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Nature or nuture? Talent runs in these famous families regardless

| Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, 8:57 p.m.

It's natural for children to pursue similar careers to their parents. Musicians, like athletes and actors, seem prone to produce children who follow in their footsteps.

But success for the offspring of famous musicians is not guaranteed. Here's a short list of accomplished musicians whose kids tried to emulate them.

Huge shoes to fill

Elvis and Lisa Marie Presley: He was Elvis. She was his daughter. No contest.

Frank and Nancy Sinatra: See above.

Bob and Jakob Dylan: If Jakob Dylan had any other parent, he'd be regarded as a considerable talent. But living in the shadow of the greatest songwriter of the last century precludes any comparisons.

George and Dhani Harrison, Ringo Starr and Zac Starkey, John, Julian and Sean Lennon: If your father's a Beatle, the comparisons will be endless, and daunting. Of all the Fab Four offspring, Julian and Sean Lennon are arguably the best musicians, although Zac Starkey is a very good drummer. Dhani Harrison shares his father's passion for diverse projects.

Brian, Carnie and Wendy Wilson: Brian Wilson is one of the most important figures in rock music history. Carnie and Wendy Wilson, footnotes at best.

Marvin and Nona Gaye: Nona Gaye's talents as a singer and actress are not to be dismissed, but it's hard to surpass the accomplishments of one of the all-time great soul singers.

Hank Williams, Hank Jr. and Hank III: The talent in the Williams family peaked with Hank the first, who remains an influential and legendary figure in country music 64 years after his death. Hank Jr. had a few hits but is not one of the all-time greats. Hank III started out playing in punk bands and has become a mercurial figure, capable of traditional country but just as apt to play speed metal.


Naomi and Wynona Judd: The Judds emerged at the same time as country stars. It's fair to say their talents are comparable.

Tim and Jeff Buckley: The most tragic of musical families. Both were amazingly talented vocalists who died far too young: Tim at 28 due to a heroin overdose, and Jeff at 30 in a drowning accident.

Julio and Enrique Iglesias: Julio Iglesias has sold more than 350 million records worldwide, in 14 languages. Enrique Iglesias has sold a mere 159 million records, but a sizable portion of his career is in the post-Napster age; he's not the reigning King of Latin Pop without merit.

Johnny and Roseanne Cash: Johnny Cash is one country's music icons, and it might seem presumptuous to elevate his daughter to the same standing. While she might not be as revered as her father, Rosanne Cash's body of work is uniformly superb.

Kids first

Cissy and Whitney Houston: Cissy Houston had a nice career, winning two Grammy Awards as a gospel and soul singer. Whitney Houston was one of the world's biggest musical stars before her death in 2012, having sold more than 200 million albums worldwide.

Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus: Billy Ray Cyrus' “Achy Breaky Heart” was a phenomenon, part of the zeitgeist of 1992. But daughter Miley has become a cultural force and trendsetter, known for her occasionally outrageous behavior as much as her music.

Nora Jones and Ravi Shankar: Ravi Shankar was a legend, his collaborations with George Harrison were groundbreaking; Shankar remains an iconic figure in his native India five years after his death. But Norah Jones, in terms of popularity, has surpassed her famous father; Billboard magazine named her the top jazz artist of the first decade of the 21st century.

Rege Behe is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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