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10 famous musical fathers and sons

Jun 16, 2016

Drummers, pop-punks, reggae singers, and more chips off the musical block.

Photo: John Bonham and Jason Bonham.

Growing up with a famous musician isn’t everyone’s real life, but for some it is all they’ve known. While many kids remain tone deaf and terrible, some lucky souls end up running with the same musical gift as their notable dads.

Now, with Father’s Day creeping up, a list of those father-son music staples seems fitting. Here are some of the best father-son musicians of past and present, and what they’re up to now.

Max Weinbger / Jay Weinberg

Max Weinberg, the longstanding drummer of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, has been the backbeat of the band since 1974. His son Jay is currently the drummer for Slipknot, and it was Max who first introduced him to the metal band when he was just 10 years old.

Jay’s played in bands including The Reveling, Against Me!, and Hesitation Wounds, with the latter set to release their debut album, Awake For Everything, on May 27. You can stream it here. Jay is the second drummer for Slipknot, a band where he plays alongside guys twice his age.

As for Weinberg senior, the legendary drummer and humanitarian is currently on again with The Boss as part of The River tour. The New Jersey native also finds time to perform in the Max Weinberg Quintet, the 15-piece Max Weinberg Big Band, and the 23-piece Max Weinberg Orchestra.

Billie Joe Armstrong / Joey Armstrong / Jakob Armstrong

The Armstrong family has no shortage of musicians with of course papa Billie being the inaugural force. Green Day’s Dookie will forever be a punk staple and in 2015 the band was inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame plus released a doc, Heart Like a Hand Grenade, based on the making of the American Idiot album.

As for Billie’s sons: Joey currently plays drums in the band SWMRS, who’ve opened for Wavves, and released a track called “Miley” where they sing about former “Hannah Montana” being a “punk rock queen.” Punk rock doesn’t come to mind when thinking of Miley Cyrus, but we’ll just side-step that and stay sane.

The youngest of the family, 17-year-old Jakob, has released his own Strokes-meets-Surfer Blood music. The brothers even worked together on two tracks “Don’t Try” and “King of the World,” both of which Jakob wrote.

Bob Marley / Ziggy Marley / Stephen Marley / Damian Marley

Bob Marley was a prophet, providing the universe with a myriad of contemplations, all achieved through the power of his music and social prose. This gift of reggae and realism was passed down to some of his 11 kids, particularly Ziggy, Stephen, and Damian.

Ziggy, the first-born, told GQ he sees himself as a “voice of reason” to his siblings and has seven Grammy’s to his name. He recently released his sixth studio album (Ziggy Marley), which follows his 2014 Grammy-winning album, Fly Rasta. In addition to music, he has a new line of savvy-conscious vaporizers, O.penVAPE.

But Ziggy isn’t the only member releasing an album this year. Stephen Marley’s fourth studio album, Revelation Part II: The Fruit of Life, is due out on July 22. The 23-track album houses songs featuring his younger brother Damian, Iggy Azalea, Wyclef Jean, Waka Flocka, and Busta Rhymes. Stephen is one Grammy shy from Ziggy, currently having six under his belt.

Damian, 37, was only two years old when his father died. He vibes with a dancehall reggae sound, which can be noted on his standout 2005 album, Welcome to Jamrock. Damian collaborated with other notable artists including Nas, and (surprise) he also has a new album expected later this year. Looks like there will be a brotherly battle taking place over 2016.

Bob Dylan / Jakob Dylan

Bob Dylan just celebrated his 75th birthday. In a time when legends are sadly leaving this world, feisty Robert Zimmerman is still being his chameleon-like self, touring and recently released his 37th studio set album, Fallen Angels. The new album picks up with similar legs as Shadows In The Night, paying homage to American classics. Dylan has released Platinum-status records, received a Pulitzer Prize and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, pocketed multiple Grammys, written a best-selling memoir, worked with Martin Scorsese (No Direction Home), and sold over 125 million records across the globe.

With an acclaimed father like that it’s understandable Jakob Dylan wanted to fuse his own sound in music and he did this in both collective and solo measures. As the frontman of The Wallflowers, a band whose breakthrough LP (Bringing Down the Horse) just celebrated its 20-year anniversary, Jakob Dylan created music that was uniquely his own, throwing us tunes like “6th Avenue Heartache” and “The Difference.” For all you nostalgic-needy ‘90s peeps, the band will hit the pavement this summer alongside the Counting Crows.

Side Note: If you’re interested, here’s Kesha covering Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” in celebration of the legend’s birthday.

Leonard Cohen / Adam Cohen

Poet, author, singer-songwriter, Cheeto-loving Canadian icon — Leonard Cohen’s creative arsenal delves into everything from sex to politics. Now 81, Cohen’s mind bending treats keep on coming proving that his prolific talent has transcended from the ‘60s until now.

As the eldest of Leonard Cohen’s kids, Adam Cohen pretty much fell into the limelight after growing up watching his father’s commanding gift. Adam, also a singer-songwriter, has released music in both French and English, creating a modest music portrait. His 2014 album, We Go Home, continues to be his greatest feat to date.

Tim Buckley / Jeff Buckley

Although Jeff only met his father once at the age of eight (due to the rocky relationship between his parents), he must have been zapped with something. Similar to his dad, Jeff Buckley relished in experimental folk music, which can be noted on his debut album, Grace.

Both Buckleys died at young ages — Tim at 28 from a drug overdose and Jeff at 30 from drowning — yet their impressionable catalogues have remained mainstays throughout the generations. Jeff’s unforgetable rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” was so impressively original that people still think he’s the one who wrote it. He described the song as “a hallelujah to the orgasm… an ode to life and love.”

Paul McCartney / James McCartney

James McCartney doesn’t just share the doe-eyed look of his famous father; he has become a musician in his own skin, yet it didn’t come easy. Sir Paul’s only son has long tried to keep his last name private while in public, even holding it from people when he worked as a waiter in Brighton, and once went by the moniker ‘Light’, before finally settling into his birth name. He’s appeared on some of his father’s solo albums (e.g. Flaming Pie), and quietly formed his own musical project with his most recent release dropping earlier this month.

In a BBC Radio 4 interview, Paul McCartney opened up about life post-Beatles, commenting on his depression and how he “took to the bevies” because the end meant “breaking from your lifelong friends.” Yet even with the demise of the Beatles, Paul McCartney has continued to play to his own taste all while collaborating with artists like Kanye West. He event noted that super humble Mr. West inspires him and is a “crazy guy that comes up with great stuff.”

McCartney also teamed up with West and Rihanna on “FourFiveSeconds”, which had many young folks asking “who the old guy playing guitar is.”

John Bonham / Jason Bonham

Before his untimely death at age 32, John Bonham (a.k.a. Bonzo, a.k.a. The Beast), the iconic drummer of Led Zeppelin, introduced his son Jason into the world of rock.

Jason Bonham played in Foreigner and after his father’s death began playing occasionally with Led Zeppelin. He even took to the drum stool to play in the 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion concert. He’s also tried to keep the Zeppelin dream alive, even creating his own experience tour and told Rolling Stone that he still thinks there could be a true reunion.

If you’re not buying that, just remember you always have Celebration Day to keep the memories alive.

Olu Dara / Nas

This pairing is an interesting counter to others on the list since it was Nas who got his father into pushing out his jazz music. Olu Dara’s In The World: From Natchez to New York was released in 1998 and showcased his serious skills, which have further been demonstrated on multiple Nas recordings.

The multiplatinum selling rapper’s debut album, Illmatic, remains a cornerstone in hip-hop and for a good reason. If you haven’t seen the documentary Nas: Time Is Illmatic, you really should.

Nowadays, Nasir Jones has expanded his pursuits, tackling life as a venture capitalist, a creative clothing collaborator, and continues to release music. He is also part of the soundtrack for the new film, The Land, which features other acts like Pusha T, Erykah Badu, and Machine Gun Kelly. Oh, and Nas appeared on the song “We Are” from Justin Bieber’s latest album.

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