The Wilson sisters' epiphany came on Feb. 9, 1964, when — at their grandmother's apartment in La Jolla — they watched The Beatles' U.S. television debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Nancy was 9. Ann was 13. Their lives would never be the same again.
"Our goal was that we were going to be in The Beatles," Nancy Wilson recalled. "We were not going to date The Beatles or marry The Beatles, but to be The Beatles. We already knew how to harmonize from singing with our aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.
"The Beatles' 'Ed Sullivan' performance was not long after the JFK assassination and the whole world was crying, because the innocence we had before then had been murdered on many levels. So, I think part of the impact of seeing The Beatles on TV was that they provided a breath of fresh air and showed everyone a brand-new kingdom of joy that the world really needed at the time. That was a big shot in the arm."
The continuing influence of The Beatles is evident in Wilson's new song "The In Between," and in the musical textures of her version of Pearl Jam's "Daughter." An even more pronounced inspiration is Neil Young, whose influence is clear on two other new Wilson songs, "The Dragon" and the title track of "You and Me," a gentle tribute to Wilson's late mother, Lois, that in places evokes Young's rustic 1978 classic "Comes a Time."
"Oh, wow. Neil is huge in my book," Wilson affirmed. "I play acoustic guitar the way I do because Neil started it all. He plays it like a percussion instrument and I've always taken that approach. At first on 'The Dragon' I would bounce a pencil on the strings. But it was too hard to control, so I had to figure out another way.
"It's influences like Neil, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and (Led Zeppelin's) Jimmy Page — on acoustic and electric guitars — that I've taken a lot of my musical style and language from."
"Ann and I pretty much know every song ever written!" she said.
"The one thing we really imitated were the songwriters, like Paul Simon and The Beatles, and the groups with really good vocal harmonies, like Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles and The Association. So, yeah, you could say that the stuff we chose to imitate when we were starting out is what we ended up creating our own music from later on."
Nancy Lamoureaux Wilson
Born: March 16, 1954, in San Francisco
First major concert attended: The Beatles, Aug. 25, 1966, in Seattle
First band: The Viewpoints (1967)
First recording: "Through Eyes and Glass" by Ann Wilson and The Daybreaks (1969, co-written by Ann and Nancy Wilson)
Subsequent bands: Rapunzel, Hocus Pocus
First album with Heart: "Dreamboat Annie" (released in 1975 in Canada and 1976 in the U.S.)
First U.S. Top 10 single: "Magic Man" (1975)
Highest charting albums: "Heart" (No. 1, 1985), "Bad Animals" (No. 2, 1987), "Brigade" (No. 3, 1980), "Bébé le Strange" (No. 5, 1980)
First unofficial solo album: "Nancy Wilson Live at McCabe's Guitar Shop, 1999"
First official solo album: "You and Me" (will be released Friday)
Film composing credits: "Almost Famous" (2000) "Vanilla Sky" (2001), "Elizabethtown" (2005)
Married: To Cameron Crowe (from 1986 to 2010) and to Geoff Bywater (since 2012)
Children: Sons William and Curtis, both born in 2000, and stepdaughters Julia and Grace
Memorable quote, No. 1: "If we actually get inducted, I'll eat my hat!" (After Heart was first nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011)
Memorable quote, No. 2: "Roughly chopped and sautéed with a little butter, garlic and white wine." (After she learned the band would be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013)
Coming up: Amazon is now developing a Heart biopic, with a screenplay by "Portlandia" TV star Carrie Brownstein.©2021 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.