|Also known as|
|Origin||Seattle, Washington, U.S.|
|Past members||See: List of Heart band members|
Heart is an American rock band formed in 1970 in Seattle, Washington by Steve Fossen (bass guitar), Roger Fisher (guitar), David Belzer (keyboards), and Jeff Johnson (drums). It evolved from an existing band, White Heart. Since 1973 the vocalists for Heart have been the sisters Ann Wilson (lead vocals, flute, guitar) (born June 19, 1950) and Nancy Wilson (vocals, guitar, mandolin) (born March 16, 1954). Over Heart's history, it has had three primary lineups.
Heart first found success when its members moved to Canada, in part to avoid the draft, then later in the United States, and ultimately worldwide. Heart rose to fame in the mid-1970s with music influenced by hard rock and heavy metal, as well as folk music. The band's popularity declined in the early 1980s, but they launched a successful comeback in 1985 which continued into the 1990s, releasing numerous hard-rock songs and ballads. Heart disbanded in 1998, then resumed performing in 2002. In the summer of 2019, Heart ended their 2016 acrimonious break-up by launching their "Love Alive" tour.
To date, Heart has sold over 35 million records worldwide, including over 22.5 million in album sales in the U.S. They have had top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2010s. Heart was ranked number 57 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock". In 2006, Ann Wilson was listed as one of the "Top Heavy Metal Vocalists of All Time" by Hit Parader magazine. In 2013, Heart was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1967, bassist Steve Fossen formed a band, The Army, along with Roger Fisher on guitar, Don Wilhelm on guitar, keyboards and lead vocals, and Ray Schaefer on drums. They played for several years in and around the Bothell, Washington, area, northeast of Seattle. They frequently played Bothell High School, Inglemoor High School, and Shorecrest High School, as well as many taverns and club venues. In 1969, the band went through line-up changes—Gary Ziegelman (former lead singer of Buffalo Clancy) on lead vocals, Roger on guitar, Steve on bass, James Cirrello on guitar, Ron Rudge on drums, Ken Hansen on percussion,—and a new name, White Heart. The name White Heart came from a discussion Roger Fisher's brother Mike Fisher had with Michael Munro, who had come up with the name White Hart (without the "e", a reference to Arthur C. Clarke's Tales from the White Hart) for a band with Toby Cyr on lead guitar. Fisher asked and received permission to use the name for the Army, added the "e", and the Army became White Heart. For a brief time in 1970, this line-up shortened its name to Heart and dropped "White". Founding member Roger Fisher's birthday is Valentine's Day (and the band would release their debut album in the US on that day, as well). The band subsequently went through more personnel changes. In 1971, Heart consisted of Steve Fossen, Roger Fisher, David Belzer (keys), and Jeff Johnson (drums). After Ann Wilson joined (in 1970 or 1972), the band was renamed Hocus Pocus.
Mike Fisher, Roger's brother, was set to be drafted into the military. Nancy Wilson has stated that when he did not report for duty, his home was raided, but he slipped out a rear window, escaped to Canada, and became a Vietnam War "draft dodger". One day in 1972 (or 1971), Mike crossed the border to visit family, and by chance, met Ann at a Hocus Pocus (or White Heart) show. According to Nancy, that meeting was "when she and Michael fell in love" and Ann decided to follow Mike back to Canada. Steve Fossen finished his college education before he also decided to move to Canada in late 1972, and Roger followed in late 1972 or early 1973. Along with Ann, Brian Johnstone (drums), and John Hannah (keyboards), the band Heart was officially formed. Ann's sister Nancy Wilson joined in 1974, and soon after became romantically involved with Roger.
1975–1976: Commercial breakthrough
The group played numerous shows around their new home in Vancouver, and they recorded a demo tape with the assistance of producer Mike Flicker and session-guitarist and keyboard player, Howard Leese. Hannah and Johnstone had left by this time, and soon after Leese became a full-time member. 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, and Michael Derosier, keyboardist Rob Deans, 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. Siegel soon released the album in the US, where, helped by two hit singles in 1976 ("Crazy on You" and "Magic Man", which reached numbers 35 and nine, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100), it reached number seven in the Billboard 200. It eventually sold over one million copies.
1977–1979: Mainstream success and band split
In 1977, Mushroom Records ran a full-page advertisement showing the bare-shouldered Wilson sisters (as on the Dreamboat Annie album cover) with the suggestive caption, "It was only our first time!" This event was cited by the Wilson sisters in a July 28, 1977, interview with Rolling Stone as a key part of their decision to leave Mushroom Records. 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 Records 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 number 17 in the US, generating the single "Heartless", which reached number 24 in the chart, and eventually achieved platinum status.
Little Queen became Heart's second million-seller and featured the hit "Barracuda" (number 11). The song's lyrics were written by an infuriated Ann Wilson in her hotel room after a reporter, while backstage after a live appearance, had suggested that the sisters were lesbian lovers. Ann and Nancy appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone on July 28, 1977 (issue no. 244).
Heart performed at the second California Jam on March 18, 1978 at the Ontario Motor Speedway in Ontario, California. Also performing before the 350,000 in attendance were Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Foreigner, Santana, Bob Welch, Mahogany Rush and Dave Mason. Heart performed at the first Texxas Jam on July 1, 1978 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas in front of 100,000 people, along with Aerosmith, Van Halen, Ted Nugent, Journey, Frank Marino, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Head East and Walter Egan. Heart also performed at the Texxas Jam in 1979 and 1981.[self-published source?]
In late 1978, the double-platinum Dog & Butterfly peaked at 17 on the Billboard 200 and produced hits with its title song (number 34) and "Straight On" (number 15). In 1979, the Wilson-Fisher liaisons ended—Roger Fisher was voted out of the band by the other members, and his brother Mike left the orbit of the group within a month. Nancy Wilson and Howard Leese shared the guitar role, and childhood friend Sue Ennis helped with song collaborations.
1980–1984: Album success, hit single weakness, strong live performances
Heart released Bebe le Strange in 1980. It became the band's third top-10 album, peaking 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 its 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 few new studio tracks and six live tracks, among which were versions of "Unchained Melody", Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" and the Beatles' "I'm Down". With a total of only two hit singles in 1980 (five singles were actually released) and a hiatus of almost two years until the next studio album, sales following this greatest hits package were weaker than previous efforts.
Heart was the first band of the day to appear at the sold-out concert headlined by Queen at Elland Road on May 29, 1982. Their next album, Private Audition (1982), provided the minor hit "This Man Is Mine" (number 33) and 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' 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 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 married in June 1986.
The band moved to Capitol Records, and their first album for the 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" (number 10, 1985), "Never" (number four, composed with Greg Bloch 1985), the chart-topping "These Dreams" (1986) and "Nothin' at All" (number 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.
Heart's next album, Bad Animals (1987), named after reactions to the band when they entered an upmarket Charlotte, NC hotel, continued the move away from the band's folk and acoustic leanings towards a glossier arena rock sound. It contained the hit singles "Alone" (1987), which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, "Who Will You Run To" (1987), which reached number seven and "There's the Girl" (1987), which reached number 12. Bad Animals also became the band's first top-10 album success in the UK, peaking at number seven on the UK Album Chart.
In 1990, Brigade became the band's sixth multi-platinum LP and added three more top-25 Billboard Hot 100 hits. "Stranded" reached number 13 and "I Didn't Want to Need You" peaked at number 23. "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" reached number two but created controversy over whether the song encouraged women to endanger themselves by picking up hitchhikers. Two other album cuts, "Wild Child" (number 3) and "Tall, Dark Handsome Stranger" (number 24), were Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart hits. Brigade was the band's highest-charting album in the UK, reaching number three.
1991–2001: The Lovemongers, Desire Walks On, and Nancy Wilson hiatus
Heart released its first complete live album in the autumn of 1991. Rock the House Live! largely featured tracks from the Brigade album rather than more familiar hits in an effort to capture the harder rock side of the band. The album's single, a version of John Farnham's "You're the Voice", received moderate airplay on rock stations and hit number 20 on the Mainstream Rock chart.
The Wilson sisters then put together an informal acoustic group called the Lovemongers with Sue Ennis and Frank Cox. Their first show was a Red Cross benefit for troops in Seattle. A four-song EP, which included a live version of Led Zeppelin's "The Battle of Evermore" and an updated version of the Heart standard "Crazy On You", came out in late 1992. A cover of "The Battle of Evermore" also appeared on the original soundtrack for the 1992 film Singles.
Heart returned in 1993 with Desire Walks On, on which bass player Andes was replaced with Fernando Saunders. The album peaked at number 48 on the Billboard 200, eventually being certified gold. The lead track, "Black on Black II", was an AOR hit peaking at number four on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, while the single "Will You Be There (In the Morning)" was a moderate pop hit, reaching number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100. A third single, "The Woman In Me", hit number 24 on the Adult Contemporary chart, but missed the Hot 100. An interactive CD-ROM, Heart: 20 Years of Rock & Roll, with five hours of audio footage, was released in 1994. The next album, The Road Home (1995), offered live acoustic versions of the group's best-known songs and was produced by Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones.
In 1995, Nancy Wilson decided to take a break from music to concentrate on raising a family. Ann toured that year with a band that was alternately called the Ann Wilson Band or Ann Wilson and the Ricola Brothers.
The Lovemongers released a full-length album titled Whirlygig in 1997, and a collection of mostly self-penned Christmas songs titled Here is Christmas in 1998. This was re-released as a Heart album with the title Heart Presents a Lovemongers' Christmas in 2001. In 1998, the band maintained its profile by being the subject of an episode of VH1's Behind the Music. The band released a Greatest Hits boxed set covering their early work (a second volume focusing on the later part of their career followed in 2000). Also in 1998, Ann toured without Nancy, billed as "Ann Wilson and Heart". The lineup was the same as it had been in 1995, but without Scott Adams. This was longtime band member Leese's last tour with Heart; he left the band later in the year. Nancy kept busy scoring her husband's movies Jerry Maguire (1996), Almost Famous (2000), Vanilla Sky (2001) and Elizabethtown (2005).
In 1999, Nancy released a solo album, Live at McCabe's Guitar Shop. Also in 1999, Nancy and Ann undertook their first tour without a backing band. In 2001, Ann participated in the A Walk Down Abbey Road Beatles tribute tour, which also featured Todd Rundgren, John Entwistle of the Who and Alan Parsons. The sisters also appeared at benefits and special events, including the tribute to Brian Wilson at New York's Radio City Music Hall in March 2001.
In 2002, Ann and Nancy returned to the road with a brand-new Heart lineup that included Scott Olson, Ben Smith, Alice in Chains bassist Mike Inez and keyboardist Tom Kellock. In 2003, Heart released a DVD of the band's last stop in the tour as Alive in Seattle. Also in 2003, Gilby Clarke (ex-Guns N' Roses) and Darian Sahanaja replaced Olson and Kellock for an American tour.
In 2004, with the new lineup, Heart released Jupiters Darling, the first studio album since 1993. It featured a variety of songs that included a return to Heart's original hard-rock sound, as well as a blend of vintage pop and new textures. Standout tracks included the singles "The Perfect Goodbye", "Oldest Story in the World" (number 22 Billboard Rock Airplay, 2004) and "Lost Angel".
In 2005, the Wilsons appeared on the CMT Music Awards as a special guest of country singer Gretchen Wilson (no relation) and performed the Heart classic "Crazy on You" with her. Heart also performed with Gretchen Wilson on VH-1's March 10, 2006, tribute to the band, "Decades Rock Live!". The special also featured Alice in Chains, Phil Anselmo, Dave Navarro, Rufus Wainwright and Carrie Underwood. The concert was released on LP, CD, DVD and Blu-ray on January 25, 2019 with the title Live in Atlantic City. Later in the year, bass player Inez left Heart to rejoin the reformed Alice in Chains.
2007–2009: VH1 Rock Honors to touring with Journey
Heart was honored at the second annual VH1 Rock Honors (May 24, 2007), and also performed along with Ozzy Osbourne, Genesis and ZZ Top. Gretchen Wilson and Alice in Chains honored the group by performing "Barracuda". In September 2007, Ann Wilson released her first solo album, Hope & Glory, which featured sister Nancy, Elton John, Alison Krauss, k.d. lang, Wynonna Judd, Gretchen Wilson, Rufus Wainwright, Shawn Colvin and Deana Carter.
On April 9, 2008, the band appeared on Idol Gives Back with Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson, who sang "Barracuda" in harmony with Ann. In mid-2008, Heart undertook a U.S. tour with Journey and Cheap Trick. In 2008, the band performed in a benefit for music education in public schools, appearing live with Jackson Browne on "Something Fine," with Venice on "Crazy on You" and with over 70 members of the Santa Monica High School orchestra and girls' choir on "Bohemian Rhapsody."
2010–2012: Red Velvet Car to Kennedy Center Honors
A new studio album, Red Velvet Car, was released in 2010. It marked a stylistic return to Heart's melodic hard rock and folk sound of their early albums. The album peaked at number 10 on the Billboard 200, becoming the group's first top-10 album in 20 years. It also reached number three on Billboard's Rock Albums Chart. Red Velvet Car spawned two singles. The folky "Hey You" peaked at number 26 on Billboard's AC chart, while the hard rocker "WTF" peaked at number 19 on Billboard's Hot Rock Songs chart. The album release was accompanied by a North American tour, which commenced in January and ran until December 2010. On November 4, 2010, Heart announced it would do its first cross-Canada tour in 30 years, beginning on January 28, 2011, in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. A live DVD and Blu-ray disc, A Night at Sky Church, recorded before the tour at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, was released in 2011. Ann and Nancy Wilson played as part of the 2010 VH1 Divas Support the Troops, along with acts including Katy Perry and Paramore; they performed "Crazy on You" with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.
In May 2010, a reunion of former male members of the band, including Roger Fisher and Steve Fossen, performed at the Synergia Northwest concert in Tacoma, Washington.
Heart embarked on a 2011 summer tour co-headlining with Def Leppard. A career-spanning box-set titled Strange Euphoria was released in June 2012, containing many of the band's biggest hits, unreleased demos and rare live cuts. On September 18, 2012, the Wilson sisters released their autobiography, Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll, which was co-written with Charles R. Cross (Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain). On September 25, 2012, Ann and Nancy received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for their contributions to music.
The band released its 14th studio album, Fanatic, on October 2, 2012, which became the group's 12th top-25 album (number 24, 2012) and was supported by a tour of the US and Canada. On December 26, 2012, Ann and Nancy performed at the CBS-televised Kennedy Center Honors in a tribute to Led Zeppelin. Along with an orchestra, two choirs and Jason Bonham (son of late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham), they performed a version of Led Zeppelin's signature song "Stairway to Heaven." Their rendition of "Stairway" earned a standing ovation from the crowd and tears of joy from Robert Plant. The video went viral on YouTube, with over four million views in the first five days after the show, and prompted the Kennedy Center to issue a limited-edition iTunes single of the performance. Although the single was only available for two weeks, it immediately went to number one on the iTunes Rock Singles chart and reached number 20 on Billboard's Hot Rock Songs chart.
2013–2016: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Beautiful Broken
At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on April 18, 2013, the original members of Heart (the Wilson Sisters, Howard Leese, Michael Derosier, Steve Fossen, and Roger Fisher) reunited for the first time in 34 years to play "Crazy on You". The band was inducted by Chris Cornell, who emotionally talked about what heroes and role models Ann and Nancy Wilson had been to him and other musicians in Seattle. "For me, and for countless other men and women, they have earned, at long last, their rightful place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame", Cornell said. In 2014, the band released another live album, Fanatic Live from Caesar's Colosseum which peaked at number 13 on Billboard's Top Hard Rock Albums chart.
In January 2016, Ann Wilson announced that Heart was working on a new album that should be completed by June, and released sometime in 2016. Wilson indicated that the new album would be different from 2012's Fanatic which focused primarily on the band's heavier rock side, and would "have more contours". The new album would follow a tour of Canada (with Joan Jett) and potentially coincide with an early-summer tour of the UK. On June 29, 2016, Heart performed at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and a DVD and CD of this performance were released in November 2016.
The album Beautiful Broken was released on July 8, 2016. The hard-rocking title cut featuring Metallica's James Hetfield trading vocals with Ann Wilson was the first single. Beautiful Broken reached number 9 on Billboard's Rock Album Chart and number 30 on Billboard's Top Selling Albums Chart. Immediately following the new album's release, the band embarked on the Rock Hall Three for All, a 30-date headlining tour of the US with Joan Jett and Cheap Trick supporting.
2016–present: Tour and side projects to reunion
On the morning of August 27, 2016, Ann's husband Dean Wetter was arrested and subsequently pleaded guilty to assaulting Nancy's 16-year-old twin sons after the boys had left the door to his RV open. The incident took place during a Heart performance at the White River Amphitheater 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. The pair's relationship was strained by the incident; an April 2017 article in Rolling Stone reported that although they remained on amicable terms, they had not spoken to one another since the 2016 tour ended, and only sporadically contacted one another through text messaging.
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 included Heart guitarist Craig Bartock along with some other non-Heart musicians. In April 2017, Ann described Heart as being on hiatus, although both sisters claimed the band had not permanently disbanded.
In February 2019, Heart announced their hiatus had ended and that they would embark on the Love Alive tour in the summer. In March 2019, both sisters reunited on stage for the first time since the band went on hiatus, at the Love Rock NYC benefit concert. Although Ann and Nancy were reuniting, the former Heart members who had joined Nancy's solo effort were not invited back and the new lineup consisted of Ann's touring band, replacing Ben Smith on drums, Dan Rothchild on bass, and Chris Joyner on keyboards. In June 2019, the band announced that the Love Alive tour had been extended through October 2019.
Heart's music crosses multiple genres (see "Legacy"), has been described as covering everything from "folk rock to glossy AOR" and has charted singles on Billboard's Hot 100, Mainstream Rock Tracks and Adult Contemporary charts.
Heart has sold over 35 million records worldwide, had 20 top forty singles and seven top-10 albums, and earned four Grammy nominations. The band charted singles and top ten albums on the Billboard charts in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2010s: a four-decade span of top ten albums that is a record for a female-fronted band.
Heart was ranked in 2008 as number 57 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock", and Ann and Nancy Wilson ranked number 40 (in 1999) on VH1's "100 Greatest women in rock and roll". Ann Wilson was ranked in Hit Parader's 2006 "Greatest Heavy Metal Vocalists of All Time" at number 78. In 2009, the Wilson sisters were awarded ASCAP's Founders Award in recognition of their songwriting careers.
In 2011, Heart earned its first nomination for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the 2012 class. After being passed over, the band was nominated again the following year announced as inductees to the 2013 class on December 11, 2012. Their Hall of Fame page describes the Wilson sisters as the first women to front a hard-rock band, and "pioneers ... inspir[ing] women to pick up an electric guitar or start a band".
In his book Heart: In the Studio, Jake Brown described the band as beginning "a revolution for women in music ... breaking genre barriers and garnering critical acclaim".
The Wilson sisters have been active in the Seattle music scene for decades and influenced many musicians from the region, including bands of the grunge era. Artists that have used their Bad Animals Studio include Neil Young, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains.
- Ann Wilson (1973–present) – lead and backing vocals, flute, autoharp, acoustic guitar
- Nancy Wilson (1975–1995, 2002–present) – rhythm and lead guitar, acoustic guitar, backing and lead vocals, harmonica, mandolin, keyboards
- Denny Fongheiser (1993–1995, 2019–present) - drums, percussion
- Craig Bartock (2004–present) – lead and rhythm guitar
- Ryan Waters (2019–present) - lead and rhythm guitar
- Andy Stoller (2019–present) - bass guitar
- Dan Walker (2019–present) - keyboards
Timeline of members
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