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The All Time Greatest Muses in the Music World

Updated September 25, 2020 48.8k votes 8.8k voters 386.3k views19 items

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 McCartney
    Photo: Capitol Records / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    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 in 1998 from cancer. "Any love song I write," Paul said in 1997, "is written for Linda."

    • Age: b. 1941 - d. 1998
    • Birthplace: New York, United States of America
    • Profession: Film Score Composer, Entrepreneur, Musician, Film Producer, Actor
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  • Pattie Boyd
    Photo: Eddie Janssens / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
    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."
    • Age: b. 1944
    • Birthplace: Taunton, United Kingdom
    • Profession: Photographer, Model, Entrepreneur
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  • Marianne Faithfull
    Photo: Photographer: A. Vente / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0 NL

    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 struggling.

    • Age: b. 1946
    • Birthplace: Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
    • Profession: Songwriter, Actor, Singer
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  • Marilyn Monroe
    Photo: Studio publicity still / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The iconic actress was the subject of many songs and featured or mentioned in dozens more. The blonde bombshell is the subject of Elton John's beautiful ballad "Candle in the Wind," while the actress is mentioned in the songs "Celluloid Heroes" by the Kinks, "Love Without Tragedy / Mother Mary" by Rihanna, and "Vogue" by Madonna, just to name a few. While her time in the spotlight was tragically short, Monroe's influence will be felt for decades. 

    • Age: b. 1926 - d. 1962
    • Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
    • Profession: Film Producer, Model, Actor, Singer
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