Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Heart Still Beating Strong after 40 Years

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Heart Still Beating Strong after 40 Years

Article excerpt

The Rock Hall Three for All Tour hits the First Niagara Pavilion tonight with a trio of beloved bands ? Heart, Cheap Trick and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts ? recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

What makes two of them unique is that they were rock bands not only fronted by women, but also by women wielding guitars. When they formed, in the early to mid-'70s, the door was not open for such bands.

"We had to kick it open," says singer Ann Wilson, who fronts Heart with her younger sister, Nancy. "The first few years ? not the first few years, the first 15 or 20 years ? the biggest challenge was being taken seriously, because there was no precedent for women coming out and doing this kind of thing. So, a lot of people were just like, ?Yeah, right, Nancy, is that guitar really plugged in?' There were various challenges like that."

There had been lots of vocal girl groups and such rock frontwomen as Grace Slick and Janis Joplin, but none that were playing the kind of Zeppelin-style hard rock that Heart came along with in such songs as "Crazy on You" and "Magic Man" from the 1976 debut "Dreamboat Annie."

"I think the closest was a chick named Suzi Quatro, who was a bass player, and she was really out there ? cool, aggressive and wore black leather jumpsuits and stuff ? but she wasn't a huge celebrity. She was kind of a deep track person. We kind of invented this way of females doing rock ourselves," Ms. Wilson said.

Heart had two different waves of popularity, first as an aggressive rock band from 1976 to 1980, and then as a slicker MTV band with a spate of hit ballads from 1985 to 1990. Heart took most of the '90s off and resumed touring in 2002, while also giving the fans four more studio albums.

The latest is "Beautiful Broken," a 10-track record that reinterprets seven songs from the back catalog, from 1980's "Down on Me" to the title track, a bonus from the last album, "Fanatic," that now features an edgy guest vocal from Metallica's James Hetfield.

"Most of them were on ?Private Audition' or ?Bebe le Strange' and the versions that made it onto the records for whatever reason were more like demos: sort of real busy and real big party animals," she says. …

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