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Rebel Heart: An American Rock 'n' Roll Journey Hardcover – August 13, 2001
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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.
Top customer reviews
She was very lucky to have a mother and family who were willing to take on raising her child, while she did all of the above. That child turned out to be a fascinating person in her own right...Liv Tyler. Beautiful woman now, just as her mum had been and most likely still is.
If you are like me, interested in getting to know more about the rock bands of the 1960-s and up, especially the time of the British Invasion, than this might fascinate you.
I recommend this book to those who are interested in Bebe's life due to her endless energy, in learning more than our share of intimacies and other knowledge of her relationships with those of the most famous rock band legends in the world!
I just hesitate to recommend it to those who are not mature enough for unnecessary sex, drugs and rock and roll, because it is quite explicit. So please don't read it due to those reasons as they are often acted out--rather than just touched upon. She lays it all out there. Good book!
The first chunk of the story takes us from Bebe's Virginia girlhood as a 60s teenybopper rock fan, up through her modeling career in NYC and her subsequent long-term relationship with rising rock star and producer Todd Rundgren. It seems clear that young Bebe was looking for a father figure (I believe Bebe even says as much at one point) and that Todd stepped into the role, but Bebe seems to resent him for that. Bebe gets upset that Todd is "allowed" to screw groupies on the road but that she is not similarly "allowed" to have affairs with Todd's fellow rock stars. She rebels in various spectacular ways, such as by running off in turn with both Jimmy Page and Steven Tyler when she's supposed to be with Todd. Bebe and Todd come off as too immature to be in a relationship, and possibly mismatched as one gets the impression (the more so as the book goes on) that Todd is polygamous by nature and needs to be with women who can deal with that better than Bebe can.
Despite all of his fooling around, Todd does come off as a hero when Bebe runs off with Tyler, then discovers that he's struggling with drug addictions and otherwise is not good relationship material - after she gets pregnant by him. Bebe goes running back to Todd who takes her in, gives her a place to live while she's pregnant, and takes responsibility for the baby Liv after her birth as if Liv were his own. However, rather than being grateful for Todd's extraordinary generosity, Bebe proceeds to get mad at him for having an affair with his female road manager and then gets upset when she finds out Todd has fallen in love with another woman on the road and really wants to be with her and not Bebe. Even if I wasn't a Todd fan I would have felt sympathy for Todd by this point and it's a relief when the couple finally, officially break up.
Bebe proceeds to have various flings with the rich and famous including Jack Nicholson, Stiv Bators and Rod Stewart. However, the most important relationship to her is still her ill-fated relationship with Elvis Costello, who is married when she meets him. One would think that given Bebe's experiences with Todd running around on the road, she would have some empathy for Elvis's wife but apparently not. Instead she's upset at Elvis's wife and his management team for allegedly trying to keep her and Elvis apart when they were so madly in love with each other. Bebe insists that "Blood and Chocolate" was written about their relationship and while this might well be true, as musicians tend to write about stuff going on in their lives at the time, she makes such a big deal out of her being a rock star's muse and how she should get credit for that, you just want to smack her.
Along the way Bebe also dabbles with a recording career of her own (if you've actually heard her recorded product, you can kind of see why this did not succeed - it's not that great) and then stage-mothers Liv until Liv and her new management think it's time for Bebe to take a few steps back, which Bebe reacts to with her trademark resentment. By this time, one thinks that Bebe is truly aptly named as she does seem to be a big baby. Read this only if you're willing to overlook the 'tude and just concentrate on the tales. I went into this expecting to like Bebe a lot more than I did, instead I just felt sorry for her. For all her talk of women's independence, she doesn't seem to be very good at taking responsibility for her own life and not blaming others for everything that goes wrong.
But some of her stories are good, especially the ones on Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, and Jack Nicholson. It just would have been better if she could have stopped talking about herself so much and more about her friends (like Liz Derringer, etc.)and the other people who helped her.
Edit: It seems that both Elvis Costello and Todd Rundren have both said that her story is less that truthful regarding them, so who knows what else isn't true.