It Runs in the Family
Of course, it’s a bit different from continuing on a dental practice or stepping into a law firm. While a notable surname can definitely help open some doors, beyond that it’s up to each artist to prove his or her own merits.
Surely the hope of any young musician, bred to a famous father or mother, is to step out from that parental shadow and earn popularity in their own right. At the same time, they continue a creative legacy that’s bound to make their mama and papas proud (and offer some good stories to share around the holidays). In honor of those musical chips off the old blocks, here are our favorite musicians’ children doing it for themselves.
As one of the most popular artists in music today, Miley Cyrus is in no way living in her country star dad Billy Ray Cyrus’ shadow. The out there pop star surely inherited some talent and charisma from her “Achy Breaky Heart” papa, but let’s be real: The most defining quality she had to overcome was breaking away from her Hannah Montana Disney fame, and she did that in a very big way.
Photo: Rolling Stone
It can’t be easy to spend your life compared the arguably popular music’s greatest artist ever, but Jakob Dylan has done a pretty good job paving his own path aside from his dad Bob Dylan. The two definitely share physical traits and a love for American roots music, but there’s one thing the Wallflowers frontman can claim on his old man: Thanks to singles like “One Headlight” and “6th Avenue Heartache,” the Wallflowers’ album Bringing Down the Horse has outsold any Bob Dylan studio record to date.
Hank Williams Jr, Hank Williams III
The Williams family is a certifiable legacy at this point: from Hank Williams to Hank Williams Jr. to Hank Williams III, outlaw country runs in this clan’s DNA. Following in the footsteps of the original Hank Williams, father of contemporary country music, can be no easy task. But since his early passing, Jr. stepped up at a young age to inherit the throne, and since III has introduced his own unique style (and sense of humor) in a way that would have likely befuddled his grandpa and made him proud, alternating styles between honky tonk, country, punk rock and metal.
Photo: Boulevard Records
From an early age Frank Sinatra bred his daughter Nancy for the limelight and boy did she step out on her own. As the daughter of probably the 20th Century’s most famous singer, Ol’ Blue Eyes, Nancy’s first single “These Boots Are Made for Walking” made her a certifiable hit, which she expanded on with amazing duets recorded alongside longtime producer and country artist Lee Hazlewood.
Rufus & Martha Wainwright
Rufus and Martha Wainwright are kin to folk royalty. As children of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, who were leaders in the ’70s folk scene, they grew up playing with their parents and also served as inspiration for their material. (See Loudon’s “Rufus is a Tit Man” and “A Father and Son.”) The siblings have gone on to make names for themselves with a sort of creative confidence that they surely inherited.
Singer-songwriter Norah Jones’ musical style is a far cry from her father sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar’s musical works, but she definitely got some skills passed down. While Jones has gone a more jazzy pop direction growing up in Texas — in contrast to her dad who notably collaborated with the Beatles and really made classical Indian music hip in the 1960s and ’70s — she is nevertheless virtuosic and beloved in her own right.
The similarities between ’90s folk rocker Jeff Buckley and his father celebrated ’60s folk musician Tim Buckley are uncanny. Aside from the physical likenesses they shared, the two are righteously renowned for their amazing vocal talents that led to explorative creative work. Unfortunately, as well, they both died young: The elder Buckley passed of a heroin overdose at 28, while the younger — who only met his father once, when he was 8, died at 30 years old from mysteriously drowning in the Mississippi River.