By MATT PHELPS
Bothell Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
APRIL 18, 2013 · UPDATED 10:49 AM
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. Tonight they will do one more big thing together – officially become “Rock Gods.”
“It is an odd feeling to be in the same club as Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen,” said 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,” said Fisher, who played guitar in Heart for more than a decade. “We were really into music (when we 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,” said Fossen.
The two friends said that they were similar in many ways when they met in 8th grade at IHS.
“Our first conversation was about people passing gas and how, if it was colored, people wouldn’t do it so much,” said Fisher.
Both said 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. All Fisher stole was an eight ball from a pool table and the judge let him off easy.
“Getting busted made me concentrate on guitar,” said 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,” said 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 Mike Fisher, Roger’s older brother, for getting the band a lot of shows and making them money.
“We were successful from the get-go,” said Roger Fisher.
They first found local success under the band name The Army. The two friends formed the band in Fossen’s parents’ office with a hand shake in 1967. The band played a show in the parking lot next to Oestroms in downtown Kenmore. They went on to play shows all around the Puget Sound and their first road trip was to Missoula, Mont. to a place called “The Cave.”
But 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,” said 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,” said Fisher.
Fisher and Nancy Wilson began a long personal relationship, while his brother Mike began a relationship with Ann Wilson.
But the band played bars with Ann WIlson for three years before Nancy Wilson joined the group.
Their first gig was in Richland, Wash. and the friends made enough money to pay off all of their debt.
The band changed names a few times before settling on Heart. Heart signed 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,” said 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,” said 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,” said Fossen. “We all went out and bought cars and guitars and houses.”
“We all got dental work, too,” said Fisher.
The band had great success, fueled by classic songs such as “Barracuda,” “Crazy on You,” “Magic Man” and “Kick it out.”
“For a song to last a long time it has to have significant inspiration and intelligence,” said Fisher.
Their partying was almost as legendary as the songs.
“We weren’t teetotalers but we knew we had to maintain our physical acuity,” said Fisher.
Both agreed the band was focused on putting on the best shows possible – but that they had their fun.
“Each member wanted it to be successful,” said Fisher.
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,” said 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,” said 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 said that in the music business you’re either on top or 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,’” said Fossen. “Then I saw one just like it after I heard we were nominated (in 2011).”
The band was voted in on its second ballot in 2012.
Both have stayed in contact with the Wilson sisters, mainly by sharing email correspondence.
Fisher and Fossen graduated from Inglemoor High School in 1968 and their class helped to choose the high school’s colors – yellow and black – and the Viking mascot.
“We really have a vested interest in this school,” said Fossen.
Both said that their parents were a big part of their lives and success.
Fossen is glad his father, who always told him “to get a real job,” was able to see his success.
“My dad was super proud,” said Fossen. “He had a scrapbook for me and always bragged it up with friends.”
Fossen still lives in Kenmore and was recently added to Woodinville-based Ampeg amps’ artist roster. Fossen plays in a band called Heart by Heart with former Heart drummer Michael Derosier. The band plays Heart songs and Fisher sometimes sits in with his old friends.
Fisher was inducted into the Northshore School District’s Wall of Honor in 2010. He said he hopes his longtime friend will be added soon.
ULTIMATE CLASSIC ROCK
by Dave Lifton April 18, 2013 12:23 PM
When Heart take the stage for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tonight (April 18), it will be the first time the band’s original lineup have performed together since Roger Fisher left after his personal relationship with Nancy Wilson ended in 1979.
Fisher wrote on his Facebook page that he, bassist Steven Fossen and drummer Mike Derosier – both of whom left in 1982 – along with vocalist Somar Macek, drove from their hotel to the rehearsal hall, where they were greeted by keyboardist Howard Leese, the last of the original members to leave, and Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell, who will be inducting the group.
Following an anecdote where Fisher and Cantrell bonded over Alice in Chains, the Wilson sisters entered the room. We’ll let Fisher take it from there.
After a bit more clowning around and some good laughs had, Ann walks in. We hug hard and look deeply into each other’s eyes. There is genuine affection and caring here… both ways. We talk a bit and then in walks Nance. Again, heartfelt hugs and lots of laughter at the “musician comments” going around the room. We’re all pros here. We know that there’s one lubricant without which there’s simply not going to be much fun.
It’s about the vibe.
By now we’ve all dialed in our sounds and are ready. Nance hits the galloping intro to Crazy On You and boom! There it is. There’s the magic. There’s the chemistry. That mix of people, personalities and talent that only happens once. No other mix will ever be this. This ROCKS! This is HEART!
If we had only played the song once, it would have been enough to be ready for the show. That’s how good it is. We go through the whole song about four times, tighten up a few little things, and we’re done. Ready.
As Howard and I play the lead, we look at each other with knowing eyes, recognizing that we’ve both remembered subtle details that probably no Heart tribute band incorporate.
The humor in the room is easy and infectious. Great people here. We all know that same feeling we knew so well when we toured 34 years ago. We’re gonna rock the house!
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