Seattle’s First Lady of Rock: Nancy Wilson

Your weekly listen for 10/28/2014 is Seattle-based classic rock band Heart’s monster guitar mama, Nancy Wilson!

Ann and Nancy Wilson, better known as the two front-women of the rock band “Heart”, have enjoyed a long and successful writing and performing career beginning with their debut album in 1976. “Dreamboat Annie”, featuring the two hit songs “Crazy On You” and “Magic Man”, skyrocketed the Wilson sisters to fame as the first women in the history of rock music to achieve success writing their own songs and playing their own instruments. Though neither of these songs ever reached #1, they have stood the test of time and are still frequently played on the radio today.

Heart went on to have a multi-decade career. They had numerous hits in the 1970s and 80s, including “Heartless”, “Barracuda”, “Straight On”, “Never”, “What About Love” and many others. They earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award and have been inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.

Nancy Wilson was clearly not about to be outdone by her male counterparts in the world of rock guitar. Here she demonstrates her virtuosic playing with a variation on her famous intro to the song, “Crazy On You”. I have learned the familiar recorded version of this intro myself, and I can stumble through it at about 3/4 speed. It’s tricky. In the version you are about to see, she smoothly transitions from “Crazy On You” into a blues progression, then to “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” by Led Zeppelin, to the classic riff from “Hijinx”, another Heart song, and finally back to “Crazy On You”. If that isn’t impressive enough, check out the martial arts kick at the finale. This lady is not to be reckoned with!

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