The term groupie is derived from group, in reference to a musical group, but the word is also used in a more general sense, especially in casual conversation, to mean a particular kind of musical fan assumed to be more interested in relationships with musicians than in their music. A groupie is generally considered a devoted fan of a band or musical performer. A groupie is considered more intense about their adored celebrities than a fan and tends to follow them from place to place. A groupie will attempt to have a connection with a band or person, and may seek intimate contact. Many groupies will involve themselves sexually with members of their preferred band or their entourage. Though less common, groupies of sports teams and athletes, actors/actresses and other celebrity figures do exist.
Origin in music
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The word groupie originated around 1965 to describe teen-aged girls or young women who sought brief liaisons with musicians. The phenomenon itself was much older; Mary McCarthy had earlier described it in her novel The Company She Keeps (1942). Some sources have attributed the coining of the word to the Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman during the group's 1965 Australian tour; but Wyman said he and his bandmates used other "code words" for women on tour.
A prominent explanation of the groupie concept came from Rolling Stone magazine, which published an issue devoted to the topic, Groupies: The Girls of Rock (February 1969), which emphasized the sexual behavior of rock musicians and groupies. TIME Magazine published an article, "Manners And Morals: The Groupies", later that month. Also that year, British journalist Jenny Fabian and Johnny Byrne released a largely autobiographical book called Groupie (1969). The following year, a documentary film titled Groupies (1970) was released.
Female groupies in particular have a long-standing reputation of being available to celebrities, pop stars, rock stars and other public figures. Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant is quoted as distinguishing between fans who wanted brief sexual encounters, and "groupies" who traveled with musicians for extended periods of time, acting as a surrogate girlfriend, and often taking care of the musician's wardrobe and social life. Nancy Spungen, who became the partner of Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols, is one such example; women adopting this role are sometimes referred to as "road wives". Cynthia Plaster Caster, Cleo Odzer, and The GTOs ("Girls Together Outrageously"), with Pamela Des Barres, in particular, as de facto spokeswoman, are probably the best known groupies of this type.
Musician Frank Zappa organized "The GTOs" in the late 1960s. The band comprised seven young women: Miss Pamela (Pamela Des Barres), Miss Sparky (Linda Sue Parker), Miss Lucy (Lucy McLaren), Miss Christine (Christine Frka), Miss Sandra (Sandra Leano), Miss Mercy (Mercy Fontentot), and Miss Cynderella (Cynthia Cale-Binion).
A characteristic that may classify one as a groupie is a promiscuous reputation. Connie Hamzy, also known as "Sweet Connie", a prominent groupie in the 1960s, argues in favor of the groupie movement and defends her chosen lifestyle by saying, "Look we're not hookers, we loved the glamour". However, her openness regarding her sexual endeavors with various rock stars is exactly what has enhanced the negative connotations surrounding her type. For example, she stated in the Los Angeles Times article "Pop & Hiss" (December 15, 2010): "Hamzy, unlike the other groupies, was never looking to build relationships. She was after sex, and she unabashedly shared intimate moments with virtually every rock star – even their roadies – who came through Arkansas."
Des Barres, who wrote two books detailing her experiences as a groupie – I'm With The Band (1987) and Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up (1993) – as well as another non-fiction book, Rock Bottom: Dark Moments in Music Babylon, asserts that a groupie is to a rock band as Mary Magdalene was to Jesus. Her most recent book, Let's Spend the Night Together (2007), is a collection of wildly varied interviews with classic "old school" groupies including Catherine James, Connie Hamzy, Cherry Vanilla, Dee Dee Keel, Margaret Moser, as well as 80s and 90s groupies including Pleasant Gehman, Patti Johnsen, and Lexa Vonn. Des Barres described Keel as: "One of the most intimidating dolls... a slim strawberry blonde who won the highly prized job of Whisky office manager after her predecessor Gail Sloatman met Frank Zappa and became what we all wanted to be." Keel was one of the few who stayed connected in Hollywood and with bands for nearly three decades. Des Barres, who married rock singer/actor Michael Des Barres, also persuaded cult actress Tura Satana, singer and model Bebe Buell, actress Patti D'Arbanville, and Cassandra Peterson, better known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark to talk about their relationships with musicians.
Also according to Des Barres' book,[which?] there is at least one male groupie, Pleather, who followed female celebrities such as Courtney Love and members of the 1980s pop group the Bangles.
During the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs, women would hang around the hotels of Clear Lake and Cocoa Beach "collecting" astronauts. Joan Roosa, wife of Apollo 14 LMP Stu Roosa, recalled "I was at a party one night in Houston. A woman standing behind me, who had no idea who I was, said 'I've slept with every astronaut who has been to the Moon.' ... I said 'Pardon me, but I don't think so.'"
Groupies also play a role in sports. For example, "buckle bunnies" are a well-known part of the world of rodeo. The term comes from a slang term for women ("bunnies"), and from the prize belt buckles awarded to the winners in rodeo, which are highly sought by the bunnies. According to one report, bunnies "usually do not expect anything more than sex from the rodeo participants and vice versa".
In a 1994 Spin magazine feature, Elizabeth Gilbert characterized buckle bunnies as an essential element of the rodeo scene, and described a particularly dedicated group of bunnies who are known on the rodeo circuit for their supportive attitude and generosity, going beyond sex, to "some fascination with providing the most macho group of guys on earth with the only brand of nurturing they will accept". Similar individuals are seen in other sports, such as the "puck bunny" in hockey, Baseball Annies and the "snow bunny" in skiing.
Recently in Irish Sport, particularly in GAA sports the term "Jersey Puller" or "Jersey Tugger" has been used to describe females who are interested in players. The term refers to the pulling of a player's top. The term can range from who look to be romantically linked with senior intercounty players to local players playing for their parish.
In popular culture
- Groupies (1970), documentary
- Almost Famous (2000) revolves around the life of groupies who call themselves "band aids".
- The Banger Sisters (2002)
- School of Rock (2003), referenced when Dewey Finn (Jack Black) (when creating a band and crew composed of prep school students) gives three schoolgirls the roles of groupies, until one of them - Summer Hathaway (Miranda Cosgrove) - learns what a groupie is and is appalled; Dewey subsequently gives her the more important role of band manager.
- In Woody Allen's 2011 movie Midnight in Paris, Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) comments that Adriana is taking the word "art groupie" to a whole new level.
- Des Barres, Pamela (1987). I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie. ISBN 9781556525896.
- Des Barres, Pamela (2008) . Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up. ISBN 9781569766804.
- Des Barres, Pamela. Rock Bottom: Dark Moments in Music Babylon.
- Des Barres, Pamela (2007). Let's Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies.
- McCarthy, Mary (1942). The Company She Keeps.
- Fabian, Jenny & Byrne, Johnny (1969). Groupie.
- Rhodes, Lisa L. (2005). Electric Ladyland: Women and Rock Culture. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 156–176. ISBN 9780812238402.
- Wyman, Bill (1997). Bill Wyman, Stone Alone: The Story of a Rock 'n' Roll Band. Da Capo Press. p. 294. ISBN 978-0306807831.
- The GTOs ("Girls Together Outrageously"), is a band organized by Frank Zappa in the late 1960s, composed of seven groupies: Miss Pamela Pamela Des Barres (de facto spokeswoman), Miss Sparky (Linda Sue Parker), Miss Lucy (Lucy McLaren), Miss Christine (Christine Frka), Miss Sandra (Sandra Leano), Miss Mercy (Mercy Fontentot), and Miss Cynderella (Cynthia Cale-Binion)
- The song "Apple Scruffs", from George Harrison's album All Things Must Pass (1970), refers to the "Apple scruffs", a group of teenage girls who staked out the Beatles' Apple Corps offices, Abbey Road Studios, and Paul McCartney's home, often sleeping outside in rough weather, waiting for a glimpse of a Beatle. The Beatles' song "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" refers to the day a few Scruffs climbed into Paul McCartney's house through an upstairs bathroom window and raided his closet for a pair of trousers, which they took turns wearing. They also took a framed photograph, which they later returned at McCartney's request.
- On December 16, 2014 KXNG Crooked aka Crooked I of Slaughterhouse (Shady Records) released a song called "Groupie" featuring Shalé, produced by Jonathan Hay and Mike Smith from the album "Sex, Money and Hip-Hop".
- The song "La Groupie" featured by Reggaetón singers De La Ghetto, Ñejo, Lui-G 21 Plus, Nicky Jam and Ñengo Flow contains explicit vocabulary and expressions for women considered as groupies.
- The song "Look Away" by Iggy Pop was written for Rock and roll groupie Sable Starr.
- New Riders of the Purple Sage recorded a song titled "Groupie". The chorus goes "She really ain't no groupie/She said so in a movie/At least that's what she said to me."
- Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell wrote a song they titled "Groupie", which was recorded by Delaney and Bonnie. The song was covered by Carpenters, who changed the title to "Superstar" and changed the lyric "I can hardly wait to sleep with you again" to "I can hardly wait to be with you again."
- Grand Funk Railroad recorded their song, "We're An American Band," which included the line "Sweet, sweet Connie was doing her act/She had the whole show and that's a natural fact." This lyric is referring to groupie Connie Hamzy.
- Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show recorded the novelty song "Roland the Roadie and Gertrude the Groupie."
- The song "Star Star" by The Rolling Stones from their Goats Head Soup album is an infamous, profanity-laden song that speaks candidly of the groupie scene of the early '70s. Despite the title, it is widely known as "Starfucker", which is chanted throughout the song.
- In Sons of Anarchy, the groupies who hang around the fictional SOA motorcycle club are referred to as "Crow Eaters"; for example, in season 6, Jax's ex-wife Wendy told Tara, Margaret, and Lowen she was a "Crow Eater" for a year before marrying Jax. In season 4, Margaret bonded with Tara, in part, because Margaret was a former groupie for a musician, whom she had traveled with and scored drugs for. In season 3, Cherry was a "sweet butt" who became "Half-Sack"'s old lady and later, to flee an arson charge, was sent by the club, through Canada, to the SAMBEL charter in Belfast, where she became the old lady for one of the members.
- Groupie, Wiktionary definition
- Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World: Performance and production. A&C Black. 2003. p. 237. ISBN 9780826463210.
- Leah Pickett, "Groupies, past and present: the muses behind the music", WBEZ, August 2, 2013.
- Bill Wyman, Bill Wyman, Stone Alone: The Story of a Rock 'n' Roll Band (Da Capo Press, 1997), ISBN 978-0306807831, p. 294.
- Rhodes, Lisa L. (2005). Electric Ladyland: Women and Rock Culture. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 156–176. ISBN 9780812238402.
- Davis, Stephen. Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga (1985)
- Kennedy, Gerrick (December 5, 2010). "Pop & Hiss". Los Angeles Times.
- Pamela Des Barres (1987). I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, Books.google.com
- Pamela Des Barres (1992). Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up, Books.google.com
- Publishers Weekly, Review of Let's Spend the Night Together on Amazon.com
- Watkins, Billy; Fred Haise (2007). Apollo Moon Missions: The Unsung Heroes. Bison Books. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-8032-6041-2.
- Gauthier, D. K.; C. J. Forsyth (2000). "Buckle bunnies: groupies of the rodeo circuit". Deviant Behavior. 21 (4): 349–365.
- Gwen Florio, "Whoa There, Little Lady, Eyes Forward: Cowgirls Can't Help Staring At Size Of A Cowboy's Buckle." Rocky Mountain News, January 15, 2005. Copy available here (subscription required) ("Rodeo cowboys might jealously compare the length of their rides, but for the women who love them, it's all about a real big buckle. Emphasis on real ... A dedicated 'buckle bunny' (sounds so much nicer than 'groupie') can tell at a glance who's gone the distance and who's never even gotten out of the chutes.")
- Elizabeth Gilbert, "Buckle Bunnies", Spin, September 1994, pp.78ff. Copy available at Google Books.
- "Jersey pullers on the hunt for stray players". Independent.ie. 2013-08-04. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- Groupies. Dailymotion. 1970.
- "KXNG CROOKED's (Crooked I) Mixtape 'Sex, Money, & Hip Hop' Is Dropping December 16 - XXL". Xxlmag.com. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- "Tales of a Rock-Star Love Affair: Slash's Wife Talks Groupie Antics, Finding Hubby". Rolling Stone.
- Moser, Margaret Moser. "Lust for Life: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Groupie". Austin Chronicle.
- "Manly Men". USA Today. November 26, 2001. Article about firefighter and police groupies after 9/11/01.