Heart first found success in Canada and later in the United States and worldwide. Over the group's four-decade history, they had three primary line-ups, with the constant centre of the group since 1973, being sisters Ann Wilson (lead singer) and Nancy Wilson (guitarist). They rose to fame in the mid-1970s with music influenced by hard rock and heavy metal, as well as folk music. Their popularity declined in the early 1980s, but the band enjoyed a comeback starting in 1985 and experienced even greater success with album-oriented rock hits and hard-rock ballads into the 1990s. And with latest albums such as Jupiters Darling (2004), Red Velvet Car (2010), Fanatic (2012), and Beautiful Broken (2016), Heart made a return to its hard rock and acoustic folk roots. That was until they hit another slump later that year, which we will get into a bit later on.
To date, Heart has sold over 35 million records worldwide, had twenty Top 40 singles, seven Top 10 albums and four Grammy nominations. They achieved Top 10 albums on the Billboard charts in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2010s, with chart singles in each decade. This span of over four decades gives them the longest span of Top 10 albums by a female fronted band. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.
And we take a trip back to years ’75 and ’76, where the group played numerous shows around their new home in Vancouver, and recorded a demo tape with the assistance of producer Mike Flicker and session-guitarist and keyboard player, Howard Leese. Flicker produced the band's first five albums. This team recorded the debut album, Dreamboat Annie, at Can-Base Studios in Vancouver (later known as Mushroom Studios). Mike Derosier eventually joined Heart as full-time drummer.
Some of the same Canadian investors who had backed the studio also backed a separate company Mushroom Records, which was managed by Shelly Siegel. Drummers Duris Maxwell, Dave Wilson, Kat Hendrikse, Michael Derosier, and bassist Brian Newcombe were among those who also played on the sessions for the album. The album was picked up by Siegel and sold 30,000 copies in Canada in its first few months.
On February 14, 1976, Siegel would then release the album in the US, where it was hoisted by two hit singles, "Magic Man" (available here for download, in edited form: Interfusion K-6602) and "Crazy On You". The songs reached numbers nine and thirty-five respectively on the Billboard Hot 100, and the album reached number seven in the Billboard 200. It eventually sold over one million copies.
In 1977, Mushroom ran a full-page advertisement in Rolling Stone magazine showing the bare-shouldered Wilson sisters (as on the Dreamboat Annie album cover) with the suggestive caption, "It was only our first time!". When a reporter suggested, backstage after a live appearance, that the sisters were sex partners, the infuriated Ann returned to her hotel room and began writing the lyrics to "Barracuda". Heart broke its contract with Mushroom and signed a contract with CBS subsidiary Portrait Records, resulting in a prolonged legal battle with Siegel. Mushroom released the partly completed Magazine in early 1977, just before Portrait released Little Queen. Both sides attempted to prevent the other from releasing any Heart music. A Seattle court forced Mushroom to recall the album so that Heart could remix tracks and add new vocals, and the album was re-released in 1978. It peaked at No. 17 in the US, generating the single "Heartless", which reached No. 24 in the chart, and eventually achieved platinum status.
Little Queen, with the hit "Barracuda" (US No. 11, 1977), became Heart's second million-seller. Ann and Nancy appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone on July 28, 1977 (issue No. 244). Heart performed at the first Texxas Jam on July 4 weekend in 1978 in Dallas, Texas, at the Cotton Bowl in front of 100,000 people, along with Aerosmith, Van Halen, Ted Nugent, Journey, Frank Marino, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Head East and Walter Egan.
In late 1978, the double-platinum Dog and Butterfly peaked at 17 on the Billboard 200 and produced top 30 hits with its title song and "Straight On", which hit number 15. In 1979 the Wilson-Fisher liaisons ended. Roger Fisher was voted out of the band by the other members and Mike also departed within a month. Nancy Wilson and longtime guitarist Howard Leese filled in the guitar void, and childhood friend Sue Ennis helped with song collaborations.
Heart would then release Bebe le Strange in 1980, making it the band's third consecutive Top Ten album. It peaked at number five, and yielded the Top 40 hit "Even It Up". The band embarked on a 77-city tour to promote the album. By the end of the year, the band scored their highest charted single at the time; a version of the ballad "Tell It Like It Is", which peaked at number eight. In November 1980, the double album Greatest Hits/Live was released and reached number twelve on the US chart, eventually achieving double platinum status. The two-disc set featured studio versions of most of Heart's singles to date, plus a couple of new studio tracks and six live tracks, amongst which were versions of "Unchained Melody", Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" and The Beatles' "I'm Down". But with a total of only two hit singles in 1980 (five singles were actually released) and a hiatus of almost two years to their next studio album, sales following this greatest hits package were weaker than previous efforts.
Their next album Private Audition (1982) was the first not produced by Mike Flicker. Initially the band turned to Jimmy Iovine, one of the leading producers of the time, who suggested that the material lacked potential hits, but eventually the Wilson sisters produced the album themselves. The track "Perfect Stranger" foreshadowed the power ballads that would dominate the band's mid-1980s sound. At the end of recording Derosier and Fossen were fired from the band. They were replaced by Denny Carmassi on drums and Mark Andes on bass for Passionworks (1983), while at the record company's insistence the band turned to established producer Keith Olsen. Both Private Audition and Passionworks had relatively poor sales, failing to reach gold status. Despite the albums' poor sales, the single "How Can I Refuse" was a success reaching number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. In 1984 Ann Wilson recorded a duet, with Mike Reno of hard rock band Loverboy, the pop ballad "Almost Paradise", which was featured on the soundtrack of the movie Footloose. The song reached number seven on the US pop chart, and strongly influenced the band to use other songwriters and to change their sound. Nancy Wilson made cameo appearances in the films Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) and The Wild Life (1984), both written by journalist, screenwriter and director Cameron Crowe, whom she would marry in June 1986.
The band moved to Capitol Records and their first album for their new label was simply titled Heart (1985). The move to Capitol coincided with a glam metal makeover that included minimizing the acoustic and folk sounds characteristic of their early work. The album reached number one, sold five million copies and launched four Top-10 hits: "What About Love" (No. 10, 1985), "Never" (No. 4, 1985), the chart-topping "These Dreams" (1986) and "Nothin' at All" (No. 10, 1986). A fifth single, "If Looks Could Kill" also charted, giving the band five hit singles from the same album for the first time. The rest is history.
However, in latest news, an April 2017 article in Rolling Stone reported that although the sisters remain on amicable terms, they had not spoken to one another since their 2016 tour ended, and only sporadically contact one another through text messaging. The pair's relationship was strained due to an incident with Ann's husband Dean Wetter, who was arrested for allegedly assaulting Nancy's 16-year-old twin sons after the boys had left the door to his RV open, on the morning of August 27, 2016. The alleged incident took place during a Heart performance at the White River Amphitheatre in Auburn, Washington the previous night.
Although the band played the remaining 2016 tour dates that were already booked, the Wilson sisters only spoke to one another through third parties for the remainder of the tour. Following the end of the tour in October 2016, the sisters opted to tour with their own side project bands.
In January 2017, Nancy formed a new band, Roadcase Royale, with singer Liv Warfield and Heart members Ben Smith (drummer), Dan Rothchild (bass), and Chris Joyner (keyboards). Later that month, Ann announced a solo tour, which includes Heart guitarist Craig Bartock along with other different musicians. As for the future for Heart, Ann announced them as being on hiatus, although both sisters claim the band has not permanently disbanded.
Thanks to Don for contributing this single. FLAC