From Stage to Sofa: Adorable Photos of Rockstars with their Parents

The 1960s and ’70s were a wild time for rock and roll.  Leather pants, wild hair, and rebellious attitudes defined the era. But behind the scenes, even the biggest rock stars had parents who loved them, worried about them, and maybe even packed them a lunch for the road.

In 1971, LIFE magazine sent photographer John Olson on a unique mission: to capture these rock icons at home with their parents. The resulting photos are a fascinating glimpse into the private lives of legends, revealing a softer, more relatable side of these larger-than-life figures.

Olson’s journey took him from the suburbs of London to the heart of Brooklyn, and even to the sunny Bay Area. He photographed a diverse group of rock stars, each with their own unique family dynamic.

There’s Eric Clapton, the guitar god, sitting in his living room with his grandmother, Rose Clapp. She’s beaming with pride, her hands resting gently on his shoulders. It’s a tender moment that reminds us that even rock stars need a loving touch from grandma.

Across the pond, we find Grace Slick, the fiery lead singer of Jefferson Airplane, standing with her parents in their modest San Francisco home. Her mother, Virginia Wing, is dressed to the nines, while her father, Ivan Wing, looks dapper in a suit. They seem a bit reserved, perhaps a bit bewildered by their daughter’s wild lifestyle, but there’s no doubt that they love her.

In these photos, we see the rock stars not as untouchable idols, but as sons and daughters. They’re laughing with their parents, sharing a meal, or simply relaxing in their childhood homes.

#1 Frank Zappa in his Los Angeles home with his dad, Francis, his mom, Rosemarie, and his cat in 1970.

#2 The Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick poses with her mother, Virginia Wing, in the living room of the home where she grew up in Palo Alto, California in 1970.

#3 In one of the photos that ultimately ran in LIFE, new mom Grace dangles her daughter China by the feet in 1971.

#4 In 1970 Rose Clapp shows off her tea service and Eric Clapton, her rock-god guitarist grandson, Surrey, England.

#5 The former Reggie Dwight, later known as Elton John, laughs with his mom Sheila Fairebrother and her husband Fred (whom he affectionately called “Derf,” Fred spelled backwards) in their suburban London apartment in 1970.

#8 Ginger Baker, the Cream and Blind Faith drummer, flashes a rare smile with his mother Ruby Streatfield inside her rowhouse in Bexley, outside London, in 1970.

#10 Grace steps outside with her mom and little China in 1971.

#11 Richie Havens with his parents, Brooklyn in 1970.

#12 The Jackson 5 with their parents standing by, 13-year-old dynamo Michael (front left) and his brothers Jackie, Marlon, Tito and Jermaine straddle their motorbikes by the pool, 1970.

#13 Scottish folk musician Donovan and his parents, Donald and Winifred Leitch, England in 1970.

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Written by Heather Brown

Heather Brown is a writer and historian with a passion for all things vintage. She shares her knowledge of the past through her blog, with a particular focus on historical photos and the stories they tell.

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