Multi-talented sisters keep Heart's beat going strong

For the News-DemocratAugust 14, 2013 

From the moment sisters Nancy and Ann Wilson saw the Beatles performing on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1964, Nancy Wilson knew the guitar was the key to her future. Responding to her pleas, her parents gave her a three-quarter-size Stella.

"It had a pipe-shaped neck and a movable bridge -- which was good, because as it was going out of tune you would move the bridge to compensate!" she recalled. "It was steel-stringed, and the action was way too high. It was painful, but I wanted to play so bad. My parents saw that I was serious, so they swapped it out for something decent. Then I was like, 'Oh god, I can actually do this.'"

A decade later, the sisters were storming stages as Heart, cranking out FM-radio favorites like "Crazy on You," "Barracuda," "Straight On" and "Magic Man" -- and landing a blow for female equality simply by thriving in the male-centric rock world. In the mid-'80s the group turned to a slicker, poppier style and dominated Top 40 radio as well.

Not only did the Wilson sisters lead the band, they wrote the songs and played the instruments, too. Heart continued topping the charts through the '80's and '90's with huge hits like "These Dreams," "Alone," "What About Love," "If Looks Could Kill," "Never," and a string of other hits that showcased the sisters' enormous talents as musicians and singers.

As individuals, the sisters have also achieved significant success. Ann sang on songs that were both chart successes and motion picture themes, like "Almost Paradise" from "Footloose," "Best Man in the World" from "Goldenchild," and "Surrender to Me" from "Tequila Sunrise," while Nancy composed and performed the scores to a half-dozen motion pictures including the award-winning "Jerry Maguire" and "Almost Famous."

Along the way, music by Ann and Nancy Wilson and their band Heart has sold more than 35 million albums, sold out arenas worldwide, and found its way into the soundtrack of American life through radio, motion pictures, television and associations with branded sponsors. Today, songs made famous by Heart are heard in every aspect of contemporary culture.

The band reached a pinnacle achievement in April of this year being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Longtime admirers and fans like Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam jammed with the band, and Soundgarden's Chris Cornell officially inducted them.

Heart is one of the most enduring hard rock bands of all-time, still playing out live this year on their Heartbreaker Tour with Jason Bonham that started in mid-June, and is still putting out records, including its most recent and 14th studio album, 2012's "Fanatic," which gets back to the band's hard rock and folk rock roots.

Who: Heart, with Jason Bohham's Led Zeppelin Experience

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

Tickets: $19-$136

How: www.livenation.com, www.ticketmaster.com

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