The All Time Greatest Muses in the Music World
Behind every love song, there exists a story of true love. From John Lennon to Mick Jagger to Peter Gabriel to Bob Dylan, these rockstars owe some of their most popular hits to the ladies behind them. Granted, there have been many male muses (it's rumored that Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" is about Warren Beatty and Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" is about Dave Coulier), but the majority of history's most famous muses of rockstars have been women.
Some of these famous musician muses were pivotal in the careers of multiple musicians, like Pattie Boyd (who was a muse for both George Harrison and Eric Clapton) or Courtney Love (who inspired both Kurt Cobain and Billy Corgan). And some muses inspired people who didn't even know them (Neil Diamond thanks Caroline Kennedy for inspiring the biggest hit of his career).
This list includes some of the music's all time greatest muses. They weren't just groupies. They weren't just side pieces. They weren't just flashes in the pan. They were people who helped create some of the best songs to ever be produced, and without them, the world would be missing out on some true musical magic.
Linda Eastman married Paul McCartney in 1969, and from then on was McCartney's mate and inspiration for every love song he wrote from then on out. The Beatles' song "I Will," as well as Wings' "My Love" and Paul's "Maybe I'm Amazed" were all written for Linda, who passed away in 1998 from cancer. "Any love song I write," Paul said in 1997, "is written for Linda."
Pattie Boyd is most famous for being the real Layla in the Eric Clapton song of the same name, as well as the inspiration for his song "Wonderful Tonight." She was also George Harrison's "Something" muse (as well as his wife for many years). When interviewed by ABC News's Elizabeth Vargas about why she was such a strong muse for artists, Boyd responded, "I wish I knew. Like, I wish I could tell you. I don't know."
Françoise Hardy was able to capture the attention of the most illustrious and hard-working musicians around in the 1960s. Her most notable suitor was Bob Dylan, who once refused to come out on stage until she showed up at his concert. He had written a song about Hardy without ever meeting her, and he needed to be introduced to her in person.
She also managed to turn the heads of rockers like Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Brian Jones, and John Lennon. She had a magnetic voice, and her own music (generally French) would help to solidify her own personal fame. She slipped into a coma in 2016, only to awake from it two years later and release an album. She's proven to be even tougher than the rock legends she inspired.
Marianne Faithfull left her husband to live with Mick Jagger and in turn became the definition of rock star girlfriend. Faithfull is said to have influenced songs including "Sympathy for the Devil," "You Can't Always Get What You Want," "Wild Horses," and "Let's Spend the Night Together." Jagger and Faithfull were together for five years, but after they broke up, she was left penniless and drug-addicted.
During the 1970s, Bebe Buell was known as a rock muse to the likes of Steven Tyler and Mick Jagger, inspiring some of their top hits. Other rock stars she dated or inspired included Iggy Pop, Jimmy Page, Rod Stewart, Todd Rundgren, and Elvis Costello. Buell was the basis for the character Penny Lane in the film Almost Famous, and she is the mother of actress Liv Tyler.
True, she was Andy Warhol's muse and became his superstar pet and inspiration for many of his films, but musically, Sedgwick also was a muse for the legendary Bob Dylan. When the two dated, Dylan wrote several songs about the would-be star, including "Just Like a Woman" and "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat." Warhol was livid that Sedgwick had left him to become a muse for Dylan, and it was after this relationship that her drug use spiraled out of control.
Before a 2013-14 recurring role on Ray Donovan, Rosanna Arquette was a musical muse. She was the inspiration behind the Toto song "Rosanna," and, even better, the monumental Peter Gabriel song "In Your Eyes" is actually about Arquette as well. Arquette and Gabriel were lovers at the time, and the song went on to become a pivotal movie song when John Cusack held up the boom box in the classic film Say Anything.
"Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond is perhaps the best karaoke song of all time and in 2007, Diamond finally revealed that it was President John F. Kennedy's daughter, Caroline, that inspired the song. After seeing a picture of the girl, Diamond wrote the song that would become the most famous of his career. "It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony," Diamond recalled. "It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there."
It's been speculated for years that "Angie" by The Rolling Stones is actually about an Anita. Anita Pallenberg was a long-time muse of lead guitarist Keith Richards, and she cause quite a rift in the band. She had her fair share of drug abuse problems, and was known to not only keep up with Richards, but to exceed him at times. This statement looms large considering Richards is famous for his immoderate drug use. At one point it was even rumored she was sleeping with Mick Jagger, while still in a relationship with Richards. She also managed to heavily influence the band's music and clothing style.
For better or worse, Yoko Ono was John Lennon's muse. Some say she tore apart The Beatles, however some think she was responsible for helping Lennon create some of his best music. Ono was a painter, sculptor, photographer, singer-songwriter, and and peace activist, and you can see her influence in Lennon songs such as "Oh Yoko," "Dear Yoko," "The Ballad of John and Yoko," and the #2 hit "Woman."
Anna Gordy Gaye
Anna Gordy Gaye was married to singer Marvin Gaye, which was no easy task. The two had a very tumultuous and violent relationship, but she inspired songs like "Pride & Joy," "Stubborn Kind of Fellow," "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," and "That's the Way Love Goes." Gaye even dedicated his album Here, My Dear to her, but more to stick it to her after she milked him for child support and alimony.
Though many people believe Billy Joel's song "Uptown Girl" was about his future wife Christie Brinkley, they might be wrong. According to authors Michael Heatley and Frank Hopkinson, the song was actually inspired by another supermodel: Elle Macpherson. The story goes that Joel was on vacation in the Caribbean when he stumbled upon three lovely ladies together – Macpherson, Brinkley, and Whitney Houston. He started to date Macpherson first and wrote the song "Uptown Girls" (which eventually dropped the "s") about them. In an odd twist, Joel then went on to marry Brinkley.
People love to hate Courtney Love, but Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain considered his wife a true muse. However, before she met Cobain, Love was a muse for Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan, inspiring the album Siamese Dream. It is also assumed that most of what Cobain wrote was inspired by Love, who many refer to as Generation X's Yoko Ono.
Like it or not, model Amber Rose was a muse for Kanye West for a while. The couple was together for two years, and though popular opinion differs on Rose herself, no one questions that she inspired West during their time together, specifically on his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. GQ magazine even referred to her as a "teen stripper turned megalomaniac muse."