Here Comes the Sons (and Daughters): The Beatles Children

I mean, sure, we can all say we’re “children of the Beatles.” After all, almost all of us grew up listening to their music, and at least some of us feel as though we were influenced by the Fab Four. But how many of us can say that we’re their actual children? None of us. There are, however, 16 individuals who can say that they are literally the children of The Beatles.

Paul and Linda McCartney with the kids in 1973. / Ringo Starr with his kids in 1977. / George and Olivia Harrison with their son. / John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and their kids in 1969.

Photo by Howard, Associated Newspapers, Shutterstock / Evening News, Shutterstock / Dennis Stone, Shutterstock / Globe Photos, Mediapunch, Shutterstock

Most are their biological children, but a few were adopted or are their step-children. In the list below, you can not only see the unmistakable similarity between the sons and daughters and their fathers, but you can see that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. A lot of these Beatles descendent – some still young, some mature adults – are pretty talented music artists themselves.

John Charles Julian Lennon

Parents: John Lennon and Cynthia Lennon

Born: April 8, 1963

Julian was the first one to be born, who came into this world just as the Beatles were becoming massive. As a young boy, he inspired three major Beatles songs: ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ and ‘Good Night’ (written by John) and ‘Hey Jude’ (written by Paul as a way to console Julian during his parents’ divorce). After John left Cynthia for Yoko, the father and son were estranged for a while.

Julian Lennon playing the guitar in his room with Beatles Records surrounding him on the bed

Julian Lennon 1970s. Photo by Mike Hollist / Daily Mail / Shutterstock

They reconnected in the early 70s. By that point, John took an interest in Julian’s musical interests, buying him a guitar and showing him the ropes. With time, Julian followed in his father’s footsteps. He became a musician, songwriter, actor, and photographer.

Julian Lennon Today

In 1984, Julian saw immediate success with his debut album “Valotte” that gave him two top 10 hits and a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. But his next few albums weren’t as much of a hit. By 1991, Julian left the music business for a while. About a decade later, in 2002, he recorded a version of “When I’m Sixty-Four.”

Julian Lennon standing in front of a photograph on the wall with his reflection in it

Julian Lennon, 2013. Photo by Alan Davidson / Shutterstock

In 2009, he founded the environmental/humanitarian charity called the White Feather Foundation, which was named after something his father once told him. Then, in 2010, for the 70th anniversary of his father’s birth, Julian opened an exhibition with 35 photographs, including his collection of Beatles memorabilia. He called it “Timeless: The Photography of Julian Lennon.”

Zak Starkey

Parents: Ringo Starr and Maureen Cox

Born: September 13, 1965

Ringo Starr and Maureen Starkey had their first son, Zak, after having married earlier that same year. Although the drummer discouraged his son from ever getting involved in the highly stressful music industry, Zak couldn’t help but take an interest in his dad’s in drums.

Zak Starkey behind the drums

Zak Starkey 1970s. Photo by Mike Hollist / Associated Newspapers / Shutterstock

After all, his godfather Keith Moon (of The Who) gave him a drum set when he was eight. With a father and godfather-like those two, it’s no surprise the kid got into drums and rock ‘n’ roll. He got serious about it after his parents got divorced in 1975. He joined a band called the Icicle Works and then his own dad’s All-Starr Band.

Zak Starky Today

Zak got his big break when he filled his godfather’s former role in the Who during the mid-90s. Not only did the band members find him to be the perfect fit for the band, but so did fans of the Who. And it’s not easy to find someone to fill the role of such a prominent rock star. Zak continued to record and tour with both Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey.

Zak Starkey behind the drums

Zak Starkey 2019. Photo by Richard Young / Shutterstock

He also served as the third drummer for Oasis between 2004 and 2009. He handled the sticks for Johnny Marr and the Healers, too. In 1985, Zak married Sarah Menikides, and the couple gave us the first Beatle grandchild, Tatia (who is now also a musician).

Jason Starkey

Parents: Ringo Starr and Maureen Cox

Born: August 19, 1967

Two years into their marriage, Ringo and Maureen gave birth to their second son, Jason. Growing up, Jason played the unofficial role of the rebel in the family. He was seven years old when his parents divorced. Maureen got custody of both her sons, and Ringo was left with visitation rights.

Ringo Starr and Jason Starkey in the airport terminal

Ringo Starr and Jason Starkey in 1977. Photo by Evening News / Shutterstock

Like many children of divorce, Jason began acting out. He started to get into more than his share of trouble and brushes with the law. In 1987, at the age of 20, he was fined £125 for trying to steal a car stereo. He also appeared in court on drug charges a few years later.

Jason Starkey Today

In the end, Jason put his days of juvenile delinquency behind him and joined a series of indie bands. Like his older brother and father, Jason is also a drummer. In the mid-’80s, he played drums for bands including Buddy Curtis and the Grasshoppers, The People’s Friend, Empire Of Sponge, and even one with his brother Zak called Musty Jack Sponge and the Exploding Nudists.

Jason Starkey

Jason Starkey, 2002. Photo by Richard Young / Shutterstock

But for some reason, Jason doesn’t seem too fond of his family legacy. “Being Ringo Starr’s son is the biggest drag of my life. It’s a total pain,” he once said. Jason nonetheless got involved in the music industry and worked as a road manager as well as a drummer. He’s been married to fashion designer Flora Evans since 2010, and the couple has three sons.

Mary Anna McCartney

Parents: Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney

Born: August 28, 1969

Paul and Linda were already expecting Mary when they got married in 1969. You might even remember her as the little baby who was famously peeking out of Paul’s coat on the back cover of his first solo album, ‘McCartney’ (which included the photo taken by her mother). Mary is the eldest biological child of Paul and Linda.

Linda, Paul, and Mary McCartney sitting at a restaurant

Linda, Paul, and Mary McCartney 1988. Photo by Richard Young / Shutterstock

Like her mother, Mary took an interest in photography. She eventually became a professional photographer and photo editor. She specializes in portrait and fashion photography. In 2001, she produced the TV documentary, ‘Wingspan,’ which was about her parents’ band. In the documentary, she also served as her father’s interviewer.

Mary McCartney Today

Mary was 29 when her mother passed away from breast cancer at the age of 56. She didn’t just get into professional photography but also became a vegetarian cookbook writer. She currently runs the photo department at her father’s company, MPL Communications. Outside of her own professional work, Mary likes to get involved in charity.

Mary McCartney in front of some of her work hanging on the wall

Mary McCartney, 2019. Photo by Mark Thomas / Shutterstock

She’s a part of numerous charitable causes. In 1998, she married director and television producer Alistair Donald. In 1999, she gave birth to her dad’s first grandchild, Arthur Donald, the eldest of his eight grandchildren. Mary had another son, Elliot Donald, in 2002. In 2005, the couple divorced. By 2010, she married director Simon Aboud. She and Aboud have two sons together.

Lee Parkin Starkey

Parents: Ringo Starr and Maureen Cox

Born: November 11, 1970

Lee arrived at a very tricky time. It was right after the breakup of the Beatles in 1970 and as her parents’ relationship was really falling apart. That said, it would take another five years until Ringo and Maureen would file for divorce. In 1989, Lee got major attention when she co-starred in an Oldsmobile commercial with her father.

Ringo Starr and Lee Starkey in front of a blue curtain

Ringo Starr and Lee Starkey 1992. Source: Shutterstock

It was around the same time that Lee co-founded the Los Angeles boutique called Planet Alice, which specialized in popular 60s styles. But it eventually closed down, and once it did, Lee started working as a fashion designer and makeup artist.

Lee Starkey Today

Sadly, a year after her mother succumbed to leukemia in 1994 at the age of 48, Lee herself was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had to undergo surgeries and radiation therapy. In 2001, the tumor reappeared, and she had to be treated again. Thankfully, Lee has been in better health ever since.

Lee Starkey standing in front of green and pink flowers

Lee Starkey 2008. Photo by Richard Young / Shutterstock

She would often show up at her brothers’ gigs as well as Stella McCartney’s shows (who we’ll get to next). Lee has been in a relationship with Jay Mehler, the Kasabian/Beady Eye bassist, for a while now. In 2009, Lee gave birth to triplets – a definite first in the Beatles fam jam. She and her family live in London, which surely comes as no surprise.

Stella Nina McCartney

Parents: Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney

Born: September 13, 1971

As a little girl, Stella traveled the world with her parents and their music group called Wings (along with her siblings). According to Paul, the name of the group was inspired by Stella’s difficult delivery. She was born by an emergency C-section, and Paul sat outside the operating room, praying that she be born “on the wings of an angel.”

Stella McCartney holding a fan while sitting in a chair

Stella McCartney, 1997. Photo by Miquel Benitez / Shutterstock

That might have been a blessing of some sort because Stella might just be the most famous of Paul and Linda’s children. She has turned herself into a well-known name in the world of fashion. Her love for clothes and designing them came at a young age.

Stella McCartney Today

Stella worked her way up the ranks, getting all the way up to launching her own, self-titled clothing line in 2001. There are currently 17 Stella McCartney boutiques around the globe. In addition to raking in a number of celebrity clients (like her close friend and model Kate Moss), Stella also landed a bunch of athletes.

Stella McCartney in a royal blue dress

Stella McCartney, 2019. Photo by Aurora Rose / WWD / Shutterstock

She designed the athletic wear for every British athlete competing in the 2012 Olympics. The following year, she became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in honor of her contributions to fashion. Stella isn’t afraid to cause a stir. She wore a shirt that read “It’s About F–king Time” when she attended her father’s induction ceremony at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She’s married to publisher Alasdhair Willis, and they have four children.

Sean Taro Ono Lennon

Parents: John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Born: October 9, 1975

John and Yoko had only one child together, and that’s Sean, who was born on his father’s 35th birthday. After the birth of his second son, John took a break from making music to stay at home. Sean proved to be an inspiration for John, which led him to write the song ‘Beautiful Boy.’

Sean Lennon about to cut his birthday cake in 1984

Sean Lennon, 1984. Photo by Globe Photos / Shutterstock

The track appeared on the 1980 comeback album ‘Double Fantasy,’ which was released right before John’s murder. Sean happens to be the Beatle child born in America. And like his talented parents, Sean became a musician himself. From childhood into his teen years, Sean collaborated with his mother, doing vocals and production on her solo albums, It’s Alright, Starpeace and Onobox.

Sean Lennon Today

He wrote music with Lenny Kravitz and joined Cibo Matto before getting signed to the Beastie Boys’ record label, Grand Royal. Sean released a few solo albums, recorded a handful of movie soundtracks, and collaborated with a bunch of musicians, other than his own mother. He also teamed up with the Flaming Lips, the Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr., and Mark Ronson, to name a few.

Sean Lennon with his hand on his chin looking deep in thought

Sean Lennon, 2018. Photo by Erik Pendzich / Shutterstock

Eventually, he and his model girlfriend, Charlotte Kemp Muhl, formed their own group. The avant-garde folk group called Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger released their first full-length album, ‘Midnight Sun,’ in 2014.

Fun fact: In 1984, Steve Jobs visited Manhattan and attended a party that Yoko threw for her late husband. There, Jobs gave the young Sean one of the very first Macintosh computers.

James Louis McCartney

Parents: Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney

Born: September 12, 1977

James was named after his father who’s actual name is James Paul McCartney. James is also Paul and Linda’s only son, and he took an interest in music at an early age. And it’s not even because of his dad’s influence. The real reason? He saw the infamous scene from ‘Back to the Future’ where Marty McFly plays the guitar.

James, Paul, and Linda McCartney at the airport

James, Paul, and Linda McCartney 1979. Photo by Evening News / Shutterstock

Paul quickly recognized his son’s attraction to the guitar and stepped in to give him a Stratocaster. That guitar was previously owned by Carl Perkins. James ended up contributing to a couple of his dad’s solo records (i.e., ‘Flaming Pie’ and ‘Driving Rain’), as well as playing guitar and drums.

James McCartney Today

Years later, James started venturing into his own music career. James released a couple of pop-rock Eps, which were co-produced by Paul, and then a debut album simply called ‘Me’ in 2013. But a year before that, James managed to cause a bit of a media frenzy. In 2012, he rocked the boat when he suggested that he, Sean Lennon, Zak Starkey, and Dhani Harrison (next up in the list) would start a second-generation Beatles group.

James and Paul McCartney

James and Paul McCartney 2014. Photo by Richard Young / Shutterstock

Wait, what? While James stated that he wasn’t opposed to a reincarnation of their Beatles dads, not all of the sons agreed. “I don’t think it’s something that Zak wants to do,” James commented. “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.”

Dhani Harrison

Parents: George Harrison and Olivia Harrison

Born: August 1, 1978

Dhani is George and Olivia’s only child, who got married the month after Dhani was born. Thanks to George’s activity and pursuit of Indian philosophy, he chose to name his son after the 6th and 7th notes in the Indian music scale. Who knows – maybe he was destined to be a musician.

George and Dhani Harrison

George and Dhani Harrison 1990. Photo by Dennis Stone / Shutterstock

Dhani became a professional musician when he helped Jeff Lynne complete his father’s album, ‘Brainwashed,’ after George’s death in 2001. The following year, Dhani played acoustic guitar for the “Concert for George” tribute. He joined a lineup that included Ringo and Paul. A few years later, Dhani went out on his own.

Dhani Harrison Today

In 2006, he co-founded an indie rock group called Thenewno2. The group released a number of albums ever since. Dhani is also a member of a rock trio called Fistful of Mercy with Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur. His music collaborations are pretty diverse, actually. He’s toured with Eric Clapton, appeared on the Wu-Tang Clan track “The Heart Gently Weeps,” and even joined Pearl Jam on stage several times over the years.

Jeff Lynne and Dhani Harrison posing together at a party

Jeff Lynne and Dhani Harrison in 2017. Photo by Richard Young / Shutterstock

Dhani married Solveig “Sola” Karadottir in 2012 but divorced a few years later. They never had any children together. Apart from his musical endeavors, Dhani also took part in the Beatles video game. He was a major force behind the video game ‘The Beatles: Rock Band.’ He brought together the surviving members of the band and the game designers.

Beatrice Milly McCartney

Parents: Paul McCartney and Heather Mills

Born: October 28, 2003

Beatrice was born to Paul and his second wife, Heather Mills, in 2003. Beatrice Milly was reportedly named after Heather’s mother, Beatrice, as well as Paul’s Aunt Milly. Beatrice is McCartney’s youngest daughter, and his only child with Heather, whom they had when Paul was well into his 60s.

Beatrice Milly sitting next to Nancy Shevell on her wedding day with Paul McCartney

Beatrice Milly McCartney and Nancy Shevell in 2011. Source: Shutterstock

Despite their rather bitter divorce, Paul and Heather decided to share custody over their dear Beatrice. She served as the flower girl at her father’s 2011 wedding to Nancy Shevell. Word on the street is that Beatrice is a skilled saxophonist, but she doesn’t plan on pursuing a career in music. It looks like marine biology is more up her alley.

Heather McCartney

Parents: Linda McCartney and Joseph Melville See (adopted by Paul McCartney)

Born: December 31, 1962

Heather McCartney is Linda McCartney and Joseph Melville See’s daughter. But since her parents separated when she was very young, and her mother married Paul McCartney in 1969 when she was just six years old, Paul formally adopted her.

Paul, Linda, and Heather on Paul and Linda’s wedding day

Paul, Linda, and Heather McCartney on their wedding day in 1969. Source: Shutterstock

While her biological father had a lifelong influence on her, she still considers Paul to be her father. Heather has always been a lover of art. She went to an art college, where she focused on pottery and design. Later in her life, she moved to Arizona to live with her biological father, but eventually went back to England to work as a potter.

Kyoko Chan Cox

Parents: Yoko Ono and Anthony Cox (adopted by John Lennon)

Born: August 8, 1963

When John and Yoko wed in 1969, he became a stepfather to Yoko’s daughter from her previous marriage to Anthony Cox, the American film producer, and art promoter. In the early years of Yoko and John’s marriage, she and her ex-husband were involved in a custody battle over their daughter. The ordeal inspired John to write the song ‘Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow).’

Yoko Ono, Kyoko Cox, and John Lennon sitting in the back of a car

Yoko Ono, Kyoko Cox, and John Lennon in 1969. Photo by Reg Childs / Daily Sketch / Shutterstock

The track was credited to the Plastic Ono Band, including John, Ringo, and Eric Clapton. Cox kidnapped 8-year-old Kyoko and raised her under the name Ruth Holman. He was actually a part of a religious cult named The Living Word Fellowship. Kyoko and her father left the cult in the 70s, but she and her mother didn’t reconnect until the 90s. Not much is known about Kyoko, but it’s been said that she works as a teacher and is married with two children.

Francesca Gregorini

Parents: Barbara Bach and Augusto Gregorini (step-daughter of Ringo Starr)

Born: August 7, 1968

She goes by Francesca, but she’s officially Countess Francesca McKnight Donatella Romana Gregorini di Savignano di Romagna. Yeah, say that three times in a row. Francesca is the daughter of Barbara Bach and Count Augusto Gregorini, but she later became the step-daughter of Ringo Starr.

A reporter holding a tape recorder up for Ringo Starr while he walks in the park with Barbara Bach and Francesca Gregorini

A reporter, Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach, and Francesca Gregorini in 1986. Photo by Stuart Clarke / The Mail On Sunday / Shutterstock

She’s an Italian-American director and writer. Bach’s oldest child, Francesca, grew up in Rome and America before she moved to England after her mother married Ringo. She dabbled a bit in music before gaining attention as a filmmaker. She made an indie film in 2013 called ‘The Truth About Emanuel. Gregorini was also famous for her relationship with Portia de Rossi (pre-Ellen).

Gianni Gregorini

Parents: Barbara Bach and Augusto Gregorini (step-son of Ringo Starr)

Born: April 6, 1972

Ringo has another step-child – Francesca’s brother – from his marriage to Barbara Bach. Gianni was born four years after Francesca. When Gianni was a little boy, he served as a pageboy at his mother’s wedding to Ringo. When he grew up, he started working for his father in Italy, but he then moved to Los Angeles, where he became a businessman.

Ringo Starr talking to Gianni Gregorini at a party in 1985

Ringo Starr and Gianni Gregorini in 1985. Photo by Alan Davidson / Shutterstock

There isn’t a lot about Gianni on the internet. So as much as I would like to give at least a little bit of juicy information, I can’t. But what I will say is that he and his sister (and the rest of these kids for that matter) were born into a very lucky situation!

Arlen Blakeman

Parents: Nancy Shevell and Bruce Blakeman (step-son of Paul McCartney)

Born: December 3, 1991

When Paul married his third wife, Nancy, in 2011, he added yet another kid to his brood. I mean, at this point, why not, right? So Paul became a step-dad to Arlen Blakeman, Nancy’s son from her marriage to lawyer Bruce Blakeman. Arlen was a teenager when he gave his mother away to Paul at their wedding ceremony.

Arlen Blakeman and Nancy Shevell

Arlen Blakeman and Nancy Shevell. Source: Tumblr

Arlen graduated from college in 2015. He’s now in New York City, reportedly doing a law internship. Like some of the other Beatles kids on this list, Arlen seems to have chosen to stay out of the limelight. It’s for the best, though.

John Lennon Was Just Good ‘Ole Dad

One of the oddest things about having famous parents is coming to the realization that the whole world is in love with them. This is true for any of the Beatles’ kids, but especially so for Sean Lennon. His father John was beloved by fans across the globe, but, for Sean, he was just good ‘ole dad.

John Lennon with Sean as a young boy walking through the street

Photo by Vinnie Zuffante / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

“I never knew that doing interviews and having press was weird. You take it as it comes,” Sean told Rolling Stone Magazine in 1998. “You don’t choose your name, you don’t choose your parents… Boom, you’re born. Now deal with it.”

John Is Always With Him

Sean, now 45-years-old (how crazy is that?!), doesn’t need any prompting to talk about his father, or about anything for that matter. “I like to talk,” he says with a smile. According to the musician, every report card that he’s gotten has the same remark: “Sean likes to hear himself talk.”

Sean Lennon at an event in 2016

Photo by Gustavo Caballero / New York Fashion Week: The Shows / Getty Images

Sean, who is a musician in his own right, knows that the public still views him as the son of a Beatle—but he’s okay with that. He also says that he feels his father’s presence with him every day.

“He’s Alive, Man”

“He’s alive in his music, in my life,” Sean says proudly. “Sometimes I walk into a store and hear him singing – ‘Instant Karma’ is playing – and I feel like that’s him talking to me.” Sean, who was coincidently born on his father’s 35th birthday, quickly learned the impact John had on the world after his death.

Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon posing outdoors with a balloon

Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon on the anniversary or John Lennon’s death outside of his home. Photo by Richard Levine / Corbis / Getty Images

People would gather outside of his home every year on his father’s (and his) birthday. Sean also says that he felt that music was his calling, especially because of who his parents were. “From a very early age, people said to me, ‘When’s your first album?'”

A Lack of Guidance

Sean made his musical debut on a 1984 Ono tribute album when he was just nine years old and eventually went on to make his own music as a solo artist. This was right around the same time when his older, half-brother Julian also decided to get into the business.

Sean Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Julian Lennon posing together at an art event

Sean Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Julian Lennon. Photo by Barbara Alper / Getty Images

Julian, however, was eaten alive by critics. “He got attacked, destroyed,” Sean told Rolling Stone Magazine in 1998. “He’d say stuff to me like, `Be careful. They’re really gonna get you.” Sean didn’t let the critics get to him, but he does say that he wished his father was there to guide him.

Missing His Dad

Sean often thinks of his friend Harper Simon, Paul Simon’s son, and how lucky he is that his dad is still alive. “His dad is constantly showing him chords on the guitar. It’s nice. He’s lucky,” Sean notes. But on the other hand, the musician also thinks that having someone constantly looking over your shoulder can stunt musical growth.

Paul Simon and Harper Simon on the red carpet

Paul and Harper Simon. Photo by Ron Galella /Ron Galella Collection / Getty Images

That being said, Sean would take having a helicopter father over his father being gone any day. “I wish I could do anything with him,” he said in 1998. “Go to a movie. Walk down the street. Watch TV with him let alone talk about music.”

The “What Ifs”

Like any son who has lost his father, Sean wishes that John was there to help him out when he needs it most, especially when he was starting out as a musician. There were questions that he wished he could ask his father.

Sean Lennon performing

Photo by Jack Vartoogian / Getty Images

Answers to questions like “How does that sound?” or “Are the vocals here okay?” would have really helped him out. But since Sean was only five years old at the time of his father’s death, he can only rely on magazines and TV interviews to learn about the interworkings’ of John’s musical mind.

“He Would Have Liked It”

Sean, who played bass for the band Cibo Matto, once read an interview with Tony Levin—the bassist on John and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy album— who said that his father had the clearest vision of what he wanted from a bass player of anyone Levin had ever worked with.

Sean Lennon performing with Cibo Matto

Cibo Matto performing. Photo by Jim Dyson / Getty Images

“I’m sure [my dad] would have had a million ideas about my music,” Sean continues. He thinks that his dad would have liked his music, expect for his jazz-y tracks. “I can imagine him saying, “Why are you doing this fake jazz shit on your record?” he says with a laugh. “What is this crap?”

Memories Etched in Stone

According to Sean, he remembers more about his life from when he was just a toddler, than he does from his teenage years. I think the event of my father’s death forced me to cling on to those memories harder than I would any other memory,” the now 45-year-old says.

Brian Jones, Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, and John Lennon posing together for a photograph sitting on the side of a stage

Photo by Evening Standard / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

“It was such a shock that it etched in stone those few events I had.” Sean remembers just talking with his father, handing out and watching TV, but his father putting him to bed every night is his favorite memory.

“Just Me and Him”

John, who was a stay-at-home dad for the last years of his life, put Sean to bed every night. These were intimate moments for Sean, who will cherish these memories for the rest of his life. “It was just me and him. There was something so soothing about his voice,” Sean says with a smile.

Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon behind a gate at an outdoor event

Photo by Dave Hogan / Getty Images

His father would also do this really cute thing where he would flick the lights on and off to the rhythm of what he was saying. “He would say, “Good night, Sean” and the lights would go [makes clicking noise],” Sean continues. “It just made me feel so cozy.”

A Strict Father

Sean also remembers sitting and watching The Muppet Show, which he says John loved to watch, and his father always turned off the TV during commercial breaks. “I would go, ‘Dad, we’re going to miss some of it.’ And he would go, “No, we’re not,” he told Rolling Stone Magazine in 1998.

Sean Lennon being comforted as a child

Photo by Dave Hogan / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

“He’d wait two minutes, then put the TV back on. He told me that anything you ever see on a commercial is a lie.” But it wasn’t just commercials that John would keep from Sean. He also wasn’t allowed to eat refined sugar and remembers being given little, dried Japanese fish as candy.

Not So Happy Memories

But while Sean has a lot of good memories of his father, he says that John wasn’t always pleasant to be around. In fact, there were times when he would scream at Sean for no reason. “I didn’t want to say it, but I have some less than happy memories, too,” Sean says as he laughs nervously.

John Lennon getting into a car

Photo by Vinnie Zuffante / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

“He definitely had a violent temper. He would get angry sometimes. And when he did, that voice that was soothing would become like a knife.” But Sean says that it must have been hard for him to become a doting father after years of being an indulgent pop star.

Admitting His Faults

Sean says that while his father was an amazing guy, he also had a dark side to him. Hearing stuff like Sean’s mother’s song, Death of Samantha, which all about his father having sex with some girl at a party where Yoko also was, is hard for Sean—especially since there’s no excuse for John’s behavior.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono at a book signing

Photo by Jack Kay / Daily Express / Getty Images

However, one of John’s greatest strengths was realizing when he was acting like an a**hole. “The only thing that made it okay was that he could admit it,” Sean said of his father in 1998. “That was his saving grace. He tried to overcome it.”

Sean’s Second Home

Sean remembers his father always playing guitar while he sat on his father’s lap. As a toddler, he was always at the studio with his parents. Recording studios became a second home for Sean, and, to this day, they are his favorite place to be—well, at the ones that John used to use.

John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney recording in the studio

John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney in the recording studio. Photo by Mark and Colleen Hayward / Getty Images

These studios were always carpeted, warm, and dimly lit with music blasting. “It’s a very magical environment for a kid,” he says with a smile. But when John died, Sean’s world was turned completely upside down.

Trying to Impress His Mother

Since John was a stay-at-home dad, Sean didn’t really have a relationship with his mother. “It was almost like I didn’t know my mom until my dad died,” he told Rolling Stone Magazine. “Suddenly, I was introduced to her: ‘Here she is. Wow, this is my mom.’”

Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon at an event in 1988.

Photo by Rick Maiman / Sygma / Getty Images

Sean used to try to impress his mother when they would go out for walks by dressing up in his Sunday best because he was with nannies most of the time, especially when his dad died. “My mom couldn’t deal with me a lot of the time because she was going through a lot of difficult stuff of her own.”

Finally Finding Out

Sean didn’t actually learn about his father’s murder until a few days after it happened, but he distinctly remembers the day that he found out. Someone came to Sean and told him that his mother wanted to speak to him.

Sean Lennon standing behind Yoko Ono

Photo by Dave M Benett / Getty Images

So, he followed them up to her room, where she was lying in bed. Yoko had been in bed for days at this point, and Sean had a strange feeling that something bad had happened. He just didn’t expect what was coming next.

“Your Dad’s Dead”

Sean remembers glancing at a newspaper headline that was sitting on his mother’s dresser, but he was only five years old at the time and could barely read. Then, all of a sudden, without sugarcoating the facts, Yoko just said, “Your dad’s dead. He’s been killed.”

Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon when he was young

Photo by Suzie Gibbons / Redferns / Getty Images

Seeing his mother upset and bedridden, Sean tried to be mature about the situation. “I said, ‘Don’t worry, mom, you’re still young. You’ll find somebody.’ Which was an intense thing to say, when I think about it,” Sean told Rolling Stone Magazine. “But that’s what I said.”

Yoko and Sean Stayed Put

“Well, I’m glad you feel that way about it,” Yoko answered. Then Sean ran out of his mother’s bedroom and began crying hysterically. He didn’t want his mother or anyone else for that matter to see that it was hard for him.

Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon in golf hats in 1985

Photo by Ron Galella / Ron Galella Collection / Getty Images

The two continued living in the Dakota, the same apartment building that John was walking into when he was fatally shot. “The Dakota was all we had left of him. Memories and everything,” John’s son continued. “How could we leave? What are we going to do? Runaway and pretend he never existed?”

Haunted by Fear

But even though the two refused to leave the Dakota apartment building, Sean says he is still haunted by what happened to his father all those years ago. To this day, he makes sure that Yoko is always in front of him while they walk through the building’s entrance.

Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon being guided through a large crowd

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As a child, Sean had constant nightmares of either him or his mother getting shot while returning home. Since the murder, Sean and Yoko always have bodyguards close by. Two armed guards would accompany Sean everywhere he went: to school, to class, and to the bathroom.

Embracing His Weirdness

While Sean admits that he didn’t really have a relationship with his mother when he was younger, the two are very close now. “It was me and her against the world,” he says. As Sean grew up, he also became interested in the things his father was into.

Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon on his birthday lighting the candles on a cake

Photo by Ron Galella / Ron Galella Collection / Getty Images

And no, his mother never thought he was getting “too weird.” In fact, whenever Sean tried to rebel and piss his mom off, like by getting a mohawk, it didn’t faze Yoko. If anything, she supported his rebellious, teenage side, which made him even angrier. “The fact that she said, “Great,” it was like, “Man, I can’t do anything to rebel against her.”

Using His Inheritance

Sean says that hearing his parents’ voice on records is cathartic, personal, and intimate. “You hear that voice and realize it’s the voice that said, ‘Okay,’ when you were crying when you were two months old,” he says.

Cyndi Lauper, LL Cool J, Sean Lennon, and Lenny Kravitz in the studio holding up their fingers in peace signs

Cyndi Lauper, LL Cool J, Sean Lennon, and Lenny Kravitz. Photo by Larry Busacca / WireImage / Getty Images

While many kids could have seen being the son of Yoko and John as a curse, Sean has fully embraced his identity—especially his parent’s wealth, which he relied upon to cushion any blows that came his way, starting with his own journey into the music industry. “It would be stupid to throw the money away. That would be denial. I can’t deny who I am.”

Doing Good for the World

But according to Sean, there’s no point in having all of this money if he didn’t use his position for good. If you’re in a privileged position in society, it’s good to honor that position and take advantage of it to change things positively,” Sean explained to Rolling Stone Magazine.

Sean Lennon performing at a charity event

Photo by Kevin Mazur / WireImage / Getty Images

“My mom definitely taught me that. I’m gonna try to be that kind of person.” And when it comes to connecting to the kids of other famous people, Sean says that he’s always down to meet people and talk about their strange place in society.

“Like Weird Floating Islands”

“I’d love to meet Jakob [Dylan]. I’d love to meet Ziggy Marley. I’d love to talk to those guys about just being celebrity kids,” Sean continued. “In a way, we feel like these weird floating islands. And when we bump into each other, it’s like, ‘Wow! What was it like for you?’”

Jakob Dylan and Sean Lennon posing together back stage

Jakob Dylan and Sean Lennon. Photo by Jeff Kravitz / Film Magic / Michael Dorf Presents / Getty Images

“‘Oh, well, that’s what it was like for me, too.’” Sean says that when he first met Stella McCartney, the two stayed up all night swapping stories of how it was like to grow up as a Beatles’ kid. But according to Sean, growing up with uber-famous parents is a double-edged sword.

A Tough Crowd

On the one hand, these kids have all the connections in the world. They have their parents’ guidance, for the most part, and money to fall back on if things don’t work out. But on the other hand, the public is just waiting for them to fail. “The world is really ready to say, ‘You suck.’”

Sean Lennon with his hands behind his head

Photo by Martyn Goodacre / Getty Images

“‘You’re not as good as your parents. You can’t sing, you can’t play.’” Sean continues. It’s a harsh reality, and, in some ways, Sean is in complete awe of Jakob and how he was able to come out of his dad’s shadow and shine in his own right.

Missing His Dad

As an adult, Sean is able to come to terms with the difference between how the world thought of his father and how he actually was at home: a living, breathing human. Like anyone of us, John had his good days and his bad.

John Lennon with his hand to his head in front of a sign reading ‘Gentlemen’

Photo by Ron Case / Keystone / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

“People forget how easy it is to over-glorify that human being, to mythify them,” the musician notes. “If there’s anything the public doesn’t understand, it’s that he was a human being. That when he died, he left a real family behind. And that I miss him every day… I miss my dad.”

Okay, so we have the kids covered. Now we can move on to the Beatles wives. Are you in for a juicy read?