A band or musical duo can feel like a family, but sibling bonds are for life. After all, who else to support your early musical dabbling then the person that hears you practicing in the next room?
But when it comes to performing together and all the financial entanglements and ego-stroking that it entails, it’s no surprise that family ties can get a bit strained. Whether they supported each other or had epic falling outs, here are some of our favorite sibling duos that have forged music history together.
Mark and David Knopfler (Dire Straits)
After founding Dire Straits in 1977, Mark Knopfler and his younger brother David became British rock legends, spearheading the pub-rock scene with their demo-turned overnight hit ‘Sultans of Swing’, but they were never quite ‘Brothers in Arms’. With Mark providing lead on guitar, vocals and songwriting and his brother David on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, one sibling was bound to get overshadowed by the other, but their rivalry was more of a slow burn than a fiery explosion.
Angus and Malcolm Young (AC/DC)
Angus Young was only 18 when he and his 20-year old brother, Malcolm formed the Australian hard rock band AC/DC in 1973, with Angus on lead guitar and Malcolm on rhythm guitar. But the two weren’t the only musical ones in the family, with their older brother George in one of Australia’s hit 60’s bands, The Easybeats and the eldest brother Alex playing bass in the UK-based band Grapefruit. Despite many line-up changes over the years, the two brothers were the main linchpins of the band.
Noel and Liam Gallagher (Oasis)
The Gallagher brothers have built their career on making their rivalry a kind of spectator sport. Even during the height of Oasis, the two would trade barbs on live TV, during performances and sometimes the conflicts would turn physical.
While some bands fight over royalties and songwriting credits, the Gallagher’s have quibbled over whether “Rock N’ Roll is about the music or about living a wild, genuine and spontaneous life”. The two finally called it quits in 2009 after selling more than 70 million records worldwide to start their own projects. If it took hell to freeze over for the Eagles to reunite, then we can only guess what divine intervention it would take to get Oasis to play together.
Louis and George Johnson (Brothers Johnson)
Louis Johnson and his older brother George grew up in Los Angeles during the city’s musical heyday of the 50’s and 60’s. They first started playing in high school with their brother Tommy and their cousin Alex Weird before landing with Billy Preston’s group from 1971 to 1973 and later Quincy Jones.
Soon after, the duo formed The Brothers Johnson and earned themselves the nicknames “Lightning Licks” for George’s slick guitar style and “Thunder Thumb’s for Louis’s signature slap bass. After several string of hits, they split in 1982 to pursue solo projects, reuniting in 1984 and 1988 for studio albums.
Ann and Nancy Wilson (Heart)
Sometimes two sets of siblings are better than one. While Heart at one point had siblings Ann and Nancy Wilson and their band mates and paramours Mike and Roger Fisher, the group has since changed their line-up over the course of four decades, with Ann and Nancy remaining the creative core of the band. As the first ladies of classic rock, the sisters navigated the fickle waters of each decade and band shifts, standing steadfastly by each other and going on to sell over 30 million albums worldwide.
Duane and Gregg Allman (Allman Brothers)
Duane Allman was a game-changing Rock N’ Roll guitarist while his younger brother Gregg Allman was one of the most charismatic vocalists in rock history, together they formed the pioneering Southern Rock band the Allman Brothers Band in 1969.
While the late Duane was a session musician prodigy, it was actually his younger brother who taught him his first guitar lessons and the two only split up once due to binding contract issues. Almost an exception to the rule, the Allman siblings had one of the most harmonious familial and creative relationships in rock history.