“All my life, I’ve been told girls can’t do this. If girls can play cello in a symphony, they can play guitar,” said Joan Jett.
Jett and her Blackhearts weren’t the only group that struggled with discrimination. Jett fought back and eventually formed her own record label.
Congratulations to Jett and now also to Ann and Nancy Wilson, girls you came out fighting in the ring of the largely male-dominated music industry and rose above all the insults, sexist attitudes, poor reviews and humiliations.
What might have been too unbearable for many female musicians to cope with was just the perfect challenge for the Wilson sisters who today continue to be the leaders of one of the most popular and respectable rock and roll bands, Heart.
The Wilson sisters are very much alive and still kicking out album after album, embarking on tours, pleasing fans with their graceful ballads and hard-hitting lyrics. Their recent album, “Fanatic,” was released last year.
It’s their creativity and honesty which still inspire many people —men and women, both the young and old — who can now delve further into the lives of the Wilson sisters by exploring “Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock and Roll.”
Their story is very moving and at times quite heart-breaking but they deliver a unique kind of humor that has helped them to stay strong and independent.
They take music seriously but most importantly to heart. There’s a chapter where Ann and Nancy focused on the power behind the music of the Beatles.
The sisters were excited, almost like scholars, studying them, searching for meaning and identity.
They were swept away with the British invasion. They wanted to be the Beatles, not the girlfriends or wives of the Fab Four.
Those other screaming girls would work themselves up into a frenzied trance, while the Wilson sisters wanted to imitate the Beatles.
The sisters wanted to compose their own songs, sing them and play their own instruments up front and in the lead.
Their story is really about family, the close ties shared by three sisters, Lynn, the eldest, Nancy and Ann; their parents, Lou Mary Dustin and John; plus many who were associated in some way with the band throughout the years.
It’s interesting to see how the sisters and different individuals, band members, managers, producers, relatives and friends – all took part in authoring sections of the book.
They present their own recollections of past events that had an effect on the sisters’ personal lives, involvement with the band, being brave in having to move frequently due to their father serving in the Marines, overcoming childhood battles - such as Ann’s stuttering and weight issues, divorce, drugs and alcoholism.
Heart always impresses me personally. Their influences are many, especially worshipping Led Zeppelin, it has been said that Ann can belt out any song as great as Robert Plant can, and honoring them by recording many Led Zeppelin’s cover songs on Heart albums.
The entire Heart crew has matured from an obscure band that got its start in Vancouver, to a group that has composed many memorable songs, such as “Crazy on You,” “Alone,” “Magic Man,” “Heartless,” “Barracuda,” “Dreamboat Annie” and other numerous hits.
The Wilson sisters will never forget their early beginnings opening for Rod Stewart, The Rolling Stones and additional rock bands.
From the 1970s to the present, Heart is one group that has always listened to the beat of a distant drum and never feared going against the flow.
Cheers also to the Wilson sisters and Heart for the honor of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Fans can catch the ceremony that originally took place last month when it airs May 18 on HBO.
Carol A. Wright is a freelance writer and a former Manhattan resident.