33 Vintage Photos Of Rock And Roll’s Most Famous Groupies

Published April 6, 2022
Updated June 10, 2022

Groupies were more than just the sex that came with music stardom — they were muses who left their marks all over the history of rock music.

Pamela Des Barres Groupies
Pamela Des Barres And Jimmy Page
Rodney Bigenheimer
Led Zeppelin With Groupies
33 Vintage Photos Of Rock And Roll’s Most Famous Groupies
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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.

Rock And Roll Groupies Who Became Legends

The term "groupie" was coined in the 1960s to describe teenage girls and young women who followed rock and roll bands on tour, many of whom dated rock stars. But no one is certain of exactly where it came from. Some say a journalist created it, others think Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman used it as a code word for the women they met on tour.

What's certain is that by 1960, Rolling Stone blew the lid off the subculture of women making themselves available to touring rock stars with a February 1969 cover story called simply "Groupies and Other Girls."

Inside, the magazine lavished 14,000 words on the phenomenon, showing how integral groupies had become to the lifestyle and music of rock and roll. Some even began influencing the stars themselves.

Rolling Stone photographer Baron Wolman told The Guardian in 2015 that many musicians even started emulating the groupies in their dress, donning flamboyant outfits anchored with fur, feathers, flowers, and stars. "Just look back at pictures of the Rolling Stones," he quipped.

Groupies

Central Press/Getty ImagesMick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg, and Keith Richards at London Airport. December 18, 1968.

There were also some groupies who became 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.

"A groupie is someone who loves the music so much she wants to be around the people who make it," Des Barres told The Guardian in 2018.

"A fan is content with an autograph or a look from the stage, or a selfie. A groupie takes the next step. And that takes a lot of courage. But they do so totally willingly, sometimes hoping for a romance, or a one-night stand – or sometimes hoping to marry them."

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.

The Predatory World Of 'Baby Groupies'

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. Some of the girls were as young as 12.

This was a scene in which women over 20 were called "old." And one in which during Bingenheimer's after-party on June 3, 1973, following a show at the Forum in Inglewood, Jimmy Page entered with his 25-year-old girlfriend Pamela Des Barres — and left with a 15-year-old named Lori Maddox. Or, perhaps more accurately, Page had her kidnapped.

According to Maddox, Led Zeppelin's manager came up to her and said, "You're coming with me, young lady."

"I wound up in a limo and didn't know where I was going," she told Thrillist. "But it was to the Hyatt. I felt like I was being kidnapped. I got taken into a room and there was Jimmy Page."

Still, she said that the relationship "became so serious that Jimmy asked my mom for permission to be with me" — and then her mother went around saying, "My daughter is like Priscilla [Presley]."

Groupie

Richard Creamer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesRodney Bingenheimer, Jimmy Page, Pamela Des Barres, and Lori Maddox at Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco on the night Page will leave Des Barres for Maddox. Los Angeles, California, June 3, 1973.

But it was far from Maddox's first time with a rock star. She'd lost her virginity at 14 to David Bowie — in a threesome with her best friend Sable Starr, who introduced her to the world of rock and roll in 1972.

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

I slept with Sable when she was 13
Her parents were too rich to do anything
She rocked her way around L.A.
'Til a New York Doll carried her 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 — and more than a few groupies were named directly in the lyrics themselves.

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 and teacher, and father whose work has appeared on The Onion's StarWipe, Yahoo, and Cracked.
Adam Farley
Adam Farley is an Assistant Editor at All That's Interesting. He was previously content director of ShamrockGift.com and deputy editor of Irish America magazine. He holds an M.A. from New York University and a B.A. from the University of Washington.