Heart on Their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction: 'We Weren't Sure It Was Real'

'Just when you think rock & roll has a shape, it outsmarts you'

Nancy Wilson  Ann Wilson
Larry Marano/Getty Images
Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart.
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Heart, who have been eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for more than a decade, finally made the cut this year, joining Rush, Public Enemy, Randy Newman, Albert King and Donna Summmer in the class of 2013.

"I wasn't quite sure this was real when I got the news," Ann Wilson tells Rolling Stone. "We've just had this long running joke about it for so many years. But I got the text while I was at the airport and it took a little while to sink in."

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What was your first reaction to the big news?
Ann:
We were just getting back from the Kennedy Center Honors and we were caught up in all that. Then I got the news. I went, "Holy shit! Really?"  

Wow, so you heard right after playing "Stairway to Heaven" for Led Zeppelin and President Obama?
Ann:
Yeah, no pressure or anything. [Laughs] Doing that song for Led Zeppelin was like being asked to recreate the Bible for the Pope. 

Did you have doubts about whether or not you were ever going to get into the Hall of Fame? 
Ann: Definitely. Some people have an idea of what the shape of rock & roll is supposed to look like, and we're not really it. Personally, that's why I think it's taken quite a while. But then just when you think that rock & roll has a shape, it kind of outsmarts you, because it's a rebel.

How does this rank with previous honors you've received?
Ann:
Oh, my God, it's by far the biggest one. By far.

Nancy: It's the sweetest of all things. The band has been working hard and touring for the past 35 years without much stopping. It's really good to go, "Hey, someone noticed."

Ann: We're always out there doing it. We're always onstage. We're always traveling. It can start to feel like you're a tree falling in the forest, but nobody notices. So this kind of acknowledgement is really sweet.

It's a pretty nice lineup of artists this year.
Ann:
I was especially happy for Rush, and also for Randy Newman. Definitely those two in particular.

It's hard to picture that jam session at the end of the night.
Nancy:
I don't think anyone does Rush songs except for Rush. That would require weeks of rehearsal.

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I don't know who exactly in the band they are taking in, but I assume it'll be the Dreamboat Annie lineup.
Ann:
That's speculation. I think they'll be all be inducted, but the performing part might be different because of the whole Ann and Nancy Wilson versus the Heart band. We've been playing with our current band way, way longer than that. You know this is one of those things we'll need to dust off among ourselves. But we're both really happy if the initial lineup of guys gets acknowledged. 

But you're not willing to perform with the old lineup?
Ann:
No. Nope. 

I've seen some very awkward moments at the podium by bands that didn't get along. Blondie comes to mind.
Ann:
I think we're all going to be gracious.

Nancy: Yeah, that's beautifully put. We're notorious for living up to our namesake. We're all about love. That's how we roll, even when it's to a fault. 

It's always a very emotional evening. I think some people don't even realize that until they step up to the podium.
Ann:
That's what someone was telling me. They said that before John Mellencamp was inducted he spent a lot of time saying he didn't care, that it was bullshit. When he walked up to the podium, it hit him right between the eyes and took his breath away. I just know that's gonna happen to me. I get choked up.

This is the acknowledgement of a lot of hard work, and a lot of faith and trying to create something for a greater purpose. People get into this thinking it'll make them popular or get them friends or make them money. But none of those things really end up . . . If you're here long enough it becomes about the joy and inspiration of doing it.