There’s a certain chemistry that exists between duos that make love and make music that you just can’t fake. And while a lot of the partnerships have ended in divorce or worse, their respective bands breaking up, we thought we’d take a look at some of the best loving musical partnerships. From John Carter and Johnny Cash to Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, here are some of our picks for the best husband and wife duos in music.
Cecil Womack had known Linda Cooke (the daughter of singer Sam Cooke) since they were children before their eventual marriage in 1979. As the musical duo Womack & Womack, they experienced worldwide success after their 1984 debut Love Wars, with their biggest single ‘Teardrops’ reaching #1 in Australia in 1988. In the early ‘90s they made a life-changing trip to Nigeria where they discovered their ancestral ties to the country’s Zekkariyas tribe, ultimately leading them to move from their homes in America to explore Africa. Inspired by the discovering of their heritage, Cecil and Linda also changed their names to Zekkariyas and Zeriiya, respectively, and their future releases were credited under the guise The House of Zekkariyas. Sadly, Cecil died of unknown causes in South Africa earlier this year on 1st February 2013.
Sam Phillips and T Bone Burnett
After meeting in the 1980s while working on her album The Indescribable Wow , singer songwriter Sam Phillips and producer and session musician extraordinaire T-Bone Burnett married in 1989. The pair remained collaborators until their divorce in 2004. Since their separation Phillips has turned to self-producing with her 2008 release Don't Do Anything garnering rave reviews.
In a 1998 radio interview, Waits said he met American singer-songwriter Brennan “on New Year’s Eve at a party in Hollywood. I was leaving the next day to New York City and I was never coming back to the Los Angeles area ever again. So we met on New Year’s and then I left... for about four months. I came back and I was writing songs and Kathleen was working at Zoetrope,” Francis Ford Coppola’s film studio where Brennan was working as a script analyst at the time. “Somebody told her to go down and known on my door and she did and I opened the door and there she was and that was it,” recalls Waits. “Love at first sight. Love at second sight.” They’ve been musical collaborators ever since, now verging on 30 years. No, definitely not crying, it’s just a bit of dirt in the old eye.
The bassist and guitarist of Sonic Youth met in New York in the early 80s and began making love before they started making music. Together with Lee Ranaldo the three made up what was to be known as one of the most iconic No Wave bands of all time. Gordon and Moore went on to marry in 1984 and have a daughter Coco Hayley a decade later. After 27 years of marriage, the couple confirmed their separation in 2011 due to Moore’s extra martial affair. In an interview early this year Gordon described him as “a lost soul”.
Michelle and John Phillips were said to have a tumultuous relationship throughput their eight year marriage which lasts from 1962 through to 1970 due in large part to John’s substance abuse issues. Despite that, the pair made beautiful music together with both sharing writing credits on the band’s biggest hit ‘California Dreamin’’, and they also bore a child, singer Chynna Phillips.
Another case of a music relationship done right. These two songwriters have even named an album after their union. Julie Miller’s Buddy & Julie Miller was produced by Buddy and released in 2001, a whole two decades after first becoming married. The Millers continue to record and produce music separately, and whilst they still perform together on occasion it’s been almost four years since their last collaborative release in 2009, Written In Chalk. That’s thankfully not a posthumous reference to their husband/wife status, which is still going strong.
In-love indie folk duo The Weepies are married singer-songwriters Deb Talan and Steve Tannen; their history reads like something out of a romantic comedy. in 2011 Talan and Tannen performed as solo artists but were both massive fans of each other’s work, saying they “constantly” played the other’s music which led them to form “a kind of relationship”. Cue the “guy/girl walks into a bar” scene, they finally meet one another at a show in Cambridge, Massachusetts, formed The Weepies and married between the band’s hiatus in the late 2000s.
Funnily enough, American indie duo Mates Of State are more than just mates. Jason Hammel (vocals, drums) and Kori Gardner (vocals, keyboard) first played together as guitarists in a four-piece rock band called Vosotros, but thankfully decided to leave the quartet and start their own musical project in 1997. They’ve been happily married since 2001 and continue to make music as a wedded pair. Their latest slice of indie pop arrived in 2011 with Mountaintops.
The initial trio that made up Scottish alt-rockers Cocteau Twins came together in 1981 when Robin Guthrie and Will Heggie saw a 17-year-old Elizabeth Fraser dancing at a club and then asked her to join their band. It would also prove to double up as a love-at-first-sight moment for Guthrie and Fraser, as they eventually fell into a relationship during the band’s worldwide success and had a daughter together, Lucy Belle, in 1989. They broke things off in 92 but continued with their musical relationship until Cocteau Twins eventually disbanded in ’98.
The Beatle and his artsy bride formed the Plastic Ono Band in 1969, the same year they exchanged vows at The Rock Hotel in Gilbraltar, and a year before the Fab Four’s last album and eventual breakup. John and Yoko’s first release together as the Plastic Ono Band was entitled Live Peace in Toronto 1969, a protest album about Britain’s involvement in the Nigerian Civil War that peaked at #10 on the Billboard 200 Chart. It was recorded live at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival Festival on September 13 1969 and featured Eric Clapton on lead guitar, long-time Beatles associate Klaus Voorman on bass, and a pre-Yes Alan White on drums. The Plastic Ono Band’s last release with Lennon was in 1975 with Shaved Fish, and Ono has since continued to operate under the moniker, including 2011’s collaborative EP with The Flaming Lips.
This Swedish quartet comprised of two married couples for the majority of their worldwide reign. First, there was Agnetha Falstkog and Bjorn Ulvaes. After meeting each other in the late 60s, they married in 1971 and had two children together before splitting in 78 and finalising the divorce in 1980. As with most musical breakups, the split inspired one of ABBA’s greatest hits, with Ulvaeus’ famous ballad ‘The Winner Takes It All’ written about their relationship breakdown. Meanwhile, after meeting only six months prior, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad became engaged in August 1969. They didn’t officially marry until during the peak of ABBA’s superstardom in 78, but divorced just three years later in the same year ABBA would release their last album together, 1981’s The Visitors.
Linda McCartney (then, Eastman) first met The Beatles when she was a photographer for the band. In a slightly corny scenario, the two first shared an ‘eyes meeting across the dancefloor’ moment in 1967 at a UK nightclub. Two years later, they were married. “We had a lot of fun together,” Paul has said of their relationship. “Just the nature of how we are, our favourite thing really is to just hang, to have fun. And Linda's very big on just following the moment.” Wings, McCartney’s post-Beatles project featured his wife, though there was some criticism from fans who questioned her inclusion in the lineup. While his wife also featured heavily on his second solo album, 1971’s Ram, McCartney insisting that she been involved in his music so that he didn’t have to be away from her on tour. Wings went on to become one of the biggest bands of the 70s, being awarded numerous Grammy awards. The couple remained together for just shy of 30 years, until Linda’s death from breast cancer in 1998.
Famously covered in the album Rumours, Fleetwood Mac consisted pretty much exclusively in-band couples. Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham met in Nicks’ final year of high school. They started making music together some years later when Buckingham asked her to join his band Fritz. The duo eventually became a part of Fleetwood Mac in 1974, where drummer Mick Fleetwood was married to bandmate Jenny Boyd at this point. However during a 1977 tour, Nicks and Fleetwood began the affair that would fracture the ties of the group. However in a cruel twist of fate, it wasn’t Stevie Nicks that Fleetwood eventually left his wife and two kids for, but her friend Sara Recor. At least they got some good music out of all that emotional turmoil.
Tina Turner (then, Anna Mae Bullock) first spotted Ike Turner performing with the Kings of Rhythm, his RnB and blues band in the late 1950s. Though not taken aback by his looks, she was drawn to his musical competency. At one of the performances, she was prompted to come on stage and sing a few numbers; she ended up singing for the whole night’s performance. She was later invited to join the band full time and recorded for the first time in 1959 as well as changing her name to ‘Tina’, through Ike’s suggestion. The first Ike And Tina Turner record came out the same year and in 1962, the couple married and were regularly praised for their electric live performances. Their success was built on songs such as “River Deep, Mountain High”, the cover of Sly and Family Stone’s “I Want to Take You Higher”, “Proud Mary” and “Nutbush City Limits”. It was in the late 70s that their marriage took a sad turn for the worse, with Ike developing a severe cocaine addiction and Tina fleeing after a violent fight. The couple later divorced in 1978, leaving their musical projects on a sad note.
The Canadian indie rock band features husband and wife, Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, who married in 2003. It’s quite a family affair, with Butler’s brother, Will also in the band. The band’s debut album, Funeral was released in 2004, with numerous positive reviews and even scored a position of no. 151 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. They’ve since gone on to release the 2007 follow up, Neon Bible and 2010’s The Suburbs. Butler and Chassagne are as strong as ever, showing sometimes music and marriage can both go together.
For many years Jack and Meg were “brother and sister” and nobody, music media nor fans, thought anything of it. Given they shared the same jet black hair and pale complexion, it seemed believable these two were just from an incredibly talented family. But the Detroit pair were in fact husband and wife, marrying in 1996 and forming their influential blues band the following year. They chose to keep their brief relationship and marriage on the down-low so the focus stayed on the music and not on their relationship. It was in 2001 that the media got hold of their marriage confirmation after they had fooled the press for so long after the two divorced in 2000, but continued (thankfully) to make music, a testament to their bond and friendship. Their breakthrough records, White Blood Cells and Elephant, brought them wider acclaim. But following Get Behind Me Satan and
A tale that remains one of the greatest love stories of the music industry with their marriage spanning 35 years and was turned into a feature film, 2005’s Walk The Line. The couple first met when Johnny Cash toured with the Carter family in the early 60s. It was at this stage that he became addicted to amphetamines, but credited June for helping him to overcome his addiction. June co-wrote “Ring Of Fire” with Cash, but it’s “Jackson” which was their first hit song as a duo, winning them a Grammy award. He proposed to her on stage in 1968 and a week later they were married, fulfilling the ‘til death do we part’ vow. The two died within months of each other in 2003. June died in May of complications following heart valve replacement surgery, Johnny passed away in September, some suggesting his health deteriorated rapidly following his beloved’s death. The two are now buried side by side in Hendersonville, Tennessee. How’s that for a perfect love story?
The musical duo first met in a Los Angeles coffee shop in 1962. Cher was just 16 and Sonny, 11 years her senior, was working at a record studio in Hollywood. The pair married two years later and in 1965 they released their first album, Look At Us. It contained their most popular song ‘I Got You Babe’ which eventually rose to #1 in the UK and the US. Sonny and Cher tried to capitalise on a string of successful TV appearances by starring in the movie Good Times in 1968, but it didn’t work out and the feature film flopped. The duo’s music continued to falter through the late sixties. Their cotton-candy pop sound didn’t really appeal to the masses amongst the psychedelic trend that took off around the same time. Sonny and Cher welcomed their first child, Chastity Sun Bono is 1969 (who became Chaz Bono in 2010, but that’s another story), they sadly split in the late 70s. In 1998, on her career-revitalising 23rd album Believe, Cher dedicated it to her late husband.