Road Wives – The Evolution of The Groupie
Words By Kylie Olsson
According to the Urban Dictionary, groupies are "Sluts who sleep with bands.’ These willing, wanton, and wonderful women have inspired some of the greatest musicians of all time. Their role as lover, muse, friend, spiritual support and companion has defined their vital part in the musical landscape, as we know it today.
But is she a muse or slut and does she still exist today?
If we go back to the beginning we can retrace the groupie’s roots all the way to Mary Magdalene – was she the first ever groupie? - To the women that admired Elvis in the 50s, to the Beatles ladies - The Apple Scruffs. The 60s and 70s, which was the pinnacle of her fame and some might say the period where she became more than just a groupie and maybe even a muse. All the way to her low point in the 80s where her love of music came second to how many rock star notches she had on her bed. In the 90s she was a star in her own right with the likes of Kate Moss and Pamela Anderson but where is she or he today?
Every band has one and no, we’re not talking about a drummer, we’re talking about the infamous groupie and as Robert Plant once said, ‘fans want brief sex and then you have groupie’s who are like Road Wives. They look after you whilst on the road’.
The Golden Age of The Groupie:
In the 60s and 70s, rock and roll music was at an all time high. Legendary acts such as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and more all experienced the phenomenon of the groupie movement. Truly in love with the music and willing to do anything to meet and connect to the band, groupies were an important part of the movement and became known simply for being around those who were famous. They gained notoriety for their devotion both to the music and the artists that created it.
From gorgeous and celebrated groupie Bebe Buell - mother ofLiv Tyler- to famed groupie’s Pamela Des Barres, Cherry Vanilla – who heroically blew half of New York to get David Bowie on the radio - they’ve seen it all and toured and slept with the best of them. These women inspired and slept with the most famous men in the rock business. Without them, some songs would simply not be in existence, and would never be the same. While not all groupies were destined for notoriety, success, marriage, and fame, these Groupies are some of the most successful and well-known women out there. Even famous feminist Germaine Greer called herself a ‘supergroupie’.
They Put The Sex in Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll:
With each decade comes a different definition of what it meant to be a groupie – they became almost as famous as the band in the 60s and 70s but as the 80s hit excess was the new success and this rule didn’t stop at the groupie. Although part of the 70s scene most of her contemporaries faded out by the 80s but she embraced the hedonistic values of this decade forgetting her foremothers values, choosing just the one – Sex!
The Groupies Dead, Long Live The Groupie:
It’s safe to say she has played an important part of the tapestry of music but as we rolled into the noughties had she died a death or evolved into a superfan? And if so, is this because modern technology has killed promiscuity?
In certain corners of the web, groupies still live on. There are forums where girls looking to hook up with guys from bands get together to dish about the guys. They help each other out, with info like who to avoid, who hooks up and what that hook up was like.
But when the girls ask about who is dating who, there are a few names that come up again and again: Audrey Kitching, Hanna Beth and Jac Vanec. They are of the ilk that fights the groupie label—but unlike the Electras and Andersons of yesteryear, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what these girls do for a living. Which maybe makes them all the more like the free-spirited GTO’s of the '60s.
Then you have the Superfan who’s obsession goes from death threats to band members' girlfriends, to being willing to chop off limbs and kill kittens to just be in the same room, these superfans will stop at nothing to be noticed by their musicians.
Is this a new phase of idolatry, a cult now powered by the online community, or just another form of Beatlemania?
The word groupie has been tarnished over the years but has she been given unnecessary bad press? And then we have the whole Me Too movement this has surely put to bed – no pun intended – our consumption of music and sex.
Groupies served as angels, feminine saviours that acted both as lovers and mothers to the weary musicians, inspiring them to play their music and even serving as muses for songs that would be written on tour, as Mick Jagger said, ‘the one great thing about groupies is they make you write good songs’. Such as the Beatles ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window’ or Zeppelins ‘Going To California’.
Whether they were away from their wives or girlfriends or steadfastly single, groupies were as much part of the rock ‘n’ roll scene as the music itself, and it was there to stay.
You can’t tell the story of the groupie without looking at the social landscape as the two go hand in hand. This eye-opening journey of exploration of music and sex seen through the eyes of some of its most influential characters brings something new to the story of the groupie by taking it up to the 2000s and asking the question, does she still exist?