When you consider some of the most amazing rock love songs of all time, you might think of Eric Clapton’s Layla, which he wrote while lusting after his best friend George Harrison’s wife, or Fleetwood Mac’s Silver Springs, which Stevie Nicks wrote about her tumultuous relationship with Lindsey Buckingham—”It was me realizing that Lindsey was going to haunt me for the rest of my life, and he has,” she said in a recent interview.
Where would rock music be without love, romance, and, yes, heartbreak? It’s not exactly the stuff of Hallmark sentiment but the rock & roll lifestyle seems to encourage infidelity—especially in the days before social media and Facetime, when the non-touring half of the couple was left at home wondering what the other was getting up to.
In the 1970s when Led Zeppelin was conquering America, lead singer Robert Plant’s wife would see pictures of her husband cavorting on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip with underage groupies…three months later, when the rock magazines hit the stands. The pair eventually divorced but Robert didn’t leave Maureen for a teenage temptress—no, he wound up marrying her sister!
Other couples had “an understanding.” As Roger Daltrey said in his 2018 memoir, Thanks A Lot, Mr. Kimblewhite, he married Heather in 1971 and she always “knew the score. She understood me and knew the business I was in, and accepted me for my honesty at the beginning, and it worked. We never let those silly things that usually break marriages up break ours up. She accepted it [his infidelities] because she knew the business. To have any kind of long-term relationship, you need to accept that that’s part of your life, as long as it doesn’t crush the marriage.” Roger says he and Heather are now “closer than ever.”
It seems the longest-lasting, happiest rock & roll couples are deep in each other’s lives, and, rather than leaving their significant other on their own, the best of them work together and tour together.
The O.G. of shock rock, Alice Cooper, met his wife-to-be Sheryl Goddard, in 1975 when she was hired to be an onstage dancer. The two have been together ever since. “We have never cheated on each other,” Alice said in a recent interview. Although they’ve hit a few snags—Sheryl filed for divorce in 1983 when Alice’s drinking issues got out of control, but they reconciled when he got sober—their devotion to one another stays strong.
In fact, they have even gone so far as to agree on a death pact. Cue the romantic music! “There is no way of surviving without each other,” he said. “I couldn’t live without her. We always said there will never be a time when one of us will be mourning the other. Whenever it does happen, we are going to go together.” They still go on the road together, make time for “date nights,” and “We ask ourselves every day how we can make each other’s day even better,” Alice said.
One of the world’s favorite hard rockin’, hard partyin’ couples is The Osbournes. Former Black Sabbath singer Ozzy married his manager, Sharon Arden, on July 5, 1982. The two had some wild times on the road and behind the scenes, but their strong bond has survived everything from fisticuffs to infidelity.
In honor of their 40th wedding anniversary, Ozzy took to social media and posted a vintage photo of their white wedding in Maui, Hawaii, with the words, “40 Years Ago Today! Happy Anniversary My Love.” Sharon responded with a new snap of them in all-black outfits, writing, “2022 is a special year for me. It marks 40 years of marriage to my darling Ozzy. We first met when I was 18, over 52 years we have been friends, lovers, husband & wife, grandparents, and soulmates. Always at each other’s side. I love you, Ozzy.”
In a 2022 interview with Rolling Stone, the Ozzman elaborated on why he thinks their marriage has survived. “I’ve got a good wife, I think. She’s been in rock & roll all her life. But she loves me, I love her. I haven’t been the exact perfect husband, but she’s fucking right about a lot of things.”
Pat Benatar and her spouse, Neil Geraldo, met in 1978 when they were just starting their careers. While it’s her name on the band’s records, the pair have always seen their music as a collaboration. “I didn’t want to be a solo artist,” Pat said in an interview. “I wanted what Robert Plant and Jimmy Page had together, or Keith and Mick. I wanted that back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.”
They married in 1982 and their love of music, and each other, has never wavered. “I didn’t start this by myself,” she said. “He and I did this together, from Day One. We’re connected in so many ways, all of them combined together; you’re parents, you’re lovers, you’re husband and wife, you’re grandparents, you’re musicians, you’re writers. I mean, it’s so much!”
“It was a partnership from the very beginning,” Neil added. “We were just two missing pieces that found each other.”
While it’s a naughty thrill to read about the wild lives of rock stars, it’s still good to know that there are some rock-solid couples out there who’ve stood the test of time and continue to serve as inspiration for us all.
-Staci Layne Wilson
Photo: Pat Benatar with Neil Giraldo, 2010 (Alamo via Wikimedia Commons)