Many musicians get into the business as a way to escape the legacy of their parents. I doubt John Lennon wanted to be a merchant seaman like his father, nor would I have expected Bob Marley to join the Royal Marines like his. But what happens when you’re born into a legacy of musical experimentation?
For George Harrison’s son, the rule that a child will always pursue the opposite of their parent held. Dhani Harrison initially wanted to join the army or police force in the ultimate middle finger to his hippy dad. However, he soon found himself drawn into the alluring nature of roc and roll.
But there are numerous examples of musical artist’s who have followed in their parent’s footsteps, extending their musical legacy to the next generation.
Below we’ll look at some examples of notable individuals who have treated music as a family business.
6 musicians who continued their parent’s legacy:
John Lennon and Julian Lennon
How could the son of one of the world’s greatest songwriters not occasionally dabble in the world of music? Julian Lennon was born to John Lennon’s first wife Cynthia and decided to pursue a career in the music industry, despite having ocean-wide shoes to fill.
Julian Lennon has had a largely successful career, boasting several billboard hits. His 1984 album Valotte led to him receiving a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist in 1985. Later in 1987, he released his second album, and although critics panned it, it earned Lennon his first number one, with the song ‘Stick Around’.
However, Julian Lennon never had a particularly good relationship with his father and, following his murder, voiced his resentment, saying: “I’ve never really wanted to know the truth about how dad was with me. Paul and I used to hang about quite a bit … more than Dad and I did. We had a great friendship going and there seems to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and my dad”.
Of course, Lennon’s second marriage to Yoko Ono would also see him father a son who would go on to become a musician and Sean Ono Lennon is still making records to this day.
Loudon Wainwright III and Rufus Wainwright
The whole Wainwright family comes from old, old money. Rufus Wainwright’s father, the humourist, folk singer, and actor, Loudon Wainwright, is himself a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, the 17th-century Dutch governor of New York.
Using his self-deprecating style, Loudon began his career in the 1960s and has recorded over 20 albums since. He is best known for his comic song ‘Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)’ and for playing Captain Calvin Spalding on the American television show MAS*H.
Rufus Wainwright (and indeed his sisters Martha and Lucy Wainwright) also dedicated his life to music. He has recorded nine solo albums, has contributed to film scores, and set Shakespeare sonnets to music for a theatre piece directed by avant-garde theatremaker Robert Wilson.
Tim Buckley and Jeff Buckley
Like Julian Lennon, Jeff Buckely had difficulty living under his father’s shadow. Tim Buckley was one of the most revered folk musicians of the 1960s and earned a cult following throughout his career. Tim Buckley, unable to cope with the pressure of fatherhood and married life, left his wife when she was pregnant with Jeff and never returned.
The couple divorced in October 1966, about a month before Jeff was born. When he began singing in New York cafes, Jeff would assume his father’s last name in honour of his musical legacy.
Jeff was continually compared to his father throughout his career. His elastic voice always drew the same comparison, and Jeff grew increasingly frustrated by it. However, the young Buckley has since eclipsed his father’s notoriety. Today it is Tim Buckley who seems the obscure member of the family.
The connection between Jeff and his father takes on an even more poetic resonance when you realise that Tim Buckley’s most famous track ‘Song To The Siren’ predicts Jeff Buckey’s death by drowning.
Ian Dury and Baxter Dury
Anyone who has seen the Ian Dury Biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll will recognise Baxter Dury as the child who unknowingly swallows a handful of amphetamines at one of his father’s more raucous parties. He also features on the cover of Ian Dury’s classic album New Boots and Panties!!.
With tracks like ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’, Ian Dury was one of the greatest lyricists of the new-wave era and one of its most outspoken personalities.
Dury’s son, Baxter, has carried on his father’s legacy with chest-thumping zeal. His voice carries the same cockney inflexions, and he has the same knack for writing in-ya-face lyrics about bizarre subjects. In fact, to a certain section of the public, Baxter’s contribution is far more striking and potent than his father’s.
He recently released a house-infused track in collaboration with Fred Again, and it is an absolute stonker.
Bob Marley and Damian Marley
I could have chosen any number of Bob Marley’s children as they’ve all gone on to have glittering careers, but I think it is Damian Marley who best captures his father’s spirit. Bob Marley needs no introduction. With his socially aware lyrics and pioneering song-craft, he popularised reggae all over the world.
His youngest son Damian Marley is a four-time Grammy-winning rapper, singer and producer. Like his father, his lyrics take the form of social commentary, often focusing on themes like ancestry, inequality and poverty. He also continued his father’s legacy of blending musical styles. Bob Marley’s music combined aspects of ska and rocksteady, resulting in an accessible and deeply rhythmic style of reggae.
In a similar vein, Damian Marley blended dancehall, hip-hop and reggae, which led to him becoming the only reggae artist to win a grammy outside of the reggae category. Like his father, he defies categorisation.