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Family Affair: 10 Musician Fathers And Their Famous Children
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List & Guides

Family Affair: 10 Musician Fathers And Their Famous Children

Passing the torch through the generations, these musician fathers and their famous children share blood bonds and creative genes.

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Nature or nurture? Whichever way you look at it, parents influence their offspring in many ways – and this can be especially true of musicians. There are countless examples of musical Dads passing their talents on to their sons and daughters, so here are a few stories we’ve collected about musician fathers and their famous children. It’s a family affair…

John, Julian and Sean Lennon

Being a father often inspired Beatles songwriter John Lennon. His first son, Julian, drew the picture that prompted him to write Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, while his second son, Sean, was name-checked in the singer’s touching ode to fatherhood, Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy). After John’s death in 1980, his children followed in his footsteps, with Julian emerging as a solo artist in 1984 and scoring a UK and US Top 10 hit with Too Late For Goodbyes. A little over a decade later, Sean also embarked on a musical career, releasing a pair of experimental solo albums before going on to form the psychedelic rock outfit The Lennon Claypool Delirium with Primus bassist Les Claypool.

Must hear: Too Late For Goodbyes

Phil, Simon and Nic Collins

Percussion is in the blood for the Collins family. Phil Collins’ eldest son, Simon, is the drummer and lead singer for progressive rock band Sound Of Contact, while Phil’s youngest son, Nic, is also something of a drumming prodigy. Now unable to play the drums himself due to a spinal injury, Phil has toured as a solo artist with Nic in the hot seat, and the youngest Collins sibling is set to reprise the role for the much-anticipated Genesis reunion tour, The Last Domino? “He plays like me, and he has the same attitude as me,” Phil has said of his musician son. The fact that Nic can drop the drum break to In The Air Tonight just as well as his father proves the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Must hear: In The Air Tonight

Eddie and Wolfgang Van Halen

Guitar legend Eddie Van Halen clearly had high hopes for his offspring’s musical abilities, naming his son after the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. That said, Wolfgang Van Halen’s musical tastes erred much closer to his father’s metal-oriented rock, and he eventually became the bassist for Van Halen in 2006 as well as taking on bass-playing duties for speed-metal stalwarts Tremonti, sharing the stage with Creed and Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti. Upon Eddie’s death in 2020, Wolfgang was invited to perform one of his father’s signature tunes, Eruption, at the Grammys, but Wolfgang declined as he felt uneasy living up to his dad’s legendary reputation. “I think it’s impossible to ignore the legacy my father left on the instrument,” Wolfgang said. “There will never be another innovator like him.”

Must hear: Distance

Liam, Lennon and Gene Gallagher

Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher has already secured his place in the history books as a Britpop icon, but some might say his children are also destined for great things. His son with Patsy Kensit, Lennon Gallagher, has so far enjoyed a successful career as a model by becoming the face of Saint Laurent menswear, largely owing to his uncanny resemblance to his old man. However, Lennon is hoping to break into the music industry, too – his band, Automotion, recently released their debut EP, which features the 20-something reciting spoken-word lyrics over gnarly post-punk instrumentals. Liam’s second son, with Nicole Appleton, Gene Gallagher, currently plays guitar in a band called Grimmo, who bill themselves as a cross between Arctic Monkeys and British rapper Dave. “It’ll be interesting to hear his mix and how he brings all this grime stuff into his version of rock’n’roll,” Liam Gallagher said of Gene’s musical influences. Either way, there’s no doubt this is one musician father proud of his talented children.

Must hear: Mind And Motion

John and Jason Bonham

We all know Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham is today regarded as one of the all-time greats, but the story of his son, Jason, is almost as inspiring. Just 14 years old when his father died, aged 32, in 1980, Jason went on to play drums on Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page’s 1988 solo album, Outrider, and perform with numerous other bands such as Foreigner and hard-rock supergroup Black Country Communion. Jason Bonham’s career highlight, however, was being invited by the surviving Led Zeppelin members, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, to take his father’s place behind the drum stool for the band’s O2 reunion concert on 12 September 2007. “I can’t add anything to the greatest drummer in the world,” Jason said, “but what I can do is represent him in the best possible way.” He was a perfect choice: the concert film Celebration Day proves what a flawless job he did at honouring his father’s legacy.

Must hear: Kashmir

George and Dhani Harrison

It’s well-known how keenly Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison embraced Hinduism and, in particular, Indian music. What’s less known is that he named his son, Dhani, after a pentatonic raga. George and Dhani enjoyed a very close relationship, and when his father died, in 2001, Dhani collaborated with ELO’s Jeff Lynne to complete George’s last album, Brainwashed, playing multiple instruments and singing background vocals. In 2004, George was posthumously inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, so Dhani took to the stage and played acoustic guitar on a rendition of While My Guitar Gently Weeps with Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Tom Petty and Prince. When the video went viral after Prince’s death in 2016, Dhani could be seen laughing heartily in admiration as the 80s pop legend let rip with a spellbinding guitar solo that would have made George beam with delight.

Must hear: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus

The Kentucky-born singer-songwriter Billy Ray Cyrus spent 17 weeks at No.1 in the US in with his country hit Achy Breaky Heart, but he is also the proud father of former teen starlet Miley Cyrus. Starting out on the Disney Channel as Hannah Montana, Miley has grown from child star to 21st-century pop idol, embarking on a hugely successful musical career of her own with a provocative stage persona mixing showbiz glamour with pop-rock panache. Far from breaking his heart, Billy Ray Cyrus has tipped his Stetson to her success: “I’m real proud of her,” Billy Ray has said. “That’s why we named her Destiny Hope. Destiny Hope Cyrus is her name – at least it used to be.” From swinging in on a wrecking ball to reinventing herself as a rock goddess, Miley has become as an unstoppable force in pop music who shows no sign of slowing down.

Must hear: Achy Breaky Heart

Ringo Starr and Zak Starkey

Just what is it about drummers and their sons? The Beatles’ drummer, Ringo Starr – otherwise known as Richard Starkey – fathered Zak in 1965 with his first wife, Maureen. Ringo never actively encouraged Zak to become a drummer, though the spark may well have been lit when an eight-year-old Zak received a drum set from his godfather, “Uncle Keith” (that’s Keith Moon of The Who). Zak would go on to play drums on solo albums by Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle, but his big moment came when he was invited to be the drummer for The Who’s Quadrophenia tour in 1996 – a role he continues to fill to this day. “I couldn’t believe they were going to get back together as The Who,” Zak said, “so obviously, it blew my mind.” A decade later, Zak Starkey drummed on Oasis’ final two albums, Don’t Believe the Truth and Dig Out Your Soul, praising the group as “the most inspiring band I’ve ever worked with”.

Must hear: Baba O’Riley

Billie Joe, Joey and Jakob Armstrong

Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong is one of the most iconic pop-punk songwriters of the 90s and 2000s, so it’s unsurprising to learn that his sons are also doing their part to keep the punk spirit alive. His eldest son, Joey, plays drums for Oakland-based punk-rockers SWMRS, while his youngest son, Jakob, is the lead singer for hardcore punk outfit Danger! When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, Billie Joe Armstrong formed a musical trio with his sons and performed a special cover version of Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now for The Late Late Show With James Corden, broadcast remotely from his Upper Rockridge home. It’s good to know he had had someone to jam with in lockdown.

Must hear: I Think We’re Alone Now

Glenn and Deacon Frey

In yet another story of a rock star’s child carrying the torch for his musician father, the late Eagles songwriter Glenn Frey would have been immensely proud to learn how well his son Deacon Frey is doing at filling his shoes. When Glenn died, in 2016, it seemed like it was the end of the road for the soft-rock legends, who had been participating in a hugely successful run of tours ever since their 2007 comeback album, Long Road To Eden. Remarkably, Frey’s songwriting partner Don Henley invited Deacon to join the band and fill in for his father. “Deacon is a very talented young man, and he seems to be up for the task,” Henley said. “He’s enthusiastic about it and he’s been working real hard on it.”

Must hear: Take It Easy

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