Birthplace: Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S.
Beverle Lorence "Bebe" Buell (born July 14, 1953) is an American singer and former fashion model, and Playboy magazine's November 1974 Playmate of the Month. Buell moved to New York in 1971 after signing a modeling contract with Eileen Ford, and garnered much notoriety after her publicized relationship with musician Todd Rundgren from 1972 until 1979, as well as her liaisons with several rock musicians over the following four decades. She is the mother of actress Liv Tyler, whose father is Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. Buell was involved with Rundgren when she had a fling with Tyler and gave birth to Liv in 1977; she then resumed her relationship with Rundgren.
In 2001, Buell wrote an autobiography (with Victor Bockris) titled Rebel Heart: An American Rock and Roll Journey. The book was a New York Times bestseller. The paperback was issued in 2002.
Buell was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, the daughter of Dorothea (Brown) Johnson, who founded the Protocol School of Washington, and Harold Lloyd Buell. As her father was not at home at the time of Buell's birth, her mother waited until he got back before naming her daughter. The nurses in the hospital took to calling her "Baby Buell," which is where her nickname of "Bebe" originated. She is of German descent.
Buell was discovered by modeling agency executive Eileen Ford after high school graduation at age 17, and relocated to New York City at age 18. She was Playboy magazine's Playmate of the Month for the November 1974 issue; her centerfold was photographed by Richard Fegley. In describing her early years and modeling career, Buell stated: " to be a professional singer I came to New York— yes, I was a pretty young girl, so I fell into the modeling thing, and I did Playboy, so then the rock stars came-a-hunting, as I like to say."
In 1981, Buell recorded a four-song EP on Rhino Records, produced by Rick Derringer and Ric Ocasek, with the Cars serving as her band on two tracks. The rock band the Power Station began in 1984 when her then-boyfriend John Taylor (of Duran Duran fame) pulled some famous friends together to provide backing for another of Buell's musical efforts. She also formed the band the B-Sides in 1980 but they disbanded in 1985.
She founded another band called the Gargoyles in 1985, and released a couple of singles. A few large record companies were showing interest, but they disbanded when the paternity of her daughter Liv became publicly known in 1991. She withdrew from performing for six years in the 1990s. Buell managed her daughter Liv, helping to launch her career as a successful international model and actress. She also represented actress Charis Michelsen.
After Buell's daughter left home in 1997, Buell returned to music to record a solo effort with producer Don Fleming, released in 2000. She also performed around New York with the Bebe Buell Band and, later, with Boston musicians the Rudds and the Neighborhoods' drummer Johnny Lynch to form a new band for a few shows which also included husband Jim Wallerstein.
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.
In September 2011, Buell released Hard Love, an aggressive rock album influenced by grunge and glam rock. The album was produced by Bebe's husband James Wallerstein of the critically acclaimed proto-grunge band Das Damen, and Stephen DeAcutis. The 11-track record features original songs alongside covers of Gang of Four's "I Love a Man in Uniform" and "Baby Baby" by the English punk rock band the Vibrators.
Buell has dated many musicians, beginning with Paul Cowsill of the Cowsills when she was 16. She has dated Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Todd Rundgren, Jimmy Page, and Steven Tyler, but she rejects the label "groupie".
From 1972 to 1979, Bebe Buell had a longterm, on and off, relationship with Todd Rundgren. In 1976, Buell became unexpectedly pregnant from her brief relationship with Steven Tyler. On July 1, 1977, Buell gave birth to future actress/model Liv Tyler, but Buell initially named her child Liv Rundgren and claimed that Todd Rundgren was the biological father to protect the child from Tyler's drug addiction. Rundgren and Buell ended their romantic relationship shortly after Liv's birth, but Rundgren put his heart and soul into the "white lie". At age nine, Liv found out that she was Steven Tyler's biological daughter.
In 1992, Buell married for the first time. She wed sometime-musician and actor Coyote Shivers. They divorced in 1999 after a year-long separation. In 2002, she married musician Jim Wallerstein (aka Jim Walters) of Das Damen and Vacationland fame.
For his film Almost Famous, music journalist and filmmaker Cameron Crowe developed the groupie character Penny Lane as a composite of a handful of girls he saw backstage in the late 1960s and early 1970s at concerts calling themselves the "Flying Garter Girls". One girl who went by the nickname Pennie Lane is real-life Pennie Trumbull, born in Portland, Oregon, in 1954. Though they were not in the Flying Garter Girls group, various other women have been described as Crowe's inspiration, for instance Pamela Des Barres and Buell. Buell partially inspired Crowe; he named a lead singer character Jeff Bebe.
Buell lived in New York and New Jersey before relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, in 2014.
with the B-Sides
with the Gargoyles
Two 45 releases:
Cassette EP, "Bebe Buell and the Gargoyles": "Vibrator"/"Lick it and Stick it"/"Take Me to Your Leader"/"Luv Reaction" (1988), FISHTRAKS