Thirty-eighth installment in a series exploring very important people in my life.
Let me start explaining how this will work: I listed 65 idols of mine. Every Friday (with the exception of those reserved for the Rock Chain posts) I’ll draw one of the names (following a system that it’s really not important to be explained here) and talk about it.
Therefore, the order in which the names will appear doesn’t necessarily shows where they rank in my preference.
As a final introductory note, this is also not a biography article. I’ll just write how I feel about people represented in it, their talent and their importance in my life.
If you think Rock and Roll is currently a male dominated realm, can you imagine how it was some 40 years ago? It was sexist to the extreme even though we had had artists like Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and the like.
Therefore, it was a necessary a lot of courage and confident for a woman to front a Rock band in such an environment. And that’s what the Wilson sisters just did. Nancy was the guitarist and her sister Ann the lead singer.
Ann Dustin Wilson was born in San Diego, California on June 19, 1950. Her father was a major in the US Marine Corps who even won a Purple Heart for bravery in battle in the Korean War (the medal would later appear in her hands, adorning her excellent covers solo CD, Hope and Glory). The Family moved to Bellevue (in the outskirts of Seattle) in the early sixties where the girls would start their adventure.
Both sisters are very beautiful but Ann always had to deal with a fattening problem and in the beginning, a stutter. That would make her very shy and retracted, until one day she discovered The Beatles.
Now, the Wilson household was always full of music and the sisters always showed talent for singing, but after The Beatles they wanted to play guitars as well and that’s when they joined Heart.
Ann is such a big Beatles and Paul McCartney fan that according to her, when Heart broke up in the early nineties, she sat alone in her house in Seattle and thought: “What would Paul McCartney do in a situation like this?”
Anyway, after being thought how to breathe with her diaphragm, Ann says that her singing improved. And I say she simply became the GREATEST FEMALE ROCK AND ROLL SINGER OF ALL TIME. And she’s like light years from whoever is in second (maybe her sister, maybe Renaissance’s Annie Haslam, I really don’t care). She’s the Pelé, the Michael Jordan or, to please her even more, the Paul McCartney of all women that ever sang Rock and Roll. The great Chicago writer Scott Turow once wrote that Michael Jordan played basketball better than anybody else ever did anything, and I agree. So, to paraphrase him: Ann Wilson sings Rock and Roll as woman, better than everybody else ever did anything.
If you have any doubt about that, just check her live performances, especially her live rendition of one of the band’s biggest singles, “Alone”. All versions are great, but the Alive in Seattle (from their homecoming gig in 2002) is just flabbergasting. It’s probably the greatest performance by a female Rock singer ever.
Mike Amott, guitar player with female fronted Extreme Metallers Arch Enemy also said once that Ann Wilson is the best ever and when I had the honor to interview Metal Queen Doro Pesch and asked her about Ann Wilson, she said: “Ann Wilson is a Goddess”.
And I’m sorry Zeppelin fans, but as a huge Led Zeppelin as well as a Beatles fan, Ann sings all Zeppelin songs BETTER than Robert Plant. Much, much better. Listen to their now legendary version of “Stairway to Heaven” at the Kennedy Center and tell me if Plant once sang it the way she did. I always say that Robert Plant is caught crying on camera during that performance because he is thinking: “I never managed to sing this song like that”.
And let’s face it: she’s chubby, but still has a wonderful face and I would marry her in a heartbeat even today.
Ann Wilson is the single most important person to ever come out of Seattle.
Thus, Mrs. Wilson I thank you for letting me go crazy on you and welcome you to the Hall Of Idols.
Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal” winner of the NABE Pinnacle Awards 2014 Fall edition.
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