Melissa Etheridge

May 29, 1961

Melissa Etheridge Artistfacts

  • Melissa is openly gay. Starting in 2001, she was in a relationship with Tammy Lynn Michaels, an actress who appeared on the television show Popular. Michaels gave birth to twins in 2006, but the couple split up in 2010. In 2014, she married the writer Linda Wallem.
  • Etheridge was signed by Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records. He also signed U2 and Bob Marley.
  • She has defended Eminem and appreciates him as an artist, despite his antigay comments. She has also claimed to be a Britney Spears fan.
  • Etheridge starting seeing the director Julie Cypher in the late '80s, and they were a couple throughout the '90s. Cypher birthed two children during this time: daughter Bailey Jean (born in 1997) and son Beckett (born in 1998). They were both fathered by David Crosby, a friend of the couple.

    Cypher was married to actor Lou Diamond Phillips before leaving him for Etheridge. When Cypher and Etheridge split in 2000, they bought houses with adjoining backyards so the kids could easily visit both parents.

    On May 13, 2020, Etheridge announced the death of Beckett following his struggles with opioid addiction.
  • She got her first guitar at eight years old and was performing in bands by the time she was 12.
  • Melissa attended the Berklee College of Music, but dropped out after a year and a half because the structured environment didn't suit her - she instead headed to Los Angeles to pursue her passion. There are no hard feelings at the institution: Etheridge gave the commencement address at the school in 2006.
  • Her first recorded songs appear on the soundtrack to the film Weeds.
  • Born and raised in Kansas, she came out to her family when she left home at 18 - they weren't surprised. She moved to Los Angeles and took gigs playing lesbian bars - the only ones that would pay. When she signed with Island Records, her sexual orientation wasn't an issue but she kept it under wraps and no interviewers broached the subject. She came out officially along with Janis Ian and k.d. lang at one of Bill Clinton's inaugural balls in 1993 - the Triangle Ball.
  • She helped a male fan propose by addressing his girlfriend at a concert and saying, "Your boyfriend's got a ring with him and wants to know if you'll marry him." The answer was "yes."
  • She has established a scholarship for performing arts at her Leavenworth, Kansas high school.
  • In 1995, she teamed up with VH1 in a deal where the network sold tickets to her shows on the air as part of the VH1 Tickets First: Melissa Etheridge special. She made $1.8 million by selling 40,000 tickets in two-and-a-half hours.
  • In her Songfacts interview, she revealed her songwriting inspirations: Joan Armatrading, Peter Gabriel, Rickie Lee Jones, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, and Joni Mitchell.
  • She has had surprisingly little success in the UK, which she attributes to being a "loud, noisy, sweaty American girl."
  • When Brad Pitt was starting out in Los Angeles in the mid-'80s, he slept on Melissa Etheridge's sofa.

Comments: 5

  • Karen from Newcastle, AustraliaI just carnt say enought about melissa the woman is amazing,got to love all her songs.

    kazza (aussie)

  • Mellissa from Wasaga Beach, Canadayeah, melissa etheridge is awesome, and my mom loved her songs so much that i am stuck with the same name!
  • Babs from London, EnglandMelissa 'married' Tammy Lynn Michaels!
  • Carin from Rotterdam Junction, Nyanyone who thinks melissa ethridge was wrong about anything she ever did in her life is a nutcase who deserves a punch in the nose. she is a talented wonderful life giving soul and i love her.
  • Just from Jacksonville, FlTotally understand the lyrics. Been there and done that only in reverse.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jethro Tull

Jethro TullFact or Fiction

Stage urinals, flute devices, and the real Aqualung in this Fact or Fiction.

Trans Soul Rebels: Songs About Transgenderism

Trans Soul Rebels: Songs About TransgenderismSong Writing

A history of songs dealing with transgender issues, featuring Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Morrissey and Green Day.

Taylor Dayne

Taylor DayneSongwriter Interviews

Taylor talks about "The Machine" - the hits, the videos and Clive Davis.


WeezerFact or Fiction

Did Rivers Cuomo grow up on a commune? Why did they name their albums after colors? See how well you know your Weezer in this Fact or Fiction.

Mac Powell of Third Day

Mac Powell of Third DaySongwriter Interviews

The Third Day frontman talks about some of the classic songs he wrote with the band, and what changed for his solo country album.

80s Music Quiz 1

80s Music Quiz 1Music Quiz

MTV, a popular TV theme song and Madonna all show up in this '80s music quiz.