Rock Gods of the Eastside
Roger Fisher and Steve Fossen have been friends for nearly 50 years. They were part of the first sophomore class at Inglemoor High School, shared the same homeroom and played their first gigs around the Kenmore and Bothell area. In less than three weeks they will do one more big thing together – officially become “Rock Gods.”
Both are founding members of the band Heart, which will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on April 18.
“It is an odd feeling to be in the same club as Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen,” says Fossen, who played bass for Heart for nearly 15 years.
Many of the bands in the Hall of Fame inspired the two friends.
“The Beatles changed everything,” says Fisher, who played guitar in Heart for more than a decade. “We were really into music [when they met], but we didn’t have instruments.”
“I would tape my transistor radio to my bike and the first time I heard ‘From Me to You’ I was blown away so much I forgot I was riding my bike,” Fossen says.
Both say their parents rented them their first instruments to keep them out of trouble. Fisher began burglarizing houses in high school and was “humiliated” having to stand in front of the judge with his mother. He had stolen an eight ball from a pool table and the judge let him off easy.
“Getting busted made me concentrate on guitar,” says Fisher.
Fossen’s parents rented him his first bass guitar and amp to keep him out of trouble, too. But he had to get a job at the downtown Kenmore IGA grocery store to pay for it.
“I got paid $14 a week or something,” says Fossen. “I eventually quit because I could make 10 times that or more on the weekends (playing shows).”
The two gave praise to their manager, Roger’s older brother Mike, for getting the band a lot of shows and making them money.
“We were successful from the get-go,” says Fisher.
They first found local success under the band name The Army, playing shows all around the Puget Sound.
When the band needed a new singer they placed an ad in a local paper.
“We placed an ad in the Bellevue American and Ann (Wilson) answered it,” says Fisher. “We originally had two lead singers.”
Fisher fell in love with Ann’s sister Nancy Wilson the first time he saw her.
“We went to Ann’s house and I saw a photo of Nancy and it altered my world,” says Fisher.
Fisher and Nancy began a long personal relationship, while his brother Mike began a relationship with Ann.
The band played bars with Ann for three years before Nancy joined the group. Their first gig was in Richland, Wash., and the friends made enough money to pay off all of their debts.
The band changed names a few times before settling on Heart – and signing to a Canadian label called Mushroom Records. But their relationship with Mushroom Records was short-lived despite the success of the music. The band’s first album “Dreamboat Annie” went gold.
“The record company was holding our funds back,” says Fossen. “They were trying to bribe us to keep going.”
The record then went platinum.
“We were opening for the Doobie Brothers and the Beach Boys,” says Fossen. “(The album) went double platinum and we were still at $200 a week (each).”
The band finally moved on to sign with CBS Records and things changed.
“They passed out the checkbooks and we each got $250,000,” says Fossen. “We all went out and bought cars and guitars and houses.”
“We all got dental work, too,” says Fisher.
The band had great success, fueled by classic songs such as “Barracuda,” “Crazy on You,” “Magic Man” and “Kick it Out.”
In all, Fisher and Fossen would work on five Heart albums, including “Dreamboat Annie,” “Magazine,” “Little Queen,” and “Dog and Butterfly.” Fossen would stay on with the band through the release of “Bebe le Strange” and “Private Audition.”
The band has had about 20 members in and out of its ranks with the Wilson sisters the only mainstays. Both Fossen and Fisher look back on their time with fond memories.
“Heart could not have been what it was without any one of us,” says Fisher, who now lives in Monroe.
Both found it difficult to move on after leaving the band.
“I couldn’t imagine going out and playing in a bar,” says Fisher. “When you are in a band like that people treat you like royalty. It took me a year to realize that I was in the wrong state of mind.”
Fossen says in the music business you’re either on top or at the bottom and there isn’t much in between.
Both were excited when they heard in 2011 that Heart was nominated for the Hall of Fame.
“I saw the most amazing rainbow when we did the final mix of ‘Dreamboat Annie,’” says Fossen. “Then I saw one just like it after I heard we were nominated (in 2011).”
The 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be aired on HBO on May 18.