Penny Lane Has Got A Lot To Answer For…

 

 

My friends have already heard this mini-tale now turned into an article, mainly due to the fact I regale in telling it. It all starts with my big sister Olivia, who used to live in LA. She worked as a model and Laker Girl, enjoying a totally fabulous blonde hair, tanned skin life or so I thought. I am ten years her junior and was only a teenager then. Any lifestyle in the Santa Monica sunshine would have appeared glamorous and fabulous to me.

So, during a rather poignant West Coast visit, big sis give me a piece of advice that has stuck to my conscious ever since, “Steph, promise me you’ll never date a musician. Musicians go on tour and fuck groupies.”

The hard line; in your face little one! Or so I thought. Some hot, musically gifted band member had broken her fragile heart and she wanted to save her little sister from a similar future hardship.

Unsurprisingly, the sentiment later extended to actors. In this case, a Beverley Hills 90210 alum with a serious narcs habit. Then of course artists; she still cringes if she stumbles upon his name in the paper and equally laughs at the lengths he goes to shock. And finally photographers (she came to ‘protect’ me when I did a shoot with him in later years).

Interestingly, the message has obviously stayed with me because I have never had a relationship with a musician. I’ve been on a date with one or two, but never had a serious tie to any and I’m sure this is because somewhere in my psyche, there was a little Liv tap, tap, tapping on my synapse; “walk away from the guitarist. He may be hot, but he’ll go on tour and…” “Walk away from the drummer! For all you know he’s got a wife and three kids in NYC.” Needless to say, lead singers never even had a look in, with or without Liv’s advice, I’m not that stupid!

And that’s where my article is going, the women who are happy not knowing or simply don’t care; Pro Hoes, Band Rats, Groupies, Band Chicks, Fan Girls, Band Whores, Star Fuckers, Snuff Queens and the most famous of all, Band Aids. Oh please. Let’s turn this on it’s head and look at the ladies who are so willing to offer themselves on a sweaty dressing room platter.

I’ve done a bit of research (God bless the Internet), to extend my understanding and have discovered a rather disturbing underlying epidemic. Do you realise there are groupie websites? Groupie forums dedicated to discussing tactics on how to get noticed, getting backstage and the like. Even Rolling Stone magazine dedicated an edition to them in 1969 entitled; Groupies: The Girls of Rock. A celebration of the groupie. It’s an interesting title in terms of female genre representation, but I’ll get back to that.

These days it seems there’s a new breed of groupie, an elite. The lady bait has got better. The caliber of clunge has got a bit more ‘celebrity’. A rather beautiful young lady presenter, model, actress, photographer or a clever filly multitasking all of the above with a penchant for all things band boy. The serial band boy girlfriend. The more famous ones tend to date the front man. FACT!

 

 

What’s the draw, though? Is it the talent? Or the creativity? The buzz of the occasional fan stopping them in the street asking for a picture? Sweaty pheromones? On the flip side, the band members could be likened to a lady’s accessory. Instead of handbag envy, they get to parade their boyfriend and dangle his status. Instead of a look screaming ‘my Sergio Rossi boots are so much hotter than your Office rip offs’, it’s become ‘my boyfriend is so much cooler than yours.’ The scene backstage at festivals is hilarious; it’s like boyfriend trump cards. Front man beats bassist, but lead guitarist of a ‘super’ band beats pretty much everyone else and so on.

Are these women our generation’s women of rock? I don’t think so! Groupies and serial daters aren’t what they used to be. Looking back at Pamela Des Barres, The Plaster Casters, Jenny Dean and Emeretta Marks, their roles weren’t simply as gratuitous sex objects, but far more. They were substitute wives, washing clothes, making sure their tour husband ate properly and it goes without saying, provided the sexual wares, too. It stands to reason that lots of wives join band tours now. It’s not uncommon to see the kids running around at sound check. How times have changed… In Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, author John Shepherd touches on the subject of groupies with an interesting take on the scene; “a lot of groupie identity and activity had to do with female support and most importantly, competition”.

This of course, is a given. Every human has a competitive streak, to varying degree. Though taking it further, we’re all aware of the groupie heyday being the 60’s and 70’s. The era of male super group tours. In fact, Shepherd and Sheryl Garratt, a certified and heavily experienced groupie, believe this groupie phenomenon to be closely linked with the secondary role of women during that era. “It is best understood in terms of the lack of opportunity for women in 1960’s rock culture. With so few role models to follow, to fantasize about being on stage as a female performer may be almost a contradiction in terms. Instead, most of us dreamt of being a pop star’s girlfriend; fame and recognition by proxy.” Shepherd questioned whether or not, given time and with more women performing on stage, the attitude of ‘I can’t be on stage, so I’ll get as close as I can and date the guy on stage instead’, might change. I’m on the fence, Sheppy-boy.

Admittedly, Continuum was written in the early 80’s, but can groupies still be summed up as women lacking talent or simply lacking the courage and conviction to follow their dreams, willing to supplement fame and recognition by association? Even now there are wives and girlfriends of band members who are guilty of this… Sad, isn’t it. Can we really say it’s moved on?

Having said all that, there are some fantastic band girlfriends and wives; genuinely wonderful women and they’re the ones who are safe. Their men don’t cheat. Why would they? The women they’ve been blessed with are beautiful, funny, friendly and most of the time very smart cookies. They know the risk they take in their men, but there’s obviously something worth doing it for. Love. It gets us all in the end.So if we can take something from this, I look up to the women of rock, the ones who created a female noise and did it for themselves, without having to suck a lead singers cock in the process. They fought for their dreams and talent. The trailblazers; Joan Jett, Debbie Harry, Diana Ross, Janis Ian, Pat Benatar, Alannah Myles, Patti, Dolly, Dusty, Gloria, Joni, Karen, Stevie and Tammy. We owe you big time, ladies. So if you’re a girl, are you simply going to kneel down to get a slivered glimpse of the fame and creativity you crave or are you going to forge it for yourself?

And always remember; never date a musician. They go on tour and fuck groupies.

 

Steph Hamill

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