995’s The Road
Home, which was produced by Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones.
The pared-down format echoed Heart’s low profile in the late 1990s. Of the two sisters,
Nancy kept busier, scoring her husband’s movies, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, and Elizabethtown, and releasing
a solo album ("Live at McCabe’s Guitar Shop") in 1999. That same year, she and Ann embarked on a tour of their
own, the first time that they had done so.
In 2004, the Wilsons released Jupiter’s Darling, their first studio album
as Heart since 1993. It features a variety of songs that include a return to Heart’s original sound, as well as
a blend of pop and new textures. Stand-out tracks include "Make Me", "Enough", "Oldest Story In The World" and "Lost
In 2005, the Wilsons appeared on the CMT Music Awards as a special guest of Gretchen Wilson (no relation), and
performed the Heart classic, "Crazy On You" with Gretchen. Heart performed again with Gretchen on VH-1’s tribute
to the band, Decades Rock Live. The special also featured Alice in Chains, Phil Anselmo, Dave Navarro, Rufus Wainwright
and Carrie Underwood.
Heart was honored at the second annual VH1 Rock Honors (24 May 2007), and also performed, along with Ozzy Osbourne,
Genesis and ZZ Top. This, along with the inclusion of "Crazy on You" in Guitar Hero II and "Barracuda" in the Guitar
Hero III: Legends of Rock video game, renewed interest in the band.
In September 2007, Ann released her first solo album Hope & Glory.
In addition to their own recording careers, the Wilson sisters have played a key role
on the Seattle music scene. Among the groups who have recorded at their Bad Animals studio are R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Alice
in Chains, Soundgarden and Candlebox. Heart’s Heart: 20 Years of Rock & Roll was the first CD-ROM multimedia
biography/..greatest-hits package ever released.
When Dreamboat Annie was released in 1976, rumors spread that the sisters were
witches. It was said that the album’s hit, "Magic Man", was about Satan’s seduction of a child. It was also
rumored at the time that "Magic Man" was a reference to cult-leader Charles Manson. In a 2002 interview Ann Wilson
stated that the song was autobiographica..l; she was the young girl and Mike Fisher, her first love, was the "Magic Man".
In 1977 Heart’s record label, Mushroom Records, is said to have started a rumor that Ann and Nancy were
lesbian lovers. The label ran a full page ad in Rolling Stone showing the sisters bare-..shouldered and suggestively
captioned, "It was only our first time". When a reporter suggested after one live appearance that the sisters were sex
partners, Ann returned to her hotel room and wrote the lyrics to "Barracuda" to relieve her frustration. The song
became one of Heart’s biggest hits.
Members and former members
Artist Sort by
Name Instrument(s) Period
Fisher Guitar (Lead Guitar) 1963–1979
Steve Fossen Electric Bass 1963–1982
Hannah Keyboards 1970-1974
Brian Johnstone Drums 1970-1974
Mike Fisher Guitar, Drums,
Engineer, Producer 1970–1979
Ann Wilson Vocals (Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Harmony Vocals), Flute
Nancy Wilson Guitar (Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Lead Guitar), Mandolin, Vocals,
Michael Derosier Drums 1975–1982
Howard Leese Guitar,
Keyboards, Synthesizer 1975–1997
After selling more than 30, 000 copies north of the border, Mushroom issued the LP in the U.S., where
it quickly achieved platinum status on the strength of the hit singles "Crazy on You" and "Magic Man." In 1977, Heart
jumped ship to the CBS affiliate Portrait, resulting in a protracted legal battle with Siegel, who in 1978 released the unfinished
LP Magazine on Mushroom shortly after the band issued its true follow-up Little Queen on Portrait. The single "Barracuda"
was another massive hit, and like its predecessor, Little Queen sold over a million copies.
1978’s Dog and Butterfly, both of the Wilson/Fisher romances ended, and Roger left the group. In 1980, Heart issued
Bebe Le Strange; following a lengthy U.S. tour, both Fossen and Derosier exited, and were replaced by ex-Spirit and
Firefall bassist Mark Andes and former Gamma drummer Denny Carmassi. After 1982’s Private Audition and 1983’s Passionwerks
slumped, the group was largely written off by industry watchers, and moved to Capitol Records.
In 1985, however, Heart emerged with a self-titled effort which ultimately sold more than five million
copies on its way to launching four Top Ten hits -- "What About Love?," "Never," the chart-topping "These Dreams"
and "Nothin’ at All." 1987’s Bad Animals continued their comeback success; "Alone" was another Number One
hit, and both "Who Will You Run To" and "There’s the Girl" achieved considerable airplay as well. Brigade, issued
in 1990, featured the Number Two smash "All I Want to Do Is Make Love to You," as well as the Top 25 hits "I Didn’t Want
to Need You" and "Stranded."
In the early ’90s, the Wilson sisters took a brief hiatus from Heart
to form the Lovemongers, an acoustic quartet fleshed out by Sue Ennis and Frank Cox; in 1992, they issued a four-song
EP which included a cover of Led Zeppelin’s "The Battle of Evermore." Heart returned in 1993 with Desire Walks
On, on which Andes and Carmassi were replaced with bassist Fernando Saunders and drummer Denny Fongheiser. With 1995’s
The Road Home, Heart enlisted onetime Led Zep bassist John Paul Jones to produce a live, acoustic set reprising hits
like "Dreamboat Annie," "Crazy on You" and "Barracuda."
CRAZY ON YOU
This durable US rock band features the talents of sisters Ann (b. 19 June 1951, San Diego, California,
USA) and Nancy Wilson (b. 16 March 1954, San Francisco, California, USA). The elder sister had released two singles
as Ann Wilson And The Daybreaks on a local label in 1967. After a series of unreleased demos she took her sister to Vancouver, Canada,
in search of a backing band. There they found bass player Steve Fossen (b. 15 November 1949) and guitarist Roger Fisher
(b. 14 February 1950), and Heart was born (two initial monikers, the Army and White Heart, were rejected). After Dreamboat
Annie emerged on Mushroom Records in 1976, their second single, "Crazy On You", brought them to public attention.
Michael Derosier (b. 24 August 1951, Canada) had previously become the band’s first permanent drummer.
maintained their high profile when Little Queen and the single, "Barracuda", became mainstays in the US charts. By the
time Dog And Butterfly arrived in 1978, the professional relationships within the band had escalated to ones of a
more personal nature, with Nancy Wilson dating guitarist Fisher, while sister Ann was involved with his brother, Mike.
Mike Fisher, who had once been part of the group’s embryonic line-up, had become their unofficial manager.
However, before sessions for Bebe Le Strange on Epic were complete, the relationships had soured and Roger Fisher
left the band, leaving the group bereft of the lead guitar that had previously been so prominent in the group’s
formula. The guitar parts were covered on tour by Nancy and multi-..instrumentalist.. Howard Leese (b. 13 June 1953, Canada),
who became a permanent member.
By the time they resurfaced with Private Audition in 1983, Fossen and Derosier
were also on the verge of departure. Their replacements were Mark Andes (b. 19 February 1948, Philadelphia, USA; ex-Spirit)
and Denny Carmassi (ex-Montrose and Sammy Hagar), though their efforts on Passionworks were not enough to inspire
any kind of revival in Heart’s fortunes. Their confidence was bolstered, however, when Ann’s duet with Mike
Reno (Loverboy) produced "Almost Paradise ... Love Theme From Footloose", which rose to number 7 in the US charts. When
Epic allowed their contract to lapse, Heart joined Capitol Records in 1985, seemingly with their career in its death
The new label brought about a transformation in the band’s image, projecting them as a more rock-..orientated
concern, but could hardly have expected the turnaround in Heart’s fortunes that resulted. Heart gave them a
number 1 in the USA, and the highly lucrative singles "What About Love" and "Never", before "These Dreams" finally achieved
the equivalent number 1 slot in the singles chart. The follow-up, Bad Animals, was almost as successful, stalling
at number 2. While both Wilson sisters continued to work on soundtrack cuts, the most profitable of which was Ann’s
duet with Robin Zander (Cheap Trick), "Surrender To Me", Nancy married former Rolling Stone writer and budding film
director Cameron Crowe.
Heart’s success continued with the long-projected Brigade in 1990, from which "All I Wanna Do Is Make
Love To You" (written by Robert John "Mutt" Lange) became a Top 10 hit in the UK and a number 1 in the USA. Both Wilson
sisters then became involved in solo projects, while former companions Fossen, Roger Fisher and Derosier embarked on a
new dual career with Alias, who had two big US singles hits in 1990. The sisters returned as Heart in 1993, backed
by Schuyler Deale (bass), John Purdell (keyboards), Denny Carmassi (drums) and Lease (guitar) and found themselves
with another hit on their hands in "Will You Be There (In The Morning)", which preceded Desire Walks On. The Road Home
was an acoustic live album with production by John Paul Jones, released to mark the band’s 20th anniversary.
Nancy Wilson was subsequently kept busy with her soundtrack work, providing instrumental scores for her husband’s
movies Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, and Vanilla Sky. She reunited with her sister in 2004 to record a new Heart album
DISCOGRAPHY: Dreamboat Annie (Mushroom 1976)****, Little Queen (Portrait 1977)***, Dog
And Butterfly (Portrait 1978)****, Magazine (Mushroom 1978)**, Bebe Le Strange (Portrait 1980)***, Greatest Hits/Live
(Portrait 1981)***, Private Audition (Epic 1982)**, Passionworks (Epic 1983)**, Heart (Capitol 1985)**, Bad Animals (Capitol
1987)**, Brigade (Capitol 1990)**, Rock The House Live! (Capitol 1991)**, Desire Walks On (Capitol 1993)**, The Road Home (Capitol
1995)***, Alive In Seattle (Epic 2003)***, Jupiter’s Darling (Eagle 2004)***.
COMPILATIONS: Heart Box Set
(Capitol 1990)**, Greatest Hits (Capitol 1997)***, The Essential (Epic 2002)****.
VIDEOGRAPHY: If Looks Could Kill
(PMI/EMI 1988), The Road Home (Capitol 1995), Alive In Seattle (Image 2003).
As Gwenda Blair
noted in Ms. magazine, however, the Wilson sisters "have always managed to hold up, whether they were facing ... breakneck superstar
tours, or ... the seemingly endless uphill struggle to break out of ... obscurity." Blair attributed the group’s
tenacity to the Wilsons’ special bond, "the easy camaraderie of best girlfriends mixed with the special familiarity
and sensitivity of sisterhood." The reporter added: "The continuity and companionship provided by that
have carried the Wilsons a great distance over the years."