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Bebe Buell: Divine Goddess of the Rock and Roll World

Jun 10, 2019

By Melissa Rodwell

Photographed in Nashville by EMILY BEAVER

At the risk of sounding like a geeked out fan girl, I have to admit that I have been a devoted fan of Bebe Buell since I found pictures of her in Creem magazine in the mid-seventies. There she was, all rock and roll glam sitting with some of the world’s biggest rock stars ( and boys I had major crushes on ) and I wanted to know more about this divine Goddess of The Rock and Roll World. Bebe has gone through many incarnations: Model/Girlfriend/Muse/Lover but then she took hold of her phenomenal inner power and started a band and got up on that stage and starting singing her heart out! And man, what  voice! She’s written a book, toured with several different bands, recorded albums and is setting her sights on television and perhaps the silver screen. The woman is a rebel soul, indeed. It’s heart-warming to me that some 35 years later, I’m still geeking out on Bebe. I still want to know more about her. I still love reading her story. What an honor to have her grace the pages of my magazine and to read her answers to my questions. We love Bebe and now you will too! Give her a listen and definitely go see her live! 

Alice Magazine had a chance to speak with Bebe about her incredible life, music, loves and thoughts. Read on……..

ALICE MAGAZINE: You have been a legendary muse for so many talented artists and musicians, who are YOUR muses?

BEBE BUELL:  My muse is my inner voice. I follow my gut. That’s what led me to Nashville and the entire rebirth I’m experiencing musically and artistically. It all started with Mick Jagger and Oscar Wilde in my youth. My muses have run the gamut and have never failed me.

AM: Who are some of your favorite musicians to jam with? Has there ever been a moment where you were on stage with someone and thought, OMG, this is just incredible!! ??

BB: I’ve felt that many times in the 36 years I’ve been onstage. I’ve sung with a lot of incredible people- everyone from Brian Setzer, Joey Ramone to Crystal Gayle. I felt so good being on the Bluebird stage where so many people I admire so much have stood. So, I can just be on a special revered stage and feel the ghosts of all who’ve graced it! It’s a gift. It was kind of one of those aha moments when Steven (my baby daddy Tyler) came up and shared my stage. Anyone who was there will attest it was a magical, once in a lifetime moment of karmic joy! I loved being onstage with Matthew Paige from The Blackfoot Gypsies and my dream would be to record a duet with Margo Price. She is a slice of heaven!

AM: Tell me about how you fell in love with Nashville. Were you afraid to leave NYC because of it being the mecca of everything cool here or were you ready for a change?

BB: I came to town via Shannon Pollard at Plowboy Records to sing on a tribute album he was creating to honor his late grandfather, the great Eddy Arnold. It was like an epiphany indeed. I just knew I needed to come to Nashville and refuel my engines. I’m a Nash Yorker now because I need both energies to create and be happy. Nashville is a speck of blue in a sea of red however it is one of the truly beautiful meccas of artistic vibrance we’ve got left. It’s not for everyone but I was raised in the South and spent my summers in North Carolina on my grandparent’s farm so it’s part of who I am. I need magnolia trees and honeysuckle around me- I also need the inspiration NYC gives me. It will always feel like home and with my daughter making it her primary residence, it feels like family. The Northeast is my family haven. The South is my harbor in the storm. Where I create now. I’ve formed some of the strongest alliances of my lifetime in Nashville. 

AM: I read about how you have some literary plans coming this year, what do you plan on writing about?

BB: I’ve been silently working on the follow up to Rebel Heart (2001)… especially when Madonna called her last album and tour “Rebel Heart”, I knew it was time, lol! I started noticing on social networking a few of my fans started hash tagging #originalrebelheart next to my name. That got the juices flowing on REBEL SOUL… which turned into an idea for a one woman show. So, yes, let’s hope 2017 will see the fruits of all this writing! I’m also busy compiling photos for what is to be a coffee table photo book of my life featuring never before seen pictures and polaroids. There’s also a beauty book brewing- alternative tips to letting your inner beauty reflect your outer appearance. I’ve invented a great beer and powdered milk facial to boot!

AM: You are such an inspiration! I am in awe of how much you have accomplished and how much you intend to still do! Have you ever had a time where you questioned what you were doing, maybe questioned whether your heart was in something that didn’t quite feel right?

BB: I think we all question why we’re here and what our lessons and journey are. I also believe that we live the life we must live to learn the karmic lessons we must endure. There are no short cuts. And if it doesn’t feel right in my gut, I run the other way. That’s one of the blessings of getting older. You can spot the demons and takers a lot faster. But I believe whole-heartedly in my art, in my work. I feel that what I’ve got to say is important for women. For everyone. Important for people to stomp on the “isms”= ageism, sexism, etc… there’s a great book you can read called “The Gift Of Fear”. Listen to that inner voice- your guardian angels.   

AM: What is one show that really sticks out in your memory as being a killer experience and why? 

BB: Oh my goodness, how could I possibly pick just one. Elvis Costello at Hollywood High in 1978 was pretty special as was seeing The Rolling Stones when I was 12 in Va. Beach where I lived. The Flaming Groovies at The Whisky, David Bowie & The Spiders from Mars at Radio City Music Hall… Being sung to by Steven Tyler… but the hugest thrill was playing my own first show…1980, Bebe Buell & The B-Sides. I knew life would never be the same again!

AM: How do you feel about the current state of the music industry and the general public trends? Do you think people hold music as important as we used to?

BB: Humans are oversaturated as a species sadly so the arts have taken a backseat to the quick fix. Computers changed the climate of art forever- there’s no turning back. I’m thankful to have been part of the time when the British Invasion hit the US shores. To be alive to witness that wave of musical history starting in the 50s through the mid to late 70s… There needs to be more music in the schools. Every child should have an artistic outlet of some kind. Trends will always come and go but the memories made from a song never die.  

AM: I love how you have decorated your house in Nashville! I see it on your Instagram feed! Tell me about your style? Your daughter raves about your rock and roll style, is this something you have always owned or has it developed over the years? Who were some women you looked up to when you were developing your style? I always admired Anita Pallenberg’s style. Who did you admire? 

BB: I also loved Anita Pallenberg, Marianne Faithfull, and Bardot but I feel style is not something you can duplicate. Once I got to NYC in 1972 I felt comfortable developing my own style because I had found my like-minded soul tribe of misfits and artistic wildcards. I was encouraged to develop my own sense of self so I did. But yes, I was inspired by the rebel essence and wild child appeal of women like Jane Birkin and Jane Fonda in her Barbarella phase and especially Janis Joplin and later Debbie Harry.  

AM: What city would you revisit and why?

BB: I so long to return to Venice and Sienna Italy. Being there with Liv in Tuscany the summer of 1995 while she was filming Stealing Beauty are some of the fondest memories of my life. I want to return there with my husband and take him to the enchanted firefly forest we found behind Villa Patrizia and back to the canals of Venice with it’s shadows and mysterious auras. 

Follow Bebe Buell on Instagram @realbebebuell and on Twitter @BeBeBuellBand

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