Family Affairs: 10 Rock Bands That Feature Siblings
Most groups start out with typically serendipitous encounters – the random placement of two burgeoning talents in the same high school classroom, a chance meeting at a concert, or the right guy spotting the right ad at the right time. Then there are those bands whose roots begin somewhere close to the cradle, as you'll see on our list of Siblings Who Rock ...
When AC/DC lead guitarist Angus Young needed a shot of motivation, for years he looked to his rhythm guitar-playing big brother. “Malcolm is a big inspiration to me,” Angus has said. That's made Malcolm's illness and 2014 hiatus from AC/DC all the more difficult for Angus, who was born two years before Malcolm: “He keeps me on my feet. I know that if I can please him, I can please the world.”
Guitarist Duane and keyboardist Gregg, born in 1946 and '47, respectively, earned universal acclaim for their work with the Allman Brothers Band, but the duo had played for years together in a variety of bands -- including a high school group called the Shufflers and then in another called the Allman Joys. Gregg later recalled the hardscrabble existence he and his late brother carved out on their way to the top. “We did what they called the chitlin circuit – you know, Mobile, Alabama, at the Stork Club. We worked like seven nights a week, six sets a night, 45 minutes a set.”
The Wilsons, after establishing the Beach Boys as one of the world’s most beloved musical groups, have been beset by tragedy. Middle brother Dennis drowned in 1983, youngest brother Carl died in 1998 after a cancer battle and Brian Wilson -- the band’s principal creative force -- has suffered through a myriad of mental health issues. Wilson rebounded into the '10s for a Beach Boys reunion and his own solo projects, pushing back sad thoughts about his late siblings: “[It’s] not every day," he told Free Republic, "but about once every two weeks I will think about them.”
With over 220 million records sold, the Gibbs combined to sell more records than any other band on our list. After the losing co-vocalist Maurice at age 53 to a heart attack in 2003 and then 62-year-old Robin (Maurice's fraternal twin) to cancer in 2012, eldest brother Barry retired the Bee Gees name, telling the Daily Mail that he suffered from deep depression over the loss of his brothers: “There were times when I’d felt that nothing was worthwhile any more.”
There have been more members of the Black Crowes than you can count on both hands, but the constant has been guitarist Rich and singing brother Chris Robinson, who is three years older. Having started the group (then called Mr. Crowe's Garden) together in high school, the pair grew up together within the Black Crowes: "We were both were going for the same thing but kinda in the opposite way," Chris once said. "But that’s why it works. We’re yin and yang; totally opposite people."
Success can do crazy things to people. After releasing five widely acclaimed records into 1970, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty’s relationship with his singer/songwriter brother John had deteriorated to such a point that he quit the band. Resentments lingered for years, and the siblings never got the chance to reconcile before Tom’s death as a result of tuberculosis in 1990 at 48. Even 10 years after his passing, John, four years his junior, still couldn’t shake the anger: "I have very confused feelings for my brother because there was a time when things were happy," John said. "The best I can say in Tom's case is he was the older brother and the younger brother had a lot more talent, therefore he was jealous even to a greater degree than the other two in Creedence Clearwater Revival."
Trying to make it as two women in rock in the '70s was no small feat. Still, as the Wilsons learned, the task was significantly less daunting with a trusted sister at your side. Singer Ann, older by four years, says her enduring relationship with guitarist Nancy was helped in no small way by a shared gender: “I think most of the time you hear about siblings fist-fighting, it’s brothers," she says. "It’s more likely that a couple of dudes are gonna go at it in that way.”
This Kinks duo is without a doubt the most volatile sibling combination on our list. The adversarial spirit between singer Ray Davies and lead guitar-playing younger brother Dave -- they were born three years apart -- was responsible both for the creation of some of rock’s greatest hits, and for lengthy periods featuring a distinct lack of brotherly affection. This on again/off-again relationship has thawed to some extent recently, but history says we shouldn't expect to see either brother fully embracing the other for long.
While Iggy Pop remains the most recognized member of the Stooges, that iconic proto-punk group could never have been if not for the contributions of two brothers from Ann Arbor, MI. Ron’s atomic guitar power chords combined with Scott’s blunt force drumming to set the template for an in-your-face, almost Cro-Magnon rock sound that ultimately inspired thousands of bands in their wake. Sadly, both brothers succumbed to heart attacks with Ron’s passing coming in 2009 at age 60 and Scott’s in 2014 at 64.
Eddie Van Halen is universally regarded as one of the greatest guitar players on the planet, while older sibling Alex is the drum-playing foundation of Van Halen. But it wasn't always that way: “I got a paper route and bought myself a drum set,” Eddie has said. “My brother started taking flamenco guitar lessons, and while I was out doing my paper route so I could keep up on the drum payments, Alex would play my drums. Eventually he got better than me -- he could play 'Wipe Out' and I couldn't. So I said, 'You keep the drums and I'll play guitar.' From then on we have always played together."