For the first decade of her life, Liv Tyler believed Todd Rundgren was her father. The musician and producer had dated Tyler’s mother, musician and former Playboy playmate Bebe Buell, in the 1970s. Rundgren knew there was a chance the child wasn’t his but decided to sign the birth certificate anyway, giving her his last name and providing financial support.
It wasn’t until Tyler turned 11 that she started to have her doubts. Looking up at the Aerosmith poster she had pinned to her bedroom wall, she became convinced that frontman Steven Tyler, not Rundgren, was her father. In 1997, Tyler recalled the epiphany: “My mom has a diary entry or something where I wrote, ‘I think Steven is my father”.
Liv decided to raise her doubts with her mother, who was forced to tell the truth. Buell had a short fling with Steven Tyler in late 1976. The encounter led to the birth of Liv in a New York City hospital the following July. Tyler was deep into his drug addiction at the time and, in an attempt to protect Liv, Buell kept the paternity a secret from her daughter. According to the model, she and Rundgren “made a pact that he would be Liv’s father and if it ever became an issue, we’d tell her at 18”.
However, Liv would find out the identity of her biological father much sooner than that. At the age of nine, she was taken to a Rundgren concert by her mother, and would later bump into Steven Tyler sitting at the bar. He bought her a Shirley Temple and, although Liv had clue who he was at the time, she quickly developed an affinity with the Aerosmith frontman, falling “madly in love” with him, so much so that she would often talk to her posters of him. “It was a moment that was bigger than me,” she told The Guardian, “It was almost spiritual. When you meet kin, there is an energy and sparkle between your bodies. It must be chemical somehow – DNA and genes. I felt a connection in a very strong way when I met him as a little girl and I didn’t know why at first, but I figured it out rather quickly.”
Liv’s theory was given stronger legs after she was introduced to Mia Taylor, Steven’s daughter with Cyrinda Foxe, who was born just over a year after Liv. The would-be-actress saw Mia watching one of Tyler’s performances from the side of the stage: “I was literally like looking at my twin,” she recalled. Before long, the truth was out and Steven and Liv began regarding one another as father and daughter. Although it has to be said, Tyler’s appearance in the 1994 music video for Aerosmith’s ‘Crazy’ doesn’t strike me as particularly filial.
In the end, Buell and Rundgren parted ways, with the Utopia member remaining an important part of Liv’s life. Since then, she has treated both Rundgren and Tyler as father figures: “I’m so grateful to Todd for choosing to be a father figure to me,” Liv said. “It’s a big thing for a man to say, ‘I know this kid might not be mine, but I still want to be her father,'” Steven has also been an active member of Liv’s life, serving as an unconventional grandfather to the actor’s children.