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Rebel Heart: An American Rock 'n' Roll Journey Hardcover – August 13, 2001

3.6 out of 5 stars 113 customer reviews

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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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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: 6.1 x 1.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed reading this book, however, the subject's take on herself is unrealistic at best. She certainly had sex with an impressive (and long) list of mainly famous rock stars, with a couple movie stars tossed in briefly. She literally was a groupie which is nothing to be proud of actually. None of these stars married her, she wasn't their girlfriend except for Todd Rundgren off and on for 5 yrs & he marries someone else. She eventually married at 37 and yet carried on about this unrequited love for Elvis Costello. I don't see how she saw herself as a muse for him or that he was dedicating his songs to her memory or that he loved her. This man would literally RUN from her when he saw her coming. He would surround himself with bodyguards so she couldn't acost him backstage. He never answered any of her numerous calls, letters or public interviews to entice him to contact her over many years. She writes how her husband Coyote, needed a green card to become a U.S. citizen from Canada, which he obtained by marrying her. That made me wonder about his true intentions.

She also sounded stalkerish with Costello and Tyler. I thought there might be alot more mentioned with Steven Tyler, which is what prompted me to read the book. I was disappointed to see there wasn't a whole lot there on Tyler's part for her and she thought she was pregnant 3 weeks after they met. Preconceived? This would prove to be the smartest and most profitable event BeBe would do with her life. I found it interesting on a VH1 Behind The Music interview with Tyler, he specifically makes it a point to state he broke up with BeBe.

It irked me when she compares herself frequently to what she has accomplished in her life being equal to Liv and Steven, which is preposterous to me.
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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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