iSteve commenter Hapalong Cassidy writes:
I’ve always been fascinated by the role birth order plays in the music world. In any music act with siblings, it usually is the younger sibling who is more talented. Examples: Eddie Van Halen vs Alex VH (the drummer), John Fogerty vs Tom Fogerty, Michael & Janet Jackson (the 7th & 9th out of 9 kids, being vastly more talented than their older siblings).
I immediately ginned up a theory for HC’s observation, assuming it’s true:
For boys, younger brothers are slightly more likely to be homosexual than older brothers, perhaps for biochemical reasons: It’s not an easy feat for a woman to give birth to a baby with the opposite sex’s hormones, and multiple renditions of this effort might take their toll.
Maybe less masculinity correlates somewhat with more musical talent? The English, I am told have the euphemism “musical” for gay. Certainly, dance talent correlates with less masculinity.
Rock stars tend to be highly heterosexual. As I pointed out in my review of Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddie Mercury is the only major rock star to have died of AIDS. Here’s Wikipedia’s list of HIV-positive musicians and it’s the least rock and roll list of musicians you ever saw in your life (with the exception of Freddie and Tom Fogerty of Creedence, whose family insisted he got it from a transfusion during back surgery. And Tom was so much less musically talented than his brother John that that seems plausible.)
On the other hand, rock stars are not all that masculine, more artsy. For example, I recently read an interview with Bruce Springsteen in which he admitted that his popular on-stage persona is modeled on his macho blue collar dad and that’s not the real Bruce up on stage. He’s more the sissy momma’s boy. Tom Petty’s relationship with his dad was pretty similar. Joe Strummer’s friends said he wasn’t as macho as he acted on stage, but also never leave your girlfriend alone with Joe for more than 90 seconds.
But does Hapalong’s asserted pattern hold up?
Beach Boys: Brian Wilson is the oldest of the 3 brothers, so they are a definite No.
I looked up the Kinks: Sir Ray is the older brother, so no disrespect to Dave Davies, but I’ll score that one against your observation.
Allman Brothers: “Duane Allman (founder, slide guitar and lead guitar) and Gregg Allman (vocals, keyboards, songwriting).” Duane was older than Gregg, but I’m not willing to judge between them in talent. I’ll call that a toss-up.
AC-DC: Malcolm was older than Angus Young. I’ll let somebody else judge between them in talent.
Bee-Gees: Sir Barry Gibb, the oldest, seems like the alpha male of the band. Robin and Maurice were twins (fraternal?). Their younger brother Andy Gibb was a solo star for awhile.
Devo: Mark Mothersbaugh, the eldest of the two brothers, has gone on to have a career scoring TV shows, rather like Danny Elfman of Oingo-Boingo.
Osmonds: Like their rivals the Jackson 5, the youngest (Michael Jackson and Donny Osmond) were sensational child prodigy rock stars. Here’s the Osmond’s first hit “One Bad Apple.” The songwriter wanted the Jackson 5 to do it for their second single after “I Want You Back,” but they chose “ABC” instead. Donny doesn’t sing lead, but he takes over at 0:33:
Anyway, I’m kind of stumped on whether this pattern holds up or not.