Iconic Heart Vocalist Ann Wilson Discusses Her New Band, New Album and Inducting The Moody Blues Into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Summer Tour with Jeff Beck and Paul Rodgers Coming Soon!

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – If you love rock music, or if it is even slightly on your radar, Ann Wilson needs no introduction. Born in San Diego and raised in Seattle, Ann joined a local band in 1970 called White Heart and after her younger sister, Nancy, came aboard in 1973, they changed their name to Heart, moved to Canada and ultimately became world famous in one of the truly iconic rock bands of their era.

Article by Joe Milliken * Photos courtesy of Ann Wilson

Their debut album, Dreamboat Annie, hit America in 1976 and was an instant success, climbing to #7 on the Billboard album chart and spawning three Top 40 singles with “Magic Man” (#9), “Crazy On You” (#35), and “Dreamboat Annie” (#40). Of course, it was only the beginning, as Heart would become one of the most popular rock bands and concert draws over the next 20-plus years, culminating with the band’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

To put their success in a nutshell, Heart would release 10 consecutive Top 40 albums from 1976 through 1990, including seven Top Ten albums spanning four decades, 20 Top 40 singles, four Grammy Award nominations and over 35 million albums sold worldwide. Their influence spans generations and the Wilson sisters are considered pillars of rock music.

Currently, Ann has a new band and is recording an album, with original Heart producer, Mike Flicker, manning the studio knobs. “This band has been together in its current lineup for a year,” Ann Wilson told Standing Room Only’s Joe Milliken in a recent exclusive interview. “We went right out on the road after just two weeks rehearsal in my home studio in Florida.

“We have forged our identity as a live entity. Very vital, passionate, proficient group of musicians. More like a tribe at this point, the band contains some people for whom touring like this is a new experience. They are not jaded and they make me feel reborn into un-jadedness.”

Ann and her band, which features Craig Bartock on guitar, Andy Stoller on bass, Denny Fongheiser on drums, and Dan Walker on keyboards, are on the verge of releasing a new album which will feature songs by deceased artists “who have departed in the last several years,” including David Bowie, Tom Petty, Glen Frey, and Amy Winehouse. The original working title, PDG (or project dead guys) has progressed to Songs for the Living.

“The idea for PDG came from my manager, Bruce Flohr,” Ann explained. “It’s not a ‘covers/tribute’ record, but rather a way for me to express my gratitude for the gifts these angels gave us while they were on this planet. Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty, George Michael, Amy Winehouse, and on and on. It is a thrill for me to get inside these songs with my band. There will be some special guests on this record, too. We are very excited about it as you can imagine! It also looks like there will be a PBS special this fall to go along with it.”

In October of 2017, Wilson also released a special documentary DVD titled Ann Wilson in Focus, directed by hardcore fan Chriss Cain and focusing on giving the viewer an inside look at Ann’s home, rehearsal studio, tour bus and her new band. “Criss reached out to us. My husband Dean is a great seer and feeler of energy and he has populated our team with many awake, up and coming spirits, and Criss is one of them.

“He is a pure, idealistic, intelligent soul and he feels deeply on the things he loves. He made no attempt to create a glossy, commercial documentary. Rather, he shot from the hip and captured our earliest shows in their raw state. The result is magic I think, there’s been no attempt to fix anything or sweeten anything. It’s an honest, in-depth picture of a band in their initial burst.” 

Ann also just announced an amazing spring/summer tour with fellow rock legends Jeff Beck and Paul Rodgers dubbed the Stars Align Tour. “We have been on the lookout for outstanding opportunities to take this band in front of larger audiences and although a few different offers came to us, none of them seemed exactly right.

“I have always been a big Paul Rodgers appreciator... and Jeff Beck? Well, without fan-gushing too much just let me say that I am honored to be on a show that includes him. Just think, I will get to hear him play every night! I am a fan, all the way from beginning to present and in fact, I walked down the aisle to marry Dean to Beck’s version of ‘Nessun Dorma’ on the Emotion and Commotion album. It will be a challenge for me to remain dignified in his presence, I’ll just say that. He’s a master in the true sense.”

It doesn’t stop there for this iconic rocker, after recently performing at the “Love Rocks NYC” benefit at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, the rest of Ann’s 2018 calendar is booked! “I am singing the national anthem at the Special Olympics in Seattle on July 1st, and playing our own shows until July when the tour starts with Paul Rodgers and Jeff Beck. I will also be inducting the Moody Blues into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in April!”

Ann Wilson and her band continue to work on the forthcoming CD, which is due to be released sometime this year. Fans will also be able to hear many of these songs during their upcoming tour, with a live concert special also due in the fall on PBS Television. To learn more about Ann, her new band, and the upcoming CD and DVD releases, please visit her website at www.annwilsonofheart.com.

Editor’s Note: Speaking of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in Cleveland, Standing Room Only publisher, Joe Milliken, will be attending the ceremony in conjunction with The Cars induction, as well as the upcoming release of his book about Cars’ bassist and co-lead singer Benjamin Orr. (www.facebook.com/BenOrrBook)