NO, I’M NOT A GROUPIE” – REPEATED A CERTAIN CZECH GIRL MET BACKSTAGE DURING A HIM SHOW. “I JUST WANT TO BE CLOSER TO THE BAND” – SHE ADDED. WE PARTIED WITH THE BAND MANY TIMES. IN THE MORNINGS, EVERYONE WENT THEIR SEPARATE WAYS.
Text: Annie C. Laviour & Karolina Karbownik
It was around the year 2000. Thirty years before we would not be afraid to use the term “groupie”. Back then, it was an honor to be one. Today – opinions are divided. It’s been half a century since the sexual revolution, when talking about certain topics aloud was normal. Now it’s better to skip it as it’s easy to be insulted. This happens a lot to girls who go backstage. Names are called not only by other fans who wait in a club or a hall for their idols. At the backstage it’s not always as nice as you would expect. Sometimes you meet friends there. Sometimes party pals. But there are times when one of the musicians or techs will say “groupie” with a fair amount of disdain. And it was all supposed to be so great!
The history of groupies goes back as far as the 60s. The scenery for those beautiful love stories was a lot different back then. It was all connected with a radical change in young people’s behavior in the western world. It was the first time people could express their thoughts freely about political systems, their country’s administration and the misleading rules imposed by the government. Opposing against the rat race and longing for independence, the youth took greater interest in art, often in its more independent forms that were often seem by the elder generation as scandalous. Young people searched for inspiration by standing against the authority and appreciating the independent cinema, poetry and doctrines like Hinduism, Hare Krishna or Buddhism. This new scenery saw the emergence of young, rebellious musicians, who quickly became idols or even gods to all the young people who searched for their own new way of living. Increased interest in sexuality, desire for freedom and willingness to stand against the old ways, in combination with a lack of potential perils like contracting HIV, made some of the moral principles obsolete.
LAUNDRY AND SEX WITH A GOD
Musicians – like the members of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin – were orshipped. They were the guides to the world of the beautiful disorder. The world did not know of mass idols in music before Elvis Presley came on stage. Today, Beatlemania seems like a curious event in the history of mass culture – at that time something totally unthinkable and, what’s even more important, new.
No wonder these beautiful boys called gods by the media soon found plenty of goddesses around them. They circled around hotels, clubs and the backstage area. They waited for limousines the musicians hid in. There was no Facebook, no e-mail. No one texted each other. No one used Twitter or Fourthsquare, or called their wives, who had to trust their modest imagination concerning what their husbands might be up to. And the husbands were travelling around the world surrounded by plenty of girls ready to share their love and passion. The girls loved, worshipped and helped the musicians survive the pains of long touring. They knew how to get some drugs for a party, they supplied ice for drinks and were always ready for a hug when one was needed. They ironed, did the laundry and listened. And most importantly, they appreciated their idols and were always there whenever needed. Sometimes more? Well, enjoy your freedom when you can. Those girls were called “groupies” from the word “group”. People spent days, evenings and nights in groups. They partied in groups and, as it happens during parties, some people got closer. You can always write about someone and give the world such great songs as Layla, written by Eric Clapton for Patti Boyd, who was also involved with George Harrison, John Lennon and Ronnie Wood. The 15-year-old Lori Maddox, who was seen with the likes of Jimmy Page and David Bowie, also had a song written about her – Sick Again by Led Zeppelin.
The pace of the action goes up. More actors and extras appear and their love stories turn into different colors. Some of them fade, other wither leaving something behind, like a gypsum penis (Cynthia Plaster-Caster, a groupie and an artist from Chicago was known for making plaster casts of her “preys’” penises – her biggest piece of art is that of Jimi Hendrix). Other affairs resulted in some lovely people being born, like Liv Tyler – born out of a short relationship between a groupie called Bebe Buell and Aerosmith lead singer, Steven Tyler. Fate pushes people in unknown directions. Sometimes a god meets a talented dancer like Tura Satana and may pick up some fine dancing moves to show on stage. This happened to Elvis Presley. But after some time, everything might become boring. That applies to freedom and sex, as well.
WHEN THERE’S NO GOD
The action goes on for years and rock ‘n’ roll still attracts new people but it’s no longer driven by gods. Sometime between the acts, “gods” were reduced to “stars”. That’s not the same, though many still dream of having their own star fall down from the sky. Carefree life of rock stars still impresses people. Not all fans are satisfied by listening to music and collecting their favorite bands’ releases. There are some, who need to be close to the stars, to live in their spotlight, far from everyday worries. Even if the stars have their problems, they don’t talk about them. Being on stage is blissful. And the rest? Well, it all depends on fantasies and personal boundaries, often pushed further when there’s a light of a star to bathe in. It’s not that hard to get a share of this light nowadays. Social media made it easy to get to know people but also to follow everyday routine of the stars. A meeting or a concert is not necessarily a desired part of the whole spectacle, like it was before. Buying a ticket and going to a show – that’s easy. The magic disappears with the last sound. It’s good to have a chat with a wife that misses you at home, to say “goodnight” to the kids. But what if someone would like to be a god? Well, one can always try. But not every god meets his goddess. And so rock ‘n’ roll lives on.
GROUPIES and ex-GROUPIES TALK ABOUT LOVE
ROCK AXXESS: What is love for you and have you ever fallen in love with a musician?
“As I began to write I realized that the subject of love is a bit more difficult to address than I initially thought. If you care to share the portion of my chapter in Pamela Des Barres (“I Am With the Band”) book about Terry Sylvester of the Hollies, I could elaborate on it more. I intended to write on my summer love with Jeff Beck but it is proving far too personal. Perhaps I am over thinking the task!”
Mandy&Brandy Anstine aka THE ROCKER TWINS:
“Love for us can be summed up in a song. Ever since Def Leppard released Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad our mother has looked at us and said, “My rocker babies, this will always be what love means to you.” Of course, when it was released we were young and rolled our eyes at her. But now as we sit and listen to it, we understand that yes… our mother is always right! Knowing her twins would sit outside in the rain for concert tickets instead of having birthday parties, she knew we would always be on the quest of ultimate love. Which, for her twins, is the Holy Grail of rock stars.
Every dream I dream,
Is like some kinda rash and reckless scene.
To give out such crazy love.
It must be some kind of drug.
And if my time don’t every come.
For me you’re still the one.
Damned if I don’t
Damned if I do.
I gotta get a fix on you.
Have you ever needed someone so bad.
Def Leppard – Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad
To this day, this is what love means to The Rocker Twins.
Annie Christina Laviour:
Love is the reason I live for. My drive. My whole passion for music is about love. I look for love everywhere and in everyone. I’m young, but what I’ve learned about love so far is – whatever I do, wherever I am, whoever I’m with – I’m not in the right place and with the right person if I can’t find any love in there. There is a song called Love is a Battlefield and love is simply a battlefield for me! I gotta fight for my passion, dreams, friends, the one I love, whatever… Love is free, but in the long run I gotta pay for it with my engagement and care. It’s a kind of game I play. It’s fight, it’s passion, it’s pain, tears, craziness and happiness! What’s more, there would be no fun if it was easy. Of course I’ve fallen in love with musicians! Many times. Show me a female music passionate who never has! They say “musicians are just normal people if you get to know them closely”. Really? If you say so, you never met any musician close enough. It’s a very peculiar kind of people who understand women’s needs and it can be dangerous, because they know it and they know how to use it! They play music you love, the music that’s with you in the hard times, music that helps you, brings you happiness and tears, helps in healing your feelings. It makes you feel close to these people. Meeting them in person is a magical and beautiful feeling, because it seems like you knew them forever. Plus, they are mostly charming and self-confident men. You gotta remember that they don’t have a clue who you are and they don’t have the same feelings towards you, or you gonna get hurt!
ROCKSTARS TALK ABOUT GROUPIES
ROCK AXXESS: What do you think about girls known as „groupies” and who are they for you?
Bruce Kulick (KISS, Union, Grand Funk Railroad):
“Groupie” means a lot of things to different musicians. To some, they are just someone to have a crazy night of sex, and drunken debauchery with. Then there are groupies that are more likely willing to help the band, in any way they can. Some will get the coffee, help with the merchandise table, and give some moral support that musicians need. I have stayed clear of the ones, who wanted to “Kiss and tell” and preferred the more helpful caring girls who make a tough job (touring, traveling, gigging and visiting strange places) more comfortable. And it should be noted that they exist in sports, follow noted actors, and anyone in the limelight. So, they’re a part of nature shall I say, and naturally they are everywhere in the entertainment business.
Cordell Crockett (Ugly Kid Joe):
Groupies are fans. Simple as that. But they’ll travel farther. Some get really aroused by the passion and pleasure of the performance.
Chad Cherry (The Last Vegas):
I would say that 80% of musicians get into music because of women. Groupies have made it imperative for musicians to write amazing music for the sake of having them around. In a way a groupie is a muse. They help, fascinate, cater to, and inspire musicians. In other way, some you just want to run away from!
Jack Gibson (Exodus):
“Groupie” is a disputed term. Today, most people use that word for any girl who likes a guy or guys in a band. Not true. A “groupie” fucks the group. Get it? Groupie. So girls – don’t be afraid to love us band guys. If you don’t fuck
the band and crew, you’re not a groupie! P.s. there are no real groupies left in rock and metal.
Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow):
Groupies are shallow women usually, with a false image of the person they “admire”, and will quickly move on when another band or singer, who is more famous and richer comes along, and they will throw themselves upon them. Sometimes I have been used in that way over the years, for so called groupies to meet my more famous, better looking and richer musician friends. They are very easy to see through, I am glad to say. The power of the pussy they use very well, but don’t get fooled by them. Ain’t worth it!
Mike LePond (Symphony X):
Groupies have been around for probably 100 years, and for all types of music. They are mostly women who have an insatiable amount of love and passion for this art. So insatiable that they feel the need to cross the line between fan and band. They develop an almost imaginary relationship to their favorite group. They must meet and experience everything the band can share with them. This is where they get into trouble, because most musicians will use and abuse them. But the groupie does not care, because she has gotten the full band experience. Many people (mostly women) think of groupies as sluts or worse. I think a lot of those name callers are just jealous. I respect a groupie’s love and passion for music, and it breaks my heart when musicians just have sex with them and throw them away. They are not trash, they are women who deserve respect. They buy our records, they come to our shows, and they are part of the reason we get to live the life of a rock star.
Valient Himself (Valient Thorr):
Groupie has multiple meanings. I would say it’s probably different for every one of them. They all have habits, beliefs and desires, and how far they go to interact with who they admire/are enamored with, depends on how deeply they are moved by the artist. Some want autographs, some want face time, and some are like bounty hunters. Collecting heads so they can either brag or have a sense of accomplishment. Some are extroverted about it and like to gush about how many band people or celebrities they’ve fucked. And then some go about it very quietly – appeasing their own appetite and not the desire to be looked on by others as trashy or slutty. Seems empowering for all parties involved, if you ask me. Makes an artist feel good because they know someone cares about what they’re doing, makes the groupie feel good because they are getting attention from someone they are fascinated with. Mighty healthy.
Patrick Stone (Adler’s Appetite):
Groupies. Who doesn’t love someone who loves you and your music? If you haven’t seen the movie Almost Famous, rent it, buy it, whatever… See it! “Band-Aids”, not “Groupies”. I love nothing more than meeting women on the road. It’s the best. Fans are always appreciated. The term “groupie” makes me think of those “hot sex, never got your name” scenarios. Who doesn’t love a good shag with some stranger. To sum it up, I’m more into friends than groupies. I’m not easy and she shouldn’t be either. I like a little chase. But what can you do if you can’t resist each other? Say “no”? I think not.
Rob Dukes (Exodus):
I don’t have any, I play thrash metal! Maybe when I was younger, but not now. We just don’t have them. We have dudes in black t-shirts. A groupie is a girl going to a show to blow or fuck a member of the band. We don’t have those. In the 80s, yes. Now – no. The women got older. Just like we did. They are moms now. Groupies don’t exist in my world. We have the nerd music lovers. They talk about riffs and drums.
Tommy Vext (ex-Divine Heresy, Vext):
First, I think we need to establish what is and what is not a groupie, right ? It is 2013 and at backstage there are tons of women in the industry doing jobs that used to be primarily filled by men. There are female tour managers, merch girls, press, photographers, lighting directors, massage therapists (legitimate massage therapists), stylists and production managers or assistants. These women are most definitely not groupies. Some, however, in some circumstances are the wives and long-term girlfriends of men who are musicians. These women typically didn’t get their jobs by starting off as groupies. Many times on tour, like in an office environment, romance occur called a “Tourmance”. Sometimes they are flings and a lot of times they develop into long-term relationships. These are 100% not groupie situations. So what is a groupie? In my experience, real groupies are just women who have “band dude fetishes”. They like to have sex with musicians and performers. That’s just their sexual preference. It’s a fantasy kind of thing. Some women like firemen, some like athletes, groupies like musicians. Usually they show up and manage to get backstage so they can propose something to whichever dude they seem to be prematurely infatuated with because of a song or music video that turned them on. It’s pretty plain and simple. Groupies have historically had great influence on the creative process in classic bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Ted Nugent, and the entire genre of hair metal. Lots of our favorite classic rock songs are inspired by heavy lustful affairs that bemused these musicians to write songs expressing their interactions with these forbidden liaisons. Although I don’t really see too much of that going in modern rock/metal/hardcore genres. The only problem that arises is when the groupies and the musicians are not respectful of their committed relationships outside of tour life. Being on the road poses many challenges for couples who have a traveling husband (or wife) and sometimes temptation is a bit tricky on the road when you are so far away from your Mrs. Usually, if I’m on the road in a relationship, I rely on technology like Skype and FaceTime to “keep the romance alive”, although currently I am newly single.
Tony Asta (Battlecross)
Groupies are people who like to hang out with the bands. It could be men or women, it doesn’t matter. But they usually like to party and help out the bands in any way they can.