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Heart’s Ann Wilson on the ’80s: ‘You Sell Millions of Records But You’re Dying Inside’

Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson
Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images

As they head into their fourth decade of making music together, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart are still going strong; with a tour, new album, box set, and autobiography on the horizon for 2012, they show no signs of slowing down. And although none of those projects are in stores yet, you can get an early glimpse at what’s in store right now — including video of a rare 1976 performance of the Heart classic ‘Crazy on You.’

Vocalist Ann Wilson discussed the book and box set in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, candidly looking back at Heart’s career from the early club days through their massive success on the pop charts during the mid-to-late ’80s. “We put in a lot of miles before we made a record,” she explained when asked how Heart developed its sound on its early albums. “Those early songs had been in our club set for a while and so we were seeing how people reacted to them. We had always been a real band; Heart was never a construct.”

Of course, they still struggled to protect that identity as time wore on — and eventually sacrificed creative control in a bid to stay commercially relevant. Saying making music “became uncomfortable” in the ’80s, Wilson regarded big hits like ‘These Dreams’ with mixed emotions, saying, “It was suffocating, image-wise. What you could talk about in a song changed; if you were misunderstood, you were really misunderstood – taken literally. That’s why Nancy and I felt so stifled, yet that’s our biggest commercial success. But that’s the way s— goes when you sell millions of records but you’re dying inside.”

But Wilson ultimately pointed to the silver lining in the band’s turbulent years, saying, “The good thing about going through all of that is you come out the other side have realized what’s important… I am going to be interested to see what happens when our story does come out.” She won’t have to wait long — the book, titled ‘Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock & Roll,’ is due September 18.

In the meantime, Heart fans still have plenty of activity to look forward to, including the new box set, ‘Strange Euphoria,’ arriving June 5, a summer tour, and a new studio album (titled ‘Frantic’) scheduled for October. Take a look at one clip from the ‘Strange Euphoria’ DVD below — a 1976 performance of ‘Crazy on You’ originally broadcast on Northwest Public Television.

Heart Perform ‘Crazy on You’ Live in 1976

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