Beatles fans spent the 1970s hoping the band might get back together, before John Lennon's death put the kibosh on that. But a few dreamers held out and spent the '80s floating the idea that the Beatles could still always reunite and tour with Julian Lennon, who was a huge MTV star at the time, subbing for his dad. Naïveté is stronger than death, right?
But now a new sort of hope has drifted entirely toward the Beatle descendants. Paul's son, 34-year-old singer/songwriter James McCartney, told the BBC that he'd be up for forming a band with some other musically inclined Scions of the Fabs. The group could be called "The Beatles—The Next Generation," the BBC interview helpfully suggested.
James even suggested that he'd had discussions with other Beatle offspring that could result in a quorum…. with one major holdout to contend with.
"I don't think it's something that Zak wants to do," said McCartney, referring to Ringo Starr's son Zak Starkey, a highly successful drummer. "Maybe Jason would want to do it," he added, throwing the name of a lesser-known Starr offspring into the mix. "I'd be up for it. Sean (Lennon) seemed to be into it, Dhani (Harrison) seemed to be into it. I'd be happy to do it."
While acknowledging that the idea didn't seem to have much traction at the moment, he said it could still happen with "the will of God (and) nature's support… So yeah, maybe."
Go, Lil Beatles!
This is simultaneously the best and worst idea ever. Best, if it were a one-off at a charity event, where everyone could be shocked and charmed and hold it in their memories for posterity. Worst, if there were really a thought of making some sort of touring attraction out of this literal Dad Rock homage. If it didn't work for Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees to put on the Sgt. Pepper suits, it's not going to go any better for the middle-aged kids to play dress-up.
That Zak Starkey wouldn't give the idea a moment's thought isn't surprising. This is a drumming legend in his own right who turned down an invitation to join the Who, for Pete's sake. (He was the group's drummer on tour for about a decade, but when Pete Townshend announced that they'd made it official, Zak promptly set it straight. He wanted to see other people… as in, his similarly unofficial membership in Oasis..)
It's a little surprising that Dhani Harrison apparently told young McCartney he'd be into it. Then again, maybe he was just humoring James. Have you seen Dhani? He's such a sweet young man, he'd probably nod knowingly if you suggested that he lead an all-star Concert for Bangladesh II, then quietly call security to make sure you didn't cause any ruckus on the way out. Anyway, he seems more interested in promoting the new guitar app he put together to showcase his late dad's collection than he does proving his own prowess to the world.
And Sean Lennon, denizen of various New York City art scenes, seems way too cool and reserved to ever deign to belt out "Yer Blues" in public. He even stopped releasing uncommercial solo albums so he could concentrate on something even more obscure, the Ghost of a Sabertooth Tiger, the band he co-fronts with his girlfriend.
We would be more intrigued to know more about Jason Starkey, but as far as we can tell, the other Starr boy doesn't seem to be making much of a go at the drums, publicly—and who would, when you've not only got a dad who's the most famous sticksman in the world, but a brother who did a fine job of replacing freaking Keith Moon?
Now, you've got to wonder about poor Julian Lennon, not even in the limelight enough anymore to merit inclusion in James McCartney's fantasy lineup, apparently. He has a brand new album out overseas, Everything Changes, which is only available as an import. He also admitted in promoting the album that he's more focused on photography lately, which makes him sound like even less of a fire-in-the-belly guy than Sean.
But James McCartney may have reasons for not mentioning Julian besides forgetfulness. The elder Lennon son is not getting on with the Macca brood these days, it seems. He is the type to air his grievances on social media, which is just what he did when he was not invited to the Paul McCartney/Nancy Shevell wedding (among other events)."I & My Mother will NOT be eradicated from History," Julian angrily posted on Facebook. "How dare they."
Oh no, Jude—way to make sure your invitation for the Junior Beatles gets lost in the post, too.
But when it comes to bad relations with Paul McCartney, it sounds like James has had his share of those, as well. Or at least he alluded to bygones in his interview with the BBC.
"Sometimes in the past, a few years ago, it can be difficult," James said about détente with dad. "It can be tense, like families can get. But beyond that it's beautiful."
What could James have done to make his famously mellow dad uptight? Oh, we don't know… maybe… suggesting that a Beatle offspring band could be a good idea?
Honestly, we wish James well, but he sounds the slightest bit naïve at times in his BBC chat. Things start off well, when he says he is playing the Cavern Club this month "to embrace the Beatles legacy rather than running away from it"—always a good, pragmatic position for a child of renown.
But his humility can sound like a humble brag. James said that, growing up, he "dreamt of being better than the Beatles. I'm not sure if I can do that. If anything, I would love to be equal to the Beatles— but even that's quite tough." Yes, it's always good for any young musician to be realistic and not set the bar any higher than exactly as good as the Beatles.
Also: "I don't really think I am quite as good as the Beatles or my father but there are definitely influences." We'd like to think the "quite" was the result of a bad translation, but the BBC does represent an English-speaking country.
In fact, James' two EPs so far, both produced with help from Paul, have some charm for Beatles fans—in much the same modest way that the albums Paul's brother, Mike McGear, did back in the '70s.
But taking the father homage any further than that, especially as far as an actual tribute band, would be horrific. Unless, of course, it was wonderful. In which case we'd say the more, the merrier. And rotate Starkey and Lennon boys if anyone gets tired!
Remember, it did work (well, sort of) for 1960s celebrity-sons band Dino, Desi & Billy. And, from the same era, let's not forget Pebbles & Bam-Bam's band, the Bedrock Rockers.
Would you want to see a band comprised of the Beatles' sons?