In December, the band was chosen for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the ceremony in April, the original band reunited to perform its classic song, "Crazy on You," and grunge rockers Jerry Cantrell, Chris Cornell and Mike McReady joined the current band for a smoking version of "Barracuda."
Also in December, the Wilson sisters paid homage to Led Zeppelin with a rousing version of "Stairway To Heaven" at the Kennedy Center Honors show, with Zep's three surviving members and President Barack Obama in the audience. For this song, they were joined by Jason Bonham, son of late Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.
It's a good year for Santa Barbara, too, with Heart playing at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Tuesday night (click here to purchase tickets online). Plus, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience will be doing an opening set, and they'll all join together for a Led Zeppelin finale. You won't want to miss this one!
Lead singer Ann Wilson talked to Noozhawk from her home in Seattle about the upcoming show and more, including a moving tribute to her sister, Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson. Click here for Jeff Moehlis' complete interview.
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Jeff Moehlis: First of all, let me congratulate you on being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How does that feel to you?
Ann Wilson: It's great! It's really an honor. Lots of people seem to think it took too long for us to get there, but to me the timing was perfect. We've made a lot more albums since Dreamboat Annie. I think whole body of work is what made us induct-able.
JM: What can we look forward to at your upcoming show in Santa Barbara?
AW: Jason Bonham opens the show with his Led Zeppelin tribute band. Then the Heart show, which I think right now we're doing about an hour and a half. And then we come back for a finale of about four to six Led Zeppelin songs with him playing. Then that's it. It's really fun. People are really enjoying it. People are getting really high on the Zeppelin stuff on the end. It's pretty great.
JM: Many of us have seen the YouTube video of you performing "Stairway To Heaven" with Jason at the Kennedy Center Honors show. Were you more nervous about performing for the surviving members of Led Zeppelin, or for President Obama? Or maybe you were just excited?
AW: Yeah, I was really excited. But I think I was more nervous, if you had to ask that question, about the Zeppelin guys. I just wanted to please them. They were the people who I was listening to when I was a kid. They were my musical teachers in some ways. I just wanted to make them happy (laughs). It looked like the president was happy,
JM: How is it different touring now versus back in the late 1970s or early '80s? Was it a lot crazier back then?
AW: In terms of wild times and all that? Well, yeah, I think that's true. People on the road now are a lot more professional about it, I think. They want to go out and they want to make money, dammit. And they're not going to blow it (laughs). In the '70s, I think there was a lot more of a crazy attitude. People just went out and blew it up and played. Sometimes it's true, they didn't show up. Other times they did. But, you know, people who were really serious about having a career and going on tour are professional, so that hasn't changed.
JM: I grew up watching you on MTV. What are your reflections on that time?
AW: It was a time when all of a sudden music took on another dimension, took on the whole visual dimension. So when you were in the studio making your music now you had to be thinking about the videos, too, not just how does this music sound but how is the whole thing going to be. It became a lot more corporate in the '80s. It was a lot more about image and imaging, and a lot less about art.
Some great stuff came out of the '80s, don't get me wrong. Some cool songs, really cool songs. But it became less artistic, more corporate.
JM: What's the good and the bad about being in a band with your sister? Or maybe it's all good?
AW: Ah, well nothing in life is all good. I would say that the worst part about it is that we know what each other is going to say before we say it. We know what each other thinks without having to even say it out loud. So sometimes you just want to go, "Hey, c'mon, (laughs) give me a break."
But it's mostly good. It literally is mostly good. I mean, I love her. I love her deeply and dearly. She's a great friend as well as being my sister. She's a natural artist, and an original. Nobody does what she does on the guitar or singing. Sometimes when she's out there singing this one song she does — she does an Elton John song called "I Need You To Turn To," just her and the guitar — sometimes I look at her and I just think, my God, she's an angel. Her spirit comes out in this way that is so beautiful. So I deeply appreciate being able to be her musical collaborator.
JM: That's good to hear, because it seems that siblings don't always get along in bands.
AW: That's brothers.
— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his web site, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.