x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Family harmony has ups and downs in the music world

When it comes to making music together, some siblings are harmonious, some are acrimonious.

Families that play together stay together - or so the genetically gifted groups the Corrs, the Jacksons and platinum-selling Kings of Leon would have us believe. But not all children play nice. Hardly making their mother proud, for example, are the Gallagher brothers of Oasis fame, who have played out their sibling rivalry in public for more than a decade. More interested in slinging insults than penning songs, the band finally called it quits in 2009 with Noel citing his brother Liam's "verbal and violent intimidation" as intolerable. Ah, peace at last.

The pop siblings Kylie and Dannii Minogue will be hoping to strike a very different note this year, after it was announced last week that they plan to record a duet together. The pair last worked together in 2008, recording a cover of ABBA's classic hit The Winner Takes it All for a BBC television show.

Admittedly Dannii, whose own pop career popped long ago, has in the past expressed feelings of inferiority towards her sister, who has enjoyed locomotive chart success since the 1980s. That said, the pair has always projected a vibe of sisterly supportiveness and it's hard to imagine there will be a need for separate sound booths in their forthcoming collaboration, to safeguard against microphone hogging and headphone yanking.

But teaming up with a sibling can reap rewards, as Janet Jackson would surely testify. In 1994, she lent her distinctive vocals to her brother Michael's song Scream, the lead single from his 1995 HIStory album. The track entered at number five on the Hot 100 singles chart, becoming the first song ever to debut in the top five. Scream also featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the "most expensive music video ever made" at a cost of US$7million (Dh25.7m). The money was evidently well spent as the accolades kept coming and the duo also won the Grammy Award for "best short form music video" in 1995. Not a bad day at the office.

Siblings who seek a cautionary tale about the havoc musical success can wreak on familial harmony could do worse than look to the Everly Brothers, Don and Phil. The brothers pioneered a genre of country-meets-rock-and-roll music that earned them 26 Billboard Top 40 singles and 35 Billboard Top 100s. They also hold the record for the most Top 100 singles by any duo and in 1986 were among the first 10 artists ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But despite their phenomenal success, the brothers conducted an epic feud over the years which most famously led to them splitting up dramatically mid-concert in 1973. They reunited in 1983, and toured sporadically until 2005, one of their most successful outings being 2003's ironically named Old Friends tour with that other pair of squabblers Simon and Garfunkel.

In the 1960s, the brothers Gibb took the Everlys' ostensible harmony one level deeper and formed the Bee Gees. The going was good for the trio until they began work on their fourth album and the guitarist Vince Melouney left the band. Sudden fame and fortune had taken a serious toll on the family unit and Barry Gibb said of the time: "We were not friends anymore. We were still brothers but we couldn't get along with each other... Everybody suddenly developed an ego."

Sibling rivalry led to tensions between Barry and Robin, with Maurice caught in the middle. The situation came to a head in 1969 when Robin eventually left the band to go solo and their sister Lesley was drafted in as a replacement.

Their best, however, was still to come, and the boys proved how deep their love was in 1970 by reuniting. The falsetto-pitched disco beats of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack marked a turning point in their careers and saw them go on to sell in excess of 220 million records worldwide.

Yet maybe the most remarkable family pairing, still taking curtain calls nearly 30 years after they rose to fame, are Donny and Marie Osmond. The duo have been performing their resurrected 1976 variety show in Las Vegas and will tour Canada next month. Speaking to the CBC, Donny said: "Marie and I, we're so competitive. That sibling rivalry thing: it's real, it's true." True it may be, but might it also prove that in showbiz, it's not what you know but who you're related to that can determine your long-term success.