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Ann Wilson goes it alone, picking up the pieces of a broken Heart


One day this week, just before I was to interview Ann Wilson, the hall of fame rock singer from Heart who opens the Marin County Fair next week, I noticed that it just happened to be her 67th birthday.

When she came on the phone, she seemed pleasantly surprised when I wished her a happy birthday, not that she was making a big deal of it.

“When you’ve been alive for as long as I have, after a while it doesn’t make that much difference anymore,” she sighed. “Birthdays are just a mark that you’re still here. Imagine the alternative.”

She was speaking from her customized tour bus, nicknamed Sylvia, as it rolled through the Midwest, heading for a gig at Kansas City’s Uptown Theater that night on her recently extended “Ann Wilson of Heart Tour.” It arrives in Marin on June 30.

I asked her if she’d be doing anything special for her birthday.

“We’re just going to drive into Kansas City and do the gig tonight,” she said matter-of-factly. “There isn’t really time for anything else.”

Oh, the glamorous life of a rock star on the road.

In years past, she would be touring and celebrating birthdays with her singer-songwriter-guitarist sister, Nancy. (An aside about glamorous Nancy: she married music executive Geoff Bywater in 2012 at El Paseo, Sammy Hagar’s restaurant in Mill Valley. She had previously been married for 24 years to filmmaker and former Rolling Stone editor Cameron Crowe.)

As the front women of Heart, the Wilson sisters have sold something like 35 million records with hits like “Crazy on You,” “Barracuda,” “Magic Man,” “Dog & Butterfly,” “Straight On,” “Even It Up” and “Mistral Wind,” among other great songs.

But Heart is broken, and Wilson says it will never be put back together again the way it was when the band rose to fame in the mid-’70s with its unlikely combination of folk influences and hard rock powered by Wilson’s stunning lead vocals. In 2006, Hit Parader magazine called her one of the top heavy metal vocalists of all time.

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