Beatles' Paul McCartney, John Lennon's sons' song excites fans, but dads' shadow may be 'inescapable': expert

Beatles legend Paul McCartney's son James McCartney and John Lennon's son Sean Ono Lennon collaborated on a new single titled "Primrose Hill."

Beatles' Paul McCartney, John Lennon's sons' song excites fans, but dads' shadow may be 'inescapable': expert

Paul McCartney's son James McCartney and John Lennon's son Sean Ono Lennon came together for a surprise new single.

More than 60 years ago, the Beatles legends formed one of the most successful songwriting partnerships of all time, famously known as Lennon-McCartney. James, 46, recently revealed he had teamed up with Sean, 48, for a second-generation collaboration of Lennon-McCartney as he debuted a new song, "Primrose Hill," that the pair co-wrote.

"‘Primrose Hill’ is here! Today I am so very excited to share my latest song co-written by my good friend @sean_ono_lennon . With the release of this song it feels like we’re really getting the ball rolling and I am so excited to continue to share music with you," James captioned a photo of himself with Sean.

"Enjoy the song," James added, reminding his followers to enter his "Primrose Hill" music video contest. On April 2, James announced the contest on his official website. He invited fans to submit videos of couples capturing the "essence of love and romance" that might be included in the official music video for "Primrose Hill." Submissions for the contest have closed.


James also teased the release of "Primrose Hill" in an Instagram post April 2, writing, "I had a vision as a child in Scotland, on what was a lovely summer’s day. Letting go, I saw my true love and saviour in my mind’s eye. ‘Primrose Hill’ is about getting the ball rolling with me & finding that person."

Paul celebrated the song's release with a Facebook post promoting "Primrose Hill." 

"My son James has a new song out called 'Primrose Hill' - check it out! And lots of love to Sean Ono Lennon who co-wrote the song," he wrote, adding a red heart emoji.


Paul shares James with his ex-wife, Mary McCartney, while John, who was assassinated in 1980, shared Sean with his wife Yoko Ono.

This is far from the first musical venture for James and Sean, though "Primrose Hill" marks the first known official collaboration for the duo. James and Sean followed in their fathers' footsteps and embarked on careers in the industry, as have the sons of the other two Beatles members, Ringo Starr and George Harrison.

Lennon's oldest son, Julian Lennon, 61; Starr's sons Jason Starkey, 56, and Zak Starkey, 45; and Harrison's son Dhani Harrison, 45, also became musicians.

Over the years, the icons' sons have addressed the challenges of living up to their fathers' legacies, though they have acknowledged they have been afforded many opportunities because of their parents' success and connections.

Zak candidly addressed the difficulty of forging his own path in the Beatles' wake in a comment on a video that a Paul McCartney fan account shared on Instagram. In the clip, which was set to "Primrose Hill," James plays the piano and smiles.

"New music from Beatle sons! A McCartney/Lennon collaboration from James McCartney and Sean Lennon!" the account wrote on the video.


"Sad ya can’t just walk your own road," one social media user commented on the post.

"the Beatles are an impenitable (sic) wall u cannot go thru over or under - I was 25 when I came to terms with that - up until then I was so f------ frustrated by it, " Zak replied.

In a 2013 interview with the Daily Mail, James told the outlet, "It’s hard to live up to the Beatles."


"When Wings toured, they got slated," James added. "Even Dad found it hard living up to the Beatles. I started out playing under an alias because I wanted to start quietly.

"I had to serve my time as a musician and wait until I had a good body of songs and for a time when both myself and my music were ready. I don’t want to sit around. I want to earn my own living."

In an interview with Fox News Digital, brand expert Doug Eldridge of Achilles PR noted it was "inevitable" the Beatles' scions would struggle to escape the Fab Four's shadow.

"The Beatles were/are arguably the most iconic band of the last century. It wasn't just their music, it was the timing and branding around their image, as much as their IP," Eldridge said.

"From matching suits to ‘long hair' to the bearded, drug-induced, anti-war chapters at the end. Any surfer will tell you: To become a great surfer, you must conquer a great wave; without that perfect wave, you're merely a good surfer who never had a chance to shine.

"By way of analogy, the Beatles paddled out, waited for the monster wave and rode it to immortality. Life is, and always will be, about timing. Getting out of their parents' shadow is as tough as escaping the earth's gravitational pull; culturally speaking, it's arguably even tougher. There's no shortage of iconic stars whose progeny followed in their steps, but despite their own success, they fell short of reaching their parents' level of acclaim."

Eldridge noted Bob Dylan's son Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers, Hank Williams' son Hank Williams Jr. and grandson Hank III and Led Zeppelin drummer Jon Bonham's son Jason Bonham were among the progeny who followed in their fathers' footsteps.

"And the list goes on," he added. "That said, there are also a short list of unicorns who managed to carve out their own image — not another musical face on Mount Rushmore, but rather, their own face on the mountainside of a new generation."


Eldridge cited Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter Miley Cyrus, Julio Iglesias' son Enrique Iglesias and Nat King Cole's daughter Natalie Cole as examples of unicorns.

"Admittedly, it's a short list, and those names are few and far between. When your parent is a giant, they cast a long, long shadow; sometimes it can be inescapable," he said.

Eldridge also weighed in on whether it is possible for the children of famous musicians to forge their own paths.

"When someone scores a 100 on a test, the best you can do is equal their score with another 100; there's no way to conceivably surpass what was previously done," he said.

"Sadly, even if you manage to replicate that level of greatness, it will likely be marginalized as being the ‘son of’ status, as if some level of nepotism is either to credit or blame for their (lack of) commensurate achievement," Eldrige added.  

"That said, when it comes to finding your own path, perhaps the best approach still comes from Robert Frost: ‘I took the one less traveled ... and that has made all the difference.’"

After "Primrose Hill" was released, the single was generally met with praise from critics. One reviewer noted that the song shows "promise," but added, "It does little to suggest that it will be the moment the son outshines the father."


However, many Beatles' fans reacted enthusiastically to James and Sean's unexpected collaboration in the comments of his Instagram post.

"Beautiful. You can certainly hear the influence of Paul and John, but it’s also your own sound. Love it," one social media user wrote.

"Never thought I (sic) see another Lennon and McCartney original," another fan commented.

"The first lennon-mccartney in more than 50 years…" a follower chimed in.

"So happy for this to happen," one social media user gushed, along with a string of emojis.

"I LOVE THE "MINIMALISTIC" APPROACH!!" another fan wrote. "I'm so glad they didn't overreach or try to make something Epic (which sometimes people expect)... They did a simple, beautiful Melody with outstanding poetry. JOB WELL DONE!!!"

"Beautiful! Lennon-McCartney goes on! Your dads are proud!" a follower raved.

One fan urged James to "make a band With Zack, Dhani and Sean," which was an idea the musician had previously floated. 

"I don't think it's something that Zak wants to do," James told the BBC of forming a band with fellow Beatles' sons in 2012. "Maybe Jason would want to do it. I'd be up for it. Sean seemed to be into it, Dhani seemed to be into it. I'd be happy to do it."

When asked if he thought the second-generation band "could happen," James said, "Yeah, hopefully, naturally. I don't know, you'd have to wait and see. The will of God, nature's support, I guess. So yeah, maybe."

However, James later clarified his remarks in a Facebook post after they went viral.

"Hi Everyone...well, looks like quite some attention being given to my BBC interview! Honestly, I was just thinking out loud about playing with Beatles family friends, nothing more. My band's going to be on tour in the UK and US for most of this year, and the shows are going great! I'm so grateful…Lots of love to you all…!"