An Incomplete History of Rufus Wainwright's Musical Pedigree

From Loudon and Kate to Martha and "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk."

July 21, 1973 Rufus Wainwright is born in New York to folk singer Kate McGarrigle and folk singer Loudon Wainwright III. Three years later the family is joined by Martha Wainwright, who grows up to become—wait for it—a folk singer.

1975 Loudon Wainwright releases Unrequited, an album that contains the song "Rufus Is a Tit Man." In a wry twist of fate, his son grows up to become a gay icon. "I like to spend time with him," Rufus said of his father in a recent phone call. "He is a great guy."

1986 After learning the piano at age 6, Rufus begins touring with Martha, Kate, and her sister Anna as part of "The McGarrigle Sisters and Family."

June 5, 2001 Rufus releases Poses, still widely considered his best effort to date, which includes the single "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" and popular covers of "Hallelujah" and "Across the Universe." The album charts on Billboard and wins Juno and GLAAD awards. Shortly after the album's release, Rufus struggles with a well-documented addiction to crystal meth.

November 16, 2009 Martha's first son, Arcangelo, is born in London.

January 18, 2010 Kate dies of clear-cell sarcoma at 63. "I was fortunate to finish [my album], mix it, and master it about a month before she passed away," says Rufus. "So I immediately went to her bedside and hung out until the end. The fates were on my side in that respect."

March 23, 2010 Rufus releases his eighth album, All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu. The record is dedicated to his sister. "[Martha] was faced with probably the hardest situation any woman could be in—losing her mother while giving birth to her first child," says Rufus. "And instead of having it destroy her, she just totally went the other way and has just blossomed into the matriarch of our family. I think all of us Wainwrights owe a tremendous debt to her for keeping us together."

August 1, 2010 Rufus kicks off his current tour in New Jersey, with Martha opening for him—not for the first time. "The crowd just goes wild for her," Rufus says. "It's a bit scary having to go after her." Rufus has been closing his set with his mother's original composition "The Walking Song."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 Rufus and Martha perform at the Paramount Theatre. "I'm definitely aware that what I have to offer is unusual and unique, in terms of this record being solo piano with a very somber context," says Rufus. "It's not an easy show, but it is nonetheless a fulfilling one."

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