The Sons of Rock—From Wolfgang Van Halen to Jakob Dylan, This is the Next Generation

Rock ‘n’ roll, which was born from the blues, is one of the most successful and influential genres of music today.

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From the south where it bubbled up to across oceans, the music has created some of the biggest celebrities, from the Beatles and Chuck Berry to Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and the grunge movement.

[RELATED: The Daughters of Grunge: How a New Musical Generation is Blooming from the Sludge]

But the glory days of the genre’s past have helped to birth the new and next generations. Here, we will dive into some of those artists—namely, the sons of rock ‘n’ roll—to see how the offspring of some of the art form’s best are managing the music and in which direction they’re taking it.

So, without further ado, here are the sons of rock.

1. Wolfgang Van Halen

The son of super-shredder Eddie Van Halen, Wolfgang is following in his father’s six-string footsteps. He played bass for Van Halen from 2006 to 2020 and he also played in the heavy metal band Tremonti from 2012 to 2016. When Eddie died in 2020, Wolfgang launched himself head-first into his solo project, Mammoth WVH, in which he sings and plays all the instruments for the studio recordings. The band’s self-titled debut LP dropped in 2021.

2. Andrew Hagar

The son of rocker vocalist Sammy Hagar, Andrew has only recently begun to follow his father’s lead. A guitar player, singer, and songwriter, Andrew got into music in earnest after he’d turned 30 years old. He told the Marin Independent Journal, “I had no idea growing up that I had any semblance of talent because I always compared myself to my dad. I’m not like some rock star. So I just ran away, screaming, from any idea of playing music when I was a kid.” Instead of music, he threw himself into mixed martial arts.

The 38-year-old continued, “My dad told me quite a few times that I was going to get to the point where I was going to have to make a decision over whether I was going to continue working with professional fighters or whether I want to play music. As soon as that happened, I said, ‘I’m done. I want to play music.’ And I’ve been going at it pretty hard ever since.”

3. James McCartney

The British-American musician is the only son of Paul McCartney and the Beatles’ first wife, Linda. James has contributed to solo albums by his famous folks, including the 1997 LP, Flaming Pie, and the 2001 LP, Driving Rain. He’s also released two EPs and two LPs of his own. James, who practices  Transcendental Meditation, released his latest work, The Blackberry Train, in May 2016.

4. Jakob Dylan

One of the most famous sons of rock, the multi-Grammy Award-winning Jakob Dylan is the frontman for the popular band The Wallflowers. The group was a major success in the ’90s with its LP, Bringing Down the Horse, which features hits like “One Headlight,” “6th Avenue Heartache” and “Three Marlenas.” The son of perhaps the greatest songwriter of all time, Bob Dylan, can’t be an easy role to play, but Jakob has faired well, boasting a similar gravely voice and a knack for lyricism.

5. Julian and Sean Lennon

The Grammy-nominated Julian Lennon has been enjoying a resurgence as of late with the release of his 2022 album, Jude. He also recently released a cover of his Beatle father’s hit song, “Imagine.” Julian is also credited with inspiring a few Beatles songs, from “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” to “Hey Jude” (based on his nickname) and “Goodnight.” He’s released seven studio LPs to date.

And Julian’s half-brother Sean, who is the son of Lennon and Yoko Ono, has been a member of several bands from The Claypool Lennon Delirium to his parents’ Plastic Ono Band. He’s released two solo albums, Into the Sun in 1998 and Friendly Fire in 2006. He’s also produced records, including for bands like the Black Lips.

6. Jason Bonham

The son of legendary British drummer, John Bonham, Jason has followed his famous Led Zeppelin roots. Since John’s death in 1980, Jason has performed with the three surviving Zeppelin members on several stages, including at the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert at O2 arena in London, England, in December 2007. He was even known as a skilled drummer since the age of five.

In 1988, Jason joined Zeppelin guitarist, Jimmy Page, for his Outrider album and tour. In May of that year, he played with Led Zeppelin during an Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary concert in the Big Apple. Later, in 2014, he joined Sammy Hagar and his supergroup, Sammy Hagar and the Circle, which performed Zeppelin songs along with those from Van Halen and other bands.

7. Justin Townes Earle

One of your favorite songwriter’s favorite songwriters, Justin Townes Earle is the son of songwriter Steve Earle and was named after Steve’s hero, songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Sadly, Justin passed away in 2020. He debuted his first EP, Yuma, in 2007, and later he released eight LPs. He earned the AMA Award for Emerging Artist of the Year in 2009 and for Song of the Year in 2011. He couldn’t escape his demons of addiction, though, and sadly passed away too early.

8. Dhani Harrison

Grammy Award-winner Dhani Harrison is the son of six-string player George Harrison and his wife, Olivia. Today, he is a composer as well as a singer-songwriter. Dhani helped to record his father’s final album, Brainwashed, and helped in completing it after George’s death in 2001. He’s played festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza with his band, thenewno2. He launched his career as a composer in 2013. He’s toured with Eric Clapton, Pearl Jam, and Wu-Tang Clan. He is named after the sixth and seventh notes of the Indian music scale, dha, and ni.

9. Shane Hawkins

The young son of the late drummer and singer Taylor Hawkins, Shane burst onto the scene in 2022 during tribute shows for his fallen father. Shane subsequently earned a prestigious win recently for those shows, garnering the 2022 Drumeo Award for Performance of the Year. The 17-year-old brought tears to the audience’s eyes with that one.

10. Zak Starkey

The son of former Beatle Ringo Starr, Zak followed in his footsteps as a drummer. He has performed and recorded with the U.K. rockers, The Who, since 1996. He’s also drummed with Oasis, Johnny Marr, John Entwistle, and more. Starkey even earned a Grammy Award for his work on a reggae album.

Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images

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