Classics Du Jour


The Most Musically Gifted Children of Rock Stars

Julian Lennon
Julian Lennon in 2015. Credit: Deborah Anderson

It’s true – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Many of your favorite rock stars have produced children that have gone into the family business, with varying degrees of success. Below are some of the “kids” that have succeeded in major ways.

01 The Beatles’ offspring

Ranking this list was extremely difficult, so we gave extra points to The Beatles’ children, because each member has at least one child who is making their way in the music biz.

A. Julian Lennon

Arguably the most musically successful of the Beatles’ children, Julian initially led a rather tortured life, due to his relationship with Yoko Ono. Although he was the inspiration of three of the Beatles’ songs (“Hey Jude,” “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and “Good Night”), Julian had a sporadic relationship with his father John and was initially left out of his will. He has recorded six albums and was nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1985 spurred by the success of his #1 song “Too Late For Goodbyes.”

B. Sean Lennon

When Sean was born, father John Lennon became a “house husband” to raise him, which was a much different upbringing than his brother Julian had had. Lennon was only five years old when he was first featured on one of his mom, Yoko Ono’s, albums and became a regular on most of her future recordings. When he was 16, Lennon co-wrote the song “All I Ever Wanted” with Lenny Kravitz. He didn’t release his first solo album until 1998, but has since worked with a wide variety of artists including Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga and The Flaming Lips.

C. Zak Starkey

Drummer Starkey was given his first drum kit from “Uncle” Keith Moon, who was his godfather and his father Ringo Starr’s best friend. After appearing in many bands and playing in pubs and bars, Zak became the drummer of Oasis in 2004, and has basically been The Who’s drummer since 1996.

D. Dhani Harrison

One of the younger of the Beatles’ children, Dhani (39), first appeared on his father George’s final album, Brainwashed. Harrison released his first solo album last year but has appeared live numerous times with many of his late father’s famous friends and has scored the music for several TV shows.

E. James McCartney

The only son of Paul and Linda McCartney, James has appeared on three of their solo albums. The guitarist has also released two solo albums, the last in 2016. He is one of the more private members of the extended Beatles family.

02 The Marley family

The legendary reggae artist Bob Marley had eleven children and five of them have become successful musicians (and we’re not including the grandkids!). Marley gave the older ones a chance to perform with him live, as soon as they were able to be on stage.

A. Ziggy Marley

The eldest son of Bob and Rita Marley, Ziggy is a prolific performer, with eleven live and studio albums. He’s also an eight-time Grammy winner and a children’s author and actor as well. Fun trivia: Marley performed the Arthur theme song from the children’s cartoon series.

B. Damian Marley

Damian is Marley’s youngest son, and was only two years old when his legendary father died, but obviously inherited his musical genes. Nicknamed “Junior Gong,” Marley has four Grammys to brag about and is the only Jamaican reggae artist in history to win two Grammy Awards on the same night.

C. Stephen Marley

Like his brothers, Stephen has won numerous Grammys (8), and continues to be a force in music as both a performer and a producer. He got his start with the Melody Makers when he was only seven.

D. Julian Marley

Julian is Bob Marley’s only son who was born and raised in the UK, although he frequently travelled to Jamaica to spend time with his siblings. He has released three solo albums, and continues to collaborate with his family.

E. Ky-mani Marley

Ky-mani has released seven solo albums and has mainly worked with artists outside of his family. He is also an actor who has appeared in four movies.

03 Jakob Dylan

Imagine how hard it would be to follow in Bob Dylan’s musical footsteps. Jakob bravely did just that and saw major success with his band the Wallflowers, chalking up several hits including “6th Avenue Heartache” and “One Headlight.” His last solo album was released in 2010, but he continues to work with a variety of artists as a singer, guitarist and composer.

04 Norah Jones

Jones is the daughter of Indian sitar player and composer Ravi Shankar, who became a household name after he was introduced to George Harrison by members of the Byrds. Like her father, Norah Jones broke musical barriers and has crafted a sound based in jazz, pop and country. She has won nine Grammy awards and sold in excess of 50 million albums worldwide.

05 Carnie Wilson & Wendy Wilson

Carnie and Wendy Wilson are the daughters of Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and his first wife, Marilyn Rovell of The Honeys. Along with Chynna Phillips, all three reached huge success with their group Wilson Phillips, when their debut album sold over 10 million copies, spurred on by the #1 song “Hold On” which was a worldwide hit. They occasionally reunite, and have released a total of five records.

06 Chynna Phillips

Chynna Phillips is the daughter of The Mamas & the Papas members John and Michelle Phillips. See above.

07 Dweezil Zappa

If being the son of Frank Zappa wasn’t enough, Dweezil’s first single was released when he was only 12, and produced by dad’s friend Eddie Van Halen. Dweezil has been an MTV VJ, an actor, and has released many solo albums and regularly guests on other musician’s records. He currently tours playing Frank Zappa songs, after a long and contentious battle with his siblings Ahmet and Diva Zappa, who run the Zappa Family Trust. (Sister Moon Zappa is aligned with Dweezil).

08 Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley met his singer/songwriter father, Tim Buckley, only once in his lifetime – he overdosed on heroin when Jeff was only eight years old. But it seems that Jeff was born with Tim’s musical instincts and talent, although he too had his life cut short in 1997 when he accidentally drowned. Buckley only released one studio album while he was alive, and never saw its success as his cover of the Leonard Cohen song, “Hallelujah,” went to #1 on the iTunes chart in 2008, selling 178,000 downloads in a week, after an American Idol contestant covered it.

09 Arlo Guthrie

Guthrie is the son of Woody Guthrie, one of the most significant figures in American folk music. Like his dad, Arlo is known for his protest songs and political activism. Guthrie’s most famous work is “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” a spoken blues song that runs 18 minutes and 34 seconds, purportedly the exact same length of one of the infamous gaps in Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes. He was also included on the Woodstock soundtrack with his song “Coming Into Los Angeles.”

10 Wolfgang Van Halen

In 2006, Wolfgang was handed the bassist reins in Van Halen at the tender age of 15, when his father Eddie fired longtime member Michael Anthony. Although the groans were heard worldwide, Wolfgang has proven himself to be more than capable. He is currently working on his first solo album.

Pam Edwards

Bitten by the radio bug early, Pam Edwards first started in broadcasting at her Glenbard West high school station, WGHS, 88.5 FM, in Glen Ellyn, IL. Now defunct, students were allowed to play anything they wanted on the station before and after school. While getting her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration/Marketing at the University of Illinois,...

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