Heart guitarist Nancy Wilson recently spoke candidly about the band’s time during the mid-1980s, when they switched from Epic Records to Capitol Records for 1985’s self-titled album, Heart.
Nancy Wilson explained in a recently edition of Rock Candy Magazine. “We were so full of egotism at that time that we lost sight of where we needed to go musically. All of us should have been a little more willing to realise we were getting some good advice from people on the business side of things. Yet we really believed we knew best and so could ignore anything we were being told. It was a stupid mistake on our part, and suddenly it looked like things were disappearing.”
Following disappointing sales of their 1982 and 1983 albums Private Audition and Passionworks, the band’s then record label Epic Records had “[…] no enthusiasm from the company to renew [contract].” She continued. “I can understand why there were a lot of people wanting to write us off.”
Signing a new deal with Capitol Records, Nancy has no qualms in revealing that Heart “made a conscious decision to redefine ourselves, to reinvent ourselves and to do whatever we were asked to do by the record company or management. ‘You want us in high heels? OK.’ ‘You want me to wear a corset? No problem.’ ‘The hair has to be bigger? Sure, we’ll do that.’”
Heart may have given up artistic control and bowed to record company demands to bring in outside writers like Holly Knight (Heart, Aerosmith, Bonnie Tyler, Rod Stewart) and Jim Vallance (Roger Daltrey, Tina Turner, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss, Scorpions), the hit makers of the day. But the changes certainly worked, as the Heart album made it to number one on the Billboard album charts, staying in the top 200 for 92 weeks. The album would go on to sell in excess of five million copies in the U.S. alone.
“It could have gone so wrong for us,” says Nancy today. “But we did whatever was asked of us and everything came out in our favour. I still feel a little disappointed that we had to sacrifice artistry for the sake of sales, but that was our choice. We knew what we were doing.”