Despite Dhani's comments, the rumours continue...
Rock Music Menu: The Beatle buzz: Here comes the sons!
Published: Friday, January 15, 2010
“Sons of Beatles Set to Invade” sounds like the title to a bad Japanese monster movie from the 50s; but if the rumors are true, it’s a headline you can expect to see a lot of as it will signal the arrival of one of the most talked about musical fusions of the millennia.
The Beatles were arguably the most influential and popular act of all time, and as expected, that talent extended to the gene pool, with some of their children becoming involved in music one form or another. Now, the buzz has gotten bigger that some of them are planning to work on an as yet untitled project together. James McCartney, Dhani Harrison and Zak Starkey are reportedly working together with Julian and Sean Lennon, though Harrison has denied anything is in the works.
John’s eldest son, Julian, was the first recipient of the white hot glare of the music industry spotlight on a son of a Beatle in 1984 with the album “Valotte,” just a few short years after his father was murdered by a crazed fan. It was ironic that Julian faced the most questions and pressure about his lineage, as he was easily the most removed from any sort of close link with his famous parent. Over the years, he’s stressed how hard it has been to deal with the legacy and questions about his often nonexistent relationship with John.
But while 46-year-old Julian’s music recalls the early pop of the Fab Four, his half-brother Sean, 34, took on a much more experimental approach with his debut, “Into the Sun” in 1998 and it’s follow-up eight years later, “Friendly Fire.” Neither broke new musical ground, but were well-received by critics.
Slogging it out in the clubs for years, Ringo Starr’s son Zak Starkey was thrust into the spotlight as drummer for The Who in 1994, a position he’s held ever since. The situation might’ve seemed odd at first, but the late Who drummer Keith Moon was Starkey’s godfather, and bought him his first drum kit. The 44-year-old has also pulled stick duty for the top Beatles derivative band ever, Oasis, though if anything, his technique brought the Britpop outfit a distinctive groove it never had before.
Dhani Harrison, 31, has been devoting much of his musical career to his drum and bass tinged collective thenewno2 which boasts smart electro-rock and synthesized modulator effects that add a psychedelic twist to the proceedings. He’s also been deeply involved in preserving his father’s legacy, and helped to spearhead the development of last year’s “The Beatles: Rock Band.” And most strikingly, he looks exactly like George Harrison.
“He looks so much like his dad,” The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs, who has collaborated with Harrison, told Rock Music Menu. “And when you’ve grown up with The Beatles it’s almost like you’re doing a double take and you look at him and you see George there so strongly in his features.”
The newbie to these sons of rock royalty is James McCartney, 32, who, despite playing on some of Sir Paul’s albums in recent years, has pretty much avoided the limelight completely. That looks to change in 2010 when he releases his debut, which his dad is reportedly lending quite the helping hand.
Frustrating as it may be, getting together and making music is probably the most significant musical statement these offspring could make in their respective careers. No matter what, every one of them is going to be aligned with the similarities they share with their paternal side in every imaginable way. The way their nose is shaped (Julian), choices of eyewear (Sean) and dedication to issues like vegetarianism (James) are the things the press will undoubtedly compare to their Fab Forefathers.
But as clichéd as it may sound, there is strength in numbers, and if the five of them were to do anything together, it would eclipse any previous work by light years. The pressure would be incredible, but growing up and displaying even the slightest musical inclination has already drawn both justified and unfair criticism.
Arranged as a unit, the press and public’s interest would reach a fever pitch, but one that would be perhaps easier to deal with surrounded by individuals who are feeling the exact same thing.
According to Harrison though, despite being in touch with the other so-called “Beatles’ babies,” nothing is on the horizon.
“We just keep to ourselves,” he said recently. “Everyone’s constantly trying to suggest that there might be something there but it’s not what we want to do at all.”
Tomorrow never knows, but going by the schedules of everyone said to be involved, he is likely telling the truth – at least for the time being.
McCartney and Julian Lennon have records coming out this year and Sean Lennon is promoting his recently released score for the independent film “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead.”
Harrison just wrapped up a U.S. tour with Thenewno2 and is now working on “Rock Band 3,” and told The Chicago Tribune he is focusing on, “Making the controllers more real so people can actually learn how to play music while playing the game.”
And Starkey can be seen next behind the drums at the Super Bowl halftime show in a few weeks with The Who, a band dealing with its own set of rumors including a new record and/or a possible farewell tour.
Remaining Beatles say ‘Y Not’
In other Beatle-related news, Ringo Starr has a new album coming out Tuesday, and he’s joined by Paul McCartney on two tracks.
“Y Not,” which is Starr’s first foray as producer, also features contributions from heavy hitters like Ben Harper, Eagles’ guitarist Joe Walsh and Joss Stone. But it’s the reunion of the two former Beatles that has everyone talking.
“Paul was doing the Grammys, so he came over to the house and was playing bass on ‘Peace Dream,’” said Starr. “So I played him this other track and Paul said, ‘Give me the headphones. Give me a pair of cans.’ And he went to the mic and he just invented that part where he follows on my vocal.”
The song, “Walk With You,” marks the first duet between Starr and McCartney, and the nostalgia factor alone makes it worth a couple of listens. It might not be The Beatles, but with that obviously not possible these days, “Walk With You” is a gem of a consolation prize.
“That was all Paul McCartney, and there could be nothing better,” said Starr. “He makes it bigger and he makes it fuller. It makes the song like a conversation between us, and that was Paul’s idea to do his part one beat behind me. That’s why he’s a genius and an incredible bass player.”
Starr has assembled the 11th line up of his All-Starr Band, and will be taking it out on the road again this summer. Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, drummer Gregg Bissonette and All-Starr newcomers Rick Derringer, Richard Page (Mr. Mister) and Wally Palmar (Romantics) are on board this year, and will be coming to the region on July 3 with a show in Atlantic City at Caesar’s Circus Maximus.