In a wide-ranging interview for this week's issue of PEOPLE, the Heart guitarist opens up about finding lasting love after her difficult divorce

By Brianne Tracy
May 12, 2021 02:00 PM
Advertisement
nancy wilson
Nancy Wilson
| Credit: RICHARD STEEL IMAGES

Nancy Wilson is thankful she no longer needs to get by on her own.

In this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, the iconic Heart guitarist, 67, opens up about finding the love of her life in husband Geoff Bywater after her difficult 2010 divorce from Jerry Maguire director Cameron Crowe.

"[The divorce] was really a sad time because I didn't know how to get through it," says Nancy. "But now it's definitely okay, because what it brought to me was my new relationship with Geoff, which is everything I always wanted."

Getting to this place hasn't be an easy road for Nancy, who waited two years after separating from Crowe, 63, in 2008 to officially file for divorce.

"I was holding out because I thought we could fix it," she says. "And I was from a family where my mom and dad were such devoted people. In my mind, I thought that was the standard by which my life should be lived and my relationships should meet up to. So, when it wasn't working, and I couldn't fix it, I was devastated."

Nancy first met Crowe in 1982. That same year, Nancy appeared in the then-fledgling screenwriter's coming-of-age film Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

After four years together, Nancy and Crowe got married in 1986. Then in 2000, after years of fertility struggles, Nancy welcomed their twin sons Curtis and William via surrogate and egg donor.

"When I arrived at the hospital to meet them, it was just an unbelievable, magical, beautiful thing," she says. "It was them that I had always wanted, and they were finally with me. I made sure that they knew it makes no difference whether or not they came from my egg. Nurture is just as important as the nature."

RELATED VIDEO: Say Anything…: "In Your Eyes" Was Actually the Second Choice for Boombox Scene

After welcoming their sons, Nancy says a fissure started to form in her relationship with Crowe, who had found major success through the years thanks to films like Say Anything... and Almost Famous.

"He was super focused on his career, which was a good career," she says. "And I worked on a lot of those films, like Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire, Vanilla Sky, Singles, and Say Anything... But I think our relationship became more about the work than about a real relationship, and we lost track of each other inside the work."

In the end, Nancy realized it "was just not meant to be," and she and Crowe made the decision to separate in 2008.

"At the time, I was on the road with Heart, and backstage at one show, some fan guy came up to me like, 'Hey, I heard you're getting a divorce. Do you want to marry me?' Stuff like that hits you hard when you're not ready, but you just got to soldier on."

Nancy kept that mindset in 2016 when a rift formed between her and sister and bandmate Ann, 70, after Ann's husband, Dean Wetter, assaulted Nancy's then-16-year-old sons during a Heart show, after the boys reportedly left a tour bus door open. (Wetter pleaded guilty to two nonfelony assault charges.)

"Heart was stalled out for about three years in order to regain our balance," says Nancy. "But 'blood is thicker than water' has always rung true with me."

heart
Ann and Nancy Wilson
| Credit: David Mcgough/LIFE picture collection/getty

In 2019, Nancy performed with her sister for the first time since the incident at a benefit show in N.Y.C.

"When I saw Ann at soundcheck I made a point to walk right up and give her a great big hug," she says. "Our natural closeness kicked right in again like clockwork."

After all the ups and downs, Wilson is grateful life brought her to Bywater, whom she met through her manager and reconnected with in 2011.

"I had my manager come with me on the first dinner I had with him," she says. "I just was too nervous to go on a date after 20 plus years of the stability of marriage. It was way scary."

"The second date was with my attorney and his wife," she adds with a laugh. "By the third date I finally was brave enough to just drag myself to see him. I told him, 'Don't pick me up. I'm driving myself.' I wanted to be able to make a clean getaway if I needed to. It took me a while to have any kind of trust in the situation, but it was a perfect union, I've got to say."

nancy wilson and husband geoff bywater
Geoff Bywater and Nancy Wilson

They wed in 2012, and "between his kids and mine, we're like the Brady Bunch," Nancy says of Bywater, who has four children with his ex-wife. "It's a healthy, full-blooded relationship. He's my protector, and that helps me in the world."

With Bywater by her side, Nancy feels more invigorated than ever. In addition to promoting her new debut solo album You and Me released last week, she plans to head back on tour with Heart next year, and a biopic about the Wilson sisters is in the works.

"I'm excited!" Nancy says of her jam-packed future. "But in the meantime I want to walk on a beach, get my hands in dirt and just keep being creative." 

For all the details on Nancy Wilson's life and loves, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.