A family affair: 10 parent-child musical collaborations
From Beyonce and Blue Ivy to Frank and Nancy Sinatra, here are other memorable musical collaborations between parent and child
As former Crowded House singer Neil Finn prepares to release Lightsleeper, a new album written with his son Liam, we take a look at other memorable musical collaborations between parent and child.
Kate Bush and Albert McIntosh
“Here comes the sunshine / here comes the son of mine”, sings Kate Bush on Bertie, a doting, Renaissance-style ode to her only child from her 2005 album Aerial. It wasn’t until 2011’s 50 Words For Snow, though, that Bertie joined his mother on record, playing the part of a snowflake on the evocative song of the same name. McIntosh – who takes his surname from his guitarist father Dan McIntosh – also joined Bush for her 2014, live-stage comeback performances at London’s Hammersmith Apollo.
Eddie and Wolfgang Van Halen
Naming him after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Eddie Van Halen clearly had high hopes for his son. And when Wolfie’s multi-instrumentalist talents made themselves known, Van Halen’s long-term bassist Michael Anthony was unceremoniously dumped, with Wolfie replacing him on tour from 2007 onwards and subsequently joining his dad, uncle Alex Van Halen and singer David Lee Roth on the band’s 2012 album, A Different Kind Of Truth. Wolfgang’s debut solo album, on which he sings and plays bass, drums, guitar and keyboards, is reportedly due before the end of this year.
Frank and Moon Unit Zappa
Frank Zappa’s 1982 album Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch is home to the unlikely hit single Valley Girl. It’s a hilarious satire on the vacuous, shopping and beauty regime-fixated lifestyle of certain San Fernando Valley, California-based girls. Zappa’s daughter Moon Unit is in on the joke and was only fourteen when she sang lead vocals on the song. Her mimicking of the curious vocabulary and intonations of “Valspeak” subculture is a scream.
Jeff and Spencer Tweedy
When Jeff Tweedy of Wilco’s wife Susan was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a malignant but treatable type of cancer, he and his son Spencer addressed their hurt on 2014’s Sukierae. A collaborative album which took its name from Susan’s childhood nickname, it features Spencer, then aged 18, on drums. “Are you scared? Are you frightened, terrified of being alone?”, sings Jeff on Diamond Light – Part 1, one of the albums many intimate and deeply personal songs. Sukierae is the touching sound of father and son united in their concern.
Beyonce and Blue Ivy Carter
OK, the sound of Beyonce and Jay Z’s infant daughter Blue Ivy talking at the end of Blue from Beyonce’s self-titled 2014 album doesn’t quite warrant a co-writing credit, but Bey, too, wanted her daughter on a record with her just as soon as Blue could talk. “Each day I feel so blessed to be looking at you / And when you open your eyes I feel alive”, sings mum. It will be interesting to see if Blue Ivy inherits her parents’ musical talent.
Elvis and Lisa Marie Presley
The only child of Elvis and Priscilla Presley didn’t release her debut album until some 25 years after her father’s death, but Lisa Marie has recorded two posthumous “duets” with The King through the wonders of modern technology. The music videos for 1997’s Don’t Cry Daddy and 2007’s In The Ghetto both find her appearing alongside vintage footage of Elvis, her newly recorded vocals interspersed with her father’s original ones. Proceeds from the latter song benefited New Orleans-based charity the Presley Place Transitional Housing Campus.
Tori Amos and Natashya Hawley
It was her daughter’s love of soul music, Tori Amos has said, that inspired her to write a piano-led pop-soul duet featuring the then-thirteen-year-old Natashya. Titled Promise, it appears on Amos’s 2014 album Unrepentant Geraldines. “Promise not to say that I’m getting too old”, runs one line of the lyric. “The menopause was really hard for me,” Amos later revealed, “but it was Tash who convinced me I could be just as powerful a woman at 50 as I was at 30.”
Frank and Nancy Sinatra
Nancy Sinatra’s raw and sassy 1966 hit These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ was a world away from the lushly-orchestrated songs her father crooned so memorably, but 1967’s father / daughter collaboration Something Stupid proved Nancy could do old-school too. Featured on Frank Sinatra’s album The World We Knew, it became the first – and to date only – instance of a father / daughter duet becoming a Number 1 single in the United States. Nancy’s producer Lee Hazlewood reportedly told Frank, “If you don’t sing it with her, I will.” The song was later covered by Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman.
Leonard and Adam Cohen
Leonard Cohen’s much-lauded final album You Want It Darker was released just 19 days before his death in 2016. A solemn yet sometimes wry meditation on God and death, it was co-produced by his son Adam, who also plays nylon-string guitar on the record. “Occasionally, in bouts of joy, [dad] would even, through his pain, stand up in front of the speakers, and we’d repeat a song over and over like teenagers”, Adam Cohen said, remembering sessions for the album undertaken in his father’s living room.
Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus
Miley Cyrus is that rare thing: the offspring of a famous musician whose success had eclipsed that of the parent in question. When Miley performs with Billy Ray, it looks like she’s giving him a leg up, rather than vice-versa. The pair have duetted together on numerous occasions, including on Butterfly Fly Away, a syrupy daughter-to-dad ballad from 2009 soundtrack album Hannah Montana: The Movie. The film attracted worst actress (Miley) and worst actor (Billy Ray) nominations at the 30th Golden Raspberry Awards in Hollywood, but with three US Number 1 albums to her credit, Miley probably didn’t fret about that too much.
Neil & Liam Finn’s Lightsleeper is out today on PIAS / Inertia Music
Updated: August 25, 2018 11:13 AM