1. Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot
No offense to Jane Birkin, but Serge's pairing with bombshell Brigitte Bardot is my favorite of all of his partnerships. Though Birkin and Gainsbourg garnered notoriety for their recording "Je T'aime ... Moi Non Plus," the tune was originally written for and recorded with Bardot on female vocals. I love their 1968 song "Bonnie and Clyde" - its fun, its sexy, and has such an inventive melody. I especially love the promotional video with Brigitte dressed up in her Faye Dunaway-inspired finest and Serge lolling around in suspenders and a button down with a gun in hand.
2. Jay-Z and Beyonce
Just as Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot claimed themselves as Bonnie and Clyde in 1968, in their song "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" Beyonce and Jay-Z declared themselves the B&C of the twenty-first century. No surprise to anyone, but these two basically own the world. With Beyonce's film, music, and fashion career (with House of Dereon), and Jay-Z's career as a recording artist, club owner, designer, and CEO of Def Jam Records (he is the man responsible for making Rihanna what she is today), this pair has been the highest earning celebrity couple for several consecutive years. Despite their high-profile careers, which also consist of several duetted recordings, the duo is intensely private, neither confirming nor denying their marriage, which was alleged to have occurred almost two years ago.
3. Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash
Married for 35 years, the story of Johnny and June is legendary in the pop culture stratum. If you are one of the four people out there that still hasn't seen Walk the Line, you are sorely missing out on love story lasting over four decades. After performing onstage together in the 1960s, Johnny popped the question in February 1968 during a concert. After June refused for several minutes, love eventually won out and their engagement was celebrated by the hundreds of fans watching in the audience. Rarely seen without one another by their sides, Johnny credited June for helping him overcome drug addiction, and when June passed away in May 2003, Johnny soon followed in that September. Some alleged it was due to a broken heart.
4. Paul and Linda McCartney
One of the most successful and long-lasting duos on the list is the marriage and musical partnership of a Beatle and a photographer. Though critics and fans alike would occasionally rip apart this musical duo (for Paul’s lightweight or comparatively subpar lyrics (to the Beatles, that is) and Linda’s lack of pianist and vocal experience), the married McCartneys were the most famous and central figures in the 70s super band Wings, racking up twelve top-10 singles in the UK and fourteen top-10s in the US, and each of their albums reaching the top-10 charts as well in the UK and US, with five albums consecutively reaching the number one spot. With several Grammy Awards won for their work in Wings, Paul and Linda were one of the most awarded duos in the music industry. In 1973 the McCartneys shared an Oscar nomination for the James Bond song “Live and Let Die.” But to be honest, this adorable couple was quite easy to make fun of - with their his-and-hers mullets, tribe of children, and their unabashed blind affection for one another, it's hard for a cynic to not to want to take it out on them a little.
5. Sonny Bono and Cher
Husband and wife duo Sonny and Cher Bono took the American mid-sixties music scene by storm with such sickeningly sweet tunes as "The Letter," "Do You Wanna Dance," and "I Got You Babe." After their film, 1967's Good Times, flopped with both the mainstream and critical audiences, their musical careers soon followed as the scene turned away from carefree anthems to psychedelic rock. They hosted several variety shows in the 70s, even after their divorce in 1975. They reunited several times to perform during the years, but that ended when Bono died in 1998 as a result of a skiing accident. They had a daughter Chastity Bono in 1969.
6. John Lennon and Yoko Ono
What can be said about John Lennon and Yoko Ono (or johnandyoko, as they preferred to be called) that hasn't already been said, torn apart, and said again? Easily the most controversial couple on this list, Lennon and Ono will forever be remembered for their controversial activities in both the musical and political arenas. My favorite albums were not their early experimental works, but the more tender albums they made later in their relationship, namely Double Fantasy and Milk & Honey. These albums marked the passage of time and maturity in their relationship, after they had separated for almost two years and John took up with May Pang, and then had a son Sean, for whom John gave up his career for several years to provide for. It is such a shame that their relationship came to such an early end as it did. No matter your personal opinions on the 'woman who broke up the Beatles', it is hard to listen to John's odes to his wife, particularly the rough recording of "Grow Old With Me," without wanting to breakdown with grief.
7. Phil and Ronnie Spector
This pairing of a mega-producer (and creator of The Wall of Sound technique) and the "original bad girl of rock and roll" was an unusual one, especially for its time. At the time of the beginning of their relationship, Ronnie Bennett was the lead member of the girl group the Ronettes and Phil Spector was a well-respected oddball music producer. Their personalities clashed from the beginning - Ronnie sought freedom, success, and adventure, whereas Phil was after control. In her autobiography, Ronnie recalled times when Phil would force her to watch Citizen Kane moments on end in order to stress that she would be nothing without him. Despite his controlling attitude, the duo married and produced several number one singles, such as "Be My Baby," as well as several children. After years of utter domination and abuse, where she was locked away in their mansion for months, Ronnie finally left Phil in 1972. Today, Ronnie is an inductee to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame and Phil is awaiting a life sentence for murder.
8. James Taylor and Carly Simon
In their decade-long marriage, Carly Simon and James Taylor were the reigning king and queen of the music scene. Recording duets and going on tour together, their fishbowl marriage seemed charmed. After they wed in late 1972, Carly and James had two children Sarah (known as 'Sally') and Ben, both of whom followed in their parents footsteps as musicians and activists. Simon scored a huge hit in '73 with "You're So Vain," which Taylor worried was about him at the time. Over the next few years, Simon struggled to break her husband of a drug addiction and raise a family at the same time, all the while facing her own temptations with drugs. The marriage ended in 1983, and the couple now no longer speaks to each other.
9. Isaac Hayes and Millie Jackson
Millie Jackson and Isaac Hayes recorded together in the mid-to-late seventies. Jackson was known for her candid, talk-and-sing style and Hayes was a recent success in developing Memphis soul and, with his more recent efforts, laying the foundation of what would eventually be rap. Jackson nows runs her own record label and broadcasts a radio show from her home in Dallas, Texas. Hayes, known to newer generations as the cook on South Park, passed away in 2008 at 65 years old.
10. Ben Gibbard and Zooey Deschanel
Hipsters, indie folk, Seth Cohen wannabes, and Urban Outfitters enthusiasts raised their hands in celebration upon the news that Zooey Deschanel and Death Cab for Cutie frontman (as well as The Postal Service mastermind) Ben Gibbard were engaged. The pair was very quiet about the relationship and few even knew they were together until their engagement was announced. While they haven't recorded anything together, fingers are crossed that Gibbard will soon team up with his She & Him darling. The duo married in September 2009, in a very private ceremony in Seattle.
11. Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon
Sonic Youth members (and personal friends of Lily van der Woodsen, apparently) Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon have been rocking out together since the early 80s. Though Moore claimed in his autobiography that the only reason he went to New York to pursue a music career was to "fuck Patti Smith," Gordon and Moore married in 1984 and had a daughter Coco ten years later. The pair has appeared in a number of projects over the years, most recently showing up on Gilmore Girls and Gossip Girl. Yeah, and Moore still writes songs about how he wants to fuck Patti Smith.
12. Ike and Tina Turner
The married Turners were an American homespun success in the 1960s and 1970s, for their inventive lyrics and beats that everyone could dance to. Together Ike and Tina Turner lasted as a recording duo for over sixteen years, until Tina's emergence as a solo talent in the late seventies. During this time, Ike became increasingly dependent upon cocaine and pills to get by, and often became violent with Tina when he was high. Unfortunately, in recent years the success of Ike and Tina as a duo has been overshadowed by the claims of abuse and drug addictions. Ike passed away in 2007 at the age of 73, whereas Tina is still the phenom as a musical talent at 70 years old.
13. Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani
Since their wedding in 2002, Gwen Stefani has gone from pink-haired songstress from No Doubt to high fashion solo star with legions of aspiring Harajuku Girls following her every step. Both members of popular late-90s bands (Bush and No Doubt, respectively), Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani seemed like a perfect match - after meeting in 1995, the two fell in love quickly and started a long distance relationship, because both of their bands were touring at the time. Though they haven't collaborated musically, they have collaborated reproductively (I know, that's gross - forgive me!) - Gwen gave birth to their sons Kingston and Zuma in 2006 and 2008.
14. Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull
They are the couple that lived too fast, partied too hard, and looked almost too beautiful while they did it. Mick and Marianne - synonymous with late sixties rock and roll, indulgence, and wildness, but how we envy them so! Whether in Morocco dancing with the natives, or in a court house on drug charges, or seeking enlightenment from the Maharishi in Wales with the Beatle gang, Mick and Marianne were where it was at in the sixties. When they first got together, Mick gave her love, fame, and security, and Marianne gave him an appreciation to obscure literature and faraway culture that she so loved, as well as an introduction to the Swinging London scene that she ran with during her marriage to art curator John Dunbar. Together they made the Mars Bar the chocolate candy of legends after the Redlands bust. As a result of that, Mick became the badass rock 'n roller he is today and Marianne became 'Miss X', the tarnished reputation of a folk princess that caused her to become a rock goddess girl on a motorcycle. Marianne proved to be endless inspiration for many of the Rolling Stones' greatest songs, from "Sympathy for the Devil" (Mick got the idea from a book by Mikhail Bulgakov that Marianne made him read) to "Wild Horses" (the repeated line "wild horses couldn't drive me away" was apparently what Marianne told Mick after her 1969 overdose when he told her his worry that she would die and leave him forever). Their breakup in 1970 was largely caused by Marianne's increasing drug addiction, and the separate points they both reached in their careers. One song is credited to the both of them: "Sister Morphine" which Mick wrote the music for and Marianne the lyrics. Both have recorded their own versions of the song.
When George Jones and Tammy "Stand By Your Man" Wynette hooked up, the country world had found their golden couple. Their marriage, which lasted from 1969 to 1975, was the beginning of many duet albums that they would record over the years. Though blissfully happy together, Wynette found she could no longer stand by Jones, her third husband, because of his severe alcoholism. They continued to record together throughout the seventies and eighties, and released their last album together in 1995.
Who are your favorite couples in music history? Did I leave any of your favorites out?