They may be rock's most prolific sisters, and indeed, Kelley Deal and her identical twin, Kim -- both born June 10, 1961 -- pursued parallel careers that often brought them in and near each other's orbit. They began playing music together when they covered Hank Williams songs in local biker bars in their native Ohio. Likewise, both had opportunities offered to them early on, beginning when both were recruited to form the rhythm section for the Pixies in the mid-'80s, with Kim playing bass and Kelley on drums. Instead, they opted to go their own ways after Kim accepted and Kelley decided to pursue a paycheck.
Kim first joined the Pixies in 1986, initially adopting the nom de plume Mrs. John Murphy. After their premature breakup, she rejoined the band in 1990 and stayed with them until they split again in 1993. The band recorded several classic albums, but for the most part, the individual relationships remained stormy. At one time, she was fired from the group, only to have the band reconsider and invite her back into the fold.
Still, Kim decided she wouldn't take any more chances. During a Pixies tour with the Throwing Muses, Kim approached the Muses' Tanya Donnelly and the two decided to form a new outfit they dubbed the Breeders. Kelley was invited to contribute to the group's debut... But unfortunately, she couldn't get time off from work and had to decline.
When Kelley finally did join her sister as the band's third guitarist, she barely knew how to play. Kim then suggested she might be better-suited to playing drums. Kelley refused and insisted on playing lead guitar, which she eventually mastered after Kim taught her all the songs in the Breeder's catalog. Unfortunately, Kelley's growing heroin habit led to a drug bust and the Breeder's momentary hiatus. Sent to rehab, she formed her own band, the Kelley Deal 6000, releasing two albums on her own Nice Records label. After joining an ad hoc supergroup of sorts that included Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach and former Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, she eventually rejoined her sister in the Breeders and recorded two more albums, Title TK in 2002 (featuring three earlier songs that found the sisters playing all the instruments) and Mountain Battles in 2008.
Meanwhile, Kim decided to take part in a Pixies reunion in 2004 and massive U.S. tour that included several major festival appearances. Yours truly was fortunate enough to catch them in concert at last year's Orlando Calling Festival, where they performed their landmark album Doolittle in its entirety to celebrate the record's 20th anniversary.
Ultimately, Kim and Kelley are part of a rarefied group of sister acts that have successfully made their mark in the music biz. Here are a few others:
The Dixie Chicks
Initially a country music combo, the Dixie Chicks successfully crossed over into a variety of other genres, specifically mainstream pop. Composed of founding members (and sisters)Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Erwin Robison
, along with lead singer Natalie Maines, they achieved their first big commercial success in 1998 with hit songs "There's Your Trouble" and "Wide Open Spaces." They also stirred up controversy when Maines denounced then-President George Bush during a London concert, creating an angry backlash from conservative talk-show hosts in the U.S. and many in the Nashville establishment. Still, their massive kudos -- including 13 Grammy Awards and sales of more than 30 million albums -- proved sufficient vindication.
Despite several shifts in their lineup, lead singer Ann Wilson and guitarist Nancy Wilson remain the band's constants. The group achieved fame in the mid-1970s with their unlikely combination of Led Zeppelin-like hard rock and the delicate finesse of finely tuned folk balladry. While their popularity has ebbed and flowed over the years, the group became a mainstay of AOR radio into the '90s with songs like "Dog and Butterfly," "Barracuda," "Magic Man," and "Crazy on You," just as their albums managed to keep them in the Top Ten throughout the '70s, '80s, and '90s.Wilson Phillips
Composed of two of Beach Boy Brian Wilson's offspring, sisters Carnie and Wendy Wilson, and Chynna Phillips, daughter of Mamas and Papas frontman John Phillips, Wilson Phillips became an immediate sensation, thanks to a 1990 self-titled debut that sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and spawned three number-one singles on theBillboard
Hot 100. It helped them achieve the distinction of becoming the best-selling female group up until that time. That same year, the group won theBillboard
Music Award for Single of the Year, thanks to its smash hit "Hold On." It also garnered them four Grammy Awards nominations as well as two American Music Awards.
After several years of relative inactivity, the group rebounded earlier this year with Dedicated, a new studio album made up of covers of songs by both the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas. They also recently launched their own reality show, Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On, which appeared on the TV Guide Network in April 2012.
The McGarrigle Sisters
The McGarrigles were a pair of Canadian singer/songwriters from Quebec who performed as a duo until Kate McGarrigle's tragic death on January 18, 2010. The sisters' songs have been covered by a variety of artists, including Maria Muldaur, Nana Mouskouri, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Billy Bragg, and Judy Collins. Kate was the wife of singer/songwriter Loudon Wainwright III until the two divorced, and she was also the mother of Rufus and Martha Wainwright.
The Pointer Sisters
Although they started out as an R&B act, the Pointer Sisters achieved mainstream success during the '70s and '80s by branching out into pop, disco, jazz, bebop, blues, soul, funk, and rock. The group originated with sisters June and Bonnie Pointer before being joined by Anita Pointer. Later, the trio grew to a quartet when their sister Ruth joined in 1972. The group achieved its greatest commercial success as a trio during the 1980s after Bonnie left the group to concentrate on a solo career. Their cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire" climbed to number two on the U.S. charts in early 1979, and over the next few years, they continued to demonstrate their versatility.
In 1980, the soulful pop single "He's So Shy" reached number three on the charts, and the following year, a slow, sultry ballad, "Slow Hand," reached number two. In 1984, they achieved four Billboard Hot 100 top ten singles in a row -- "Automatic" (number five), "Jump (for My Love)" (number three), a remix of "I'm So Excited" (number nine), and "Neutron Dance" (number six).
Cherie and Marie Currie
After three albums with the upstart teenage girl group the Runaways, Cherie Currie joined forces with her twin sister, Marie, and recorded the albumMessin' With the Boys
for Capitol Records and
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for Raven. Their careers more or less faded after that, but their stirring cover of Rainbow's riveting "Since You've Been Gone" remains a largely unheralded gem.