Steve Earle

Top 10 Musical Dads

Wondering Sound Staff

By Wondering Sound Staff

on 06.16.11 in Collections

Fathers get a bad rap in pop music— there are a million songs for mothers, as the old joke goes, but the most famous song for dads? “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone.” To combat this, we’ve decided to focus on the musical fathers of some of the more vital artists of our time. These Dads clearly did something right — their kids not only went into the family business, they’re excelling in it. Take a look below at our Top 10 Musical Dads — and then give yours a call this weekend on Father’s Day.

Dave Brubeck

Three Classic Albums Plus (Jazz Red Hot & Cool / Newport 1958 / Jazz Goes To Junior College) (Digitally Remastered)

Dave Brubeck

Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" is one of the most instantly recognizable jazz tunes ever written, and no matter how many times you hear it, it never grows less beguiling. The way that trap-door 5/4 melody both plays up and smoothes over the irregularity of the stump-footed meter is positively Mozartean in its grace and invention. Brubeck's son Chris, meanwhile, skews even closer to Mozart's world; he's a composer whose work swirls together currents of classical and jazz with a panache that recalls Gershwin. -Jayson Greene

Steve Earle

Roots rocker Steve Earle ensured his son's impeccable musical pedigree at birth, when he named his son after his friend and mentor, Townes Van Zandt. Justin Townes Earle inherited both his namesake's and his father's knack for writing rugged country folk songs with plenty of heart, although he foregoes his father's political narratives for more personal reveries. Lately, Steve Earle has begun to make a name for himself as an actor and

Ellis Marsalis

Ellis Marsalis, Jr is the patriarch of one of the greatest jazz families ever Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo, and Jason Marsalis are his sons and he's not even the Senior Marsalis. Marsalis, Sr. was a powerful New Orleans businessman and civil rights activist with a jazz background it wasn't until Ellis, Jr. that the Marsalis influence in jazz was made manifest. -Jayson Greene

Serge Gainsbourg

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Serge Gainsbourg

When you write a song called "Lemon Incest" and perform it as a duet with your young daughter, you're probably going to get a reputation for being a certain kind of dad. Groundbreaking French singer/songwriter Serge Gainsbourg was never the kind to shy away from controversy, pedaling in shock as much as he did romance and sex. His daughter, Charlotte, seems to have turned out just fine, an actress and singer whose most recent album, 2010's moody and hypnotic IRM, crosses and defies genre boundaries as much as her father's music did. -Maris Kreizman

Antony Braxton

When Tyondai Braxton quit Battles right in the middle of making their second record to pursue a solo career along the loop-led neo-classical lines of his Central Market album   we weren't surprised so much as thinking, 'Dude's dad must be proud.' After all, Anthony Braxton has followed nothing but the voices in his wildly expressive head since the late '60s. Sometimes that means wailing alongside free jazz peers like guitarist Derek Bailey; and sometimes it means owning the same stage as, um, Wolf Eyes (see: the pair's scenery chewing Black Vomit LP). No wonder why some scholars have absolutely refused to call Anthony a "jazz artist." Kinda like how Tyondai's existed outside the realm of "indie rock" for nearly two decades now. -Andrew Parks

Hank Williams

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Hank Williams

While Hank Williams' grandson the tattoo-wrapped Hank Williams III went onto a career in punk and metal alongside key members of Pantera, Down and Eyehategod, Hank's direct descendant has lived up to the Jr. in his name by becoming one of outlaw country's biggest stars. Not to mention the guy responsible for Monday Night Football's roadhouse-revving theme song, which is probably more recognizable in the public consciousness than "Your Cheatin' 'Heart" or "Hey Good Lookin'" at this point. -Andrew Parks

Fela Kuti

Can you even imagine what it would be like to have Fela Kuti for a dad? All of the ordinary dad rules go immediately out the window. "Be in before midnight"? Most of Fela's parties at the Shrine didn't even start until 2a.m. "Respect your elders"? Fela built a career on railing against the corrupt Nigerian government. "Don't do drugs"? Ha! Also, if your dad is Fela Kuti, there is basically no way you can be embarrassed by his uncoolness. Because, let's face it, he's cooler than you. And while Fela's life was far from worry-free (being bounced in and out of jail sometimes with great violence certainly took its toll), he is pretty much the standard bearer for Hip Fatherhood. Young Femi and Seun's only real concern was worrying that pops was going to try to steal their girlfriends. -J. Edward Keyes

Ravi Shankar

In the Shankar family, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree: Pops was known for crafting light, soothing ragas that caught the attention of celebrities like George Harrison and the Byrds. Daughter Norah Jones is known for crafting light, soothing jazz-pop that caught the attention of Celebrities like Ray Charles and Belle & Sebastian. And both of them are fond of a bit of mystery: Shankar's dizzying sitar lines loop and pace as if hypnotized, tripping over melody only occasionally but generally favoring a kind of sustained, ecstatic state; Jones' songs particularly those on The Fall seem to be stashing a host of secrets behind her coy, questioning voice. And both of their songs work toward the same end: to achieve a measure of peace be it romantic or existential in a world that is too often chaotic. -J. Edward Keyes

Johnny Cash

The Man in Black fathered five children, two of whom launched their own successful country-music careers. Rosanne Cash the eldest of Johnny's four daughters with his first wife, Vivian Liberto has released more than 10 LPs since the late '70s and won a Grammy in 1986 for her single "I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me." John Carter Cash, Johnny's only child with famed country singer June Carter, performs his own music and also produced music for his parents and other stars like Loretta Lynn, Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson and many more. -Laura Leebove

Bob Marley

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Bob Marley And The Wailers

It would take the space of this blurb alone just to list all 11 of Bob Marley's children, and several more paragraphs to state the ways in which they've passed down their father's reggae legacy. Ziggy formed Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers (which also featured siblings Stephen, Sharon and Cedella); Stephen and youngest son Damian recorded together as Marley Boyz; Damian has released music on his own (sometimes produced by Stephen) and in 2010 collaborated with rapper Nas; Julian has released solo records and toured with Damian; and Ky-Mani has also released solo work, including an album called Like Father Like Son. -Laura Leebove