Jan 262013


Next week’s NFL Super Bowl game features a showdown between teams coached by brothers, John and Jim Harbaugh. This historic championship game between teams coached by brothers is probably a first in all professional sports—and likely the last in our lifetimes we’ll see a pair of brothers square off as coaches in the biggest game at the highest level of their sport. Super Bowl XLVII has been dubbed the “Harbowl.”

This got me thinking: Is there a rock ‘n roll equivalent of the Harbaugh brothers: two siblings who have risen to the top of their profession in separate bands/solo careers?

Siblings who established themselves in the same band do not count, so don’t give me Dave Davies‘ technically solo hit “Death of a Clown” in comparison with the Ray-led Kinks as a showdown of Harbaugh v Harbaugh implications. Thinks of what Mom and Dad Harbaugh must be going through. Do you think the Davies boys’ parents ever chewed their fingernails over the creative dominance of one brother to the other?

Siblings who are the result of “Whoops, I didn’t think we needed birth control at our age!” followed by a “Sorry kid, it’s too late to join your older siblings’ well-established group” father/band manager-talk don’t count. Sorry Andy Gibb, Janet Jackson, and Marie Osmond. This must be a head-to-head match-up of siblings’ musical achievements without one siblings’ aid of supporting siblings. So for whatever reason some Nevilles are part of the “Brothers” and some aren’t (and some of them may be cousins or offspring themselves, possibly answering a question on another recent thread), all Nevilles are off the board. It’s got to be a Harbaugh v Harbaugh dynamic.

Rock ‘n roll is littered with “also-ran” siblings, like Mike McGear (né McCartney) and Chris Jagger. Even a relatively accomplished sibling like Dee Dee Warwick, sister of Dionne, at the height of her chart success didn’t match up as a “top dog” alongside her sister in the music world. Ron and Art Wood, for instance, do not pose a Harbaugh v Harbaugh dynamic.

Kid brother Neil Finn would leave his older and relatively accomplished brother Tim in the dust, but both brothers led bands with hit songs. Although the brothers had brief stints in each others’ bands we won’t hold that against them for purposes of this discussion. The other set of siblings that comes to mind and that may hold the initial lead in determining the Harbowl of Rock, are the following:

Is there a set of independently accomplished siblings in music who top the Cassidy boys, David and Sean?

I look forward to the shame I will feel when you point out some obvious Ann Landers-Dear Abby of Rock.


  49 Responses to “The “Harbowl” of Rock?”

  1. Suburban kid

    I am tempted to put Joey Ramone’s little brother Mickey Leigh in the Chris Jagger category, but if you look at his bio he has been very active in many bands from the 70s to the 2000s. None of them were commercially successful though, so I don’t know if he qualifies.

  2. This is gonna be a tough one. I expect to confirm that perty much every ‘famous enough’ artist played with his sister in a family band (including for instance THE Family Band backing Robert Randolph) at some point.

    Just to be a dick, I nominate the Wiggins sisters. Even thought they started as a family act, they each independently attained the same level of href=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR9d4ESlpHY”>fame and fortune in the bizniz. From humbel beginnings, now legends forever…

    I’ll keep thinking though. Fair warning.

    hmm…Here’s something to href=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IbdnTeMGpM’>cleanse the palate after that dish…I think the two guys on the left are brothers.

    Howzabout about Sean and Michael Penn? Michael has achieved at least a mid level of success and has written some snappy songs. I can’t say for sure if Sean actually has any real talent but he did play Emmet Ray the href=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAAbQWAYW3s’> SECOND greatest guitar player in the world in ‘Sweet and Lowdown’, tortured Solieri-like by the genius of Django Reinhardt…I sure Emmet Ray would have had a shot at Letterman if he lived in a different time, and at all…

  3. Carmine and Vinny Appice

  4. No, and I’m not really judging the quality of the man’s musical ouput, which I don’t know because he’s so underground. I will say that his autobiography of growing up with his brother Joey was very good and often touching.

  5. Believe it or not, they may be in the lead!

  6. I will dismiss the equally dismal contributions to music by Donnie Wahlberg (New Kids On The Block) & his brother Marky Mark of the Funky bunch.
    David Ruffin was a top Motown star with the Temptations while brother Jimmy had 7 Top 30 hits in the UK & 3 in the US.

  7. Hey I gots a winner!

    Marcus David – who covers crash boom bang in the band I’m playing with these days – used to play with John Cipollina, founder of New Riders of the Purple Sage and all sorts of classic outfits, in the Gravenites-Cippolina band.

    John’s bass-bashing brother Marco and the bombastic band he boogied with also had a couple of hits

  8. It’s a good call ‘wacker, Brother John was much too busy with Quicksilver Messenger Service to be anywhere near the founding of NRPS. He received $1.5 million from Columbia for his next band Copperhead & the label pulled the plug after just one LP…nice work !

  9. Derf!. The nez! I desoive it…. Here’s some restitution

  10. Not that the Walker Brothers qualify here but given the sibling nature of the thread and the fact that Scott Walker was discussed a few months back this seems a reasonable place to mention that I picked up a cheap promo copy of Scott Walker’s new disc, Bish Bosch, yesterday. I’d never heard any of his stuff before.

    After one listen I can’t say whether I like it or not but I can say it lives up to everything I’ve read about his solo music. It’s no “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine “Anymore)”, that’s for sure.

  11. cherguevara

    A few come to mind:

    Jimmy and Stevie Ray Vaughn

    Mark Seymour (Hunters and Collectors) and his brother Nick (Crowded House) but Mark was the main singer/songwriter whereas Nick sang and played bass but does not write.

    Ronnie and Donnie Van Zant

    But of course, the obvious winners are Jimi and Leon Hendrix.

  12. In 1976 a friend’s brother “Came Alive” & enjoyed quite a lot of success. My friend was able to tour the world & sample the delights of the rock n roll lifestyle by proxy. He was a musician himself but his expectations of just how far his talent would take him were a little delusional &,eventually, a little sad.
    I enjoyed his music,enjoyed the small pub gigs he played but he was never going to sell a million albums. I guess it can be tough to be Chris Jagger or Mike McGear.
    I did pee next to Mr McGear once & I talked about his brother Paul. proves my point really !

  13. That’s a good one I hadn’t thought about, although Jimmy is kind of on par with Dee Dee Warwick – not Super Bowl material.

  14. That’s one of the finest reviews applicable to every Scott Walker album I’ve ever heard!

  15. The Vaughn brothers: DUH! They are in the lead, so far.

    There was a Leon Hendrix? He’s got to be the Tommie Aaron of rock.

  16. That has got to be a tough row to hoe.

  17. This is kind of alt-countryish, but what about:
    Steve Earle’s missus — Allison Moorer and the rockish Shelby Lynne — who looked good in leather in 2001.

  18. Johnny and Edgar Winter! Duh.

  19. And speaking of Sheryl Crowe, I’m still waiting to read her comments on Lance Armstrong’s confession…

  20. I’ve heard Ms Crow talk about the biggest cheat in sport & unsurprisingly her views are as insipid as her music.
    Try this spirited reminder of when cyclists used nothing stronger than sweet tea.

  21. ladymisskirroyale

    I’m sharing some entries from Mr. Royale:

    1. Kim and Kelly Deal (Breeders vs. Amps)

    2. Roger and Brian Eno

    3. David Sylvian and Steve Jansen (post-Japan) (real last name: Batt)

  22. ladymisskirroyale

    Both known for their hair: Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle.

  23. Last week the BBC had a Country evening. men of a certain age were reminded of being boys of a certain age on the appearance of Ms Gayle & her hair.

  24. Great cut and superb viddy!

  25. Big Eno fans, and I knew he’d a musical brother, but i don’t think I had ever knowingly heard any Roger Eno… first track I popped in on was this one. Pleasant enough, no Ms. Shapiro…then as I listen I knew I’d heard this before

  26. The Knopflers respectfully retire and await the victor of the Winters v. Vaughan match. Said Brother David, “Well, in American-speak, Duh. I know Wot’s Wot.”


  27. THAT’S the DUH I was looking for! The Winters take the lead.

  28. The Deal sisters were in the same band, right? They don’t count.

  29. H. Munster

    Johnny and Dorsey Burnette. As Casey Stengel used to say, you can look it up.

  30. They’re sisters?!?! I had no idea!

  31. Yeah, I looked up the Rock ‘n Roll Trio to confirm that they were both in that band. The Harbowl of Rock siblings need to have established themselves in separate bands or separate solo careers.

  32. I think the Vaughn brothers are the best example in this case because they had a rivalry going for most of their careers from what I recall. Edgar and Johnny collaborated fairly frequently and were in the same band on occasion.

  33. Yes!!! Jimmy and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Two pretty much equally talented guitar playing brothers. Two of my favorite guitarists. Yes they are tough enough. No use wondering how far Stevie Ray could of went if he wasn’t shot down so soon. We’ll never find out.

  34. ladymisskirroyale

    Initially, the Deal sisters were in the same band (the Breeders). And then Kelly left and formed The Amps; Kim stayed with an updated roster of The Breeders.

  35. ladymisskirroyale

    Ah, talking about the Deal sisters reminded me of another couple of gals, half-sisters Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly. You had your Throwing Muses (both gals in the band), then Tanya left and formed The Breeders with Kim Deal. Tanya left that band after the first album and formed Belly, which existed for a few albums. Kirstin continued with Throwing Muses for a few more records and then went it alone. Both Tanya and Kristin are pursuing solo projects these days, I believe.

  36. cdm you’ve made great points, but if I may mix sports metaphors here, I have to say the Winter Brothers, the Bruiser and Crusher tag team of rock, has to be awarded the Harbowl trophy over Vaughn and Vaughn.

    Even though Stevie inherited the Texas guitarslinger belt from Johnny Winter (along with some other bad habits) and dominated the slinger ring, his tag team partner Jimmy is an enigma to all but die hard bluesheads. Like when Black Jack Lanza teamed up with the Iron Sheik, who ever was afraid of the Iron Sheik?

    Edgar – the Crusher – on the other hand was pummeling the brains of the world – with timbales (the rock equivalent of the folding chair) – while his brother hung on the turnbuckles and recuperated.

    And Stevie Ray and Jimmy did do some collaboratin’ too, so that point deduction must to be removed from consideration by the referee.

    Bottom line, 3 falls to 2, Johnny and Edgar over Stevie and Jimmy.

  37. H. Munster

    They both had hits as solo artists.

  38. A fine accomplishment, indeed, but the third paragraph into the thread’s intro states, “Siblings who established themselves in the same band do not count…” Their hits came after their band, right?

  39. In jazz you’ve got Wynton and Branford Marsalis, but Wynton is has a stick so far up his butt that we can’t let them slide into this broad rock competition.

  40. H. Munster

    Point well taken.

  41. hrrundivbakshi

    …timbales (the rock equivalent of the folding chair)…

    Partial post of the month!

  42. hrrundivbakshi

    The key issue, it seems to me, is the deep conflict the rock siblings would cause in their family by forcing people to choose. For this reason, the winners of the Harbowl challenge need to be in *direct* competition with one another — and for that reason, the Winter brothers lose to the Vaughans. I have spoken.

  43. HVB, that may be the finest from-the-mountaintop reasoning anyone has made around here in ages. I am listening. The Vaughn brothers are back atop this quest to identify the Harbowl of Rock.

  44. Now that’s settled.
    For Xmas 1981 I was given a ticket to the Hammersmith Odeon for the only showing in the UK of that season’s Superbowl. Your quaint sporting ritual (dating all the way back to 1967 !) & the ex-pat audience was very interesting though I’m afraid that I was in the bar while Up With People “celebrated the 60s” at half-time.

    We considered waiting for the game to end before purchasing a “Champions” T-shirt but this hardly seemed to be in the spirit of competitive sport & felt that we should choose sides. We based our decision solely upon the musical legacies of the cities involved in the game. So, I hope you will allow me to use your fine forum for a long distance shout…GO NINERS !!.

  45. Although they don’t trump the Vaughn or Winter Brothers in terms of record sales, the drummer for the Black Keys, and his uncle, the nephew of the sax player for Tom Waits, give them a run for their money in terms of coolness.

  46. jeangray

    Nope. The Black Keys are main-stream schlock now-a-daze! They are not even in the same ball park as Tom Wait’s backing band!

  47. I agree, but what I meant was the two of them (Patrick and Ralph Carney) give the Vaughn Brothers and the Winter Brothers a run for their money, despite the higher profile of the latter two sets of siblings.

  48. cherguevara

    Also brothers, apparently, are Rob Zombie and the singer from Powerman 5000. I can’t say this means too much to me, though.

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