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Rebel Heart: An American Rock 'n' Roll Journey Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (August 13, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312266944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312266943
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

High-spirited teenager Bebe Buell didn't want to stay home in Virginia in the early 1970s; she knew she was destined for a faster paced life. After graduating from high school, she ran away to Virginia Beach to escape her father's strict military discipline. She returned home, but, with her mother's support, soon moved to New York and became a moderately successful Eileen Ford model. However, even more appealing to Bebe was the world of rock music. She became a groupie of sorts hanging out with Todd Rundgren, Andy Warhol and Iggy Pop. (She's said to have provided some of the inspiration for Kate Hudson's character in Almost Famous.) In addition to Bebe's sexual exploits with celebrities (the list is long; highlights include David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Rod Stewart), she served as a muse and actual wordsmith, recording with the Cars in 1980: "I was never on a quest for sex itself. In fact, to me, it's the hardest part of a relationship. I was always on a quest for rock 'n' roll." From the 1970s to the 1990s, she drifted from man to man and drugs of various sorts, with the one stable force being her daughter, Liv Tyler, by Aerosmith's Steven Tyler. While some aging boomers may relish another account of the good old, bad old days of rock and roll, this memoir is disappointing. Bebe's raucous life amid glam rockers and glitterati sure sounds fun, but her story adds little to what has already been documented about these times. Photos not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

When rock took its first giant steps in the mid-1960s, there was Pamela Des Barres (I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie. o.p.); when it blew its wad in the late 1970s, there was Bebe Buell, ex-Ford model and Playboy centerfold. The former proudly calls herself a groupie, the latter insists on muse. Buell's garrulous account/defense of her rock'n'roll lifestyle, which produced actress Liv Tyler (her illegitimate daughter by Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler), lacks a sense of humor; looking back on that much excess has to be somewhat funny. Charges of pretentiousness are beside the point, though. One must judge a memoir of this type by its juiciness, and this rates an eight. Todd Rundgren, Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, David Bowie, and Jimmy Page aside, Buell dishes on the great unrequited love of her life, Elvis Costello, who was married to his first wife when Buell conceived a child (she later aborted it and regrets it to this day). Writes Buell, "I can very proudly say that when I was involved with Elvis, he made some of the greatest records of his career." Recommended for celebrity sickos, 1970s rock fans, and larger public library music collections. (Photographs not seen.) Heather McCormack, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

What I really liked about Bebe Buell's book was her honesty.
Brandon Carroll
Concepts such as topic sentences, the rules of grammar, and editing are no where to be found in the pages of this book.
The book is filled with charm, sadness, humor and candor that make a good book.
Ginger Coyote

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 65 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book should have been juicy reading, since Buell (who bristles at the designation of "groupie," preferring to fashion herself as a muse responsible for, in her eyes, all the good work done by any musician she ever slept with)traveled with the A list due to her modeling career and relationships with rockers Todd Rundgren, Mick Jagger, Steven Tyler, Elvis Costello, Rod Stewart, actor Jack Nicholson, and some lesser lights before attaching herself to the coattails of her daughter, Liv Tyler. She admits to having "an ego the size of Asia," but that doesn't say the half of it. "Everybody" she ever met thought Buell was brilliant, talented, and oh so special; only incidentally did they want to get into her pants. Her insights about her friends and lovers are about as deep as her song lyrics with which she precedes every chapter, which means they could be better articulated by a bright 15 year old. She is a wonderful mother who abandoned her daughter to family to care for until the age of about five so she could shag her way around the world, but she made it a point to try to get home for Halloween. Elvis Costello, whom she terms the love of her life, stopped taking her calls about fifteen years ago, yet she still finds proof positive of his enduring torch for her in every song he writes. She admits that it was "a cry for help" to lie to friends and relatives about having leukemia when she was feeling depressed, but would any 40 year old woman with a grip on reality even consider such a stunt? This woman loves herself so much that she even implies that Rod Stewart, with whom she traveled for 3 months in the late 70's until he dumped her -- although she seems to even then have disliked him -- took her along because she could attract press notice for him. How Victor Bockris managed to ghost write this without swallowing the finger he must have had lodged in his throat every minute is a mystery.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Amazon.com-lover on June 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I have been a Todd R fan for years and I must admit a certain amount of voyeristic thrill while reading about how they met, their sexual relationship, their fights...all in all I got what I personally wanted out of the book: stories about Todd and some fantastic photos. Initially I did not care about Bebe, and did not read it because of her ....but I must admit there was something captivating about her stories and I ended up reading the whole book in a day. It is worth reading if only for the superficial glamour . Funny how women thought then and still do now that beauty and sexuality are power, when actually those things give women no power at all. Yes she got to hobnob with every hot man, but in the end was used ( even though she used them too, such as her shameless dependence on Todd's financial support) . And that makes this story sad, to me. Because women still don't get it. The younger ones rave over this book and say Bebe Rocks, but really, why does she rock? She was pretty and needy and sex was free and many of the men didn't care about her as a person beyond the centerfold. She has creative desires but smothered them in looking for a father ( she claims Todd was like a father to her) or protector. I can say many anecdotes were intriguing, but all in all I can not call Bebe inspiring or my role model. Not because she was a groupie but because she does not look deeply into herself and it seems she did not grow or get wise. Again , some interesting anecdotes but that is about all .
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this as a fan of some of the artists Bebe hung/slept with. I wondered what was so interesting about her. After reading it, I wonder even more... and not in a good way.

Maybe it's the years/drugs and her pyschological problems (well, at least she admitted she faked having diseases for attention), but wow. I don't get why anyone would want a relationship with her. Back then, sex maybe -- she'd sleep with anyone IF they were famous. And sure, she was good looking but let's face it, there are loads of models and Playgirl centerfolds around. She wasn't particularly unique, except in her fascination with bedding rock and movie stars.

In the book, Bebe comes across as utterly vain and self-centered, while being insecure and emotionally out of control. She can't tell the difference between love and lust. She lies repeatedly, cheats constantly on her lovers, and is gleeful over vicious little acts. She also proves to be one of the dimmmer bulbs around, judging from the quality and incoherence/repetition of her writing, not to mention her muddled choices/thinking over the years. (To be fair, she was surrounded by drugged out wackos, although she facilitated this.) Her poetry and lyrics are dull.

Bebe constantly touts herself as muse to her former bed partners, especially Elvis Costello ("Let me tell you, that man got at least seven good albums out of me!"). All because they were SO in love with her. Or because they wanted her so much even if she didn't sleep with them (i.e. Prince/Little Red Corvette). Bebe works quite hard, but not in a factual manner, to claim nearly everything (such as several artists' most commercially sucessful records) is about her.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Davis on February 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have been a fan of Bebe Buell since I was 14 years old and
saw her in the centerfold of Playboy. It was that appearance
that first introduced me to her and also informed me that she was the girlfriend of Todd Rundgren- someone else that I happen to be a fan of. When I heard that Buell was writing her autobiography, I was very excited as I was eager to learn about her life. I knew she had been a singer herself- I seem to recall seeing a couple of things in Rolling Stone about that but it had been a long time since her Playboy debut and I was ready to find out what she had been up to.
I suppose anytime someone writes an autobiography, they are basically tooting their own horn. In Rebel Heart, Buell is the whole brass section. While I enjoyed reading about how she became a model and then met (and bedded) various rock stars, I grew a bit weary of her constantly reminding me, as the reader, of how beautiful she was. She also discusses quite frequently how rock stars sought to hang out with her instead of it being the other way around. I sometimes had to laugh out loud whenever she insisted that she was NOT a groupie and that many of the songs of the men she dated were inspired by her. She claims this so many times throughout the book that I half expected her to claim that SHE was the Angie the Rolling Stones sang about!
I was a bit disappointed too at her attitude toward her child, the famous Liv Tyler. Perhaps I am old fashioned but I have always believed that parents put their children first- no matter what. It is obvious that with Buell, Liv was for several years a distant second or perhaps even third (behind Elvis Costello).
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