Lennon's Inheritance

Rolling Stone Magazine (German Edition), June 1998
by Jörg Gülden

Photograph Smile
History is full of them: genius, powerful, famous (or just filthy rich) men and their descendants, who tried hard to carry over the legacy of their  fathers and in general failed miserably. And if - as in the case of Julian Lennon - the father thinks he's bigger than Jesus, the son only has the choice between Godfather or total failure. Or not?

In the meantime, if you sit face to face with Julian Lennon, already 35 years old, and close you eyes for a moment, you can't believe your ears. The same nasal and quite tiny voice, that from time to time sounds a bit condescending, like the genius Beatle who was killed in 1980. And the looking does the rest, only the black horn-rimmed spectacles with the orange colored glasses sets him apart from father John. But nothing of a tragically son-figure a la Ghetty Jr. or Mitchum Jr., because Julian Lennon is totally un-vain, very eloquent and extremely polite.

But if the son takes a break of seven years after his four albums - convincing: "Valotte" and "Secret Value..." , mediocre: "Mr. Jordan", poor: "Help yourself" - to come back in 1998 with the brilliant "Photograph Smile" (on which Julian more than once sounds like John during the Fab Four era), then you have to ask him - even if it could mean to be thrown out - how he lives or suffers with a name like Lennon and what motivation and self-discipline one need in order to not be dismissed as an outsider or go down as "the small Lennon" in pop history.

"I crossed this subject off my list ten years ago. Of course, the resemblance between Dad and me fuel the critics. But they sometimes see resemblances where are none, can't be any.  So people ask me again and again if I listen to the Beatles hour after hour and if there is anything better than them for me. But if I deny this, I just look into unbelieving faces. The new album will provoke this question more than ever - but who cares ?

"If the public loves the album, who cares then about supposed resemblances? It is absurd, that they try to nail down my existence on my descent and my past. I left the past behind, I live in the present and concentrate on the future.

"Only for you who believe all the stuff in the Yellow - press: my father was not there at my birth. John separate with mother when I was four and I was so far away from the Beatles World like every other nursery school child in Liverpool. Just as a teenager - that was shortly before he was shot - I saw John several times. What the people who always say "your father was genius ! We love him" don't want to understand is that I admire Dad as a musician but as a father he didn't exist for me. Then I could scream with rage but I now manage to say 'Yes, I love his music, too.' "