Promotional portrait of the rock group Heart, including: (L-R) Mark Andes, Denny Carmissi, Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson and Howard Leese, circa 1980s. (Photo by Neil Preston/Epic/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In the early-1990s, Seattle was celebrated as the incubator of the grunge sound with bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden finding fame. Long before that, the city was already producing some great rock acts. Seattle was the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix but he rose to prominence in New York City and London. However, another influential act was emerging in Seattle during the late-1960s — Heart.

The band first came together in 1967 and was known by multiple names, including The Army, Hocus Pocus, and White Heart. Finally, in 1973, they officially settled on Heart. And while sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson have long been the faces of the group, it wasn’t until 1974 that they were both officially in the lineup.

Heart got up and running north of the border in Vancouver, Canada. After enjoying their initial run of success in the 1970s, the group began to splinter with the departure of brothers and founding members Roger and Mike Fisher. The Wilson sisters lost some traction in the early 1980s. More personnel changes followed but the biggest adjustment to come would be the band’s overall sound.

Heart Finds A New Beat

In 1985, the group signed with Capitol Records and, in doing so, found a new rhythm. By re-calibrating their sound, as well as their hair, the band leapt to the top of the Billboard charts over the next five years with their albums Heart (1985), Bad Animals (1987), and Brigade (1990).

Heart was enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Incidentally, they were inducted by singer Chris Cornell of the aforementioned Soundgarden. The Wilson sisters continue to headline big arena shows and are bringing their Royal Flush Tour with Cheap Trick to Charlotte’s Spectrum Center on May 11th.

For this edition of the Throwback Threesome, here are three of the band’s biggest singles from their mid-80s renaissance.

  • What About Love (1985)

    Released as the first single from Heart’s 1985 self-titled album, this song was originally recorded by a Canadian group called Toronto in 1982. However, Toronto didn’t release “What About Love” at the time and the song found its way to Heart, who turned it into a top-ten hit. It was the beginning of the band’s second big run of success. Although not in the video, Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas of Starship provided background vocals on the recording. According to Songfacts, this was the first Heart video to get significant airplay on MTV. It was also the band’s first song to chart in the UK, where it reached number 14.

  • These Dreams (1986)

    Heart finally topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts with this one. “These Dreams” was released in 1986 as the third single from the Heart album. The song was written by Martin Page and Elton John’s longtime lyricist, Bernie Taupin. The two songwriters had previously collaborated on Starship’s number one hit, “We Built This City.” They had initially offered “These Dreams” to Stevie Nicks, and then to Kim Carnes. After both had passed on the power ballad, it was presented to Heart and the rest is rock & roll history.

  • Alone (1987)

    Heart was on a hot streak when they released their next album, Bad Animals, in 1987. Having found a winning formula with power ballads, the band took “Alone” to number one in the U.S. and Canada, as well as the top ten in Australia and across Europe. Before Heart got a hold of it, the song had been recorded by actress Valerie Stevenson and actor John Stamos on the original soundtrack of the short-lived CBS sitcom, Dreams, in 1984. “Alone” was written by the prolific team of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, who were also behind such hits as “Like a Virgin” by Madonna (1984), “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper (1986), “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles (1989), “So Emotional” by Whitney Houston (1987), and the unforgettable “I Touch Myself” by Divinyls (1990).

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