Archive for June, 2017

A Muse on Muses

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

So, Anita Pallenberg died recently.  Unless you are of a certain generation and were/are a huge Rolling Stones fan, chances are you do not know who Anita Pallenberg was.  She was Keith Richard’s partner and mother of two of his two children (surviving – they had a third child who died of SIDS at 10 months old).  They were together for over a decade, through thick and lots of heroin addicted thin.  She had previously been the girlfriend of Keith’s bandmate Brian, who was a destructive and unapologetic Lothario who beat her.  Brian was later forced out of the band and died, drowned in a swimming pool.

Many of the obituaries for Anita will refer to her as Keith’s “muse”.  In mythology the Muses were nine goddesses who presided over the arts & sciences.   In current vernacular a muse is defined as “a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist”.  I think this role is really easy to underplay, especially when that person’s own personality and contributions are eclipsed by the artists with whom they are associated.   Anita Pallenberg was, by all accounts, a woman of enormous personal strength and flair.  She absolutely influenced the way Keith Richards presented and styled himself, from clothing to attitude, and that effect reverberated through the look of that era of Rock and Roll.  Keith and Anith were inseparable for many years and she was a part of the fabric of the band.

This kind of story has been told dozens of times.  Marianne Faithful, one of Mick Jagger’s early paramours, was also a style icon and was a recording artist in her own right when they met, and her formidable talent has been lost in the miasma of their romance.  Her 1979 album Broken English, released years after their split, is a remarkable effort that is vital and valid to this day.  Linda Eastman was an extremely respected photo journalist before she met Paul McCartney.  Yoko Ono was an internationally celebrated artist before John came in to her life.  Angie Bowie was well known in the London fashion scene, and her support of David made his ascendancy to superstardom possible.  Anita Pallenberg was an actor as well as a model, making turns in counterculture classic like “Performance” and “Barbarella”.

Yet written in the eulogies of each of these remarkable women (and dozens of others) will be their association with their famous partners, with shadows cast over them even in death.  I don’t fault the men for this – you don’t often choose who you fall in love with, but it would be wise to take a pause and remember Anita and the women like her not just as the “source of inspiration” they may have been, but for the goddesses that they were.

 

Photo credit: Alamy stock photo

Photo credit: Alamy stock photo