When Ann Wilson Moved Led Zeppelin to Tears

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Ann Wilson Nancy Wilson Kennedy Center 2012

Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson

Since 1978, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts recognizes talent for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts—whether in music, dance, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television as Kennedy Center Honorees.

Among the Center’s 200 recipients since they were started in 1978 are such rock and pop music legends as Brian WilsonStingBilly Joel, Carlos SantanaPaul McCartneyBruce SpringsteenThe Who, and many more. For years, it was strictly a highbrow affair with Honorees like Fred Astaire, Leonard Bernstein, and so on. It wasn’t until 1994 when a more contemporary music icon, Aretha Franklin, was first selected. Since then, the committee has chosen performers from the classic rock era virtually every year.

When the Eagles and James Taylor were among the artists selected for 2016, Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said: “The Kennedy Center Honors celebrates the spectacular talents of artists whose brilliance has left a lasting impact on our society. These Honorees represent what is possible when creativity is not just cultivated, but unleashed.”

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On December 2, 2012, the living members of Led Zeppelin – John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant – were among those chosen to be recognized. And doing the honors, as it were, with a phenomenal performance of “Stairway to Heaven” were Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson of Heart, plus John Bonham’s son, Jason, on drums, and a cast of thousands – or at least several dozen.

The emotional rendition moved Plant to tears – literally. It’s our Classic Video…

P.S. This particular clip has around 29 million views on YouTube. Just wondering: who are the 6600+ knuckleheads who gave it a thumbs down?

In our extensive interview, Nancy Wilson told Best Classic Bands that she expects Heart to have another big reunion tour in 2022. When they do hit the road, tickets will be available here.

Related: The inside story of Led Zeppelin’s U.S. breakthrough

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  1. Handy2122
    #1 Handy2122 11 March, 2017, 04:38

    Ann Wilson, in the top 2 of best female vocalists there ever was.

    Reply this comment
    • Martha
      Martha 2 December, 2018, 01:50

      AND…She was 62 years old when she performed this feat of awesomeness. Rock of ages indeed.

      Reply this comment
    • Lorelei
      Lorelei 5 December, 2021, 14:47

      Ok, who is the other one? To me she has the top female voice of all time 🙂

      Reply this comment
  2. Jr.
    #2 Jr. 1 July, 2019, 20:35

    Amazing tribute to Led Zep. Both the instrumentation and vocals were killer.

    Reply this comment
  3. Dorothy Parker
    #3 Dorothy Parker 3 December, 2019, 09:22

    the video is the pits ,every other minute they have the camera on the president , who wants to look at him

    Reply this comment

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