Here comes the son.

An awful pun, it's true. But Sean Lennon better get used to that sort of stuff, and more. The 22-year-old son of rock legend John Lennon is about to enter the ring--giving it a go at Dad's business.

The younger Lennon has signed a record contract with Grand Royal--the label founded by rap's Beastie Boys. It's hoped a debut album will be ready for next spring.

News of the of the deal comes just days after the 17th anniversary of John Lennon's death--the ex-Beatle gunned down by a crazed, so-called fan in front of his New York City apartment on December 8, 1980.

John Lennon was only 40 when he died; his youngest son, Sean, was but 5.

Perhaps out of a sense of guilt, perhaps out of a sense of protection, the prying press didn't pry too much where Sean Lennon's "wonder years" were concerned. He got photographed when he showed up at events with paparazzi-target mom, Yoko Ono, but went unmolested otherwise.

But surely the gloves will be off now. If Sean Lennon can't cut it as a rock star, the critics will be sure to let him know.

For advice on what it's like to be a Recording-Artist Son of a Beatle, he might be wise to check in with older, half-sibling Julian.

Julian Lennon, John Lennon's son by first wife, Cynthia, made his record debut in 1984 at the age of 21. Valotte, featuring the minor hit, "Too Late for Goodbyes," was considered a promising effort. But subsequent releases were panned--and the inevitable "You don't measure up to John Lennon" jibes issued. One critic compared a Julian Lennon album to hearing John Lennon sing the Barry Manilow catalog.

And so now here comes Sean. The young man has been taking baby steps toward a music career in recent years. He played guitar on his mother's 1995 album, Rising, and performed live at the Beastie Boys' 1996 Tibetan Freedom concert (again with Mom).

Despite the Beasties connection on that last gig, member Mike Diamond says the group hooked up with Sean Lennon through a New York City band in which the Beatles scion played bass.

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