It’s rare that relatives get to experience receiving one of music’s highest honors together.
But sooner or later — and their devotees believe it should have been sooner — it was bound to happen for Ann and Nancy Wilson, alias Heart.
The sibling rockers were among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 2013 inductees last month at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre, and HBO will televise the 28th annual ceremony Saturday, May 18. Randy Newman, Public Enemy, Rush and (posthumously) Albert King and Donna Summer also were honored.
Additionally, producer-manager Lou Adler and music entrepreneur Quincy Jones received the Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement. Participants in the evening included Christina Aguilera, Harry Belafonte, Jackson Browne, Cheech and Chong, John Fogerty, Dave Grohl, Don Henley, Jennifer Hudson, Carole King, Spike Lee, John Mayer, and Usher.
Fellow Seattle music scene veterans Chris Cornell, Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam took part in the tribute to Heart. With a four-decade career marked by albums from 1976’s “Dreamboat Annie” to last fall’s “Fanatic,” and hits from the hard-driving “Crazy on You” and “Barracuda” to the reflective “These Dreams” and “Alone,” the Wilson sisters recently spoke with Zap2it about their longevity and their Hall of Fame milestone … and their meaning to other female rock stars.
Zap2it: You were first nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year. Does that make being inducted now better?
Nancy: It’s very exciting, sure. And for our fans, too, who have been like the voices of the Whos in Whoville. They’ve been putting up a big ruckus about us being inducted, so it’s a great thing for all of us, including those who have been yelling about it for a few years.
Zap2it: How did you learn you were being inducted?
Nancy: I was visiting a friend in the hospital, and I had a call from (Hall of Fame co-founder) Jann Wenner‘s office. My first thought was, “Oh, no. What is this all about?” I figured it was 50-50; either we were going to be inducted or he was going to apologize because we weren’t. This is like the Oscar of rock and roll, and I was just so excited to be able to tell Ann about it myself.
Ann: Yeah, it was great. We’d talked about it the first time we were nominated, and we were kind of miffed [not to get in]. We looked at each other and went, “Well, I guess we don’t care about it as much as we thought” — but secretly, we did. So when we got it the second time around, it was really great, quite a thrill. A huge, fun honor.
Zap2it: You helped celebrate Led Zeppelin by performing “Stairway to Heaven” at last December’s Kennedy Center Honors. Did that give you a taste of how the Hall of Fame salute to you might be?
Ann: What a fun night that was. Just the mix of people in the audience was thrilling.
Nancy: We understood later, when we watched it on TV, how moved [the surviving Zeppelin members] were … and that they appreciated it that much, that was the best part of all for us. At the beginning of the song, they were not so sure it was going to go well. It’s so iconic, a lot of people would not do it with the restraint it deserves. I think they were not only honored, but completely relieved that it went as well as it did.
Zap2it: You’re still very much on the concert trail, and as you start on it again this summer with a new “Heartbreaker” tour, what do you think has kept Heart so relevant and vital?
Ann: I don’t know. It’s a very rough lifestyle, to go out there and be traveling and pour out your soul. It’s a challenge just to keep up with it, but I think what keeps us vital is that we love it, the connection with the audience. And just getting to do the songs themselves, it’s very satisfying.
This tour’s going to be different from any other because it’s about Led Zeppelin. We’ll be doing some of our own songs, too, but I’m really looking forward to singing Zeppelin.
Nancy: It’s going to be a thrill ride. We don’t really want to be viewed as a Zeppelin tribute band, but that music is fun, fun, fun to do. And it’s good to have something new for our fans.
Zap2it: How frequently, and what, do you hear from artists you’ve inspired?
Ann: We get a lot of people asking, “What would you say if you were going to give advice to younger women musicians?” They’re finding their own way, though. They don’t necessarily look to their big sisters to answer questions for them, any more than John Lennon would have called up Bo Diddley and said, “Hey, brother, what do I do?” I think women musicians are essentially still pioneers.
Zap2it: What are your reflections on the career you’ve had together?
Nancy: We were young enough, when we set out, to do this job just for the love of it. As we gathered experience, it was like, “What the heck do we think we’re doing?”
Being women, it’s not as much of a fit in terms of what Mother Nature intends for you to do. There are definitely sacrifices that we never expected to encounter, but we’ve kind of come through and survived it really well. And we still have our music on, and it’s sweeter than ever.