Brotherly love, Gallagher style
We’ve all heard of the term “band of brothers,” and although several bands are as tight personally as a group can be, some of rock’s greatest bands featured actual blood-brothers. From the Everlys to the Allmans and the Wilsons to the Followills, a certain special chemistry can sometimes occur when that sibling bond is brought into the world of rock. And to all of you fellow brothers out there, I’m sure we all can agree that there’s a firm relationship between male siblings that just can’t be explained, not so much finishing each others’ sentences but more along the lines of sharing similar interests and upbringing. Although there are assuredly different aspects that are unique to each brother, a lot of the time they think on the same page - now whether that same page means hating each others’ guts at times, that’s a whole different story! Check out some of the biggest brothers in rock and find out how these siblings got their starts from playing with each other as kids to playing for thousands across the globe.
Angus and Malcolm Young of AC/DC
Now these brothers can rock, plain and simple, but what many don’t know is that these two guys are actually the little brothers of two other rockers – albeit not as famous. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, and later moving to Australia, Angus and Malcolm are the younger brothers to George and Alex Young, with George actually being the catalyst that would inspire the younger duo into dedicating themselves to rock. As a member of The Easybeats, George Young attained a good deal of success in the land down under, easily being one of the biggest native acts during the ‘60s. In 1966, The Easybeats became the first local Australian band to attain an international hit with their song “Friday on My Mind.” Eldest brother Alex Young meanwhile was living in the UK as the bass player for the London based rock group, Grapefruit.
From left: Angus and Malcolm Young
Malcolm soon followed in his older brothers’ footsteps as he began playing with a New South Wales band known as The Velvet Underground (not to be confused with Lou Reed’s Velvet Underground). Soon after, he decided to form a band with little brother Angus, who was already becoming an outstanding guitarist in his own right. The name AC/DC was given to them by older sister Margaret after she saw the initials on her sewing machine and the name stuck. After a few member changes and even a brief period of glam inspired attire, AC/DC fired vocalist Dave Evans, whom the brothers felt was too much like glam rocker Garry Glitter, and soon replaced him with a friend of older brother George, Ronald Belford “Bon” Scott. After a few Australia-only EP and LPs, they soon gained international success with the worldwide release of their High Voltage album in 1976. After the infamous death of Bon Scott in 1980, AC/DC returned to the studio with new singer Brian Johnson to record what would become Back in Black, selling over 40 million records, second most ever sold behind Michael Jackson's Thriller.
John and Tom Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival
FL:John Fogerty,Stu Cook,Tom Fogerty,Doug Clifford
Another classic pairing in the world of rock, the duo famous for what would become Creedence Clearwater Revival had its start at Portola Junior High School in El Cerrito, California, when three schoolmates decided to form a band. John Fogerty, Doug Clifford and Stu Cook all met in junior high and decided to make an all-instrumental band called The Blue Velvets. Soon after, they began backing up older brother and singer Tom Fogerty at live shows as well as in the studio. By 1964, they were signed to an independent San Francisco based jazz label named Fantasy Records whose owner prompted the band to change their name to the Golliwogs in order to cash in on the similarly named British bands which were becoming the craze of the ‘60s. It is while at Fantasy Records that the group evolved into the setup they would soon become famous for; Stu Cook went from playing piano to bass, Tom began playing rhythm guitar and most importantly, John became the group’s lead vocalist as well as the principle songwriter.
By 1966, war was in full swing in the US and both John and Doug were drafted for military service, creating a potentially huge setback for the blossoming band, but luckily both were able to remain in the country as they ended up enlisting in the Army Reserves and the Coast Guard, respectively. They came up with the name after new Fantasy Records owner agreed to record a full length album for the group but only if they changed their name, which the band disliked anyway.
The precursor to CCR
Creedence came about from the name of one of Tom’s friends, Credence Newball, but decided to add an extra ‘e’ in order to give it a spiritual connotation. Clearwater came from a commercial for Olympia beer and revival was simply added to symbolize the groups’ renewed commitment to the band, with both John and Doug finishing their stints in the military and focusing on the band full time.
Soon after, their first EP began to gain a lot of attention, most notably for the track “Suzie Q,” a remake of an old rockabilly song by Dale Hawkings. The song would go on to reach No. 11 on the singles chart and would remain the only CCR song to break the top 40 and NOT having been written by John. A year later in 1969, they released their first album, Bayou Country, which contained the singles “Proud Mary” and “Born on the Bayou,” two of CCR’s best known songs to date, which began the stardom of what would be one of the biggest names in classic rock.
Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis
Now here’s a pair as famous for their music as they are for their public disputes. Oasis first began under the name Rain by members Paul McGuigan, Paul Arthurs, Tony McCarroll and Chris Hutton on vocals. The band was dissatisfied by Hutton and soon replaced him with guitarist Arthurs’ friend Liam Gallagher, who then in turn convinced the band to change their name to Oasis, which he got from an Inspiral Carperts touring poster hung in the Gallagher brothers’ room. One of the venues on the tour read “Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon, Wiltshire,” hence the inspiration. A roadie for Inspiral Carpets at the time, older brother Noel went to check out his younger brother’s band at their first live show. Although he wasn’t too impressed with what he heard, Noel had amassed a great number of songs and was looking for a band to help bring them to life. He proposed to Liam’s band that he would join Oasis on the condition that he would be the principle songwriter and that the band make an earnest attempt at gaining commercial success, to which they all agreed.
From Left: Liam and Noel Gallagher
After about a year of live shows and the recording of a demo, the band finally got attention when Creation Records co-owner Alan McGee saw them perform at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut club in Glasgow, Scotland, signing the group four days later. Following the strength of their singles “Supersonic” and the top ten hit “Live Forever,” Oasis released their debut album on September of 1994, entering the charts at number one and at the time became the fastest selling debut album in the UK. Soon after, they became as famous for their consistent number one albums as they were for the brothers’ on and off stage antics, such as a September 1994 show in Los Angeles where Liam, high on crystal meth, began the lackluster show with offensive remarks about US fans as well as assaulting his brother with a tambourine, causing Noel to formally quit the band, although he would return a few weeks later after reconciling with Liam.
There you have it, three very successful bands and three very different pair of brothers. Some seem like the perfect compliments to each other while others seem to be the root of the most friction, although one thing is for sure, through thick and thin, ups and downs, it takes a lot to break these guys up and when they do actually put their differences aside for the good of the group, you get some of rock’s greatest masterpieces!