Rock ‘n’ Roll Muses Who Achieved Success in Their Own Right


There’s always that girl — the one in the songs, the one in the photographs, the one in the memoirs. The one who walks into a room and sets it aglow. She’ll tear up a rock ‘n’ roller’s heart, put it back together, and inspire the hell out of him, leaving her lasting mark on both his discography and biography. Yes, we’re talking muses, but not just any ol’ muses; we’re noting those who graduated from their tumultuous lives as expert inspirers to become successful in their own right. Check out some professors, artists, and cake shop proprietors after the jump.

Jane Asher

When actress Jane Asher was first introduced to The Beatles, all four mop-tops proposed at once. To the others’ dismay, Paul McCartney won her eye, and in 1963 they became one of the world’s most-loved couples. McCartney wrote “And I Love Her,” “We Can Work It Out,” and “Here, There, and Everywhere” while dating Asher, but their engagement ended when she caught him with another woman. Asher has starred in dozens of TV shows and films since then, including 2007’s Death at a Funeral. She has written three successful novels, is president of both the UK’s National Autistic Society and Parkinson’s UK, and started a successful party cake company. You go, girl.

Suze Rotolo

Suze Rotolo. We know her from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album cover, from “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright,” “Tomorrow Is A Long Time,” “Boots of Spanish Leather,” and “Ballad in Plain D.” She inspired Dylan’s lyrical focus on civil rights and nuclear war, and, as described in Dylan’s Chronicles: Volume One:

Meeting her was like stepping into the tales of 1001 Arabian Nights. She had a smile that could light up a street full of people and was extremely lively, had a kind of voluptuousness – a Rodin sculpture come to life

After their break-up in 1964, Rotolo remained politically active and found success as a visual artist. She specialized in book art, leading workshops at New York City’s Parsons School of Design while participating in Billionaires for Bush, a satirical street theater organization.

Marianne Faithfull

In 1968, Marianne Faithfull gave Mick Jagger The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. The result? “Sympathy for the Devil,” of course. Their relationship itself inspired “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “She’s a Rainbow,” “Let’s Spend The Night Together,” as well as a debated “Wild Horses” (Jagger can’t remember who it’s about, but Marianne insists. So it goes). And it doesn’t stop at The Stones — The Beatles’ “And Your Bird Can Sing” and The Hollies’ “Carie Ann” were also written about the blonde bombshell. Marianne was always into music and acting, but it didn’t stop in 1970 when her relationship with Jagger fizzled. He may have left her with a nasty drug habit and no more Stones songs to sing, but Faithfull still made UK and US charts with her best-known 1979 album Broken English, performed in Roger Waters’ rock opera The Wall, and has released a total of 19 solo albums, the latest in early 2011. Let her in SuperHeavy?

Pattie Boyd

Pattie Boyd famously hopped from George Harrison to Eric Clapton, but not before inspiring “Something,” “Isn’t It a Pity,” “I Need You,” and “For You Blue.” In 1970, Clapton wrote “Layla” about his unrequited love for his pal’s gal, and eventually sealed the deal and bagged the babe nine years later. Clapton, Harrison, and Boyd somehow remained friends throughout the fiasco, and Clapton wrote “Wonderful Tonight” and “Bell Bottom Blues” about Pattie before their divorce in 1989. Her autobiography, Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me was a New York Times Bestseller, and her photography has been displayed in exhibits all over the world. Earlier this month, it was announced that Boyd’s photos will shown in the National Geographic Headquarters in DC.

Jenny Boyd

Pattie wasn’t the only Boyd catching the eye of rock ‘n’ rollers — Jenny Boyd, her younger sister, accompanied Pattie and George on the Beatles’ infamous visit to Rishikesh. Jenny dated Donovan, inspired “Jennifer Juniper,” then moved on to Mick Fleetwood. After some marrying, divorcing, remarrying, and re-divorcing, she and Fleetwood officially called it quits in 1977. Boyd studied psychology at UCLA in the late ’80s, earned her Ph.D, and became a clinical consultant. She later co-authored a music psychology book entitled Musicians in Tune.

Anita Pallenberg

Here we find Keith Richards’ beloved Anita Pallenberg. Before there was current Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, there was Mick Taylor. And before Mick Taylor, there was Brian Jones, co-founder of the band. Jones dated Anita, then Keith Richards stole Anita, and then Anita had a brief affair with Mick Jagger — so, naturally, Keith slept with the aforementioned Marianne Faithfull behind Jagger’s back. The ’60s, man. Anyway, Richards’ resentment towards Pallenberg’s unfaithfulness paired with a rainy day gave birth to none other than “Gimme Shelter,” and his love for her inspired “You Got the Silver.” Together, they spawned three babies and then broke up a decade later. Since then, she’s starred in films, studied at St. Martins School of Art and Design in London, and became a fashion designer. Oh, and a DJ. Need a 67-year-old ex-muse to curate your next party’s jams? Anita’s your gal!

Bebe Buell

Bebe Buell, also known as the inspiration for Penny Lane in Almost Famous, has certainly made her rounds in the rock ‘n’ roll scene. She started with David Cassidy, then moved through Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Jimmy Page, Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger, Steven Tyler, Rod Stewart, John Taylor (Duran Duran), and Elvis Costello. Quite a list, right there. Her longest “muse” relationship was with Todd Rundgren, who she insisted was the biological father of her child. When the daughter was nine, she learned the truth — that Steven Tyler was, in fact, her real father. That’s right, we’re talking about Liv Tyler. Bebe managed Liv’s career until she was old enough to leave the nest, wrote a New York Times best-selling memoir, then returned focus to her own music career.

Angela Bowie

Mary Angela Barnett, better known as Angela Bowie, met an ever-eccentric David Bowie in 1969 when she was 19 years old. They married after a year of dating, had a child, and Bowie wrote “The Prettiest Star” and “Golden Years” about their young love. Angela was also noted as being the inspiration for The Rolling Stones’ “Angie,” but, as usual, Mick Jagger crushed that rumor. The Bowies split in 1980, and Angela went on to star in a few films, write a few bestselling books, and release a few songs. An album entitled Fancy Footwork is allegedly in the works. Let’s dance?