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The Heart will go on: Hall of Famer Roger Fisher performing in Edmonds

 

Roger Fisher, a co-founder of Heart, performs April 6 in Edmonds.

The open-E power chord, followed by F-sharp and G chords. Equally powerful, followed by some fancy harmonics.

Guitar heroes know this as the opening riff to one of the most famous intros in rock history, that being “Barracuda” by the Pacific Northwest’s own Heart.

The guy who wrote that riff – which lives on in the “Guitar Hero 3” simulation game – lives in Snohomish County. Monroe, specifically, with his girlfriend, Linda Manning, and their sheepdog poodle, Mojo.

He’s Heart co-founder and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Roger Fisher, who’ll pound that riff and many more when he performs Saturday, April 6, at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

Ann and Nancy Wilson will not be joining the show – that ship sailed a long time ago. More on that in a bit – first, the show.

It will begin with a brief history of Roger Fisher featuring his co-founder brother, Mike Fisher, and into some original songs from the very early days. Then, Roger Fisher said, stories will involve newer music, including cuts off his CD “All Told” and his latest, “Heart of the Blues.”

After the new tunes, kid musicians – ranging in age from 12 to 18 – from Lynnwood-based The School Of Rock will join the Fisher brothers for two songs to end the opening set.

“After intermission, the full band comes out and plays the Heart hits we all know and love,” Fisher said. “It is such a joy playing this music live.”

You know the songs, although not all may be played in Edmonds: “Crazy On You,” “Kick It Out,” “Straight On” and “Magic Man,” for starters. You won’t hear any songs from the 1980s version of Heart, when Roger was no longer with the group, so no power ballads such as “What About Love” and “These Dreams.”

(An aside: Fisher said he came up with the “Barracuda” riff by just fooling around on his guitar. Earlier this year, Nancy Wilson told Gear Factor that the riff was borrowed from Nazareth’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s “This Flight Tonight.” Nazareth members were “pissed,” Wilson said).

You might hear some others. Fisher said his favorite Heart tunes are non-hits: “Mistral Wind” and “Sylvan Song/Dream Of The Archer.”

The band in Edmonds, which is new and making its debut in town, includes Fisher on guitar, natch, and Rick Boice sitting in for drummer Burke Thomas, who was injured in an auto accident March 1. Also featured will be Brian Thompson on guitar and vocals; Carol Ann Wood on lead vocals; Jimmy Cliff (not the reggae star) on bass guitar and vocals; and Marty Hoyle on keyboards and vocals.

“All members are dear friends and great people,” Fisher said.

The band is rounded out by Mike Fisher – whose “Magic Man” nickname led to one of Heart’s biggest hits – at the mixing console.

“Funny that he has a nickname,” Roger said good-naturedly, “but no one ever stuck one on me.”

Founding

Heart has gone through several incarnations and names, including Army, Alias, and White Heart. Roger Fisher formed the band along with Steve Fossen – they attended Inglemoor High School – Don Wilhelm and Ray Schaefer, performing in King County. Fossen now is a member of Heart to Heart, which has performed at A Taste of Edmonds (now called Taste Edmonds).

The band first made its mark on the Vancouver, British Columbia, music scene. Members had settled there after Mike Fisher crossed the border to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.

The group has its biggest success in the 1970s and 1980s. But it didn’t become a musical force until the arrival of sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson in the early 1970s, who wrote many of the songs and helped lead the way for female rockers, along with Joan Jett and Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, among others.

Debuting in 1976 with the album “Dreamboat Annie,” Heart then released “Little Queen,” “Magazine,” “Dog and Butterfly” and “Bebe Le Strange.” Fisher left the group in 1980; he didn't play on "Bebe Le Strange," but shared writing credits on the title track.

Tales of band romances are well-publicized, with Roger Fisher and Nancy (who later married Cameron Crowe of Rolling Stone magazine) being a couple, while Mike Fisher – the band’s manager and sound man– hooking up with Ann.

The original line-up of Heart was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2013.

Today, Heart continues its popularity, as to be expected with a band that has sold more than 35 million copies of its albums. In the Pacific Northwest, Heart is an icon, along with Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana.

“We were musicians dedicated to our craft, that had our ears to the ground, knowing where we stood in the industry landscape,” Fisher said. “We dug deep, both in lyric writing and in song structure and individual part composition.

“Good was never good enough for us, and if we didn’t push ourselves enough, manager Mike Fisher would. He was relentless, and was a major reason we were successful. The songs all have each their individual merit, touching on subjects that mattered then and matter now, with subtlety and wisdom, not to mention a ferocious, not-to-be-denied energy.

“One thing that sets our show apart from most others is, we really take the audience to otherworldly places. Music has the power to transport consciousness to ineffable heights, and we delight in doing that.”

Editor’s note: If you really want to learn about the history of Heart – which could fill an entire issue of the Beacon – grab a copy of “Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock and Roll,” a memoir the Wilson sisters co-wrote with Seattle journalist Charles R. Cross.


Roger Fisher of Heart When: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 6 Where: Edmonds Center for the Arts, 410 Fourth Ave. N, Edmonds Tickets: $30-$60 Information: edmondscenterforthearts.org, 425-275-9595

 

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