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How do musical progeny stack up to their mamas and papas?

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

How many musical offspring can we say survived famous parents and truly made it on their own?


It’s easy with actors — Jeff Bridges, for example, or Gwyneth Paltrow, as dazzling and exquisitely talented as her mother. Baseball’s easy, too: Just say the name “Junior” and fans of the game know who you mean. Music is much more subjective. And with high-quality remastering, the old man — or mom — is still commanding our listening time.

I love Lisa Marie. Almost as pretty as her daddy, really. But even she knows she can’t sing a lick.

Speaking of kings: Natalie Cole can wrap her cords around a tune. But her dad had such a gift, she ended up doing karaoke with one of his records.

Ain’t least she isn’t Hank Williams Jr. The old man would be rollin’ over in his Caddy if he saw those “Monday Night Football” intros.

Jerry DeMarco Publisher/Editor

Whitney Houston is easy. Then again, her mom wasn’t pop. Same for Norah Jones and Papa Ravi (different genres), as well as Tim and Jeff Buckley — although a nation of the tortured genius’ fans would say there’s no comparison. Bonnie Raitt = slam dunk.

Ziggy Marley wouldn’t be a bad choice, if only he’d found a way to distinguish himself instead of trying to replicate a legend (Which reminds me: Anyone heard from George Harrison’s kid lately?).

Miley Cyrus isn’t even part of the discussion — that’s one shallow gene pool right there. Max Weinberg’s kid or Bonham’s boy or Zak Starkey don’t count, either. No one deliberately cues up a tune to hear any of them.

So who either matches — or even surpasses — a talented parent?

If Richard and Linda Thompson had a kid, he’d sound exactly like…Teddy Thompson(!). Voice like silk, lyrics that’ll break your heart. His mother’s child, really. He even sings her parts when he and his old man play out together.

Just as special are the Wainwrights, a collective gift to our musical culture.

Jordan Zevon has potential: He’s smart, sensitive, and fortunate to have been sired by an artist too genuine for this world. Maybe he’ll break big someday.

Like Jordan, Steve Earle’s kid has an impossible act to follow. But I’m rooting for Justin Townes Earle. He’s something special.

Personally, I root for Pam Tillis: A glorious set o’ pipes, a warm stage presence, but boxed in by Nashville. And Roseann Cash, one of the finest singer-songwriters around.

My first choice is Mavis Staples. She was still young when her family cracked the pop charts with “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself.” Over the years, she has blossomed into the Etta James of our generation, truly a national treasure.

I’m sure there’s someone special I’ve overlooked (yes, I’ve considered Jacob Dylan). Maybe you could help me.

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