Bebe Buell: The Original BandAid

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Biography

Bebe Buell (born Beverle Lorence Buell on July 14, 1953, in Portsmouth, Virginia) is an American model and singer of German and English descent. She is also known for dating and marrying a long series of rock musicians.

It all began in Portsmouth, Virginia, where she was raised by her mother Dorothea Johnson, who modeled in the Fifties, and her stepfather, a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. Bebe grew up on various military bases in Virginia, North Carolina and Rhode Island.
Bebe was turned on to rock 'n' roll by her grandfather, who played her first Elvis Presley record. She was only seven, but she knew that from that point on, music was going to be her life. As Bebe grew older and heard the Beatles, and then the Stones, her mind was made up -- it was rock 'n' roll for her!
Bebe was educated in traditional parochial schools, where she studied dance and dreamed of becoming a professional ballerina. A growth spurt threw a monkey wrench into that plan, so shedecided to take up basketball. she grew fond of the sport and even considered pursuing it professionally. Bebe graduated from high school in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. At that point in her life, she was willing to do whatever it took to get her out of that small town and into New York City!
When Bebe was 14 yrs. old, Jimi Hendrix asked to hang out with her. Not recognising him and mistaking him for a pimp, Bebe wasn't interested. She was mortified when she realised who she'd told to get lost.
Her dreams finally came to fruition when her mother sent photos of her to Eileen Ford, head of Ford Modeling Agency on 1972. Three days after she received them, Bebe was summoned to the Big Apple. Bebe left Virginia and never looked back! She was only 18, but Eileen took her under her wing. Bebe moved into St. Mary's Women's Residence and began her career as a Ford model. She was instantly enamored with all that New York City had to offer.

First, baby Bebe with mum Dorothea. Second: Summer of 1966 when 12 years old. Last: her senior year of high school, 1972. This is the picture that struck Eileen Ford, the famous modeling agent.

Bebe had been living in New York for only about three or four months when she met and fell in love with rocker Todd Rundgren. He introduced her to famous rock photographer Lynn Goldsmith, who persuaded Bebe to take some rather sexy photos for her. Bebe remembers the photo shoot: “We had some wine, and Lynn invited me to pose for some photos up on the roof of Todd's and my house. She submitted those photos to Playboy and I received a response immediately!” They flew Bebe to Chicago to take some test photos. Photographer Richard Fegley shot her Centerfold, and here's some trivia: It was his very first for Playboy! Posing for Playboy wasn't as much of a sexual experience for Bebe as it was a liberating one. Bebe says: “If I were to pose again, it would be for the same reasons I did it in 1974: to make a statement and to break down some doors”.

She was Playboy magazine's Playmate of the Month for the November 1974 issue. She was one of the first top-line fashion models to pose for the men's magazine, although it cost her the contract with Ford. She was promptly signed to Wilhelmina in the USA and Models One in the UK. Even after the Playboy appearance affected her career in the States she was still in demand in Europe appearing in British and French Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan to name a few.
She returned to modeling in 2003 signing with the IMG Agency in New York City.

 On the left, her photo appeared in British Vogue, 1976. Photo by Clive Arrowsmith.
On the right, her first British cover, Girl About Town magazine, 1976.

During and after her sometime open relationship with Rundgren, Bebe clearly lived the rock 'n' roll lifestyle: "People who share the same lifestyle seem to gravitate toward one another, so naturally, I had relationships with various musicians -- Stiv Bators, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Page, Iggy Pop". Bebe says: “ I guess you could say that I've lived my life as somewhat of a "muse." But Bebe maintained a home with Rundgren in both New York City and the Woodstock New York area where they lived together until late 1977. Many people assumed they were married and Bebe was often referred to as Bebe Rundgren in the media.

By the fall of 1976, her relationship with Todd was on the rocks.Bebe had an affair with Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, producing “what is and always will be my proudest life achievement: my daughter, Liv. She and I have always been great friends, and I simply adore her. I'm her biggest fan, as she is mine”. Buell allowed her daughter to believe that Rundgren was her father until the late 1980s, as Tyler was still deeply addicted to drugs at the time. Buell then moved on to Rod Stewart and in 1978, she began a tempestuous affair with the married but separated Elvis Costello which continued on and off until 1984. She was also involved with the late Stiv Bators.
In 1980 Bebe Buell founded her first band, The B-Sides. Together their made several independent recordings; the first was called “Covers Girl” and was released by Rhino Records. It featured the Cars and rock guitar legend Rick Derringer. The album cover art was a photo of me ripping up a magazine that featured Bebe on its cover.
In 1985, she formed a new band, the Gargoyles, and soon the labels were calling! She had finally been offered a recording contract when things came to a sudden halt: The true paternity of her child -- Steven, not Todd -- became public knowledge.
To keep Liv from suffering an identity crisis, Bebe put her career on hold and stood by her daughter.

By 1998, her six-year marriage to Coyote Shivers had ended and her sweet daughter had left the nest. With Bebe’s newfound freedom, she was ready to rock again!

Since 1989, She has been living in New York City. “Music is like a permanent tattoo on my soul, and it is definitely the focus of my life right now”. Bebe’s music commands an eclectic following, particularly among young girls, and whenever she has a concert in New York, critics always comment on this. She find it rather refreshing, in such a youth-oriented market, to see young girls dancing to her music. She expects that in the years to come she'll continue to do what she love the most: performing!
In 2001 Bebe has been trying her hand at publishing. She just completed her autobiography, Rebel Heart: An American Rock 'N' Roll Journey, with St. Martin's Press.
“People have been approaching me for years to write my story, and I thought that maybe it was time. I felt that what I had to say could definitely benefit other women. This is a survivor's story. It is about being a single mother, raising a daughter, surviving depression and reinventing myself. When my husband and I divorced in 1998, like many women, I spiraled and became angry. But that experience enlightened me to find Bebe again and to get back to doing what I love to do best -- rock 'n' roll. I am excited about the book”.

Bebe has also just completed the proposal for her second book called The Rock and Roll Book of Etiquette, a follow-up to Rebel Heart. This will be a guide on how to behave backstage, the rock 'n' roll meet-and-greet, how to handle guest lists, lines, etc. “Let's face it, I am truly a rock 'n' roll machine!”
In 2002 she found love again – “with a wonderful man named Jim Wallerstein. We have been together for a year and it is an equal and mature relationship. Jim is also in the entertainment industry and performs at the same nightclubs with me”.

In April 2009, the Boston duo Chester French released a tribute to Buell with their album track "Bebe Buell."
As of June 2009, the lineup for The Bebe Buell Band was: Bebe Buell on vocals, Jim Wallerstein on guitar, Pete Marshall on bass, David Matos on lead guitar, Aya on keyboards, Lindsey Anderson on guitar and Bobbie Rae on drums.
She released her first recording in ten years with a single "Air Kisses for the Masses" in May 2009 and completed recording of a full length 12 song album set for late Fall 2009. It can be downloaded on iTunes or Amazon MP3. Buell is playing a series of live shows in the New York City area to promote the single.
Buell was also a judge for the 9th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.

In September of 2011, Buell released "Hard Love", an aggressive rock album influenced by grunge and glam rock. The album was produced By Bebe's husband Jim Wallerstein, Wendy Dio (Ronnie James Dio's widow) and Stephen DeAcutis. The 11-track record features original songs alongside covers ofGang Four's "I Love A Man In Uniform" and "Baby Baby" by the English punk rock band The Vibrators.

 

Cameron Crowe has said he based his "Penny Lane" character in the 2000 movie ‘Almost Famous’ on two women he met during the early 1970s — Bebe Buell and Pennie Trumble aka "Penny Lane". He speaks highly of both Buell and Trumble in the extended DVD of the movie and even said that he took some of Penny's direct dialogue from statements Buell had made in various interviews over the years. Kate Hudson was nominated for an Oscar for the role.

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