All four Beatles have produced sons who are now musicians. Five in total have pursued their own impressive careers. While none of them can escape the expected comparisons to their famous fathers, they each have found their own style and genre. Some have been at it longer than others, but each has generated their own fan following impressive in their own right.
This article is a summary of the musical history of each of the Beatle sons. I was inspired by the Twitter message this morning from Paul McCartney’s son James about his performance last night at the Carnegie Hall in NYC for the Tibet House Benefit Concert. He is the relative newcomer on the scene for Beatle sons in the bizz. Here is a short bio of each son from the oldest to the youngest:
Julian Lennon, 47, son of John and first wife Cynthia, has been at it a long time, beginning with Valotte in 1984, at the age of 21, which was a huge success. The public went ga-ga over his resemblance, both visually and aurally, to his father, who had been killed just four years earlier. Hearts melted over Lennon Junior. (see this You Tube video)
Then came The Secret Value of Daydreaming, Mr. Jordan, Help Yourself, all of which sort of tanked, and were not promoted well by the label. Julian at a very young age was discouraged and let down by the music industry’s lack of attention. In 1998 Photograph Smile did much better utilizing his own efforts.
In recent years he produced a film called The Gathering: Return of the Whaledreamers, in response to his outrage over whale harpooning. He and his mother Cynthia put together an exhibit called “White Feather: Spirit of John Lennon” at the Beatles Story in Liverpool, featuring many artifacts of his Dad’s. Last year the book Beatles Memorabilia: The Julian Lennon Collection was published, featuring his extensive collection of Beatles and Lennon artifacts, which he has had to purchase on his own at auctions. His photography was also displayed at the Morrison Gallery in New York, entitled Timeless, which is his newest love.
Zak Starkey, 45, is the son of Ringo Starr and first wife Maureen. One drum lesson from his father was all it took. By the time he was 12 he was already playing drums in pubs, and later joined a band called The Next. In 1985 he and his wife had a daughter, making Ringo the first Beatle to be a grandfather.In 1996 Starkey left his band Face to work with The Who . Roger Daltry was quoted as saying he was the best drummer since Keith Moon. Along with many others, he has also worked with Oasis on a solid basis since 2004, but has continued to work with The Who. (Brother Jason Starkey has done some work in the music industry as well but has not made a successful career of it. There is also a sister, Lee, who has suffered with cancer.)
Sean Lennon, 35, son of John and second wife Yoko Ono, began writing songs from the age of 16. He started playing with Cibo Matto in 1996, and his first album, Into the Sun was released in 1998, followed by Friendly Fire in 2006, ten years later, accompanied by a concert tour. He performed many times with his mom Yoko, including at the Plastic Ono Band’s revival last year. He partnered with girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl in 2008 to form Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger and recently their acoustic album was released. They just completed a world tour, ending in Seattle in January. (See our report and photos) Sean will also be performing with Yoko ot Chimera Music Day at SXSW later this month in Austin, Texas.
James McCartney, 33, son of Paul and Linda McCartney, is the newest son on the music scene, with the following songs available on his new EP called “Available Light” : Angel, Glisten, My Friend, Denial, and Old Man (distributed by Engine Company Records.) All songs were written by James except for Old Man by Neil Young. James says on his website that this EP is the work of the last two years. He’s had help from his Pa of course, with some recording was done at Abbey Road. He does vocals and most instrumentation. If you recall, he also did contribute to his dad’s earlier albums with guitar work. (Sister Stella is a prominent fashion designer; sister Mary is a professional photographer (she has done James’ publicity photos). Heather, Linda’s daughter from her first marriage, the little girl seen in Let It Be playing drums with Ringo, lived in Arizona as a pottery designer the last I heard.)
Dhani Harrison, 32, is the son of George and Olivia Harrison. Harrison began his professional musical career at the age of 23 when helping to complete his father’s final album Brainwashed after his death in November 2001. He performed at the Concert for George on the one year anniversary of his dad’s death, at Royal Albert Hall in London. His performance of his father’s songs at that concert was stunning as he was the spitting image of his dad. Heformed his own band, thenewno2, in 2006, then teamed up with Fistful of Mercy in 2010. (Read our report of their first Seattle gig, and see photos.)
© 2011 Shelley Germeaux – The contents of this article including photos may not be reproduced without permission from the author. Excerpts may be reprinted with a link to the article and proper credit.
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