Wednesday, May 12, 2021

WACKY WEDNESDAY: The Stupid Pleasures of Nepo-Rock ('60s Edition)


Often in small-town politics, success comes not from what you know or even who you know. It's who you're related to. And sometimes that's the case in the rock 'n' roll biz. 

Nepotism isn't all that rampant in the world of rock. But back in the 1960s there were several acts that definitely benefitted from having famous parents. (Not that this phenomenon stopped 50 years. Think Jakob Dylan, Julian Lennon, Wilson-Phillips, Dweezil Zappa, Miley Cyrus, Shooter Jennings, etc.) While much the music made by the children of famous entertainers is pretty bad, some actually is quite good. 

Here are several examples of what we'll call Nepo-Rock, mostly from the 1960s, when I was in elementary school and junior high.

Let's start with Dino, Desi and Billy. Dino was the son of Dean Martin while Desi was the son of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, thus making him the inspiration for Little Ricky on I Love Lucy. Billy Hinsche isn't the spawn of famous folks. (And he's the only one who continued a career in music, going on to become a touring member of The Beach Boys. And his sister Annie married Carl Wilson, which I guess was another form of nepotism.)  

Here's DD&B's first and biggest hit, a watered-down mutation of "Louie Louie":

Here is the son of comedic great Jerry Lewis, though I'm not sure that the French consider Gary Lewis to be a genius. With his band The Playboys (not to be confused with Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys or John Fred & His Playboy Band).

Full disclosure: I saw Gary Lewis & The Playboys live at Wedgewood amusement park in Oklahoma City back when they hot. (But I liked Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs,  who I saw at Springlake amusement park around the same time, much better.)

Gary's biggest hit, of course, was "This Diamond Ring." But he had several successful singles, and the one below, "Save Your Heart for Me," was a cheesy delight:

Noel Harrison was the son of actor Rex Harrison. I hardly ever heard Noel on the radio, but he was a frequent guest on TV variety show in the mid '60s Around the same time that daddy Rex was delighting children and talking to the animals as Doctor Doolittle, young Noel was singing pensive tunes such as "The Windmills of Your Mind" and this one, a tragic cautionary tale for wayward youth:

While Dino, Desi and Gary were pretty lame, and Noel Harrison was kind of interesting, there is one celebrity child who stood out. Being the daughter of Frank Sinatra -- who in. addition to being one of the world's most famous singer also ran a record company (Reprise) -- certainly didn't hurt her career. But I believe Nancy Sinatra would have made it anyway with her talent, charisma, sex appeal and her not-so-secret weapon of producer, songwriter and collaborator Lee Hazelwood.

I've already blogged not too long ago about Nancy's biggest hit, but here's one I've always liked a little more. Not only is it the best, "get-away-from-me-you-creep-or-my-boyfriend-will-beat-the-crap-out-of-you" song this side of The Angels' "My Boyfriend's Back," it's also got that great out-of-nowhere psychedelic freakout in the middle:

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