Behind the Meaning of the Band Name: Heart

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Recently, on June 19, legendary guitar player Nancy Wilson tweeted about her and her sister, Ann, saying she missed being together.

Famously, the duo were the core members of the epic Pacific Northwest-born rock band Heart. And almost as famously, the two sisters sadly had a falling out. Though, these days, the two seem to be doing well, enjoying music and preparing to, eventually, reunite on stage.

But with the tweet from Nancy, it reminded us here at American Songwriter that it would be fun to dive into a little bit of the history of the rock group, and, more specifically, where their very simple but very profound band name originated.

So, that is exactly what we’ll do here today. Let’s dive in!

Origins

Formed in 1967 in Seattle, Heart’s original name was The Army. Two years later the band changed its name to Hocus Pocus. Then it was White Heart, and finally by 1973, just Heart.

The band’s original members were Roger Fisher on guitar and Steve Fossen on bass. But they were joined by the now-legendary sisters, Ann and Nancy Wilson, on lead vocals and lead guitar, respectively. Michael Dressier played drums and Howard Reese played keys.

These members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

Big Hits

Heart has more hits than most bands, including big rocking tunes like “Magic Man” (1975), “Crazy on You” (1976), “Barracuda” (1977), “What About Love” “1985,” and more. The band has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide, including about 23 million in the United States. They have 10 that charted on the Billboard 200 between the 1970s and 2010s.

Hiatus

In 2016, Ann’s husband got into a physical altercation with Nancy’s 16-year-old twin sons that led to his arrest. The band stayed together for their remaining tour dates in 2016, but the Wilson sisters only spoke through third parties. Following the unfortunate events, the sisters split and have gone one to create their own side projects. (Though there has been news about an upcoming biopic written by Sleater-Kinney frontwoman Carrie Brownstein, another Pacific Northwest legendary rocker.)

In 2019, the sisters reunited on stage for the first time since their hiatus at the Love Rock NYC benefit concert. And now with each passing day since the COVID-19 lockdown, it seems a real reunion of Heart is possible, especially given Nancy’s recent tweet.

The Story of the Name

Speaking of Nancy, American Songwriter caught up with her to ask her about the origins of the group’s simple yet powerful name, Heart. Here’s what she told us:

“The Story of Heart’s Name.

“Two years before I joined the band, it was called White Heart. This was a reference to a Hermann Hesse novel at the time by the original lineup.

“When Ann joined forces in 1973, they decided to simplify the name to just Heart and designed a large sign with the original Heart logo, which was also used on the cover of the first album, Dreamboat Annie, in 1975, the year I joined the band.

“Before I joined the band, I was still attending university and as an avid fan made my way up to Vancouver [British Columbia, where the members were staying and playing regularly] as often as I could to see Heart play in various clubs and cabarets.

“And the big Heart logo sign was something to behold floating above and behind the band.

“In my college girl days, I would gaze at the logo and ponder all the meanings inside of the word Heart. You can find Art, Ear, and Hear inside the name, which was more than appropriate as there was such a soulful woman fronting the band.

“I still think the name is great in its brave simplicity. As a co-founder, I will always be proud of the imprint the name made on the rock world.”

Photo by Epic/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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