Occasionally Decadent December: Bebe Buell Revisited — Family Affair

I miss the lovely and talented Bebe Buell, Miss November 1974 and mother of marvelous Liv Tyler, too much not to revisit her. Here are some of the pictures which I did not use last time, and fresh quotes. Plus bonus shots of both Liv and Bebe with her mother, also a vintage model!


Photographed by Richard Fegley

Sometimes, when I see my picture in a magazine or watch Todd play at a concert for thousands of people, I almost have to pinch myself when I realize that less than three years ago, I was just a nobody from Virginia Beach who didn’t even know that there was a Todd Rundgren or such a thing as rock culture and the lifestyle that goes along with it. (“Bebe,” Playboy, November 1974. — I love that they did not even bother with a cutesy title. Really, who needs it?!)


One week not too long ago, for instance, Eric Clapton was in town for a concert. Todd and I were invited backstage, at which point Eric asked him to sit in. Then Mick Jagger walked into the dressing room, and later, when Todd was onstage, Mick and I talked and he said, ‘Why don’t you and Todd come over to my place tomorrow?’ His place turned out to be Andy Warhol’s summer cottage out on Montauk Point. And since then, he’s phoned several times from London just to find out how we are.

I bet he did.


I was turned on to rock ‘n’ roll by my grandfather, who played me my first Elvis Presley record. I went absolutely crazy! I was only seven, but I knew that from that point on, music was going to be my life. As I grew older and heard the Beatles, and then the Stones, my mind was made up — it was rock ‘n’ roll for me! (“My Story,” by Bebe Buell, Playboy.com)


Liv and Bebe in 1980

Just as we [Bebe and her former band the The Gargoyles] were getting ready to seal the deal and go on tour, my daughter’s paternity situation became public. And I had to really sit down and find that place inside of me that wasn’t going to be a narcissistic rocker and say, ‘Okay, what’s important right now?’ and because of Liv’s age at the time (14) when all this went public, I had to be there for her or she would have had a warped identity I think—what if I said, ‘Oh, I’m going on the road for two years, see ya honey. By the way, you have two dads!’ Steven Tyler was the actual father, Todd Rundgren raised her as his. (“Air Kisses for the Masses,” John Pfeiffer, The Aquarian Weekly, August 18, 2009.)

The rest of the quotes are from a very sweet and gracious interview Bebe did with LovelyLivTyler.com on the occasion of Liv’s 27th birthday.


Liv, Steven Tyler, and Bebe, 1996. Awwwkwaaard.

There is so much of both of us and Todd [Rundgren] too in Liv’s personality. When she was little she stood just like Todd when she was “thinking” about something important. She has bits of all of us and then the individual things that are uniquely Liv. She has only the best of us three.


Liv, Bebe, and Dorothea Johnson at a Breast Cancer Awareness charity event

My mother [Dorothea Johnson] modeled in the 50’s and had her own “charm school” for girls. I got into the business from some photos that my mom sent to the agent Eileen Ford. She sent for me at the age of 18 and I was off to New York City in 1972. Liv was born in 1977.


What I wish for her is continued true love, good health, a family of her own (grandchildren for me), a wonderful career, personal happiness for she and Roy, long life for darling Neal and for her to find all of her dreams. She seems to be on her way. I bless the day she was born.


Livvy, Mommy loves you. xoxo I’m so proud of you and the beautiful person you are inside and out! — Bebe Buell, NYC 2004

Oh, man. There is … some kind of dust in my eye. Very dusty in here. Ridiculous, all this … this dust.

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