On the road for forty days,
Last night in Little Rock put me in a haze.
Sweet, sweet Connie -- doin her act,
She had the whole show and thats a natural fact.
In the worldwide media age of the 20th century a phenomenon arose whereby people can become famous by just being around famous people. Such is the story of the rock and roll groupie. There have always been women who want to get close to famous performers, but some have been so successful at it that they themselves became almost household names.
Pamela Miller Des Barres was a member of the performance-art group the GTO’s, one of Frank Zappa’s side projects. They released one album, "Permanent Damage" in 1969. The experience allowed Des Barres to meet and hook up with rock idols such as Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Jim Morrison, and Keith Moon. She married glam-rock singer Michael DesBarres in 1977 (they divorced in 1991). In 1987, she publish a tell-all book entitled ‘I’m With The Band: Confessions of a Groupie’, which became a best seller. Des Barres is supposedly the inspiration for Penny Lane, the groupie played by Kate Hudson in the 2000 movie Almost Famous.
Pamela followed ‘I’m With The Band’ with three other books, the latest being 'Let's Spend the Night Together - Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies.' which will be available in the next couple of months. She has a regular music column in Playgirl Magazine. Pamela will be appearing at a writer’s workshop in Austin, TX on March 20. Visit her MySpace page.
Morgana Welch began hanging with rock stars as a high school student in Beverly Hills. She was the ringleader of a groupie clique referred to as the L.A. Queens, who hung around the venues on Sunset Boulevard during the heyday of the rock and roll bar scene, where she was “a preferred consort of Led Zeppelin.” Welch’s story is included in the book 'Laurel Canyon: The Inside Story of Rock-and-Roll's Legendary Neighborhood'.
Now a web consultant living in Arizona, Welch is finishing up a book on her experiences, called 'Hollywood Diaries'. You can keep up with her progress via her MySpace page.
Although not a groupie as defined by the others here, Patti Boyd deserves inclusion because of her amazing lovelife. She is best known as the woman who married both George Harrison and Eric Clapton. She inspired the songs Layla and Wonderful Tonight, among others. But she was also involved with other rock idols during her marriage to Harrison, notably John Lennon and Ron Wood.
After Patti’s divorce from Clapton in 1989, she refocused on her earlier career in photography. In 1991, she co-founded SHARP (Self-Help Addiction Recovery Programme) with Barbara Bach, which aids drug addicts and alcoholics. Her first gallery exhibit of photographs was in San Francisco in 2004. In her 50s now, Patti is the signature model for the British clothing and textile company Viyella. She lives in England with her partner of fifteen years, real estate developer Ron Weston.
Bebe Buell was a model who had a six-year relationship with Todd Rundgren in the seventies. While living with Rundgren, Buell also had affairs with members of the Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Jimmy Page, and Steven Tyler. The tryst with Tyler led to the birth of actress Liv Tyler. After she split from Rundgren, she hooked up with Rod Stewart and Elvis Costello. Her modeling agency fired her after she appeared nude in Playboy magazine, but she picked up other contracts easily. During the eighties, she sang for the bands the B-Sides and The Gargoyles. Her 1991 autobiogrphy is called 'Rebel Heart: An American Rock 'n' Roll Journey'.
Buell is still recording and performing music. She is married to musician Jim Wallerstein and her new CD is called Free To Rock. You can hear clips from it on the Bebe Buell Band’s MySpace page.
Cynthia Plaster Caster earned her name by making plaster casts of rock star’s penises in varying states of stimulation. She began doing this as a means of meeting musicians, but the art took off bigtime when Jimi Hendrix became her first superstar cast in 1968.
Caster’s life was the subject of a documentary made in 2001, entitled Plaster Caster, now available on DVD. In 2002, Cynthia founded the Cynthia P. Caster Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps to support cutting-edge artists and musicians. She still makes plaster casts of penises and breasts, but she picks and chooses her subjects and no longer works on comission. Caster does occasional art shows, lectures, and will tutor interested parties in the art of casting body parts. She told me she is preparing her autobiography for publication, possibly this year or in 2008. Look for it at a bookstore near you. She may be there signing autographs!
Connie Hamzy is the most famous and longest-working groupie of all. She is the “sweet sweet Connie” featured in the Grand Funk Railroad song We’re An American Band. Throughout the seventies and beyond, Hamzy was available to service the biggest names playing Little Rock, Arkansas. In addition to rock and rollers, she claimed to have had sex with then-Governor Bill Clinton in 1984. Whether that claim is true or not (she passed a polygraph exam), it just seems to follow the natural order. Her 1995 autobiography, ‘Rock Groupie: The Intimate Adventures of "Sweet Connie" from Little Rock’ is apparently out of print.
Now in her 50s, Hamzy still hangs out backstage at Little Rock concerts. In this 2003 video clip, Dave Attell of Comedy Central interviewed her at her home (NSFW). In 2006, Hamzy made Blender Magazine’s Book of Awesomely Stupid Records as the longest continually serving groupie. This led to a Jay Leno joke in his November 22nd monologue, which Hamzy took offense to. Whatever you may think of her, she’s got some amazing stories to tell. As Hamzy is widely quoted, “I might be a slut and a whore. But I am no liar.”
I regret that I wasn’t able to run down the red snapper girl, but I gave it a try. Sorry.
To sum up my research in a nutshell, where the rock and roll groupies of the seventies are now is ...Amazon and MySpace.