Miss Bebe Buell was so involved with the ‘70s and ‘80s rock scene that she could write a book about it! Wait a minute, she did: 2002’s Rebel Heart: An American Rock ‘n’ Roll Journey. It was a New York Times bestseller, and is a must read for those who like to relive those glory days of the music we all still hold so dear. I hope to sit down and talk music with her with her someday just to count how many times she will say “I was there.”
Starting out as a model, she eventually made her way into the music world of New York, London and Los Angeles. She dated a lot of famous rockers (read the book) and knew just about everybody (read the book). And in the process, she absorbed a lot from those she was around and eventually started making great music of her own.
Since coming to Nashville, her musical career has been as active as ever. Working with some great players, including her husband, guitarist Jimmy Walls, she has played gigs around town at a regular pace. To me, her live shows bring a bit of that good old gritty New York City rock to Music City. The songs I have heard her play here often remind me of the New York Dolls with Bebe carrying on like a female David Johansen. But, that’s not to say her range is limited since she will also love to slip in an Eddy Arnold cover when she can.
She was even joined at one of her Bluebird shows by her “Baby Daddy,” Steven Tyler.
Her local recorded output thus far is limited to her “Secret Sister” b/w “Hello Music City” single which you might still be able to find at Grimey’s. I for one am excited to hear that she soon will be recording a new album here. She will also be playing the Mercy Lounge on October 11th.
So, without further ado, here is 11 Questions to Bebe Buell, a true rock ‘n’ roll legend.
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I was born and raised in Virginia with some time spent in Texas and North Carolina. So yes, I’m a Southern Girl by birth. Then I moved to NYC right out of high school. I moved to Nashville in 2013 after falling in love with the city on a 2012 visit to sing on the Eddy Arnold tribute album on Plowboy Records. I made up my mind that May that I was going to move to Music City. I felt a connection and was pulled into the vortex.
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?
The first record I ever bought was a 45 single, “Crying” by Roy Orbison when I was 8 years old (1961). I had tons of 45s. The first album I bought was Meet the Beatles followed by The Rolling Stones 12 x 5. The last were David Bowie’s Blackstar, The National’s Sleep Well Beast and The Struts’ Everybody Wants. I bought them on CD from Grimey’s New & Preloved Music in Nashville. I still play and collect vinyl.
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen?
My first concert was The Rolling Stones in July 1966 in Virginia Beach, VA, and my last concert was The Happy Together Tour at The Ryman in Nashville featuring my pals since high school, The Cowsills. Oh, and Thee Rock N’ Roll Residency at Mercy Lounge. I watched myself sing with them on Facebook/You Tube!
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?
I love Bongo Java on Belmont and for pizza it’s Five Points.
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?
The early Everly Brothers’ songs I used to hear on the radio as a kid. I know now they recorded at Studio B. Later on, maybe Elvis Costello’s Almost Blue.
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?
Athens Family Restaurant on Franklin on the weekends, but I’m not sure about during the week. I’d love to know where to go after a Tuesday at Mercy Lounge and Thee Rock N’ Roll Residency that ends around 11pm.
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.
Hannah Fairlight, Grant Lee Phillips and Marty Stuart
What are your favorite music venues to play in town?
This town has been so good to me. I did my first live show at The Bluebird so that holds a soft spot in my heart. I really LOVE Mercy Lounge. I’ve had great shows at 3rd & Lindsley- the Backstage Events room, too. My dream stage is the Ryman, of course. The summer shows at Frist are fun. It’s impossible to pick–there’s so many great rooms here. The Basement for good sound.
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here.
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
My next album! I’m finally recording in January 2018. I’ve made several good recordings in Nashville and recording my single at Sound Emporium was a highlight. This album has been bubbling inside of me for four years now so it’s time to get it out! The next LIVE show is on Oct. 11th at Mercy Lounge with The Dead Deads opening.
Here’s a Bob Gruen photo of Bebe with The Dead Deads: