Who Is Hedy Lamarr, the Muse for Johnny Depp’s New Song With Jeff Beck?
As recently tipped, guitar legend Jeff Beck is set to drop a new collaborative album with actor-turned-rocker Johnny Depp this summer, and details of the 18 album have now been revealed along with the intriguingly titled lead single, "This Is a Song for Miss Hedly Lamarr." So who exactly is the titular muse name checked by Depp in his Bowie-esque new song with Beck? If you're a fan of the golden age of Hollywood filmmaking, you likely already know.
Lamarr was born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Vienna and started off her film career in Czechoslovakia. As the story goes, the actress fled her wealthy Austrian ammunition manufacturer husband, disguising herself as the maid after a party and secretly moving to Paris. From there, it was a trip to London that changed her life forever, as she met Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM studio, who offered her a Hollywood movie contract.
The studio honcho convinced the actress to change her name to avoid association with her past career, and she chose Lamarr as an ode to silent film star Barbara La Marr. She made her U.S. film debut in the 1938 film Algiers, kicking off a highly successful two-decade film career that included I Take This Woman with Spencer Tracy, Boom Town opposite Clark Gable and Comrade X also starring with Gable. Other standouts included Come Live With Me, Her Highness and the Bellboy and Samson and Delilah, with the latter film being her first shot in technicolor.
In addition to her acting career, Lamarr also was an inventor who used her spare time to work on an improved traffic light and a tablet that would dissolve in water to create a carbonated drink. She would eventually team with she and composer George Antheil to develop a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes that used spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers. As a result, she's also a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
In her later years, she dropped out of the public eye. However, fans of a certain age will remember Mel Brooks naming a character in Blazing Saddles Hedley Lamarr, a repeated mistaken identity joke that ran throughout the film. She didn't find the humor in it, filing a $10 million lawsuit against Warner Bros. in 1974. The studio settled the case out of court. The actress died in 2000 at the age of 85.
Lamarr's life was the subject of the 2017 film, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. You can see a trailer below.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
That leads us back to the new Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp song, "This Is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr," which is very much an ode to the silver screen siren and inventor. And given Depp's own history in the film world, it's no surprise that her works and colorful life served as an inspiration. The actor wrote the original song, with Beck commenting, “I was blown away by it. That song is one of the reasons I asked him to make an album with me.”
As was revealed earlier this week, Beck and Deep had previously collaborated on music together and their friendship has developed since first meeting in 2016. Depp has made further inroads in the music industry in recent years, teaming up with Alice Cooper and Joe Perry in the band Hollywood Vampires.
Over time, Beck and Depp started discussing the idea of working on a collaborative album, and after starting in 2019, they now have the collection titled 18 set to go for a July 15 release. In addition to the Depp-written lead single "This Is a Song for Miss Hedly Lamarr," the collection includes covers that span from The Beach Boys to Killing Joke, with flavors of Motown and Celtic music thrown in for good measure.
“When Johnny and I started playing together, it really ignited our youthful spirit and creativity," says Beck. "We would joke about how we felt 18 again, so that just became the album title too.”
He later added, “I haven’t had another creative partner like him for ages,. He was a major force on this record. I just hope people will take him seriously as a musician because it’s a hard thing for some people to accept that Johnny Depp can sing rock and roll.”
The respect goes both ways, with Depp stating of Beck, “It’s an extraordinary honor to play and write music with Jeff, one of the true greats and someone I am now privileged enough to call my brother.”
The album, which features an illustration of the two musicians designed by Beck's wife Sandra, will be available in CD, vinyl and digital formats. Check out the song, album artwork and track listing below. Pre-orders and pre-saves can be taken here.
Jeff Beck & Johnny Depp, "This Is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr"
Jeff Beck & Johnny Depp, 18 Album Art + Track Listing
“Midnight Walker” (Davy Spillane cover)
“Death and Resurrection Show” (Killing Joke cover)
“Time” (Dennis Wilson cover)
“Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade” (Johnny Depp original)
“Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)” (Beach Boys cover)
“This Is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr” (Johnny Depp original)
“Caroline, No” (Beach Boys cover)
“Ooo Baby Baby” (The Miracles cover)
“What’s Going On” (Marvin Gaye cover)
“Venus in Furs” (The Velvet Underground cover)
“Let It Be Me” (The Everly Brothers cover)
“Stars” (Janis Ian cover)
“Isolation” (John Lennon cover)*
*Available on digital and CD version only
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