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Heart's Ann Wilson talks weight bullies, the early days of MTV, and being a woman in the manly world of rock

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Ann and Nancy Wilson, aka Heart, are responsible for the classic rock songs ‘Barracuda’ and ‘Magic Man.’ Now the sisters, who have been playing for over three decades, are telling their story in the new memoir "Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll." Their hard fought battles as women in the boys club that is rock and roll are recounted, along with the origins of all their great songs. 

Ann (the brunette) spoke to FOX411 about her military background, the music industry, struggles with her weight, and ... wind machines!

FOX411: You come from a military family.

Ann Wilson: My father retired as a Major. My grandfather was a Brigadier General and my uncle was a Colonel. It was a Marine Corps family.

FOX411: The press were really mean to you about your weight back in the day.

AW: Yeah I was among the first to be open about it because I was there at the beginning of the MTV era. It was a struggle, now of course people are still giving Adele s**t about her weight. It’s such a worthless critique because really what’s important is what’s coming out of the art, the music.

FOX411: You were there right at the start of MTV. Did you get sick of the wind machines?

AW: Oh yeah it didn’t take long to get sick of those and sick of the music video artifice. At first it was kind of a fashion statement and after a year or two it was like, ‘Can we move on now?’ And that was the most sexist period I’ve ever lived through, much more than the 70s.

FOX411: What do you think of shows like ‘American Idol?’

AW: I think they’re fun but I worry about it because so many people feel like they can go from their own bedroom to a huge career without doing the work, just being on one of those shows and winning. I think people could be disappointed by the music business.

I worry for female artists. There is a higher emphasis on putting on an image and there’s so many ways technically to make somebody sound like they can really sing. The emphasis is more on image now.

FOX411: Isn’t that true for male artists too?

AW: Yeah everyone’s got to dance backwards in high heels too now. The music industry now is not recognizable from what it used to look like.

FOX411: Are you sick of being asked what it’s like being a woman in rock?

AW: It’s one of the most unanswerable questions because I’ve never been a man in rock. I’ve only observed.

FOX411: Did you get a lot of, ‘I didn’t know women could play rock and roll?’

AW: Nancy got that. She would play a show and be really amazing and powerful and somebody backstage would say, ‘Wow, you play really good for a girl. Is that thing really plugged in?’

FOX411: Do you ever fight with Nancy?

AW: We don’t really. We work things out. We found out a long time ago we’re running a business -- besides the artistic part, we’re running a business. We can lose a lot by being at odds. It’s much better to talk things out and look each other in the eye.

FOX411: Is it easy to write songs?

AW: It takes inspiration. When inspiration is involved a song writes itself, you’re really just there guiding things. Some of the more interesting songs come out of pain.

FOX411: Speaking of which, you talk about the experience of adopting a child as a single woman.

AW: You have to jump through hoops that no natural parent would ever have to jump through. You are checked out so tightly. You have social workers coming to the house beforehand, looking at everything, wanting to know everything about your life.

 

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