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The Music's In His Veins: Dylan Minnette Descended from Court Musicians of Kings and Queens

Updated: Jun 5, 2019

The 13 Reasons Why actor and Wallows band musician has a musical heritage going back nearly 600 years.


Dylan Minnette performing with his band, Wallows. | Photo by Yising Kao / Via yisingkao.com


You probably know Dylan Minnette best as the star of Netflix's 13 Reasons Why. In addition to his acting chops, he's also a talented musician.


Dylan Minnette has had various roles in movies and television, and more recently plays Clay Jensen in Netflix's hit drama 13 Reasons Why. He's also starred in films such as Prisoners as Hugh Jackman's son, Goosebumps, Don't Breathe, Open House, and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. In addition, Dylan has had roles in TV shows such as Lost, Scandal, Agents of SHIELD, Saving Grace, Supernatural, Two and a Half Men, Prison Break, Drake & Josh, and Grey's Anatomy.


You may or may not be aware that Dylan is also a very talented musician. Dylan plays guitar and sings vocals for Wallows, a band he formed with his friends Braeden Lemasters and Cole Preston. The group has recently played to sold out crowds in popular venues such as The Roxy and Troubadour. After tickets went on sale for their concert in The Constellation Room at The Observatory in Orange County, tickets sold out within hours.


Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen in Netflix's 13 Reasons Why. | Netflix / via Netflix.com


The musical force is strong with this family. Dylan has it. His father before him has it…and so on, going back nearly 600 years.

Dylan jamming with his dad. | Photo by Ann Minnette, courtesy of Craig Minnette.

Dylan has noted that he never had formal music lessons, but learned from watching his father, Craig Minnette, who has played as Eddie Minnette in several Evansville, Indiana bands, including Bosko and Well Hello. I recently had a chance to chat with Dylan’s dad, who was kind enough to share more about the family’s more recent musical heritage. Dylan grew up around his dad’s guitars and was on stage with him even as a toddler, which all had an effect on him. His dad made sure that he was raised on a wide variety of music styles via his vinyl 33 collection and was raised to respect bands like the Beatles and more from an early age.



Dylan’s great grandfather was a huge musical influence on the family.


Dylan Minnette's grandfather, Richard Minnette Sr. (middle), playing with his brothers and sisters. | Image courtesy of Craig Minnette.


Craig said that his grandfather, Richard Minnette Sr. (pictured above), a descendant of Irish immigrants, “was my primary influence as a youngster and I would freak out over his jazz guitar ability that was out of this world. He passed on to me my first guitars and amps. Basically, because of him I was playing paid gigs by the 6th grade.” Richard Sr. played with his brothers and sisters in a band called "Dixieland Playboys,” post WWII in the 1940s and 1950s. Richard Sr. also played in music halls throughout the Mid-South and was known for doing many live radio broadcasts. He even played with Boots Randolph (best known for “Yakety Sax,” the song that closed each episode of the Benny Hill show).


Dylan’s dad noted that “the family was obviously very musically inclined throughout. Many family members played multiple instruments. I've often described the Minnette's as all being born ‘natural drummers.’ Dylan is no exception. My brother Kent is one of many great Minnette drummers. Of course Dylan was starting on Drums by the 3rd grade.”


Dylan's cousins, aunts, and uncles all perform regularly in local theater and music groups at festivals. Clearly the creative and musical force is strong with this family. Craig said it was “my grandfather who no doubt got myself—then on to Dylan—rolling on the guitar with singing. I truly believe he has so much to do with Dylan and I being Rock 'n' Roll artists.”


Today Dylan Minnette thrills crowds with music just as his ancestors thrilled royals and their courts back in the day.

Photo by Yising Kao / Via yisingkao.com


"Play us something we can dance to!"

Some of the monarchs that Dylan's ancestors composed and played music for. | Artwork L-R by: Hans Holbein the Younger, Unknown, John de Critz, and François Clouet / Via commons.wikimedia.org


Going further back in time in the family tree, Dylan Minnette's ancestors were royal court musicians to three reigning monarchs of England: King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, and King James I. Another branch of Dylan's ancestors across the channel were the royal court musicians to King Henry II of France and his Queen-consort, Catherine de' Medici.


Dylan Minnette's Renaissance era French and Italian musician ancestors united in England where they served during the reigns of three monarchs.

Dylan Minnette's line of descent from the royal court musicians of the Tudor era. | Chart by Mike Batie.



Photo by Yising Kao / Via yisingkao.com


Dylan is the 14th great grandson of Antonio Bassano, a Tudor court musician to King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I—and he's still carrying on the family rhythm after nearly 600 years!

Dylan's 14th great grandfather, Antonio Bassano (b.1512), was an Italian musician from a long line of musicians. Antonio was one of the six sons of Jeronimo Bassano (c.1491), an Italian musician known as "Maestro of the trumpets and shawms." Shawms were a type of woodwind instrument unrelated to the ShamWow. Jeronimo served as the piffero player to the Doge (or Duke) of Venice from 1506–1512, so he was kind of a big deal. Antonio's grandfather, Baptista of Bassano del Grappa (c.1441), was also a musician, playing the piva, a type of bagpipe played in Italy, which was totally badass for the time.


Sometime around 1540, Antonio Bassano decided he was all about that gloomy weather and moved from Venice to England with his siblings to serve as musicians in the court of King Henry VIII—yes, thatking whose wives had trouble keeping their heads. At least Antonio would have had plenty of song requests from Henry's collection of queens.


What an early jam session with Dylan's ancestors might have looked like. | Gerard van Honthorst, 1623 / Via commons.wikimedia.org



Five of Antonio's children also served as musicians in the court of Henry VIII, and in addition to being the wind players in the King's band, the Bassanos were also skilled instrument makers.


After Henry VIII decided six wives was enough and departed this world, the Bassanos later became court musicians for his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, who ushered in the Golden Age. We all know Queen Liz was the hippest trendsetter of the day, so the Bassanos were definitely where it was at in the music scene. Think about it: Dylan Minnette's ancestors were the band of bands in the most cosmopolitan royal court during the Golden Age!


Antonio was a resident of the parish of Saint Olave and All Hallows Staining, and is buried in All Hallows by the Tower Church in London. Does he have any groupies left who are interested in making a pilgrimage? I need another excuse to visit London a fourth time.


Photo by Yising Kao / Via yisingkao.com


Dylan is the 13th great grandson of Nicholas Lanier, court musician to King Henry II of France, Catherine de' Medici, Queen Elizabeth I and King James I of England

Nicholas Lanier, Dylan's 13th great grandfather, was another court musician. He started out in France as musician to King Henry II and his wife Queen Catherine de' Medici (faithful viewers of the CW television series Reign will recognize these names). Nicholas was listed as the royal flutist on the Chantres et autres Jouers d'instruments for 1559-1560.

Nicholas ran into some trouble in France. See, he was a Protestant—or Huguenot, as they were called in France—and at this period in time the Catholics were well-inclined to imprison and/or execute the supposed heretics. So Nicholas decided he needed to skip town, and the country for that matter. Queen Catherine de' Medici must've been a pretty big groupie of Nicholas, because it's said that she was the one who arranged and paid for his safe passage out of France.


Nicholas Lanier's biggest groupie: Catherine de' Medici, Queen consort of France. | Artist unknown. Circa 1550 / Via commons.wikimedia.org


With Queen Catherine's help, Nicholas Lanier and his family fled to England in 1561 and settled on Hart Street, in Saint Olave Parish, London. Shortly after settling into the new digs, he became a musician in the court of Queen Elizabeth I.


Remember Anthony Bassano, the other Tudor court musician hailing from Venice? Well he had a daughter named Lucretia, and Queen Elizabeth thought that Nicholas Lanier and Antonio's daughter would make a hot couple, so she paired them up. It was the custom in those days for the monarch to play matchmaker with their courtiers, or they at least needed the monarch's permission to wed, and to whom. So Nicholas and Lucretia were married, merging the French and Italian musician lines in Dylan Minnette's family tree.


Nicholas and Lucretia became very wealthy, as the gig playing for the Queen was very lucrative. They purchased properties in East Greenwich and Blackheath, and it was said that their home or "mansion house" was fitted with a theater—a freaking theater! How many of you have theaters in your home where you can stage plays? Yeah, I didn't think so. By 1604, Nicholas was appointed Musician of the Flutes, so he had finally arrived at the pinnacle of his career.


Queen Liz getting some mad air dancing Lavolta while her court musicians (Dylan Minnette's ancestors) jam some sweet tunes. | Possibly Marcus Gheeraerts, c.1580 / Via commons.wikimedia.org


After Queen Elizabeth passed away, Nicholas Lanier and the Bossanos continued to serve as court musicians to her nephew and successor, King James I of England (son of Mary, Queen of Scots; again, all of you Reign viewers will know who I'm talking about). Nicholas and Lucretia had nine children, six of which also became musicians at court. After the death of Nicholas, his eldest son succeeded him as Musician of the Flutes for life. In all, three generations of the Bassano and Lanier families served British and French royalty as court musicians, poets and artists. It's no surprise they've passed their musical and creative genes down to our boy Dylan Minnette. The music's in his veins.


Dylan Minnette and family: bringing you the gift of music since at least 1441 AD.

Photo by Timothy Norris / Via Getty


The music that flowed in the veins of Dylan's ancestors is still manifesting in him as their posterity. Dylan's band, Wallows, recently signed on with Atlantic Records and is playing sold-out concerts on tour throughout North America and Europe. Wallows band members include longtime friends Dylan Minnette, Braeden Lemasters, and Cole Preston. The three have appeared in performances on the Late Late Show with James Corden and Dylan has had appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Wallows on The Late Late Show with James Corden. | Photo by Terence Patrick/CBS


Like his ancestral Bassanos and Laniers of yesteryear, Dylan Minnette carries on his family's rich musical legacy with his fellow Wallows band members today.



I've got some music of theirs for you to listen to below, but first, BONUS! During my research, I discovered that Dylan and I are related through a common ancestor, both of us being the fifth great grandsons of George Faust and Mary Catherine Paul, who were Pennsylvania Dutch settlers during the US Colonial period. Isn't family history cool?



Check out some of Dylan's music with his band Wallows:


Wallows performing their song "Uncomfortable" at the Levi House. Her Majesty would approve!

Wallows music video of their song "Scrawny." [Explicit] The sound has been refreshed a bit since the family songs of the 1500s.

You can get all the latest news on Dylan Minnette's music on the Wallows band website. Thanks for checking out this Hollywood Ancestry article. I hope it inspires you to discover your own family tree and see what connections you have to your family in the past.



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