"We would go in there and eat the turkeys and whatever else we found": Heart kept themselves from starving in their early days by stealing Bachman Turner Overdrive's food

Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson in 1977, and (inset) a turkey
(Image credit: Mark Sullivan via Getty Images)

After nearly five decades as a headliner, Heart haven't worried about backstage catering for quite some time. But that was not the case early in their career.

One of the bands opening for the Wilson sisters' Royal Flush Tour this year is Bachman-Turner Overdrive featuring Randy Bachman, who Heart opened for in Canada during the mid-70s. at the very start of their career. And BTO unwittingly helped keep the then-fledgling group from Seattle fed during those hungry years.

"We opened for them right off the bat, one of our first good gigs," Ann Wilson tells Classic Rock. "I just remember going into their dressing room after they had left and it was all OK to go in and pilfer stuff, food out of their dressing room. They had a Thanksgiving spread in there every night; they were living the high, those guys, and it impressed us so much 'cause we were just these little starving musicians. We would go in there and eat the turkeys and whatever else we found."

Wilson also figures that BTO never caught on to the opener's antics at those shows.

The Royal Flush tour, which runs into December in North America and during June and July in Europe, will be a reunion of friends for the Wilsons and their current incarnation of Heart. In addition to BTO they'll be supported by Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Evening, while Heart have the opening spot on three stadium dates with Def Leppard and Journey after the European run. 

"Cheap Trick are some of the funniest people on the planet," reports Nancy Wilson, while Ann confirms that "they're like brothers." Nancy, meanwhile, says she's "just about out of my Rick Nielsen guitar picks, so I better go get some more. I can get my stash back."

Royal Flush is Heart's first tour since 2019; during the interim Ann Wilson released a solo album (Fierce Bliss in 2022) and Another Door with the band Tripsitter, whose members comprise Heart's current lineup. Nancy Wilson's Heart, meanwhile, played shows during 2022 and 2023. The pandemic and "family drama," according to Nancy, kept Heart apart, but at this point the Wilsons say they're on the same page again.

"We just felt it," Ann says. "We thought, 'We're talking, we're fine together, why not?' And I'm in this great band right now with Tripsitter who would love to slide over and be the Heart band. So we just basically put it together and said, 'Let's go!'" 

For Nancy, the new Heart tour, which kicked off last night at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, SC, is "the coolest possible outcome. That's the coolest possible result of the work that's put in, which is a lot of work, thousands and thousands of hours of practice and miles... The playing on stage is worth all of it. That it means so much to people is everything. It's worth every inch of pain you suffer and exhaustion you experience and all the drama that you have to navigate."

Heart – whose last album, Beautiful Broken, came out in 2016 – introduced a new song, Roll The Dice, co-written with longtime collaborator Sue Ennis, at their comeback shows in late 2023. The group have also been going through their vaults and have, according to Nancy, found some songs she hopes to finish and release in some fashion.

Heart: Royal Flush tour 2024

Apr 22: Savannah Enmarket Arena, GA
Apr 25: Hollywood Hard Rock Live, FL
Apr 26: Tampa Amalie Arena, FL
May 01: San Antonio Frost Bank Center, TX
May 03: Thackerville Lucas Oil Live at WinStar World Casino and Resort, OK
May 04: Tulsa BOK Center, OK
May 07: Indianapolis Gainbridge Fieldhouse, IN
May 10: Atlanta State Farm Arena GA
May 11: Charlotte Spectrum Center, NC
May 13: Baltimore CFG Bank Arena, MD
May 15: Columbus Schottenstein Center, OH
May 17: Rosemont Allstate Arena, IL
May 18: Louisville KFC Yum! Center, KY
May 21: Detroit Little Caesars Arena, MI
May 23: Pittsburgh PPG Paints Arena, PA
May 24: Atlantic City Hard Rock Live, NJ

Jun 20: Antwerp Graspop Metal Meeting, Belgium^
Jun 22: Berlin UberEats Music Hall, Germany
Jun 24: Stockholm Grona Lund, Sweden
Jun 25: Helsinki Ice Hall, Finland
Jun 27: Oslo Tons of Rock Festival, Norway^
Jun 30: Clisson Hellfest, France^
Jul 01: London O2 Arena, UK
Jul 03: Birmingham Utilita Arena, UK
Jul 05: Nottingham Motorpoint Arena, UK
Jul 06: Manchester AO Arena, UK
Jul 08: Leeds First Direct Arena, UK
Jul 09: Glasgow OVO Hydro, UK
Jul 11: Esch-Sur-Alzette Rock Hall, Luxembourg
Jul 12: Weert Bospop Festival, Netherlands^

^ = festival show

Tickets are on sale now

Gary Graff

Gary Graff is an award-winning veteran music journalist based in metro Detroit, writing regularly for Billboard, Ultimate Classic Rock, Media News Group, Music Connection, United Stations Radio Networks and others. Graff’s work has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Guitar World, Classic Rock, Revolver, the San Francisco Chronicle, AARP magazine, the Detroit Jewish News, The Forward and others. Graff has co-written and edited books about Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. A professional voter for the Grammy Awards and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Graff co-founded the Detroit Music Awards in 1989 and continues as the organisation’s chief producer.