Heart has always been about family, and sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson have always involved their own families in their band’s music from creation to concert. Until recently, that has always been a benefit to Heart as a whole, but one violent moment may have forever tarnished the Heart reputation and may also have long-running consequences. In response to the drama that has been fueled by the incident, both Nancy and Ann Wilson are opening up about what this means for their families and for the future of Heart.
A Heart Concert Goes Terribly Wrong
Heart had been on tour in summer 2016 and made a stop at the White River Amphitheatre in Auburn, Washington, reports Rolling Stone. For Ann and Nancy Wilson, it seemed just like any other concert. The women were heading up a Led Zeppelin cover of “Stairway to Heaven,” accompanied by Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, delighting fans with the classic rock hit, but, unbeknown to the Wilson sisters, mayhem was erupting elsewhere.
The Heart sisters had brought their family with them on tour. For Ann, that included her husband, Dean Wetter, while Nancy Wilson had allowed her twin 16-year-old sons to join the tour. During the Washington show, the boys had asked Dean to show them Ann’s new tour bus.
Wetter agreed to guide Nancy’s sons on a look into the bus but asked them to make sure they closed the door behind them. Mr. Wetter was concerned that the teens would accidentally let Ann’s dogs out.
As the group was leaving, one of the boys left the door open for those following behind, upsetting Dean to the point that he assaulted the teenager.
“Dean became immediately upset and began calling [one of the teens] names … slap[ping] him on the back of the head, causing pain,” reads a court document.
The boy asked Wetter why he had hit him, but this only enraged him further. Dean punched Nancy’s son in the back of his head with a closed fist and the boy later reported seeing stars and feeling dazed by the assault.
When the brother of the first teen tried to intervene, Wetter also assaulted him, grabbing him by the throat and squeezing until the teenager couldn’t breathe or talk.
“[He] said that he was unable to breathe or talk and that he feared for his life and felt pain in his neck,” read a police report of the incident.
Heart Will Survive in the Aftermath, Say Ann and Nancy Wilson
While Stereogum reports that the remainder of the Heart tour was completed with an air of tension surrounding the band, both Nancy and Ann Wilson have pledged that the families and the band will mend the rift and come back together. Currently, Ann has launched a new tour under the “Ann Wilson of Heart” headline, while reports reveal that Nancy Wilson has started a new band, called Roadcase Royales, which is comprised of Heart and Prince band members.
The divergent paths seem to suggest that the Wilson sisters have separated, but Nancy offers hope that Heart will reunite after time has mended the physical and emotional traumas of that Auburn, Washington incident.
“I’m an eternal optimist because I’m from a really strong, tight family, and I don’t think any drama that’s temporary is going to change our strong relationship,” said Nancy Wilson. “We just have to get through this first. It’s been kind of a nightmare.”
Ann is just as positive as her sister and says that, while Heart is important to both of them, they each have to look after their own immediate family concerns.
“I do see a positive way forward and that’s our friendship,” Ann says. “Nancy and I didn’t do this thing. We are each other’s friends and have been and will after this. Right now, we’re supporting each of our families. Nobody in this situation is evil. We have to be like trees that grow around the little imperfections.”
Dean Wetter appeared in court on March 9 and pleaded guilty to two non-felony assault charges in the fourth degree. He will return to court on April 14 for sentencing, though a plea agreement will allow him to avoid jail time. Instead, Dean will serve two years of unsupervised probation, attend both group and individual counseling, submit to drug and alcohol screenings, pay $3,000 in restitution, and avoid contact with Nancy Wilson’s sons.
[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]