Liv and Steven Tyler Discover African-American Ancestors Who Were Musicians

On Who Do You Think You Are?, Liv Tyler was elated to discover that her great-great-great-great-grandfather Robert Elliot was part African-American, or what was then called “mulatto,” according to a newspaper story and census stats. However, she was floored to learn that he was a drummer boy during the Siege of Plattsburgh, a battle that occurred during the War of 1812. Liv’s father, Steven Tyler got his start as a drummer, and she was moved by the musical connection. She went on to learn that the musical skills were passed down to Robert’s son, George, who was a drummer during the Civil War. At the Smithsonian, a drummer played for her one of the rhythms that George Elliot likely played on the battlefield, and it stirred her to tears.

After she found a picture of George, she couldn’t wait to tell her dad about his ancestors. When Steven learned of their African descent he said, “I always felt akin to black people, always.”

Who Do You Think You Are? airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on TLC.

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