Family Affairs: A History of Famous Parents and Children on Billboard Charts

By Gary Trust, New York, Billboard Magazine
Throughout the rock era, several musical offspring have made their parents proud by following their footsteps onto Billboard charts.

Rosanne Cash, Natalie Cole, Miley Cyrus, Jakob Dylan, Norah Jones, Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, Kelly Osbourne, Lisa Marie Presley, Nancy Sinatra, Willow and Jaden Smith and Hank Williams Jr. and his son, Hank III, are among the many sons and daughters of fathers all boasting Billboard chart histories.

Mothers have also paved the way for daughters on Billboard rankings. Perhaps most famously, the Judds – Naomi and Wynonna – tallied 14 Hot Country Songs No. 1s between 1984 and 1989. Wynonna added four of her own in 1992-96.

Cissy and Whitney Houston; Loretta and twin daughters Patsy and Peggy Lynn; and, Linda Davis and Hillary Scott, the latter Lady Antebellum’s female voice, also represent mothers and daughters who have all graced Billboard charts.

Rarer, however, are artists that have appeared on Billboard surveys born to parents who both previously scaled Billboard music listings. In the cases of the artists above, only one parent – Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Ozzy Osbourne, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, etc. – has drawn chart ink.

This week, the elite group of accomplished families in which each parent and their bundles of joy can lay claim to Billboard chart histories expands. B.I.C., aka, Blue Ivy Carter, the daughter of Jay-Z and Beyonce, makes history as the youngest person ever to appear on a Billboard chart, as her father’s “Glory,” on which she’s officially credited as a featured artist, begins on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at No. 74. The track closes to the sounds of the newborn’s first cries, captured lovingly by her proud papa.

Upon B.I.C.’s grand entrance, here is a look at other prominent families that could proudly hang Billboard chart plaques in multiple bedrooms.

(Once she’s old enough to read, Blue Ivy Carter will learn just what special chart company she joined within hours of her birth).

John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Sean LennonWhile Julian Lennon was born to John and Cynthia Lennon, the latter of whom never ranked on a Billboard chart, Julian’s younger half-brother Sean is the son of John and Yoko Ono. (Julian posted a pair of Billboard Hot 100 top 10s in 1985: the No. 9-peaking “Valotte” and the No. 5 “Too Late for Goodbyes”).

John’s chart history as both a Beatle and a soloist is among the most celebrated in Billboard lore, while Ono has built a more than 30-year resume on Dance Club Songs that includes an active streak of seven consecutive No. 1s dating to 2008.

Sean has placed two albums on the Billboard 200: “Into the Sun” (No. 153, 1998) and “Friendly Fire” (No. 152, 2006). In an ode to his late father, the younger Lennon first charted as a member of the Peace Choir, whose anti-Gulf War remake of “Give Peace a Chance” peaked at No. 54 on the Hot 100 in 1991.

James Taylor, Carly Simon and Ben TaylorThe elder Taylor entered the Rock and Roll of Fame in 2000, recognition for a legendary career that has yielded top 10s on the Billboard 200 and Hot 100. Grammy, Academy and Golden Globe award winner Simon has likewise been a Billboard chart mainstay for more than 40 years, with the since-divorced couple having charted two duets on the Hot 100: “Mockingbird” (No. 5, 1974) and “Devoted to You” (No. 36, 1978).

Their son Ben, vocally reminiscent of his dad, has appeared on Heatseekers Albums with three sets. He first reached Adult Contemporary in 1995 with a No. 39-peaking cover of theBeatles’ “I Will.”

(Kate and Livingston Taylor shouldn’t feel inferior at family functions, either. James’ younger sister and brother, and Ben’s aunt and uncle, respectively, have each dented the AC top 20).

Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Shooter JenningsCountry icon Waylon Jennings made close to 100 visits to Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, scoring his biggest pop crossover success with 1980’s beloved “Theme From the Dukes of Hazzard (Good Ol’ Boys),” a No. 21 Hot 100 hit. Colter, Jennings’ wife from 1969 until his 2002 passing, totaled 12 entries on the tally, including three duets with her husband.

It turns out that Colter let her baby grow up to be a singer.

With assistance from fellow country legend George Jones, their son Shooter (nee, Waylon Albright Jennings) rose to No. 26 in 2005 with “4th of July.” In 2008, Shooter brought Waylon’s final recordings to life on the album “Waylon Forever.” The collection of remakes of Waylon classics (and a Shooter original), all backed by Shooter and his band, the 357’s, reached No. 28 on Top Country Albums.

“It’s all about bringing my musical side of everything I do around (my father),” Shooter told Billboard upon the album’s release.

Honorable mentions?

John, Michelle and Chynna Phillips (John and Michelle scored multiple hits as members of the Mamas & the Papas, as did daughter Chynna in Wilson Phillips, although only John charted as a solo artist); Tricia Leigh Fisher, daughter of Eddie Fisher and Connie Stevens; Louise Goffin, daughter of songwriter Gerry Goffin and Carole King; and Teddy Thompson, son of Richard and Linda Thompson.

Animated honorable mention: the Simpsons, since Springfield’s most famous family sent “Sing the Blues” (featuring tracks credited to Marge, Homer, Bart and Lisa) to No. 3 on the Billboard 200 in 1991. Homer and Bart’s not-so-harmonious harmonies infused the set’s single “Deep, Deep Trouble,” which reached No. 69 on the Hot 100.

As for future candidates?

Perhaps Billboard charts to come will house entries from Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon’s twins, Monroe and/or Moroccan; any of Faith Hill and Tim McGraw’s three children; or, Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin’s daughter Apple or son Moses (although the band already notched a No. 10 Triple A hit with the song “Moses” in 2003).

Maybe newlyweds Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton will take a cue from Jay-Z and Beyonce and, upon the arrival of their firstborn, send a baby cowboy or cowgirl moseying straight onto Hot CountrySongs.

What if Drake and Nicki Minaj ever marry (for real)?

And, how about Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez? Should Gomez’s Bieber Fever eventually be accompanied by cravings for odd food combinations and they welcome a child that reaches a Billboard chart, he or she could match or break B.I.C.’s record.

Maybe even on a remake of “Baby.”