It seems like it’d be really convenient to go into business with your partner, especially if your business is music. Each person is the other’s muse. The unspoken language and non-verbal communication becomes like ESP. Like JOHNNYSWIM (another talented husband-wife duo) told Paste back in 2014, you get to do interviews with the press from bed together. Of course, collaborations between married couples have been around since the days of traditional family bands. So, while only judging music made together while married (sorry Jack and Meg), here are 20 of the best husband and wife duos in music history.
20. Deb Talen and Steve Tannen (The Weepies)
The Weepies’ music even sounds like it was made by a married couple, only one that never fights and still holds hands and does weekly date nights. I’m sure at least two of those aren’t true, but there’s so much lovely harmony on their three albums that discordance would just be out of place. —Josh Jackson
19. Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel (Mates of State)
Ever since Jack and Meg became “brother and sister,” Gardner and Hammel have been the best married duo that included half of the couple on drums. The band formed in 1997 in Kansas with Gardner on keyboards, and they married four years later. If their marriage is like their music, things are fun on tour and back home in East Haven Connecticut. —Josh Jackson
18. Victoria Williams and Marc Olson (The Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers)
Founding Jayhawk Marc Olson left The Jayhawks after Tomorrow The Green Grass to play music with his new bride, Victoria Williams. It was a move to the folkier side of his former folk-rock band and great music to listen to while barefoot in a summer meadow (making them the cover subjects of our very first issue of Paste). After their divorce in 2006, Olson has since returned to play music with Jayhawk Gary Louris. —Josh Jackson
17. Paul Kantner and Grace Slick
Grace Slick was a decidedly loose woman back in the day, a rock ‘n’ roll vixen rumored to have bedded every member of Jefferson Airplane during the group’s tumultuous early career. Those were the days of free love after all, evenwhen it came with a cost. However, it was her union with the late Paul Kanter that provided the band with its most enduring songs, as well as those that emerged from their continuing collaboration as Jefferson Starship. Having made their mark during that fabled Summer of Love half a century ago, Grace likely decided that she did indeed need a certain someone to love and in that regard, she was apparently captivated by Kantner.
16. Buddy and Julie Miller
Mostly content to keep their recordings separate, the first couple of Americana finally joined forces on an album (simply titled Buddy & Julie Miller) in 2001, 20 years after they married. It’s a musical marriage that couldn’t be more perfect.
15. Richard and Linda Thompson
Richard Thompson’s solo career immediately following his departure from Fairport Convention was short-lived, circumvented by his personal and professional pairing with his soon-to-be wife Linda Peters. While Richard was obviously the one who dominated the marquee, Peters was a credible singer in her own right, having worked with many of the English folk elite. And when the pair took equal billing, she more than held her own, turning their six albums into instant classics. Many of the songs they provided—“I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight,” “Wall of Death,” “Down Where the Drunkards Roll,” “A Heart Needs a Home,” “For Shame of Doing Wrong” and “Dimming of the Day”—remain a crucial part of Richard’s current repertoire and, in fact, among the greatest songs in his catalog. Linda herself went on to pursue a modest solo career, but it’s her role as mother of their talented children—Teddy and Kami, in particular— that remains one of her greatest achievements. A 2014 album, aptly entitled Family, provided the impetus for Richard and Linda to reunite in the company of their offspring.
14. The Mastersons
Having made their mark initially as members of Steve Earle’s backing band, Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore can also claim a well-received dual dynamic that’s yielded three joint efforts, including their latest album, Transient Lullaby. Granted, they remain well below the radar, but their harmonies and heartland homilies represent the best in authentic Americana. Drawing from a wellspring of traditional tapestries, the two singers/multi-instrumentalists show they’re well equipped to go it alone and bring it on home.
13. Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo
Love may be a battlefield, but Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo proved that the personal and the professional can intertwine, even in the heady world of rock ‘n’ roll. It was Benatar’s name on the marquee but Giraldo’s guitar that powered her hits. The two continue to tour some 30 years after their hit-making prime, upping the ante for ‘80s nostalgia while taking equal credit for their retro replay. Radio might have abandoned them, but judging by a renewed round of promo and publicity, they’re clearly as inspired as ever.
12. Paul and Linda McCartney
Here again, a Beatle faced a backlash for partnering with his spouse. In truth, the couple only released one album that found them sharing the billing, that being Ram, one of his better early efforts. The fact that Macca insisted on making Linda a member of Wings affirmed the fact Linda wasn’t only his new muse, but someone he could put his trust in, as well. So while he clearly missed his relationship with John Lennon, she helped fill the void. His love for Linda gave him a family, a friend and a faithful collaborator, helping to heal the wound that resulted from the Beatles’ bitter estrangement. Linda’s rudimentary musical skills mattered little as far as Wing’s work was concerned, and besides, when Paul decided to bring his bride along for the ride, it turned out to be all the better as far as his inspiration and motivation.
11. Sam Phillips and T Bone Burnett
Although they’ve also since divorced, Phillips experienced something of a career renaissance in 1987 as Leslie Phillips when Burnett produced her album The Turning. She changed her name to Sam, married Burnett and her husband produced a series of amazing LPs in the 1990s, including her zenith, 1994’s Martinis and Bikinis. —Josh Jackson