The Rock And Roll Groupies Who Changed Music History

Published June 6, 2017
Updated March 23, 2021

Groupies were more than just the sex that went with the drugs. They were muses who left their marks all over the history of rock and roll.

Pamela Des Barres Groupies
Rodney Bigenheimer
Led Zeppelin With Groupies
Famous Groupies
The Rock And Roll Groupies Who Changed Music History
View Gallery

For a rock star in the 1960s and '70s, the groupies came with the territory. They would follow bands on tour, cheering at their shows and fighting for the chance for a backstage pass and a night in a celebrity's bed.

Such groupies are usually nothing more than a footnote in music history, but behind the scenes, they were more than just fans. They were a part of these musicians' lives – and sometimes, they completely changed music history.

Some groupies were minor celebrities in their own right. Women like Pamela Des Barres built up legends of their own. She worked her way through the beds of men like Jimmy Page and Mick Jagger, leading a life that helped inspire Kate Hudson's character in the movie Almost Famous.

Other groupies, however, broke up bands. Anita Pallenberg nearly ended The Rolling Stones twice by working her way through the group. When she left Brian Jones for his bandmate, Keith Richards, she sent him into a spiraling depression that would end with him getting kicked out of the band. And not long after, a heroin binge with her new beau, Keith Richards, would see him pleading before a court to stay out of prison.

Other groupies would find themselves in even deeper trouble. At Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco in Los Angeles, rock stars would browse a selection of so-called "baby groupies" – underaged children who spent their school nights sleeping with grown men.

This was a scene in which women over 20 were called "old"; in which Jimmy Page cast aside his 25-year-old girlfriend Pamela Des Barres to go home with a 15-year-old named Lori Maddox.

The leader of the "baby groupies" was Sable Starr, a girl who had been sleeping with rock stars since she was 12 years old. Starr's life of scandals would be immortalized in the lyrics of an Iggy Pop song Look Away.

But these women were more than just the sex that went with the drugs and the rock and roll. They were muses. They inspired songs. They raced through the minds of famous musicians as those stars strummed out the first few notes of a future classic.

These groupies' names might not be well-known, but they've left their imprints all over the history of rock and roll.

After reading about some of the most influential -- and infamous -- rock and roll groupies, learn the history of hippies and the Mods.

Mark Oliver
Mark Oliver is a writer, teacher, and father whose work has appeared on The Onion's StarWipe, Yahoo, and Cracked, and can be found on his website.