The Kids Are Alright: Ten Sons and Daughters of Rock Worth a Second Listen

On September 10, the legend of Frank Zappa lives on as his son Dweezil brings the ferociously grinding grooves and surrealist lyrical musings of his father to Fort Lauderdale’s Culture Room. Dweezil is currently leading the band Zappa Plays Zappa around the country, playing some of his dad's albums in their gloriously maniacal entirety alongside a few choice cuts from his back catalog.

Frank Zappa created the kind of music that changed lives, creating thousands of converts to the wonderful, wild, and weird world of his seminal band, the Mothers of Invention. Dweezil’s take on the music will allow many fans to experience classics like “Penguins in Bondage,” “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow,” and “Cosmic Debris” live for the first time. Frank Zappa would have been 75 this year; what better way to celebrate than head down to the Culture Room.

Dweezil isn’t the only one to follow in his parent’s shoes and dive into the music world. It’s certainly not as easy as it sounds. The likes of Jaden Smith prove that having talented parents does not buy you talent or instant respect. Here’s a list of offspring of celebrated artists who, while not (yet) outdoing their parents, are certainly worth your time:

Rod Stewart/Ruby Stewart

Perhaps the best thing that Rod Stewart has produced in the past 30 years is his daughter, Ruby Stewart. Ruby has a full-throated bellow of a young Janis Joplin that has made occasional appearances at her father’s shows and in the short-lived psych-rock band Revoltaire. Indeed, it’s a feat in and of itself that one who has no doubt led a pretty privileged existence can produce such a weary, gravelly howl. I’d take this over another schmoozy Rod release any day.

George Harrison/Dhani Harrison
George Harrison - Dhani Harrison
Here comes the “son”… Dhani Harrison’s band thenewno2 has not only inherited his father’s otherworldly vocals but also “The Quiet One’s” penchant for fusing genres and leapfrogging topics. However, this isn’t just pure pastiche. Thenewno2 is slathered in the warm fuzz of overdriven amps, the blips and whirrs of modern electronics, and lyrics that read like mantras lamenting the weighty issues of today. Three albums in, if you haven’t checked them out, it’s time to give them a whirl.

Willie Nelson/Lukas Nelson

Lukas Nelson could forge a career as a note-perfect tribute act to his father – that same laid-back, fragile, and utterly affecting vocal persisting. However, Lukas forgoes Willie’s battered country sound and instead drinks from a pool of filthy Delta blues. Lukas Nelson electrifies as squaling frontman of his band the Promise of the Real, an outfit of blistering riffs, mangled blues, and, of course, several references to marijuana.


Children of rap stars certainly have it hardest when it comes to escaping their parents’ shadow. Perhaps it’s the genre’s lyrical focus on life on the streets – a life that the likes of Lil Romeo are as likely to see as Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 will win Best Picture at the Oscars next year. However, Ice Cube’s son, who goes by the name OMG, does it better than most. Instead of spitting rhymes about hardships, the son of the former NWA legend disses auto-rap singers, boasts about his daddy, and possesses a lyrical dexterity that works. Just hope he doesn’t continue the Friday franchise too.

Leonard Cohen/Adam Cohen

As you hear Adam Cohen’s weary baritone, you know this could only be the offspring of Leonard Cohen, the master baroque poet/singer. However, Adam escapes the long shadow of his father, with a distinctly indie-rock slant, sitting somewhere between Arcade Fire at their most hymnal and the Lumineers at their most anthemic. It all would get lost in the fog of countless similar acts, but that rich, Leonardesque vocal lilt keeps it above the fray.

Serge Gainsbourg/Charlotte Gainsbourg

The actor/musician daughter of French crooner Serge Gainsbourg and British model Jane Birkin is perhaps best-known stateside as the title character in the controversial art house erotic drama Nymphomaniac. In terms of bravery, her scenes involving getting it on with Shia LeBeouf are worth a million tales of Tom Cruise doing his own stunts in the new Mission Impossible movie. Anyway, Gainsbourg has carved out a notable music career of her own in Europe – a combination of foot-stomping electro pop and ambient mood pieces. It's well worth a listen.

John Lennon/Sean Lennon

Sean Lennon has been pretty prolific since he burst onto the scene in 1998 with his solo effort, Into the Sun. Other indie pop solo outings followed, as well as collaborations with the Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr., art rockers Cibo Matto, and his mom, Yoko. However, it is his latest incarnation as one-half of the appallingly named the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, with his girlfriend, Charlotte Kemp Muhl, that has caught the ear most recently. GOASTT possesses a lush, multilayered soundscape, swimming in acid and ’60s psychedelia. Sure, it’s derivative, but in all the best possible ways.

Billy Idol/Willem Broad

Billy Idol was the snarling, leather-clad hedonistic glam punk who dominated early MTV with hits like “Rebel Yell” and “White Wedding." His son, Willem Broad, plays with indie-rock oddballs FIM. The band is bubbling under with a sound that is a grippingly strange mix of early Talking Heads, the Dead Boys, and the Clash at their more experimental — it’s on a different planet from Idol Sr.

John Williams/The Belle Brigade

Barbara Gruska and younger brother Ethan Gruska are folk pop duo the Belle Brigade. The siblings hail from movie-soundtrack royalty – their father is a well-known composer for film and TV, and their grandfather is none other than John Williams – a man who has more classic movie themes under his belt than Donald Trump has brain farts on his Twitter feed (Jaws, Indiana Jones, etc.).

Belle Brigade’s sound alternates between blissed-out, sun-kissed, summer-of-love loveliness to heartbreaking melodies with glacially pure harmonies. It’s a delicate dance but one worth trying.

Johnny Copeland/Shemekia Copeland

She’s squeezed pop, alt-country, and roadhouse rock into the 12-bar blues she learned from her father — late revered guitarist Johnny Copeland. However, Shemekia Copeland is the genuine article, a blues powerhouse, possessing one of those voices that not only fills a room but shakes it to its foundations. Mariah, Beyoncé, et al, seem mere Junior High talent show also-rans in comparison. She’s playing a few Florida dates this fall (Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Melbourne). Attendance is advisable.
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Steve Brennan