Marian Evelyn Faithfull was born in Hampstead, London on December 29, 1946. Her father, Major Robert Glynn Faithfull, was a British military officer and college professor. Her mother, Baroness Eva Erisso was originally from Vienna. She was a ballerina during her early years and worked with the German theatrical duo Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. Faithfull's maternal great-great-uncle was Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the infamous 19th century Austrian nobleman whose erotic novel, Venus in Furs, spawned the word "masochism."
After her parents divorced, she moved with her mother to Reading, Berkshire. As a teenager, she attended St Joseph's Convent School there and was a member of the Progress Theatre student group.
Marianne Faithfull began her singing career in 1964, landing her first gigs as a folk music performer in coffeehouses. Faithfull was discovered at a Rolling Stones' launch party by pop music producer Andrew Loog Oldham. Her first major release, "As Tears Go By", was penned by Oldham, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and became a chart success. She then released a series of successful singles, including "This Little Bird", "Summer Nights" and "Come and Stay With Me."