In the 1970s, the rule for playing female artists on the radio was this: One an hour.
They would only play one woman an hour, whether it was a folk singer or a disco diva, says Ann Wilson, vocalist for the band Heart, which plays a sold-out show Monday night at Table Mountain Casino. Its one of three quick shows in California before the band plays Neil Youngs famous Bridge School Benefit Concert in Mountain View.
It may be hard to imagine in todays pop-music world, where female artists dominate the airwaves, but when Heart started playing its brand of heavy-hitting rock music in 1974, it was ground breaking.
The band which includes Wilsons sister Nancy Wilson on guitar rose to fame in the 1970s with a string of singles, including Crazy on You, Magic Man and Barracuda. The band has sold more than 35 million albums, plays to sold-out arenas and is part of the sound track of American culture.
But the sisters never rely on past success, and they push themselves to evolve as musicians, Wilson says.
There will never be a time when well be happy with the five or 10 songs we wrote in the 1970s and 80s, she says.
Its paid off. Heart has found a renewed success. Its 2010 album Red Velvet Car was on the Billboard Top 10 and its latest album, Fanatic, debuted in the top 25.
The last two years have been good to the sisters in other ways as well.
Their memoir Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock and Roll, spent several weeks on the New York Times best-seller chart and will be released in paperback on Wednesday.
The band was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a ceremony this May 36 years after the release of its first album.
Of course, none of that prepared them for the aftermath of their performance for the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors.
The center was honoring the English rock band Led Zeppelin and asked the sisters to perform the finale a rendition of Stairway to Heaven, considered one of the greatest songs in rock history. The performance had the Kennedy-Center audience on its feet and the members of Led Zeppelin visibly moved.
We werent expecting to be asked, and we werent expecting the kind of response we had, Wilson says. It was like having a hit single, basically. And we havent had a hit single in many years.
That performance spawned Hearts 2013 Heartbreaker tour, which had Jason Bonhams Led Zeppelin Experience as its opening act. Each nights show ended with a half-hour tribute to Led Zeppelin that included a recreation of the Kennedy Center performance.
The fans were ecstatic to hear the song, Wilson says. People just love Stairway to Heaven. Their faces just lit up. It was amazing every night.
Tonights show wont feature Bonhams band, but it will feature a full selection from Hearts own catalog of music and a performance that is sure to move the crowd, Wilson says.
Our goal coming out is to make something happen, she says. To wake them up and be awake ourself, to start a fire.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6479, email@example.com or @Joshuatehee on Twitter and Instagram. Read his blog at Fresnobeehive.com