A Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is playing a free show at 9 p.m. Monday at Fremont Street Experience’s 1st Street Stage.
Should be a great scene, but it was an unfortunate series of events has led that headliner, Ann Wilson of Heart, to perform without her sister and Heart co-founder, Nancy Wilson.
In an event that has thrown the future of the great rock band in doubt, the Wilson sisters have split after a backstage incident at a show at the White River Amphitheatre in the Seattle suburb of Auburn, Wash., last August.
According to published reports, especially a detailed account in Rolling Stone magazine, the concert was wrapping with the sisters’ cover of “Stairway to Heaven” when Nancy’s teenage twin sons asked to check out Ann’s new tour bus.
Ann’s husband, Dean Wetter, led the boys and Nancy’s stepdaughter to the vehicle and asked that the doors be shut to keep dogs traveling on the bus inside. One of the twins instead left the door open upon departing, which angered Wetter, who slapped one of the teens on the back of the head, ensuing a three-way scuffle involving the other twin brother.
In court documents cited by Rolling Stone, the father also grabbed both boys by the throat.
Police arrested Wetter, who is 66 years old, and charged him with two counts of assault. In April, Wetter pleaded guilty and was sentenced as part of a plea deal to 364 days in jail, with all the time suspended. He is also to pay restitution, serve probation, undergo counseling and have no contact with the teenagers.
The sisters’ tour concluded in October— they performed 20 more shows — which they described alternately as “excruciating’ and “a complete hell.”
Ann Wilson has since said Heart is on hiatus. The sisters have played weekend headlining shows at House of Blues at Mandalay Bay but have nothing scheduled. Nancy Wilson has formed a new band called Roadcase Royale, with Liv Warfield joining on vocals and featuring Heart band mates Ben Smith, Dan Rothchild and Chris Joyner.
Meantime, Ann Wilson’s new band is made up of Heart guitarist Craig Bartock and other sidemen.
The term both sisters use in the dispute is “hiatus,” and that Heart has not broken up. Tensions remain, but as Ann Wilson told Rolling Stone, Still, both sisters insist the group hasn’t broken up.
“I do see a positive way forward and that’s our friendship,” Ann Wilson 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.”