Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Band Mom is The Man: Five Musicians with Politician Parents

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 7:14 AM


Sen. Daniel Inouye, who passed this week, was present for some of the 20th Century's pivotal events. Born in Hawaii in 1924, he witnessed the Pearl Harbor attack as a medical volunteer. He enlisted in the Army and fought in World War II; there he lost an arm and still stayed in the service until 1947. He was elected to Hawaii's senate just two years before it became a state; he then went on to serve eight terms in Congress. He was involved in the Watergate hearings and the Iran-Contra affair.

But did you know about Sen. Inouye's connection to the Washington, D.C. hardcore punk scene?

His son Kenny was the guitarist in Marginal Man, whose debut 12", 1984's Identity, appeared on Washington, D.C.'s Dischord Records. Not only was the Senator proud of his son's punk pursuits, but he was a co-owner of In Your Eye Records, which co-released Marginal Man projects. Legend has it that Sen. Inouye could be seen queueing up in front of the 9:30 Club for his son's shows, no doubt a conspicuous sight in the thrashing crowd.

In the wake of Sen. Inouye's passing, it's interesting to reflect on other bands that included the children of politicians or other high-ranking U.S. government employees. With some help from various Facebook friends, we identified musicians who had parents in the executive and legislative government branches. We could think of no children of Supreme Court justices or federal court judges. Further, no band has included a U.S. President's offspring - although Kathleen Hanna titled one of her first bands Amy Carter, and there were rumors (sadly, easily disproven) that Chelsea Clinton was once a riot grrrl.

Here, then, are five of the most prominent musicians with political roots.

1) Stewart Copeland. The Police drummer's father, Miles Copeland Jr., was a high ranking Central Intelligence Agency agent who was heavily involved in Middle East affairs in the 1940s through the 1960s - a time that included the formation of Israel, the Suez Crisis, and other hot-button issues. It's interesting to note that when Stewart's brothers entered into the music scene, both referenced government acronyms: Ian Copeland formed the FBI booking agency, while Miles Copeland III founded I.R.S. Records.

2) Joe Strummer. The Clash frontman may have claimed to have a "Bankrobber" for a father, but Ronald Mellor was actually a foreign service diplomat who was born in colonial India. Strummer himself was born in Turkey and moved around a lot as a child. Despite his role in the British Empire's waning days, Mellor and his son apparently shared a left-wing view of the world - which didn't stop Strummer from downplaying his roots early on in an attempt to preserve his credentials as a street-level provocateur.

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