A hint of the Beatles’ legacy

Published 5:09 pm Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Beatles left a lasting legacy beyond their music.

Even though half of the Fab Four — John Lennon in 1980 and George Harrison in 2001 — have died, there’s still new music coming from Lennon, Harrison, McCartney and Starr/Starkey (Ringo Starr’s birth name).

Aside from new music from living Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, I’m talking of course about the music from the member’s children.

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Of the 10 children born to Beatles members, at least six have ventured into the music industry — the youngest, Beatrice McCartney, is only 9.

The latest album to come from a Beatles child is thenewno2’s second album, “thefearofmissingout,” featuring George Harrison’s only child, Dhani Harrison.

Dhani, a singer and guitarist like his father, is vital part of his band’s sophomore release, but don’t misinterpret it for a solo work or George Harrison tribute.

If anything, Paul Hick’s handiwork resounds loudest of any member in a seemingly unending string of noise undercurrent of samples and loops.

The music is driven by beats that always shimmer on the edges of indie art rock and hip-hop. It’s fitting that rapper RZA makes a guest appearance on “The Wait Around.”

For those listening strictly because of interest in George and his music, don’t waste your time.

Yes, Dhani’s voice often resembles George’s, but not overtly, as most of the similarities are in genetics, not mimicry. The younger Harrison’s voice has a similar cosmic quality to his father’s. But if listeners didn’t know it was George Harrison’s son singing, they would likely miss the connection.

Once you’re looking for the similarities, they are hard to miss. When Dhani leads the group through the closing track, “The Number,” it’s hard not to think of George’s influence. Listening to the shimmering, atmospheric opening, it’s easy picture Dhani listening to his father’s songs like “Within You/Without You” or the lesser-known Beatles song “The Inner Light.”

However, any influence of his father is kept at arm’s length. Don’t expect to hear a sitar or any references to Indian music, though Dhani’s name itself is Indian. The influences closer Radiohead’s more electronic-based work, Nine Inch Nails and a melodramatic hint of TV on the Radio.

Children of legends are in a no win situation: fall too close to the tree and be accused of cashing in; or, reject the ties completely and alienate loyal fans.

Dhani and the newno2 have created a pleasant collection of songs that never quite blossom to their full potential as a whole album.

Maybe it’s part of the curse of being the child of rock royalty: They can find modest success, but it’s nearly impossible to surpass the legendary status.


The Beatles Children
John Lennon:
• Julian Lennon, 1963 (with Cynthia Lennon) — He released several albums in the 1980s and was nominated for the Grammy of best new artist in 1985, but he now primarily works as a photographer.
•Sean Lennon, 1975 (with Yoko Ono) — The on Beatles child born in America has released three solo albums, along with other work with his mother, as a producer and as a studio musician.

Paul McCartney:
•Mary Anna McCartney, 1969 (with Linda McCartney) — No music, but she’s a professional photographer. She also works at her father’s company, MPL Communications.
•Stella Nina McCartney, 1971 (with Linda McCartney) — She works as a fashion designer.
•James McCartney, 1977 (with Linda McCartney) — He released his first EP, “Available Light,” in 2010 and has played drums, guitar and co-written songs for his father. He is also a sculptor.
•Beatrice McCartney, 2003 (with Heather Mills) — Time will tell, but she’s not even 10.

George Harrison:
•Dhani Harrison, 1978 — Harrison’s only child plays guitar and sings with thenewno2 and Fistful of Mercy, a group with Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur.

Ringo: Starr (Starkey)
•Zak Starkey, 1965 — He is the newest drummer with The Who, replacing his late Godfather Keith Moon, and he was the drummer for Oasis from 2004-2009.
•Jason Starkey, 1967 — He previously was a road manager and drummer, but had a few run-ins with the law.
•Lee Parkin Starkey, 1970 — She’s a make-up artist and fashion designer.