He's bloody heavy, he's my brother

Click to follow
The Independent Online
The latest contretemps regarding the Gallagher brothers serves to emphasise what pop musicians have long regarded as a golden rule: don't take your brother on the stage. It's a hard rule to stick to, since most pop groups originally develop from some form of fraternal endeavour, but eventually there are bound to be tears before bedtime.

In many cases, it is simply sibling rivalry writ large: witness the Everly Brothers, whose mellifluous harmonies belied their offstage animosity, which at its height stretched as far as travelling to gigs in different planes and staying at different hotels. The three Wilson brothers - not forgetting their cousin Mike - in The Beach Boys also found that the pressure- cooker of pop stardom was inimical to good relations. A tyrannical father gave this most dysfunctional of pop's families a temporary external focus against which they could unite, but their long and well documented history of subsequent backbiting, therapy and litigation (and death) stands testament to their enduring differences.

The most famous British brotherly bust-ups, pre-Oasis, were those between Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks, whose fiery proto-heavy metal music was matched by an equivalent reputation for offstage hurly-burly. In the group's early days, Dave was the pretty one with the long hair and the cheeky smile that made all the girls swoon, while Ray was by his own admission somewhat lacking in those three essentials of pop stardom, flawless looks, clear complexions and, most of all, rows of bright sparkling white teeth. So deficient was he in the latter respect that, when the group made their first appearance on Ready Steady Go!, temporary dentition necessitated his keeping a low profile in the background while his younger brother was the one interviewed by the show's presenter.

A small thing, perhaps, but it clearly irritated the dentally challenged Kink. "Although I was the lead singer of the group," he later noted in his autobiography X-Ray, "it was Dave with his long flowing hair and Pete [Quaife, the bassist] with his gift of the gab who really grabbed centre stage after the show." Ray's compensation, of course, was that he not only sang the songs but also wrote them, becoming increasingly regarded as the talented one of the band, which must have rankled with Dave. Then again, by all accounts Dave's antics got up everybody's nose, causing both Quaife and drummer Mick Avory to take pot-shots at him onstage with parts of the latter's drum-kit. Only Dave's reluctance to press charges against Avory saved the latter from jail after he had apparently attempted to decapitate the guitarist with a cymbal.

One common source of friction in this kind of sibling dispute is the division of creative spoils. Brian Wilson has been successfully sued by Mike Love for uncredited royalties on some Beach Boys songs, and it is likely that Dave Davies, with his trademark fuzz-guitar and feedback, feels his contribution to The Kinks' hits wasn't adequately acknowledged. Although Liam Gallagher's voice undoubtedly constitutes a large part of Oasis' appeal, there is no argument about who writes the songs in the group. What might be more galling for the younger Gallagher is that, until his more talented brother joined, it was Liam's band alone.