Some celebrity musicians make excellent fathers behind closed doors, but we don't often hear about it. Here is a list of the top 10 musical dads and why they deserve to be on the list.
In more ways than one, didn’t we all think Elton John would be a great dad? His constant advice to other artists like Coldplay and U2, a champion of human rights around the world (notwithstanding his high profile with gay and lesbian associations), and one who also happened to spend a half-million dollars one year on flowers—for himself. Now that’s a guy who knows how to pamper someone special. After years of trying to adopt with his partner/husband David Furnish, he introduced Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, born on Christmas Day through a surrogate. "I've never felt anything like it in my life," the music legend said of holding their son for the first time. "You're so awestruck. What can you say? You take it in. The feeling, the joy, the warmth of his body, his breathing...I will never forget that experience ever." The baby’s Godmother? None other than Mother Monster, Lady Gaga.
If all Sir Bob ever did was record The Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays,” his place in music history would be secured. But add Band Aid’s "Do They Know It's Christmas?" one of the best-selling singles of all time, Live Aid, Live 8, and The One Campaign, he’s responsible for changing the lives of millions around the world, and your television habits, too: He co-owns the astonishing successful TV production company Planet 24, pioneering reality television with the Survivor franchise. Yes, THAT Survivor. When his ex-wife Paula Yates and INXS’ Michael Hutchence began dating under drug-fuelled days and nights, Bob went to court and obtained full custody of his and Paula’s own three daughters. After both Paula and Michael passed away, Bob became the legal guardian of Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, Paula and Michael’s daughter. Catch all that? Bob later became a huge proponent of father’s rights and all the while, never lost his wicked sense of humour. His latest album is How To Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell. It didn’t, but don’t bet against this being the last time you’ll hear of him.
Jack almost invented the bumbling, cocky, but internally self-conscious outsider in comedy films. From his turns in High Fidelity, Bob Roberts, The School Of Rock, Yo Gabba Gabba to his own Tenacious D rock band, he’s never far away from music. He’s married to accomplished cellist Tanya Haden, the daughter of the jazz double bassist Charlie Haden, and sister of violinist and singer Petra Haden and have two boys now—Samuel and Thomas, which, I’m sure, makes family reading or playing time even more enjoyable than he is to watch as Po in Kung Fu Panda.
A boring life was not an option for Gordon Sumner. With his success on stage, on screen, and his activism, there aren’t many musicians who become more successful in their own right while fronting their own gazillion-selling band than Sting. His songs are classic: Roxanne, Don’t Stand So Close To Me, Every Breath You Take, Desert Rose and De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da. (ok, forget that one), his movie roles are great (Dune/Quadrophenia) to meh (almost everything else). And there’s no denying his courage and stand in founding The Rainforest Foundation Fund to help save the rainforests and protect the rights of the indigenous peoples living there. As a dad to Joe, Fuchsia, Bridget, Jake, Eliot, and Giacomo he’s been there for his kids, giving them an inspiration and challenge to live life to the fullest. But, for me, what got him on the list was bringing Joe’s band, Fiction Plane as the only opening act for The Police’s reunion tour in 2007-08. During an off-day in Toronto, Joe told me Sting got the band back together again so he could spend more time with him. I’m not quite sure if that was true, but I’d like to think it is.
As relentless as any musician, Raine’s words can quickly whip up momentum in Canada. Raine and his wife Chantal Kreviazuk can be seen together, and separately, busking in the streets raising funds and awareness for War Child Canada, a cause close to his heart. Raine also produced the benefit album entitled Help: A Day in the Life for the organization, and was one of the lone celebrity voices as an outspoken critic of the Iraq War having traveled and filmed documentaries in Iraq, Darfur, and Ethiopia during off time from Our Lady Peace. Their children Rowan, Lucca, and Salvador, through no fault of their own, will be looked upon to continue their parents edginess and outspokenness. If it happens, Canada—and the world—will be in a better place for it.
While you can imagine Steven shopping in the Funky Mom section as the kittensoft with foul mouth judge on American Idol, it’s easy to forget he was on a permanent vacation for almost a decade while The Demon of Screamin' cleaned up his act and body from drug and alcohol addiction. Steven seems to have rediscovered his instincts on the show, and recently published his autobiography, Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? detailing his time with, and away, from his kids Liv, Mia, Chelsea, and Taj Tyler. He may still make a pass at your wife, heck, even your teenage daughter, but this grandfather (!!!) will always be singing for the laughter, singing for the tears.
Elton John listed Flowers as one of his top-five heroes while editing The Independent's World Aids Day special edition (see how this list all comes together?), he and his melodic The Killers reclaimed synths from the 80s and back onto radio through Somebody Told Me and Mr. Brightside. He's usually jittery with nervous energy and looks more like a geeky student than a rock hero, and once described himself as "a golf-addicted chubby kid from Utah who had never been kissed until I moved to Las Vegas.” It’s that self-conscious of where he came from that gets him on the list. He’s one of the few Mormons to reach superstardom in music (there’s Donny Osmond, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low, and…umm..Donny Osmond,) which I’m positive kept him from losing the plot entirely throughout his dizzying success. Ammon (named after a Book of Mormon prophet), Gunnar, and Henry, just tell your dad to lose the moustache. Other than that, he’s stylishishly perfect.
Just as New Kids On The Block started their reunion tour this month with Backstreet Boys, Joey and his wife Barrett have welcomed daughter Kira to their family, joining sons Griffin and Rhys. But Joey doesn’t make my list because of his dominating dance moves nor ability to stay sane while selling millions of records to teenage girls—it’s because he’s an advocate for hearing loss in babies. Rhys failed a routine hearing test at the hospital after he was born, and extensive follow-up tests at UCLA showed that he had severe hearing loss. That meant both parents signing up for speech therapy and getting Rhys fitted for hearing aids in both ears when he was just a month old. The weekly therapy sessions have become bonding time, as the fears any parent feels for their kids brings has helped bring their family together. Forget for a moment the enduring popularity NKOTB has held over 25 years, as a parent, Joey definitely has “The Right Stuff.”
The stunning transformation from feel good rapper to serious movie star (he is the only actor in history to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million in the domestic box office) has been one of the great entertainment reinventions in history. You’ve heard and seen his wife, Jada, and their two kids Willow and Jaden in their own cyclone of a spotlight to know they’ve been able to mesh the personal and public duties as well as anyone. Intriguingly, as parents of Hollywood kid stars, they’ve been able to also have Will’s son from his first marriage, Trey, out of the hype, too. But if Trey ever changes his mind and wants to appear in any of Will’s blockbuster movies, expect the durable Will and Jada to steer him properly.
In our house, once the champion of metal music got kicked off in the Top 4 on American Idol, it was over for the TV viewing. I dig him because he’s fabulously intense, all attitude, and loves being on the stage (the producers off-camera had to calm him AND the audience down after a performance.) Even if you’re not a fan of hard rock, you couldn’t take your eyes off him. His love of music came from his father, a musician, who unfortunately died of a drug overdose when James was nine, and James was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and Asperger syndrome shortly after. That didn’t stop him at all, as Randy said 57569 times, he was “In it to win it.” He never hid is homesickness away from his wife, Heidi and son, Hunter, establishing him as a softie in a genre not known for its toughness. It was awesome to see him with no limitations, huge dreams and acting like a little kid on Christmas Day when Hulk Hogan, his hero, came out to surprise him on one episode. To James, the man who was born to rock, we salute you.