Nancy Wilson – Born On This Day, 1954

On the 16th of March, 1954, Nancy Wilson, an American musician, singer, and songwriter, was born in San Francisco. She rose to fame alongside her older sister Ann, as a guitarist, and occasionally, the lead vocalist in the rock band Heart.

Nancy Wilson is celebrated as one of the seminal musicians in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. A guitar virtuoso from the age of 10, Nancy (and her sister Ann) lead the multi-platinum rock group Heart (35 million records sold). Nancy is revered as an ingenious guitar player and as a gifted lead vocalist. She is singing Heart’s first Number One hit, “These Dreams”, which became Heart’s first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100.  

As a songwriter, Nancy has co-written a collection of songs that have earned their way into the classic rock canon (Magic Man, Crazy on You, Barracuda, Straight On).

During an era when females in rock n’ roll were scarce, Nancy helped carve out a place for women to front a band and dominate a rock stage. Her “icon” status was confirmed when Heart was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. That same year, she and her sister received a Star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

Nancy has also built a successful career as a film composer. Her composing credits include scores for the Cameron Crowe films:

1989 – Say Anything…

2000 – Almost Famous

2001 – Vanilla Sky

2005 – Elizabethtown

1995 – Jerry Maguire (main theme)

Early influences:

On February 9, 1964, Wilson and her sister Ann saw The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show, a moment they each recalled as being profoundly influential: “The lightning bolt came out of the heavens and struck Ann and me the first time we saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show… There’d been so much anticipation and hype about The Beatles that it was a huge event, like the lunar landing; that was the moment Ann and I heard the call to become rock musicians. I was seven or eight at the time… Right away, we started doing air guitar shows in the living room, faking English accents, and studying all the fanzines.”

HeartNancy and Ann Wilson, photo: Getty Images