John Lennon Genetics: Julian and Sean

 As any parent will tell you, their kids, whether still growing up or adult, are the unique. Parents look for traces of genetic sameness in their kids, whether it is physical looks, personality, inate talent, traits or whatever. Some are shocked when their kids seem to have no or little genetic similarity to them. Well, genetics is roulette with total unpredictable results. Sometimes, a parent see's their own parents traits in their kids or an old photo taken 75 yrs ago of some relative.

Beatle genetics is fascinating. Here you have four of the world's most famous men in music, now old men or dead, and their offspring are walking in their footsteps and always being compared to their famous fathers. It is a lot of deal with all your life, especially, when fans come up to them and rave about their dad's (John, Paul, George or Ringo) and not their own accomplishments.

Julian was John's first son, now in his 40s. John was married to Cynthia Powell. They had just got married just before Beatlemania swept England. At the time, The Beatles were still the "up and coming" band. Then, her pregnancy more or less forced John to marry her, even though they did love one another. John kept it a secret and most of his fans did not know he was married. Brian Epstien, their manager, made sure the fans did not know John was married when Beatlemania swept England in 1963 and America in 1964. Gradually, it did leak out, but nobody cared. Julian inspired Paul to write "hey Jude", one of the band's biggest hits in 1968.

Julian physically looks like John in many ways, yet also like his mom. He is musically inclined like his dad, yet, has never been able to reach the sort of fame his dad did. He has released several CDs\LPs beginning at age 18 or so, fame was and remains fleeting for him. His voice,at times, can be a dead ringer of John. Julian did play on "walls and bridges" LP released in 1973 by John. Whatever inate talent John Lennon had, Julian simply is not as gifted as a songwriter or performer. Maybe some of this ability is environmental and how one grows up. Julian did have real angst in not feeling loved much from John. Julian battled with this for much of his adult life and has only recently come to terms with his Dad.

Uncannily even more is the fact that John's father left when he was 5 yrs. John did not see his dad again until 1965, when his father was a dishwasher at the height of Beatlemania. John later said that he felt sorry but no connection to him (even though he looked like him). John bought his dad a house and they never saw each other again. Ironically, both John and Julian suffered the same angst in different environments. John, had it not been for music impacting him in the 50s, could've ended up just like his dad-poor and nobody. John was angry and jealous at anyone better. Julian's angst was not as bad and buffered by his famous dad's band and he was always taken care off. Not so for John. Perhaps that is the reason John's innate talent blossomed in the Beatles' creativity and Julian's did and has not. John had lived way more personal pain than his son, julian.

Sean Lennon is John's second son. His mom is Yoko Ono born in the late 70s. He is in his early 30s. Sean, like Julian, resembles his dad, especially, in the 1968 time. Like Julian, he plays guitar and released a few CDs. Sean has proven to be even more unsuccessful than Julian with his music. Julian did have a few hit records, Sean has none. Like Julian and his dad, he also has angst from being without a father. John was murdered in 1980 outside of the recording studio. Ironic. Yet, each of them had a different environment to grow up in. Sean is simply a product of a rich family, never really lacked for much because of his Dad's legacy and his mom's. That is not to say he is not a great musician, because he is, but real pain creates many great artists. Sean, more than Julian, seems to be "riding" on his father's coat tails of success and famous name. Sean, like his dad, seems to be artistically inclined in pencil drawings but also has more esoteric art talents that others may find hard to relate to. Some of his music reminds one of what John and Yoko did in the late 60s with experimental music (similar to on the Beatles White LP, "No.9") which comes across as mostly junk. It did when his dad and yoko did it, it does so now.

Both sons of John inherited many of John's physical traits and each seem to have inherited the musical talent to some degree. Sean also has more of the artistic abilities that John had with his own witty drawings (In His Own Write). But, perhaps, more than anything else, it was their safe and secure environments while they grew up that prevented them from becoming a real artist that the world would love. Safety sometimes muffles raw talent because there is a lack of need. Perhaps neither were deeply moved by external sources as John was when Elvis Presley came out in 1956. From time on, all of the Beatles knew what they really wanted to do in life and suffered for years, enduring a lot of pain, hardship, rejection.

This was not the case with either of John Lennon's sons. They did it for legacy reasons and it was expected. Both are still under this expectation from the public.

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Comments 10 comments

monique 6 years ago


Viboranay 5 years ago

Julian has inherited his father's talent. I think Julian is a great composer.

John is the greatest artist of the last century.

I really do not see any kind of talent in Sean.

His artistic achievements are only for being the son of ........

Love u John!

Have a nice 2011!!

CredoInUnam 5 years ago

Wow. I could not disagree more on the assessment you have made of the two men- particularly Sean. It's ridiculous to assume that any contemporary musician, whether that be the Lennon boys or Coldplay, can match the success, the influence, impact, or unique artistry of John Lennon & his band. John was in a class of his own, way above so many of his peers even, that the point of this article seems futile. These two boys are extremely talented in their own right. Julian has written some hits, he's also written some really great songs, he's an accomplished photographer, entrepreneur, and humanitarian. Sean is FAR more gifted than most people assume. He can play any instrument, and really well. He writes beautiful melodies, and his album of piano compositions is stunning. He also wrote his own masterpiece in "Friendly Fire." AND he starred in the accompanying video collection!

Although I agree that some of the greatest artists have suffered horribly, this isn't the case for every artist. John Lennon was a one-off: a truly singular genius. But let's not slag off his kids because they're both pretty impressive.

perrya profile image

perrya 5 years ago Author

well, of course, but, what IS the reality? many do not know who they are. As Julian once said, it is impossible not to be impacted by his dad's legacy and he expects such comparisons. Sean may be gifted but then why is he not in the mainstream current? Maybe having so many millions behind him has made him feel he does not have to do anything great. I am sure both have more fans from their dad's legacy than their own. Let's not forget James McCartney has the same identical problem. It really must be horrible for them because everyone expects them to be as gifted and great. Trouble is, they have to prove it on their own. One can create the best movie script ever or the best song ever but unless it is accepted by the public it does not matter.

CredoInUnam 5 years ago

Ok, I will agree with you that perhaps Sean at least has not chased the mainstream spotlight. That isn't to say he couldn't write a top 40 hit song if he wanted to, but he clearly does not want that. For Sean, his music is about creating sounds and using melody and lovely harmonies to present much of it. Have you heard "Friendly Fire"? Have you by chance listened to his latest album "Acoustic Sessions" in collaboration with his girlfriend Charlotte Kemp-Muhl. Sean isn't just John's son. He's a very impressive talent on his own. I happened to see him live in early January and, purely subjective, the show was one of the most beautiful I have seen in a LONG time. Sean's voice, musicianship, and wit were tight, and after the show he greeted his fans with an incredibly down-to-earth, warm, and welcoming attitude. Sean is often misunderstood by people, largely due to the fact that his mother is Yoko. People presume she plays a large role in running his life, which is absolutely untrue. He is his own man, and in fact if you listen to Sean's recent musical endeavors you will clearly notice his FATHER'S influence moreso than his mom.

Julian had a pretty successful go in the 80s. I think perhaps you are being a tad unfair with him, but I will respect your opinion. He had a lot more success than the majority of rock star offspring, and his songs off of "Valotte" and "Help Yourself" are consistently played on those classic rock stations any time I listen. He had a pretty challenging feat, sounding eerily like his father not too long after the devastating loss. It was very easy for people to look at him as a possible fill-in...well, sad, slightly twisted people anyway. But Jules has a LOT of really beautiful music. I say this as a fan of his since the 80s, having grown up with those albums/songs. I own everything by Julian and Sean and both are really gifted young men. I think we need to look past the album sales and listen for the QUALITY of what they are presenting. Sean, in my opinion, is the most talented Beatle offspring by far.

I have listened to James McCartney's recent music. I feel a lot of sympathy for him as well, though I'm not sure I can say he's as good as Sean or Julian. He's about Sean's age yet I listened to his music and feel it's quite ordinary and nothing really grabs me. Sean, on the other hand, has so much going on with his music. I suggest people download songs like "Parachute," "Dead Meat," "Headlights," "On Again Off Again," "Tomorrow," "Jardin du Luxembourg," "Song for James," "Dark Matter, White Noise" and really give Sean a listen. He is amazing. John would be proud of both his sons, quite honestly.

perrya profile image

perrya 5 years ago Author

Yes, all fathers are proud of their sons! Dhani Harrison is pretty good. But, how ironic is that all of the Beatle sons have music in their genentics. More ironic is how most look like their dads in many ways. While I am sure their looks and names have opened many doors that would be normally closed to them, I am sure they know that many expect them to be equal to The Beatles, after all, without The Beatles, even their dad's might not ever made it big. As Brian Epstein once said of them, they were like a fine swiss watch. Together, it was magical and should any one of them not be present, the magic would go. That was so evident once John, Paul, Ringo and George went their own ways and produced a lot of lesser music, IMO.

Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

Hi perrya,

Although I don't think Julian had John's talent, his voice was so eerily like his Dad's I think that is what hurt him. Dhani Harrison turned out to be a very likable man.

perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

@jean- Well, all of the beatle kids have a lot to prove because of their dads, it is a heavy burden! But Dhani is the most educated, by trade, he is aircraft engineer. He did not know about his famous dad for many years.

Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey


In Living in the Material World, I read that Dhani came home from kindergargen, in tears, because all the kids told him his Dad sang a song called "Yellow Submarine" and laughed. It's probably better he found out about the Beatles later, his childhood was more normal.

perrya profile image

perrya 4 years ago Author

Yellow submarine remains a great children's song, it was the first song my daughter sang at 3 yrs. The movie is also a great artistic accomplishment.

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