Heart and Van Halen's History


When Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart crossed paths with Van Halen in 1979, the brothers Eddie and Alex were at the height of their wild-and-crazy days. Nancy, in Heart’s just-released memoir, says the pair even propositioned her and her sister.

The Wilsons, Nancy says in Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock & Roll, demurred, and the conversation — held at a hotel while on tour — apparently soon turned to music. During a separate discussion about Nancy’s guitar playing, Eddie Van Halen revealed that he didn’t own an acoustic.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: A busy year for Heart began with 'Strange Euphoria,' this terrific career-spanning set that finally collects key tracks from both their 1970s and 1980s hitmaking periods.]

Wilson simply couldn’t believe a player of his skill was without one and, in a moment of charity, handed Van Halen her instrument as a gift. She says Eddie was overcome with emotion and, after returning to his room for a cocaine-and-alcohol-fueled composing session, called her room at 7 a.m. to present a newly written song in her honor.

Wilson, in one of the book’s most vivid moments, describes the “truly amazing” song as a lengthy suite. Van Halen was playing the song from a hotel room so close that she could hear it both through the phone and down the hall. Soon, however, the line went dead, Nancy says. Eddie Van Halen, she now surmises, had passed out.

“I don’t know if he ever played the song again, or even if, when he sobered up, he remembered anything about the night,” Wilson writes, “except that he and Alex didn’t manage to take the Wilsons to bed. But it was the best thing I ever heard Eddie Van Halen play. I only wish I could hear it again.”

Heart’s newest album, Fanatic, is due on Tuesday, October 2, 2012, from Legacy.