Some of the most influential women in pop culture—fashion idols, movie stars, and miscellaneous headline-grabbers—have seduced, inspired, and tormented musicians into penning some of the greatest songs ever written. Here are some examples of the magic that can happen when rock stars meet icons.
PATTIE AND JENNY BOYD
Without the infamous Boyd sisters—model/photographer Pattie and model/author Jenny—it’d be safe to say that the ‘60s “British Invasion” might have stalled somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. Without them, George Harrison would never have written “I Need You” and the ethereal “Something” (for Pattie), Eric Clapton wouldn’t have produced “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight” (for Pattie) and Donovan wouldn’t have written “Jennifer Juniper” (for Jenny).
D’Arbanville was working at New York nightclubs at 13 and appearing in Andy Warhol films at 16. Later, modeling in Europe, she met singer Cat Stevens (later Yusuf Islam), who was inspired to write two songs for her on his albums Mona Bone Jakon and Tea for the Tillerman. The first was the unambiguous “Lady D’Arbanville,” the second the enduring classic “Wild World.”
The singer and actress became the symbol of peace, love, and hippiedom when her silhouette served as the (still) iconic poster for the late 60s London production of the musical “Hair.” But it took refusing to appear in a photo shoot with the Rolling Stones (because she felt the photo concept suggested she’d be “had” by the whole group) to catch Mick Jagger’s attention—he’d later write “Brown Sugar” about Hunt.
As if Princess Leia herself needed a larger pop culture footprint, her tempestuous relationship with singer/songwriter Paul Simon produced the classic “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” Years later Fisher would quip, during one of her one-woman shows: “If you have a chance to have Paul Simon write a love song about you—do it! He’s so good at it!”
This ur-socialite, the darling of Andy Warhol’s heyday, and a shockwave of a fashion icon whose influence is still being felt today, was blessed to have not one, but TWO, songs written about her by some folk singer named Bob Dylan. We can thank Edie for both “Just Like a Woman” and “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.”
Ever wonder what happens when you snub Prince? He writes songs about you, apparently. On his 1994 “Black Album,” Prince included a track called “Cindy C,” which he wrote—as the story goes—after seeing 90s fashion icon Cindy Crawford in a club and inviting her over, but getting a chilly “no” in response. It’s enough to make doves cry.