[dropcap]I[/dropcap]magine how hard it is to be a musician wanting to be considered on individual merits, but having to carry the weight of being the son of a member of the most famous pop band in history. Now envisage the same scenario five times over. That’s exactly what five male offspring of the Beatles deal with as each of them have made respective forays into music while doing their absolute best to distance themselves from a looming fatherly legacy.
Until this week, most of them have kept that albatross at arm’s length or further.
Dhani Harrison, son of George, is the first one to officially break the mold with his cover of “For You Blue,” which his dad recorded in 1969. The 12-bar blues style was a rarity in its own right when it came to Beatles songs. Initially slotted to kick off the second side of both intended versions of the aborted Get Back album, it finally saw the light of day buried deep on side two of Let It Be, though it was one of the few tracks left fairly unscathed by Phil Spector’s ill-fitting and overzealous “wall of sound” production technique.
Made available on iTunes this week and leading a new Gap campaign with the handle #BacktoBlue, Dhani’s version is, much like the song itself, fairly unpretentious. If anything, his spot on ability to mimic George’s vocal inflections, in addition to already being the Boba to his father’s Jango Fett looks-wise, has left Beatle obsessives in unmitigated awe.
Other Fab Four progenies haven’t been so lucky.
Julian Lennon carried the first burden, releasing his debut four years after his father John was gunned down in New York City. Most fans were too focused on Jules taking the place of his long estranged father in a Beatles reunion (which, thankfully never went down) to pay attention to allow him to pursue his own musical ambitions unencumbered. Julian did make a habit of performing Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” as a concert encore in the same manner which his father famously had a penchant toward.
Most bizarrely though, Julian covered a Paul McCartney Beatles song, “When I’m Sixty-Four,” for a 2002 Allstate Insurance commercial.
Julian’s half-brother Sean Lennon embarked on his own musical journey in 1998 amidst a strong degree of ridicule and unimaginative “Here Comes the Son” headlines. Despite the quick two strikes of possessing a nasally voice and being Yoko Ono’s kid, Sean had the benefit of aligning himself with friends in the then hipster NYC scene like the Beastie Boys, Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr., and Cibo Matto.
He’s been less shy regarding his lineage, taking on “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” “Julia” and “Give Peace a Chance” on different occasions.
Ringo Starr’s son, Zak Starkey, has been content to let his formidable drumming do the proverbial talking both in session work and most notably in time spent behind the kit for the Who and Oasis, which was likely looked at as a gift-from-God to the Beatle obsessed Gallagher brothers.
Least known is James McCartney, who only recently began to present himself outside of a guitar appearance here and there on dad Paul’s albums. The late bloomer caused quite a bit of hullabaloo last year when, in an interview with the BBC, said he would be receptive to the awfully titled “The Beatles – The Next Generation” with Dhani, Sean and another one of Starr’s sons.
Luckily, that bad idea hasn’t come to fruition at press time.