Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! Three Musicians Who Didn’t Do As Well As Their Superstar Rock’n’Roll Siblings

By on August 17, 2015


There are plenty of brother-sister, brother-brother, sister-sister combos in music. But what I’d like to do is compare and contrast specific sibling pairs who aren’t in the same bands. More to the point, I want to look at the less successful of the two. While one of them went on to magnificent fan and fortune, the other musician in the family was doomed to obscurity.

1. Dik Evans

U2’s The Edge is really David Howell Evans, a middle child born in London to Welsh parents. His sister Gillian came later while he was preceded by Richard. He’s the one I want to talk about.

The Evans family grew up in Dublin with both boys prone to getting into trouble by experimenting with petrol bombs and playing with fire, something that gave Dick a scare that he carries today. He was also something of an electronics prodigy. The first guitar the brothers share was built by Dick from some plans he found in an electronics magazine.

When the band that would become U2 first started rehearsing in the fall of 1976, both Evans boys were part of the lineup, one of whom still using that guitar they built together in the garden shed out back. While they had a considerable amount of fun mucking about, Dick (or “Dik” as he began to spell his name) stood out a little too much.  While little brother Dave was still in school with the three other guys, Dick wasn’t, which seemed awkward. He had just enough years on everyone else that he seemed from a different generation.

Still, he stuck it out. Dik was on guitar with Feedback (the first incarnation of U2) and The Hype (which was their name through 1977 and the first months of 1978). But by the time the weather started to warm up, things had become…weird.

Writing songs as a four-piece seemed more natural than having five guys involved.  Besides Dik had a job and couldn’t always get to rehearsals. Meanwhile, Dave–now nicknamed The Edge–defended his brother and was probably in denial about the poor fit with what The Hype was becoming. At the same time, the rest of the group didn’t know how to go about splitting up two brothers. Then there was a fistfight between Dik and Larry Mullen over something, which prompted a band vote. Keep Dik or expel him? It was 3-o in favor expulsion with Dave abstaining.

The Hype was finished as a five-piece but they also wanted to go about transitioning into the next phase with dignity. There was one final gig with Dik at the Presbyterian Church in the town of Howth in March 1978. The first set featured the five-piece Hype playing cover songs. After a break, the four remaining members presented themselves to the audience as U2 playing nothing but original tunes. That has been the only lineup change in U2’s history.

Dik may have been out of his little brother’s band, but he didn’t quit music. He went on to form another Dublin group called the Virgin Prunes, staying with them from 1978 through to 1984. After that, he was in a group called the Kid Sisters, who later became the Screech Owls.  Today Dik works for an Irish festival.

Here’s a sample of the Virgin Prunes from their 1982 album, If I Die, I Die.

2. Peter Cornell

Everyone knows Chris Cornell as the singer for Soundgarden and Audioslave as well as a solo performer. But he’s not the only member of the family who pursued music.

There are six Cornell children: Peter, Patrick, Chris, Katy, Suzy and Maggie. Peter, Katy and Suzy banded together in Inflatable Soul back in the 90s before Peter jumped to Black Market Radio, which was based out of New York. His singing voice is close that of his younger brother. Peter continues to release solo material.

3. Andy Yorke

About five years after Radiohead’s Thom Yorke came along, the family welcomed Andrew. Later, while Thom was off forming the group that would eventually become Radiohead, Andrew was learning how to speak Russian. He was so serious about his language studies that he took a trip to the Soviet Union in 1987 when he was just 15.

Andy studied Russian at university, moved to Moscow to work in 1992 and then got a job working as a translator for Greenpeace. He went back to university in 2000 and the last I heard, he was working on a PhD in government at the London School of Economics.

In the midst of all this, he found time to be in a band called Unbelievable Truth. Like Radiohead, they were from Oxford with Andy serving as the singer and lead guitarist. They were good enough to land a record deal with Virgin Records, releasing two albums, Almost Here (1998) and Sorry Thank You (2000). They sold a couple hundred thousand albums, too. After the second album was released, Andy left for Russia and the band filled out their scorecard with a double album filled with live tracks and B-sides.

As far as I can tell, the last musical thing Andy has done was a 2008 solo album entitled Simple.

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