If you are an outlaw or a killer, you are more likely to be immortalized in song. Google songs about Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Bonnie and Clyde and the like and you will see. If you do something really horrific, a nursery rhyme will be written about you: "Lizzy Borden took and axe, gave her mother 40 whacks..."
A few more:
"Creeque Alley" -- The Mamas & The Papas (about themselves and others)
"Vincent" -- Don McLean (about Van Gogh)
"Bo Diddley" -- Bo Diddley (well, the lyrics refer to himself by his stage name repeatedly, although it may not be truly about himself)
"Mr. Bojangles" -- The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and many others (although the reference was indirect, being to someone who took his name from the real Mr. Bojangles)
Thanks, Jon. You are correct of course regarding the authorship and first recording of the song. The reason I mentioned the NGDB is that I believe their recording was the version that had the greatest commercial success, more so than Mr. Walker's as well as a great many other versions that have been released over the years.
The Beatles' "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" refers to McCarney's uncle and to the American Admiral William "Bull" Halsey.
For a somewhat obscure reference, I like the Black Box Recorder song "Lord Lucan is Missing" (a member of the House of Lords that tried to kill his ex wife, murdered the nanny in the same attack and then went missing for the past 42 years--it was widely believed that his connection to people in high places and wealth gave him the means to evade capture).
Onhwy61, although it's completely unrelated, your mention that there really was a "Girl from Ipanema" somehow reminded me of the story of The Four Seasons' "Rag Doll." Although I don't particularly care for the song, the story behind it involves a real person, and is kind of touching.
If you google something like the "real girl from Ipanema" you will find pictures of what she now looks like in her 70's--still stunning. Nothing wrong with being immortalized in song that way. But, what if you were the inspiration behind those songs whose theme is: she is ugly but I love her anyway (e.g., "My Funny Valentine)?
Not Robbie Robertson, onhwy61. He’s a capitalist through and through, and doesn't believe in sharing the wealth ;-). Maybe Rick Danko---he found and rented BP, in which he, Richard Manuel, and Garth Hudson lived (Levon Helm was still in the Gulf, working on an oil rig). I believe Fanny in "The Weight" was a friend in Woodstock, but I don’t know about Carmen, Miss Moses, Anna-Lee, and Crazy Chester. The Devil? Oh, he’s real all right, and Robbie’s going to be meeting him fairly soon.
Larryi 2-3-17Larry, point taken, and yes it is certainly possible in some cases for immortalization in a song to be handled in a tasteless manner. In the case of "Rag Doll," however, I don’t see it that way. The negatives that were presented just pertain to the girl’s unfortunate circumstances, not to the girl herself. And for example, note the line "such a pretty face should be dressed in lace."
In any event, as I indicated I found the story behind the song (which I’ve seen stated in slightly different form than in the Wikipedia writeup, with the girl perhaps having been somewhat older) to be rather touching.
As our foremost rock historian, bdp24 is of course correct about "Barbara Ann." As is Tostadosunidos. As described in the following reference, it was written by Fred Fassert and recorded by The Regents, to which he belonged, in 1958. Although it was not released until 1961, when it became a modest hit. The Beach Boys cover of the song was released four years later.
As mentioned in the reference, the song was named after Fassert’s baby sister. Which brings to mind another song that was also recorded in 1958 and that I recall was also named after a baby sister, "Susie Darlin’" by Robin Luke (eventually to become Professor Robin Luke, Ph.D.). As I recall the story he named his composition thusly to eliminate the possibility that the girls he was pursuing at the time would suspect the song was named after a rival :-)
Barbara Ann Feldon is not "Barbara Ann"? Her birth name was Barbara Ann Hall. Are you also saying she wasn't the original inspiration for Annie Hall? Next thing you'll say is that she didn't win the grand prize in 1957 "The $64,000 Question".
PRINT THE LEGEND!
Back to non-alternative facts, there really was a Stagolee (Stack O'Lee, Stagger Lee, etc.)
Mary Long , by Deep Purple, refers to Mary Whitehouse and Lord Longford . Deep Purple was criticized by them for being below current moral standards . The band responded by rebuking them in a song . Much like Mr. Young being told “ Southern man don’t need you around “. So many hurt feelings ! I feel like writing a song 😎.
onhighway61, although they are not mentioned by name, you should know that Dylan's "Ballad in Plain D" was about Suze Rotolo and her sister Carla. From Wkipedia:
"The song relates how tension between Dylan and Suze Rotolo came to a head in the last week of March 1964 with a violent argument, in which Dylan and sister Carla shouted abuse at each other."
It's probably the most bitter song about real people along with "Positively 4th Street" in which Dylan flips off all the people in the Village who fed him, let him sleep on their couches and loaned him money, records and instruments while he was gaining fame, and "Like a Rolling Stone." Dylan could do bitter.