Sunday, March 18, 2012

Out in the great wide open, a rebel without a clue (Tom Petty)

Following on from the Baxter Dury post, I thought I'd focus on some more famous parent/progeny musical relationships.

Rock and Roll is such a new musical form that the idea of sons and daughters following in the musical footsteps of their famous parents is still pretty new. I can't think of any grandparent/ grandchildren relationships for that reason (they obviously exist in older music genres like folk, jazz and blues).

It seems to me that it is largely a poisoned chalice being born to a gifted and/or famous musician. How the hell does anyone follow on from a Beatle, or a Dylan?

Impossible I would have thought, but it hasn't stopped Jakob Dylan trying to carve out a career, and nor should it when you think about it, but what must it feel like following in those footsteps?

Some famous rock and roll progeny:
  • John Lennon - Julian Lennon, Sean Lennon
  • Paul McCartney - James McCartney
  • George Harrison - Dhani Harrison
  • Ringo Starr - Zak Starkey
  • John Bonham - Jason Bonham
  • Frank Zappa - Ahmet, Moon and Dweezil Zappa
  • Loudon Wainwright III - Rufus and Martha Wainwright
  • Tim Buckley - Jeff Buckley
  • Jim Croce - A J Croce
  • Ozzy Osbourne - Kelly Osbourne
  • Eddie Van Halen - Wolfgang Van Halen
  • Steven Stills - Chris and Jennifer Stills

None of these sprogs have outshone their famous parents. How can they?

Zak Starkey is a terrific drummer. He's played with The Who and Oasis but he'll never outshine the gear fab Ringo.

A J Croce went for a different genre than his singer songwriter dad but with limited success.

Dweezil has gone for a Zappa tribute show - playing his dad's songs and keeping the legacy alive with quite a lot of success but he'll never actually write a body of work that comes close to Frank.

The Wainwrights, Stills, Dylan and Buckley have all emerged as chips off the old blocks (tragically Jeff, like Tim, also died far too young). They have managed to create niche careers in music - albeit ones that always hover in the shadows of their more illustrious parents.

Others like Jason Bonham, Wolfie Van Halen, Moon Zappa and James McCartney have gone for a more musically obscure role in their fathers' bands which seems to be one way of getting around the problem. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

That leaves the Lennon blood brothers. Problem.

I feel for them both. I really do.

Imagine writing a lyric, composing a pop song, knowing in your heart of hearts that it will immediately be compared to Beatle John; that it won't measure up - how can it?; wondering how much their name and how much their talent secured the record deal and lead people like me to buy their product; trying to live up to an ideal image of the greatest songwriter of the rock era (I'm biased).

Like I said: Problem. But I wish them well. And I'll continue buying their albums (Julian has a new one out soon apparently as long as albums exist.

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