10 Legendarily Bad Rock and Roll Fathers (and Their Legendary Kids)

Categories: Lists

Jackson 5
Not pictured: Joe Jackson's belt.
If I believed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an institution or even an argument settler, I would insinuate myself as one of their exhibit planners and make sure there was a "Worst Dads in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" created every June. Why? Because for every bit of musical genius cluttering up that Cleveland carbuncle, there's a rotten patriarch behind the legend doing his best to lower his son or daughter's self-esteem and arguably inspire his best work.

Because of that last stipulation, the spawning of a rock legend, we can handily eliminate such celebrated do-wrong daddies as Papa John Phillips, who sexually abused his own daughter Mackenzie, turned her on to drugs at an early age, let Mick Jagger babysit her and perhaps most cruelest of all, had her replace hottie stepmom Michelle in a Mama Cass-less reunion of the Mamas and Papas.



And we can also eliminate those questionable calls you people are already calling out, like Billy Joel (who inadvertently forced daughter Alexis into years of ridicule when the gene pool gave her all of dad's good looks instead of supermodel mom Christie Brinkley) and Eric Clapton (oh, you people are cruel.)

Let's count 'em down, in order of severity:


10. Harry Nilsson's Dad, Harry Edward Nilsson Jr.

No singer-songwriter has written more jaunty yet heartbreaking autobiographical ditties about being abandoned by his father when he was four than Harry Edward Nilsson III or Harry Nilsson or just plain Nilsson.

"Daddy's Song," "So Long Dad," and especially "1941," which was the year he was born and in which he sings "Well, in 1941, the happy father had a son / And in 1944, the father walked right out the door."

Oddly enough, he refashioned this into the theme for the television series "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," which depicted an idyllic father-and-son relationship he never had growing up. Lacking that father figure, Nilsson spiraled out of control after winning the fawning approval of all four Beatles, about the only thing they agreed on after 1967. Sadly, more ink has been devoted not to his music but his period of excess in the mid-'70s, palling around with an equally self-destructive John Lennon (don't worry, we'll get to him).


9. Adele's Dad, Mark Evans

You have to be a pretty lousy papa to have your daughter tell the NME, "If I ever see him I will spit in his face." We know he was a raging good-for-nothing alcoholic who wasn't there for her in her teens, and not because she recorded an album called 15, either -- it's because her attention-seeking dad won't stop talking to the tabloids!

This is what has largely caused this irreparable rift. According to Adele, "To come back after 10 years and be like, 'Maybe her problem with men comes down to me.' It's like, 'Fuck off! How dare you comment on my life?' It makes my blood boil."

Read More: 10 Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Who Never Topped Their Debut Album


8. Meat Loaf's Dad, Orvis Wesley Aday

Ever wonder why Meat Loaf can cry over a ruined soufflé on Celebrity Apprentice? Maybe the sight of the cutlery brought back memories of his dad, an alcoholic police officer who not only gave him the Meat nickname but also visited him in college and tried to carve him into sirloin chunks with a butcher knife back in 1967.

But at least Orvis kept in touch with his son, something you can't say about the rest of this pack.


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