Monday, October 27, 2014

Heart, The #74 Artist of the Seventies*

Although this group didn't hit the big time until 1976, they got their start in the 60's.  In 1967 (some sources state 1963), bassist Steve Fossen and guitarist Roger Fisher formed the group The Army in the Seattle area.  They changed their name to White Heart in 1969, then simply Heart in 1970. 

Lead singer Ann Wilson joined shortly afterwards, and the band renamed themselves Hocus Pocus.  Mike Fisher, Roger's brother, was about to be drafted into the U.S. Army, but he fled to Canada and was a Vietnam War "draft dodger".  One day, Mike crossed the border to visit his family, and met Ann at a show.  The two fell in love, and Ann followed Mike back to Canada. 

Fossen graduated from college and also moved to Canada in 1972, and Roger followed shortly afterwards.  At that point, the group Heart was officially formed.  Nancy Wilson joined in 1974, and soon became romantically involved with Roger.

Heart played several shows around their new home of Vancouver, British Columbia, and recorded a demo tape with producer Mike Flicker.  Session guitarist and keyboard player Howard Leese, who played on the demo, soon became a full-time member.

The group recorded their debut album, Dreamboat Annie, at Mushroom Studios in Vancouver, with drummer Mike DeRosier also eventually joining Heart.  The investors who backed the studio also owned the record label Mushroom Records.  Mushroom picked up the album, and it sold 30,000 copies in Canada in a few short months.
Buoyed by the initial success, Mushroom released the album in the United States.  The first single, "Crazy On You", stalled at #35, although we of course know it today as one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*.  

Heart toured extensively in support of the song, supporting another Canadian group, Bachman-Turner Overdrive.  While "Crazy On You" was overlooked at the time, Heart's next single was not.  "Magic Man" was their breakthrough hit, reaching #9 in the U.S., although even that wasn't near as high as it should have been--many radio stations took it to #1.

The title song was also a bit underrated at #42--it did reach #17 on the Adult chart.
Another Top Track* on the album is "Sing Child". As most Heart fans know, the Wilson sisters idolized Led Zeppelin, and Heart surely show their "Led Zeppelin roots" on this song.
Dreamboat Annie went Platinum, and Heart was on its way.  The group broke its contract with Mushroom and signed with CBS affiliate Portrait Records.  This led to a prolonged legal confrontation with Mushroom, which released the album Magazine, which was only partly finished, in 1977.  But a Seattle, Washington court forced Mushroom to recall the album so Heart could remix and finish the album.  It was eventually re-released in 1978. 

Meanwhile, Heart released the album Little Queen on Portrait.  The single gave them another of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era* in "Barracuda", which peaked at #11 despite leading the album to Triple Platinum status. 

"Kick It Out" was also released as a single from Little QueenThe Top Track* is featured here as we salute The #74 Artist of the Seventies*.

Ann & Nancy appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine in July of 1977.  Magazine was re-released, and contained the single "Heartless", which stalled at #24.  The album eventually went Platinum.

The group earned great exposure when they performed at the Texxas Jam in 1978 before 100,000 people.   Later in the year, Heart released the album Dog and Butterfly.  The single "Straight On" led the way, peaking at #15.

Dog and Butterfly has now gone Double Platinum.  The title song reached #34.

Heart was becoming one of the major forces in the music business, with the superb guitar work of Roger Fisher and the dynamic talents of the Wilson sisters.  But in 1979, both romantic relationships ended, and Roger was voted out of the band, a move that would cost the group as they moved forward.  Mike left the group within a month as well.

Heart scored ten hits in the Seventies, and sold seven million albums in the decade.  The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

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