A Brief History of “Groupies”
- Category: Art Archive
The term “groupie” has its etymology in (musical) groups and describes a person (usually a female) who seeks sexual and/or emotional intimacy with a celebrity (or other authority figure).
Attraction to celebrity is immense, has a long history and was no less apparent during the 1950s and 1960s when groupies themselves made themselves sexually available to pop stars. During the 1960s, the decadent lifestyle of many stars became publicly known, aided by the growth of the underground rock press, which documented these excesses in an exploitative fashion. The distinction has been made between fans wanting a brief sexual encounter and groupies, or road wives, who travelled with musicians for extended periods of time sharing the social life of their object of their desire. In the case of the former, the Grade A Groupie would submit only to their object of desire i.e. lead singer, whereas a group follower was much more promiscuous.
One particular attraction that groupies had was that they often came with supplies of illicit substances. This circumvented the need for the performers carrying illegal drugs across the borders. Groupies would use drugs as an incentive to get to the objects of their desire and by the 1970s, the favoured groupies had the best drugs. Access to band members was not always easy and many groupies would work their way from favouring the road crew, then the band management before eventually pleasuring the group members themselves. Competition was fierce and many girls became career groupies, pandering to every possible sexual whim in order to court the world’s top musicians.
The majority of these were status seekers, hoping to be seen in the blaze of the paparazzi on the arm of a well-known musician. US groupies seemed to enjoy the greatest notoriety, with Miss Pamela (aka Pamela Des Barres, born Pamela Ann Miller), Cynthia Albritton (aka Cynthia Plaster Caster) and Penny Laine and The Flying Garter Girls being the best known.
Miss Pamela had alleged indiscretions with Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet), Frank Zappa, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, The Byrds, Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, Nick St Nicholas, Noel Redding, Chris Hillman, Gram Parsons, and many others. Cynthia Albritton is an artist and started collecting plaster of paris casts of penises that belonged to rock stars. It was a gimic that started with Paul Revere and the Radiers. By the time they perfected the technique, Jimi Hendrix had his “Hampton Wicks” captured in gypsum, and the rest is, as they say, history. The usual routine was that the sitter got a blow job and while in full erection, Cynthia would cast their member. Notables to be immortalised include Jeff Beck, Led Zepplin’s John Bonham, Richard Cole and Robert Plant, Noel Redding, Chris Connolly, Keith Moon, Jello Biafra and Ritchie Blackmore. Later, Frank Zappa became Cynthia’s patron as an artist and her celebrity grew. The Flying Garter Girls (Marvelous Meg, Sex Sandy, The Real Camille, Caroline Can-Can and Penny Laine) were from Portland, Oregon. They started in 1972 and soon became the “Ultimate in Entertainment for Entertainers”. Over the years, there have been many songs dedicated to groupies: Cynthia Albritton alone has inspired four songs, two from KISS i.e. Plaster Caster and Love Gun, with 10CC (The Hospital Song) and Jim Croce (Five Short Minutes) also writing songs in her honour. She Came in Through the Bathroom Window is reference to the day a few “Apple Scruffs” climbed into Paul McCartney's house via an upstairs bathroom window and raided his closet for a pair of pants, which they took turns to wear. The "Apple Scruffs" were a group of teenage girls who stocked The Beatles' outside Apple Corps offices. In George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, reference is also made to the Apple Scruffs. Despite the debauchery that went on behind the scenes, there was little reference to sexual proclivities in the lyrics of most pop and rock songs, but all that seemed to change with the new order of hip hop and rap. As the old rockers cleaned up their acts, the young fry got down and dirty.
Article - Kippen C. 2010
Retrieved from Cameron K's Blog
Many Thanks for allowing ZANI to reproduce this article