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Nancy Wilson is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist and one-half of the rock band Heart, alongside sister Ann Wilson.
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"Ann and I were always going to end up playing in a band together," Nancy Wilson later recalled. "I just felt in my soul really that I needed to hold that off and experience life without Ann so that I'd have more to bring to the table when I came back."
While she was the newcomer and youngest member of Heart, Wilson immediately made her presence in the band felt. "I started writing right away and we wanted to incorporate the acoustic into the hard rock. Led Zeppelin was an influence on us,
because they had both electric and acoustic. That was our focus. We were going to redefine the band, and we did. We got turned down by every major label, twice, in the process." Finally, in 1976, Heart convinced a small Canadian label, Mushroom Records, to release their debut album, Dreamboat Annie.
Boosted by the strength of its iconic lead track "Magic Man" and two additional hit singles, "Dreamboat Annie" and "Crazy on You," Dreamboat Annie (1976) became a surprising commercial success, peaking all the way at No. 7 on the U.S. albums chart. Heart's 1977 follow-up album, Little Queen, featuring the now-classic song "Barracuda," proved another enormous commercial and critical success.
Other noteworthy early Heart albums include Dog & Butterfly (1978), featuring the singles "Straight On" and "Dog & Butterfly," BeBe le Strange (1980), featuring "Even It Up," and Private Audition (1983), featuring "This Man is Mine."
Although members of Heart have come and gone with considerable frequency over the duration of the band's long career, Nancy and Ann Wilson have always remained the band's driving force—its lead guitarist and lead singer and its primary songwriters. Heart thus enjoys as important place in rock history as the first entirely female-driven rock band to achieve widespread popularity.
In 1985, Heart shifted gears to deploy a more pop-friendly sound with their eighth album, Heart. The result was even more commercial success. Heart became the band's only album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts on the way to selling over 5 million copies. The single "These Dreams" reached No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart, and three other songs, "What About Love," "Never" and "Nothin' At All," cracked the Top 10. Heart's next album, 1987's Bad Animal, nearly replicated that success, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard chart behind the hit songs "Alone" and "Who Will You Run To." Completing a trio of albums that marked the peak of Heart's popularity was Brigade (1990), featuring the iconic single "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You."
After their 1993 album Desire Walks On failed to achieve the success of the band's previous efforts, the Wilson sisters briefly disbanded Heart to form a new band called The Lovemongers. The Lovemongers toured briefly in the Pacific Northwest and released one album, Whirlygig, in 1997. However, the sisters then reformed Heart and released a 2004 comeback album, Jupiters Darling, which received high critical praise but didn't sell especially well. Heart's most recent album, Red Velvet Car, released in 2010, returned them to national prominence and commercial success, reaching No.
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Originally jump-starting their career in Canada, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart broke out onto the American rock scene in the mid 1970s with hits like "Crazy on You," "Magic Man," and "Barracuda." For the next four decades, the sisters would stake their claim on the Billboard charts, selling over 35 million records and cementing themselves as one of the most enduring rock groups in music history.
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