Forming a Supergroup, and Other Bad Ideas for Trying to Impress Your Dad

I've heard some of the Beatles' kids want to start a band. Dooooon't doooo it.
Publish date:
April 9, 2012
parents, family business, james mccartney, the beatles

Me and editor Julieanne posing in Vegas. I thrilled to Cirque de Soleil, she declined.

I’m an unapologetic Beatles fanatic -- and accordingly, I've been pretty tolerant of the many products that have traded on their name since they stopped recording in 1970.

I've bought every re-release and crackly, salvaged enhanced recording. I have the DVD transfers of all their films, and even the ill-conceived “Magical Mystery Tour” which is generally forgettable. I've followed their subsequent solo efforts, and I own Patty Boyd's I-banged-a-Beatle-and-some-other-guys-too memoir,

"Wonderful Tonight."

I've even seen “Love,” the Beatles-inspired Cirque Du Soleil show in Vegas (the best part of the show for me were the three drunk 65-year-old women in the row ahead of me, singing and dancing off beat the whole time. I high-fived them in the lobby.)

That said, I've heard about plans for some of their kids to start a band, and I will not be buying the album or even watching a YouTube video of a performance through my fingers.

I just don't think it's a good idea.

If you haven't read or heard the collective tsking of your parents, a few the Beatles’ sons

are thinking about putting a band together

. James McCartney, Dhani Harrison, Sean Lennon and Zak Starkey are all in bands already (mainly, ahem, because THEIR DADS WERE BEATLES) and according to James, they’re toying with the idea of synching up.

This idea horrifies me for two reasons.

One, because I'm worried they would do something terribly tacky like, I don't know, cover the Beatles. These bands are out there already, and even lacking any actual Beatle DNA, they're sort of embarrassing. You can perform an aerial routine to their music but you can't really perform it yourself. I know the Beatles are polarizing among young people today out of some kind of music snobbery, but come on. It's difficult to deny that they were massive talents as songwriters and performers. Out of the 213 songs they wrote and recorded in their years together, I'd say at least 50 of them are masterpieces.

Two, because it is never, ever a good idea to try to be your parents. Ever.

I can only imagine what it must have been like to be a Beatle child. You’d never escape the fame, otherness and exclusivity. I have no idea what the psychological impetus behind this kind of thing is because I don't know them -- but something about forming a group based on their fathers' success feels ill conceived. It's one thing to go into a parent's line of work, but another thing entirely to try to reenact or emulate it.

Beatle kids have become singers, fashion designers, models, photographers and on. Their last names may have opened many doors, but a lot of them seem to live independently fruitful, private lives. But this lookalike four-piece feels weird and, well, kind of Oedipal.

I’ve read Arthur Miller and I've seen John Hughes movies. I know as human beings, there is an urge to follow in the old man’s footsteps, take the torch or eclipse the older generation’s triumphs.

Having parents who have achieved career success is a lot of pressure, especially as many of us are not as far along professionally as they were at our age, thanks to the economy. There's a frustrating feeling that nothing you do will EVER be able to compare to what they did.

The impulse is, a lot of times, just to say "Eff it." Even if you’re good, you won’t be good enough. People will check you out because of your last name, and they'll either write you off or expect a standard from you that you might not be able to live up to. (This is also a problem for anybody who's ever had a well-behaved, studious older sibling and disappointed one of their former teachers.)

This isn't to say that you can't follow in your parents' footsteps or shouldn't at least have a shot. If your mom is a master plumber, by all means, don't eschew that pipe apprenticeship if that's where your heart lies. Just don't try to subsume your mother's success -- be your own plumber.

James McCartney, who strongly resembles his father, told the BBC he had "dreamt of being better than The Beatles." Here's the hubris for me. I'm all for admiring your parents' success and trying to achieve something similar. But it's never a good idea to try to one-up them, whether or not their accomplishments are strastopheric.

"I'm not sure if I can do that," he said. "If anything, I would love to be equal to The Beatles -- but even that's quite tough."

No shit, James. Good luck to you.