It’s Valentine’s Day today and where would rock ‘n’ roll be without love, romance, heartbreak and unrequited longing? It’s fueled some of the greatest songs of all time, but also led to doomed relationships, gut-busting despair and even death. What happens though, when you get musicians – perhaps the species of human with the biggest egos imaginable, hooking up and getting it orn?
Think of all the fights, the booze, the drugs, the affairs, the partner swapping, the groupies, the tantrums… and the songs, sure. Imagine the world without some of the love songs written by doe-eyed musos smitten with that special someone who decide to pluck a few chords out of the air and sing of their infatuation?
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you our top 10 rock ‘n’ roll couples for Valentine’s Day. For the life of us, we can’t figure out what some of them saw in each other either – maybe it was the promise of fame, fortune or sheer stupidity – but far be it for us to judge. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, we could have included, but we’ve hammered it out to this bunch and told them all to get a room.
Sid & Nancy
The most legendary rock n’ roll couple ever? Sid Vicious was playing his special brand of two string bass for the Sex Pistols and going around whacking journalists with bicycle chains, drinking himself into a stupor and taking enough speed to fuel the Chinese Olympic Team. Nancy was a professional groupie who went to London chasing after The Heartbreakers, only to meet Sid and allegedly introduce him to heroin. A match made in heaven.
After the Sex Pistols broke up they moved to New York City and into a room at the Chelsea Hotel where Sid made an abortive attempt at a solo career and they mostly concentrated on their drug-taking. Sid allegedly stabbed Nancy to death in a fight in October 1978, saying in his signed confession, “I stabbed her, but I didn’t mean to kill her. I loved her, but she treated me like shit”. Well, that’s good enough for us, then! Vicious himself died of an overdose while awaiting trial for her murder. Sweet, sweet love.
This interview says it all, really.
Eric Clapton, George Harrison & Pattie Boyd.
There’s nothing more rock ‘n’ roll than stealing your best mate’s wife is there? Beatle George Harrison met model Pattie Boyd on the set of A Hard Day’s Night, marrying her shortly afterwards and writing the Beatles ballad ‘Something’ about her. All was fine and dandy until their marriage failed and she started seeing Ronnie Wood of the Faces, who was about to join the Rolling Stones.
In the meantime Eric Clapton – George’s best mate, mind you – had a massive crush on her but was dating her 17-year-old sister Paula. Paula dumped Eric after he wrote ‘Layla’ and she could blatantly see it was about her sister Pattie, while in the meantime Pattie’s other sister Jenny was dating Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac – you following?
Mick Jagger unsuccessfully tried to get her in the sack before she finally relented and married Eric, putting up with his alcoholism, heroin addiction and affairs until they finally divorced in 1989. Amazingly he, George and Pattie all remained friends.
Great tune, better story.
Oh boy, did Fleetwood Mac know how to have a messy love life – and anyone will tell you not to have two couples in a band. No, they didn’t listen, so the classic lineup of the Mac featured two couples in John & Christine McVie, and Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Throw in half the cocaine in Colombia, unlimited booze and being one of the biggest bands in the world, and things will get messy.
The 20 million selling Rumours was comprised of songs written to each other about each other’s infidelities. Ouch. You can understand why the lineup kept leaving and rejoining – it’s not much fun having your ex sing the band’s biggest hit about you cheating on him onstage every night, is it?
They weren’t really ‘rumours’ in the end.
Ozzy & Sharon Osbourne
We’ve all see lovable grump Ozzy on the television being ordered around by wife Sharon on The Osbournes, but once upon a time Ozzy tried to kill her.
Sharon met Ozzy when she was 18 and her father Don Arden was the much-feared and ruthless manager of Black Sabbath. While Sharon managed to get his solo career on track, and they married in 1982, he kept up his proclivity for drugs and booze.
In August 1989, Ozzy returned from a ‘peace festival’ in Moscow, only to attempt to murder Sharon in a haze of booze and drugs. After he spent a period in rehab, Shaz decided not to press charges and vowed to get her revenge by making him appear in The Osbournes. Having broken up and reunited several times over the years, at the time of writing we’re not even sure whether they’re actually together or not.
We basically have Oz and Sharon to thank for the Kardashians.
Knowing me, knowing you, and you… and you… Ah, what did we say about couples playing in bands? Thou shalt not do it! However, Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida), Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Agnetha Fältskog (Anna) broke the most important rule in rock n’ roll by being two couples playing in the same band.
Both later divorced, funnily enough. Still, it gave them plenty of fuel for writing some of the most perfect, if sappy, songs ever committed to tape.
When every day of your life is a double date.
Kurt & Courtney
Some couples don’t need a surname, and this is one of them. Courtney Love was already experienced on the, er, tour scene by the time she met Kurt, having grown up in New Zealand before traveling to Liverpool in the 1980s to hang around with various members Echo & The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explode.
Kurt didn’t initially fall for her advances but she eventually got her man – Kurt couldn’t resist using Nirvana’s first UK TV performance in 1991 to profess his desire for her by romantically announcing “I’d like all of you people in this room to know that Courtney Love, the lead singer of the sensational pop group Hole, is the best fuck in the world.”
They were united in heroin addiction and marriage in 1992 and, as we all know it that union certainly got her career in Hole going, while Nirvana became the biggest band in the world and Kurt the spokesman for a generation. When Kurt decided to resign from the role permanently in April 1994, an understandably upset Courtney began her descent into madness – she’s barely stayed out of the headlines for more than a few months at a time since.
Maybe he lost a bet with her…?
Jon Moss & Boy George
This one was kept under wraps at the time because Boy George was supposedly straight and celibate (how did anyone fall for that?), but Moss was the nominally-straight drummer for Culture Club with whom the flamboyant front man was infatuated, and their on-off-on-off again relationship was characterised by tempestuous fights amid the usual tour cabin fever.
George recalled a typical incident in his autobiography Take It Like A Man: ‘I grabbed a family sized Coca-Cola bottle and threw it as a warning shot. I didn’t mean to hit Jon but it cracked against his head… after a couple of hours in hospital and an x-ray, Jon was given the okay. He returned to the hotel in a surprisingly forgiving mood, and we had great sex and the tour went on as planned’.
Not so much puppy love as rabid pit bull terrier love, then. Of course, Boy George has since gone on to do some far worse things, and he’s clearly shown no growth whatsoever over the course of his life.
Boy George is high maintenance, it turns out.
John & Yoko
Another relationship where the surnames are completely superfluous. John Lennon was a Beatle and could have had anyone he wanted, so of course he fell for the older avant garde artist who many – perhaps unfairly – blame for The Beatles’ breakup.
Bringing a singing style to Lennon’s next band venture reminiscent of an animal being unspeakably tortured, Ono managed to get under his skin in a way no-one else could equal. Despite Lennon having a long affair with his assistant May Pang – and his behaviour through the ’70s starting to match up to her wacky ways – they were still devoted to each other as she cradled him on the steps of the Dakota Building while he died from the gunshot wounds inflicted by Mark Chapman in December 1980.
Chats like these didn’t help Yoko’s cause.
Ike & Tina Turner
The ultimate rock and soul duo who fronted the explosive Ike & Tina Revue also had an explosive offstage relationship, to put it mildly. Ike was one of the original rock n’ roll stars who discovered Angela May Bulloch as a teenager in his role as a producer. Renaming her Tina Turner, their onstage and recorded success led to Ike becoming increasingly jealous and physically abusive offstage as he failed to control her while their fame ballooned.
His penchant for booze and drugs only added to their problems and she eventually left him in 1976, going on to become a superstar of the ’80s and ’90s on her own terms. In the meantime Ike did time in jail on drugs charges for much of the ’80s, dying in 2007 from a cocaine overdose aged 76. “What’s love got to do with it” indeed?
Ike was a fool, but it worked out fine for Tina thankfully.
Tim Armstrong, Brody Dalle & Josh Homme
Another ‘threesome’, quelle surprise! Fitzroy’s most famous punkerella, the former Bree Leslie Pucilowski of Sourpuss fame, hooked up with the Rancid frontman Armstrong at a Summersault gig in Melbourne in the 1990s – while she was underage. Marrying him and joining him in Los Angeles as soon as she turned 18, the marriage lasted until 2003.
The former Distillers frontwoman then managed to bag herself Josh Homme of the Eagles of Death Metal and QOTSA, and they married in 2007. They’ve just welcomed their third kid last year, so maybe this one didn’t turn out quite so messy after all… that’s nice, then – we’ll leave it on that note for the sake of Valentine’s Day.
“Make me proud, or see a lawyer…”