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 favourite sibling duos that have forged music history together.
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.
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 60s 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.
Richard and Karen Carpenter (Carpenters)
Between the studio talents of Richard Carpenter and the beguiling voice of his sister Karen, the Carpenters were one of the biggest-selling American musical acts of all time. While their family originally nurtured Richard’s talents, it would be Karen who would first land a recording contract at age 16. Richard would continue to be the driving musical force, but it was Karen’s vocals that truly set the duo apart.
Ray and Dave Davies (The Kinks)
Born to a family of six girls, the two Davies brothers, Ray and his younger brother Dave stuck close together and grew up playing guitar. In 1964 they formed The Kinks and helped lead the British Invasion. But not everything was hunky dory during their 30 odd years together. As you see from this list, sibling rivalry can be just one of the driving forces of musical creation.
John and Tom Fogerty (CCR)
Before they conquered America and then the world, Tom and John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival first played in a band called the Blue Velvets when John was still in high school. While his older brother Tom was the original leader and singer of the band, but by the time they were called CCR, his little brother John was the sole singer and songwriter. The band blazed bright until the brother’s falling out in 1972, but no one can deny the rock’ n ’roll alchemy forged by the two siblings.
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.
Louis and George Johnson (Brothers Johnson)
Louis Johnson and his older brother George grew up in LA during the city’s musical heyday of the 50s and 60s. 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.
Don and Harold Reid (The Statler Brothers)
As one half of the famous county-gospel quartet, The Statler Brothers, Harold and Don Reid had a more wholesome experience on the road and didn’t deal with the same trials and tribulations as the rock acts of the day. Born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley, they made a career taking the gospel harmonies of the church and put them over the country music they were hooked on. Don, his brother and their two friends began singing when they were teenagers before being famously discovered in 1964 by Johnny Cash and went on to produce four decades of hits.
Don and Phil Everly (Everly Brothers)
Don and Phil Everly may have had perfect harmony onstage, but offstage was a different story. Since of the ages of 8 and 6, the brothers were made to perform together for their family’s radio show throughout the late 40s. In the late 50s the duo rose to fame as the early rock ‘n’ roll scene took off with hits in the US and the UK. Known for their country-inflected rock with steel-string guitar, the brothers held it together long enough to inspire an entire generation of artists before they truly called it quits in 1973. As Phil said during that time, “We only ever had one argument. It’s been lasting for 25 years”.
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 Gallaghers 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.