The Most Famous Rock Star Groupies Of All Time
Groupies get a bad rap. Though women like Joan Jett and Stevie Nicks paved the way for female talent on stage, these strong-willed ladies supported your favorite rock stars behind the scenes. As Kate Hudson’s Penny Lane famously put it, “We are here because of the music, we inspire the music. We are Band Aids.”
Groupies hold a strange place in history. They’ve inspired some of the most important moments in rock and roll, yet they’re almost always ignored or looked down upon. These infamous groupies changed the history of rock and roll – for better or for worse.
Pamela Anderson’s toxic romance with two different rockstars left her with a serious disease.
Penny Lane Was Almost Famous
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Kate Hudson’s infamous character in Almost Famous was partly inspired by a real-life woman named Pamela Des Barres who hung around the likes of Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones.
Des Barres penned two memoirs about her experience as a groupie called I’m with the Band and Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up. So, how did Penny Lane become so infamous that she managed to inspire one of the best groupie characters of all time?
Des Barres Was The Penny Lane. Yes, The One From The Beatles Song
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Des Barres was so likable that she managed to work her way into the inner circle of the world’s most famous rock stars. She babysat Frank Zappa’s kids and rendezvoused with members of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and The Byrds. But her biggest claim to fame was a shoutout from the Brit-pop all-stars The Beatles.
Des Barres is long-rumored to be the woman behind the famed hit Penny Lane. Yes, that Penny Lane (the one who’s in your ears and in your eyes). Apparently, it wasn’t just a quaint English street like we all thought.
Des Barres Used Her Groupie Fame To Land A Spread In Playboy
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We all have different dreams for ourselves when we grow up. Some of us want to be music journalists, some of us want to be rock stars, and some of us just want to have that coveted nude spread in Playboy. In 1989, Des Barres finally made this dream a reality in no small part due to her rising fame as rock’s most infamous love interest.
“I wanted to be in Playboy when I was younger, but my breasts did not precede me. But now I have semicelebrity [breasts], so they don’t have to be as big,” she said. Penny Lane was most certainly in our eyes – at least when it comes to that coveted Playboy real estate. The next relationship may have gone up in flames but they did get something very special out of it.
Bebe Buell’s Collaboration With Aerosmith Was One For The Books
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You know that age-old trope that rock stars hang around Playboy bunnies? That’s actually true in the case of Bebe Buell, who managed to establish a pretty lucrative modeling career while doting on some of rock’s most elite.
Buell’s most notorious relationship was with Todd Rundgren of the band Utopia. The pair dated between 1972 and 1979 (practically a lifetime in rock relationships). Buell was named Playboy’s Playmate of the Month in 1974, and after things fizzled out with Rundgren. she moved onto Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. This was one of Aerosmith’s most underrated collaborations because it spawned the award-winning actress Liv Tyler. Yup, Bebe Buell is Liv Tyler’s mom.
This Baywatch Babe Was Once A Party Animal
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Pamela Anderson is best known for playing CJ Parker on Baywatch, but her relationship with Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee is almost as infamous. Anderson and the hair metal rock star had a tumultuous relationship that lasted for over a decade.
The couple married 96 hours after they met, which was so surprising that Anderson’s own mother told People it was “heartbreaking and shocking.” Allegedly, the hard-partying actress made the first move by ordering Lee a shot of Goldschlager while he was high on ecstasy. The rest of their relationship followed similar patterns.
Pamela Caught Hepatitis From Tommy Lee During A Hotel Tattoo Session
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It’s no secret that Tommy Lee has an affinity for tattoos. For the last few years, the rock star has hosted the reality show Ink Masters. It was this hobby that eventually caused Anderson to contract hepatitis C from her husband, who never told her he suffered from the virus.
Anderson admitted that she shared a needle with her husband after a tattoo artist came to their hotel room to give him a specific tattoo and she was impressed by the design. She didn’t think anything of it because the pair had been married for a while. To make matters sting just a little bit more, Lee told the press that he didn’t have hepatitis or any STI.
The Demise Of Anderson’s Toxic Romance
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Anderson and Lee’s marriage looked peachy keen from the outside, but the couple struggled behind closed doors. After Anderson suffered a miscarriage, then fell pregnant with their son Brandon, the couple filed for divorce. Right before Brandon was born, they reconciled. Lee cited that their stolen sex tape and pending lawsuits (one of which asked for $10 million) placed immeasurable stress and frustration on the pair. As Lee struggled with Pam and his children’s growing fame, things came to a head during a Valentine’s Day trip to Las Vegas which resulted in an all-out brawl. The couple divorced again in 1998 and Lee spent four months in prison for assaulting the Baywatch actress. Throughout the next decade, the couple would break up and get back together multiple times.
Most recently, Anderson and her ex-hubby made headlines for an incident where Lee was left bloodied and unconscious after a fist-fight with his now 21-year-old son Brandon. Anderson wrote on her website that “Alcoholism Is The Devil,” placing the blame on Lee’s ongoing struggle with substance abuse.
Anderson’s Year-Long Fling With Kid Rock Resulted In Four Weddings
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Tommy Lee isn’t the only rock star that Anderson was romantically involved with. The Baywatch beauty began dating Michigan rap-rock star Kid Rock in 2006. This relationship was just as tumultuous resulting in four weddings (yes, four) and a divorce in 2007. In the middle of this, Anderson tried to get sole custody for her two children with Lee, claiming his jealousy over her relationship sparked “anger, harassment” and a “breakdown of communication.” That’s a whole lot of action for a single year but to each their own.
A year after divorcing Kid Rock, Anderson gave it another try with Lee. They divorced in 2010 for good.
Rolling Stones fans can thank the next woman for the band’s eccentric style!
Anita Pallenberg Gave The Rolling Stones Their StyleRolling Stone Keith Richards and his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg, 9th December 1969. (Photo by McCarthy/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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Anita Pallenberg exuded beauty and sexuality — so much so that she was partly responsible for the Rolling Stones’ fame and almost caused their very demise. Rock historians argue that the Rolling Stones wouldn’t have risen to fame without the help of their muse. Pallenberg coaxed the shy Keith Richards out of his shell and taught him how to strut around in her scarves and shirts. He became the charismatic guitarist that launched the band into fame. She lent her voice to the hit “Sympathy for the Devil” and gave Brian Jones his signature style.
As enigmatic and infectious as the actress was, how did one woman manage to land two of the biggest rock stars on the planet, who just so happened to be members of the same band?
Pallenberg Scored Two Rolling Stones, But Neither Could Handle Her
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Pallenberg moved in with Jones in 1966 partly because he “seemed sexually the most flexible.” The pair became intertwined, wearing the same clothes and dying their hair the same shade of blonde. By the fall of that year, Richards moved in with the couple. This spurred Jones’ jealousy and he became abusive. During a trip to Morocco, the actress left Jones for Keith and continued their drug-fueled relationship which led to heroin addiction, alcohol abuse, arrests and the tragic death of her infant son.
According to V Magazine, Pallenberg was the only woman who could “out-Keith Keith.” Years after the couple split up, Richards admitted to Rolling Stone, “She’s a fantastic person. I’ll always love her. I just can’t live with her, you know?”
Anita Was Responsible For The Drug Bust That Almost Ended The Stones
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In his memoir, Richards described Pallenberg as “a phoenix on her nest of flames…the wicked Anita….She was the most incredible woman I’d met in my life. Dazzling, beautiful, hypnotic and unsettling. Her smile—those carnivorous teeth!—obliterated everything.” He wasn’t wrong. Pallenberg almost obliterated the Stones in the same way that she helped sparked their flame.
In 1977, the actress brought 28 pieces of luggage with her when she flew to Toronto with the Stones. This caught the eye of customs officials who later found drugs in her bags. Subsequently, they set up the infamous drug bust that almost ruined the band.
Pallenberg died in June 2017 at age 73.
Nancy Spungen Ran Away At 15 Years Old And Became A Groupie
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Sid and Nancy are one of the most notorious couples in rock and roll history. They basically defined what it means to be in a toxic relationship, but before Nancy fell for her Sex Pistol, she was considered a groupie. Nancy was well known in the New York punk scene where she became close with bands like The Ramones and The New York Dolls. Her life was short but full of strife.
At the age of 15, Nancy fled Philadelphia for London amidst struggles with mental illness. She turned to prostitution in order to make ends meet. Eventually, she was ostracized by the London punk scene and fled to New York where she lived at the Chelsea Hotel. It was here that she’d spend her last days.
Sid Vicious Is Rumored To Have Stabbed Nancy To Death
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Nancy was known as the person who brought drugs for the bands. She was abrasive, she was violent and she had screaming tantrums. Generally, she was known as a troublemaker who loved stirring the pot. According to The Daily Beast, the troubled teen taught Sid all about “sex and drugs and the lifestyle of a New York rocker.”
Sid was already troubled when he met Nancy and she fueled his addiction. After the Sex Pistols broke up, the pair moved into the Chelsea Hotel. Less than a year later, Nancy bled out the bathroom floor of their room after being stabbed in the stomach. She was 20 years old and Sid initially confessed his crime, then later denied it. Vicious was arrested for her murder but never charged.
Erin Everly And Axl Rose Eloped In Vegas
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Before marrying Guns ‘n’ Roses frontman Axl Rose, Erin Everly was linked to Motley Crue, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones. It was her whirlwind relationship with Rose that would inspire some of the band’s most famous songs.
Everly had a wedding that was well-suited for the fast-paced lifestyle of a rock star girlfriend. She married Axl Rose in 1990 at Cupid’s Inn Chapel in Las Vegas. The pair allegedly asked for an annulment 48 hours later but officially called it quits after 10 months.
“Erin and I treated each other like [expletive],” Axl said. “Sometimes we treated each other great, because the children in us were best friends. But then there were other times when we just fucked up each other’s lives completely.”
Everly Inspired “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” But Her Relationship With Axl Was Marred By Abuse
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Axl Rose and Erin Everly had an immensely tumultuous relationship – one that ended with Everly suing her ex-husband for assault and sexual battery. Nonetheless, she inspired some of the band’s biggest hits.
Allegedly, a recording of Everly fending off punches from Axl during an explosive argument managed to make it into Psycho City. Regardless of the truth in that long-standing rumor, Everly did inspire “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” The song from Appetite For Destruction hit No. 1 on the charts and won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Heavy Metal Video.
Marianne Faithfull Was A Star In Her Own Right
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Marianne Faithfull is undeniably one of the most famous groupies of all time, largely because of her high -profile romance with Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger. She was an upper-class girl who somehow found herself entrenched in the wild world of rock n’ roll. It was unexpected, but it somehow just worked.
Faithfull was more than just a trophy on Jagger’s arm. The singer-songwriter was discovered by Rolling Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who helped her release the hit single “As Tears Go By.” The song launched her into international fame, which was only further enhanced by her roles in films like Hamlet and The Girl on the Motorcycle.
She Inspired – And Even Wrote – Some Of The Stones’ Most Famous Songs
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Faithfull was undeniably an inspiration to Mick Jagger in more ways than one. It wasn’t just their relationship – but her knowledge of music – that helped the frontman pen some of his most famous songs.
Faithfull indirectly inspired Rolling Stones hit “Sympathy for the Devil” when she introduced Jagger to the book The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bugaki. She also allegedly influenced the songs “Wild Horses” and “I Got The Blues.” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was written about the songstress who later penned the band’s hit “Sister Morphine.” In that era, it was unheard for a rock star’s girlfriend to write one of the hits.
Faithfull Struggled With Heroin Addiction, Alcoholism and Anorexia
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If you roll with the Rolling Stones, there’s a good chance you’ve dabbled with illicit substances. Faithfull was no different than Richards’ and Jones’ muse Anita Pallenburg. The singer’s life went into a tailspin after she ended her relationship with Jagger in 1970. She attempted suicide after losing custody of her son and later found herself homeless while struggling with addiction and anorexia. She lived on the streets for two years before friends intervened and got her help.
According to the rock star girlfriend, her time on the streets wasn’t as bad as you’d think. “Suddenly, when I was living on the streets in St Anne’s Court [Soho], I realized that human beings were really good,” she told Time Out. “The Chinese restaurant let me wash my clothes there. The man who had the tea stall gave me cups of tea. The meth drinkers looked out for me. You couldn’t do it now.”
Faithfull Thinks Being A Rock Star Muse Was “Terrible”
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Though the singer had a bevy of her own talents, she was almost synonymous with Mick Jagger. She couldn’t shake it. For this reason, Faithfull admitted to Time Out that she hated being a groupie.
“It’s a terrible job! Look at them all! Look at what happened to Elizabeth Siddal [muse of Pre-Raphaelite painter Millais who almost drowned posing for him]. It was a great honor, of course, I am aware of that, and I’m glad I did it,” she said. “But rewarding? I wouldn’t say so. The fact I co-wrote songs didn’t come out until Keith [Richards]’s book. I could never have said that.”
Roxana Shirazi Escaped The War And Became A Groupie
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Roxana Shirazi didn’t come from a place of privilege like many of the women who went on to date rock’s biggest stars. She was born in Iran right before the Revolution. When she was just 10 years old, she moved to London to escape the budding war with Iraq. When Shirazi was old enough to work, she became a nightclub belly dancer. This is how he met numerous rock stars (who she’d later call lover). Her high-profile romances included members of Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row and Buckcherry. The dancer divulged the nitty gritty details in her memoir The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage.