Heart – the Seattle band near and dear to the city’s own – was nominated Tuesday for a spot in Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Sharing the spotlight as first-time nominees were, among others, Guns ‘N Roses; Eric B. & Rakim; The Cure; and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
“We are honored to be included among these greats. They have all rocked our lives, and sometimes saved them. We’re very happy!,” guitarist Nancy Wilson and her sister, singer Ann Wilson, wrote in an email to The Seattle Times.
Heart made an indelible mark on the rock scene of the 1970s and ’80s. One of the first aggressive rock bands fronted by women, , it cut some of the era’s most memorable songs, from “Barracuda” to “Magic Man,” and inspired a generation of women along the way. It’s somehow fitting that Joan Jett, another pioneering woman in rock, would be nominated for the honor the same year.
Earlier this month, Heart performed with Def Leppard at White River Amphitheatre. At that time, Ann Wilson spoke to The Seattle Times about why there have traditionally been so few women in rock.
“You really have to sacrifice a lot,” she said. “We have kids and families, but we have to move heaven and earth … It’s very hard on relationships.
“Then there’s the whole image of hypersexuality thing, which women in rock have yet to sort out. I think a lot of them in the past have tried to masquerade as men when they rock, but then they’re not being females at it. Rock is something that women have to recreate in their own image, and it takes a while.”
Wilson said that the music-industry star-making machine often doesn’t know what to do with women who don’t fit the pop or dance-music mold. However, that’s changing: “1/8Now3/8 you can play rock ’n’ roll. You can sweat, you can throw your head around, you can write about your angst, you can be tender. You can do it all, and you can be authentic,” she said.
Currently, two of Wilson’s favorite artists are women charting their own courses: Lucinda Williams and Adele.
Heart continues to tour and perform, earning longevity the hard way.
“It’s setting the bar high, when you play like 50 shows in a row, to expect everyone to be present and in the moment, but that’s really what Nance and I do ourselves,” Wilson said. “There’s never a night when we just stagger out there and go, ‘OK, I’m thinking of something else. I’m bored with this.’
“That pisses me off, when I see other entertainers do that, you know, when they get all complacent about it and they get an almost ungracious attitude about it: ‘Oh, I have to work so hard. I’m out here on the road, boohoo, poor me.’ It’s just amazing that people are coming to see us.”
It wasn’t clear from the beginning, Wilson noted, that she and her sister would go the distance.
“For Heart,” she recalled, “the ’80s were our teenage years, where we just went crazy and we partied and we got all dressed up and we went out and we made deals with the devil and sometimes we walked and sometimes we crawled; we were just wild in those years. Looking back … I would think, well, that’s a bottleneck we had to come through to get back to our authenticity, in the ’90s.”
Now, the Wilson sisters have “danger red flags” that keep them from going off the deep end, Wilson said.
“We’re definitely going to survive.”