Ann Wilson is moving forward with new music as a nasty family feud continues to put Heart, her longtime band with her sister Nancy, in jeopardy. Ann has revealed that she is working on a tribute album to her recently deceased rock music heroes, including David Bowie, Tom Petty, and her close friend Chris Cornell. The working title of Ann Wilson’s solo project is “Project Dead Guys,” according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
In a statement about the new album, Wilson said it’s a project close to her heart—even if it’s not about Heart.
“It’s a project very dear to me – a collection of songs by artists who have departed in the last several years: Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Tom Petty and Chris Cornell to name a few. honor these great artists is my deepest pleasure… It is thrilling work and I can’t wait for you to hear what we are doing.”
Ann Wilson has been vocal about the fact that Heart was heavily influenced by male singers and she has paid tribute to some of her favorite male singers in the past. In 2016, Ann performed David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” at The Music of David Bowie concert at Radio City Music Hall. In addition, Ann famously paid tribute to late Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell by performing “Black Hole Sun” on Jimmy Kimmel Live a few days after he died.
Ann Wilson will work with longtime Heart producer Mike Flicker on the “Project Dead Guys” tribute album, but that doesn’t mean her sister Nancy will have anything to do with it. The famous sisters have been estranged for more than a year.
Ann and Nancy Wilson shot to fame in the 1970s and ’80s as part of Heart. The singing sisters recorded hits including “Magic Man,” “Barracuda,” and “What About Love.” The Wilson sisters’ incarnation of the popular rock group remained active from 1974 until 2016, when a family fight stopped the group in its tracks. In the summer of 2016, Ann’s husband, Dean Wetter, whom she married in 2015, was arrested for assaulting Nancy’s twin teen sons on a tour bus. Amid the drama, the Wilson sisters finished out their tour but utilized separate dressing rooms for 20 grueling shows.
Court documents and a police report obtained by Rolling Stone revealed that in during a Heart concert in Washington, Wetter became enraged when one of Nancy Wilson’s 16-year-old sons left the tour bus door open after he asked them to keep it closed. Wetter reportedly slapped Nancy’s son on the back of the head and punched him with a closed fist, then grabbed him by the throat before Wilson’s other son intervened. Wetter then allegedly squeezed the second boy’s throat to the point that he could not breathe. Ann Wilson’s husband was arrested and later pleaded guilty to two non-felony assault charges.
Ann Wilson later told Rolling Stone the incident between her husband and nephews was “overblown,” and that she felt that calling the police was “totally unnecessary.” Ann told the rock magazine that the incident could have “been worked out in a family meeting, but instead, it just went ballistic.”
But Nancy Wilson begged to differ, saying in a statement, “As much as my sister would have liked to solve this as a family matter, it is categorically against the law not to report any violence against minors.”
Of course, even in happier times there was always a competition between the Wilson sisters. In an interview with Believer magazine, Nancy Wilson revealed that Ann was a little jealous when Heart’s first No. 1 single turned out to be one that she sang the lead vocal on.
“The first time we had a number one song, it was ‘These Dreams’—which happened to be a song I did the lead vocal on,” Nancy said. “That was very strange for us, and especially daunting for Ann: she’d started the band, and then her little sister came along with the first huge single…She joked that she’d give me her firstborn child to get that song from me.”
After a 40-year musical partnership, Ann and Nancy Wilson began working separately over the past year. Ann Wilson is currently performing in the Ann Wilson of Heart tour, while Nancy went on to form Roadcase Royale. There is no word if Nancy will perform on Ann’s “Project Dead Guys” album.