I PURCHASED Dreamboat Annie while record shopping with my dad. I had already heard and loved the album, and although I had seen it in bargain bins before, for some reason I decided to buy it with my father present. He was shocked at my excitement. "I never would've imagined you'd like Heart," he gently scoffed.
What's not to like? When Heart emerged in the mid-'70s, the Wilson sisters were the first ladies in rock 'n' roll to really stick it to the boys. Yes, Grace Slick and Janis Joplin were influential in showing everyone women could storm the stage, but Ann and Nancy Wilson were the first to truly own the stage. With Nancy's delectable licks and Ann's sultry voice, Heart's musical prowess easily stood up against any crotch-gyrating rock 'n' roll dude. Of course, they did it knowing full well it wasn't gonna be an easy road.
"No one took us seriously. Especially Nancy," says Ann. "There was a lot of discomfort over a woman playing an electric guitar. Nancy's a beautiful woman. Some people would say, 'Wow, you're a beautiful woman. Is that guitar really plugged in?' Really insulting things like that."
On the phone, Ann seems very reserved about rehashing memories about taking flack from the boys. Then again, Heart never made a big scene about being girls in a boys' club. Instead, they showed their confidence, class, and grace through their music. Eventually, everyone got on the bus.
"After a while, people said, 'Okay, yeah, they can do it. We give them permission to rock,'" Ann says.
Now the Wilsons have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, they've been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and their legendary performance of "Stairway to Heaven" at the Kennedy Center Honors brought their mentors Led Zeppelin to tears. You'd think they'd be a little less humble about their accomplishments. But even when questioned about Heart's impact on the riot grrrl movement, which partially sprouted in the same region that Heart originated from, Ann remains modest about the band's undeniable influence.
"I don't think any of those girls were looking to their elders for advice. If we did anything to help out the riot grrrl movement, it was just the very act of doing it no matter what anybody says."