A groupie is a fan of a particular musical group who follows the band around while they are on tour or who attends as many of their public appearances as possible, with the hope of meeting them. The term is used mostly describing young women, and sometimes men, who follow these individuals aiming to gain fame of their own, or help with behind-the-scenes work, or to initiate a relationship of some kind, intimate or otherwise. The term is also used to describe similarly enthusiastic fans of athletes, writers, and other public figures.

Origin in music

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The word groupie originated around 1965 to describe teen-aged girls or young women who began following a particular group or band of musicians on a regular basis. The phenomenon was much older; Mary McCarthy had earlier described it in her novel The Company She Keeps (1942).[1] Some sources have attributed the coining of the word to The Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman during the group's 1965 Australian tour;[2] but Wyman said he and his bandmates used other "code words" for women on tour.[3]

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.[4] Time magazine published an article, "Manners And Morals: The Groupies", later that month. Also that year, journalists Jenny Fabian and Johnny Byrne released a largely autobiographical novel 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.[5] Women who adopt this role are sometimes referred to as "road wives". Cynthia Plaster Caster, Cleo Odzer, Barbara Cope (The Butter Queen) 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.

A characteristic that may classify one as a groupie is a reputation for promiscuity. 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."[6] However, some groupies also downplayed the sexual connotations of the term. Speaking about the "groupie" label, former baby groupie Lori Mattix stated, "I feel like it's been degraded somewhere along the way, and it was never meant to be negative. Groupies in the old days were girlfriends of the band. They were classy and sophisticated, but now you hear the word groupie and you think of hookers and strippers."[7]

Des Barres, who wrote two books detailing her experiences as a groupie—I'm with the Band (1987)[8] and Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up (1993)[9]—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.[10] 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, DeeDee Keel, and Margaret Moser. 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 has stayed connected in Hollywood and with bands for nearly four 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, there is at least one male groupie, Pleather, who followed female celebrities such as Courtney Love and members of the 1980s pop group The Pandoras.[7]

The "groupie" label, as it was used in the music scene, has been criticized by some feminist scholars for diminishing the role that women played in supporting and creating music. Norma Coates, a scholar of media and cultural studies, notes that Rolling Stone's 1969 special report on groupies also included profiles of women who were not groupies at all but rather musicians in their own right.[11] According to model and groupie Bebe Buell, groupies sometimes became music celebrities in their own right. Speaking about "baby" groupies Sable Starr and Lori Mattix, she stated, "Every rock star that came to L.A. wanted to meet them, it wasn't the other way around."[12] Music critic Ralph J. Gleason noted that as the prominence of the most well-known groupies increased, they became the "people that others looked to when determining whether a band was 'cool.'[13]

American space program

During the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo American space programs in the 1960s, women would hang around the hotels of Clear Lake in Houston, home to many astronauts, and Cocoa Beach in Florida near the rocket launching site at Cape Canaveral, "collecting" astronauts. Joan Roosa, wife of Apollo 14 Command Module Pilot 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'."[14]


Groupies also play a role in sports. A puck bunny is an ice hockey fan whose interest in the sport is primarily motivated by sexual attraction to the players rather than enjoyment of the game itself.[15] Primarily a Canadian term, it gained popular currency in the 21st century, and in 2004 was added to the second edition of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary which defines it as follows:[16]

Puck bunny: a young female hockey fan, especially one motivated more by a desire to meet the players than by an interest in hockey.[17]

The term is somewhat analogous to the term "groupie" as it relates to rock and roll musicians. Sociological studies of the phenomenon in minor league hockey indicate that self-proclaimed "puck bunnies" are "'proud as punch' to have sex with the [players]", as it confers social status on them. However, these transitory relationships are often contrasted with those of girlfriends, with whom players have more stable, long-term relationships.[18]

"Buckle bunnies" are a well-known part of the world of rodeo.[19] 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.[20] According to one report, bunnies "usually do not expect anything more than sex from the rodeo participants and vice versa".[19]

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".[21]

Recently, in Irish sport, particularly in Gaelic Athletic Association sports the term "Jersey Puller" or "Jersey Tugger" has been used to describe females who are romantically interested in players.[22] 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.[citation needed]

In popular culture

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  1. ^ Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World: Performance and production. A&C Black. 2003. p. 237. ISBN 9780826463210.
  2. ^ Leah Pickett, "Groupies, past and present: the muses behind the music" Archived February 14, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, WBEZ, August 2, 2013.
  3. ^ Bill Wyman, Bill Wyman, Stone Alone: The Story of a Rock 'n' Roll Band (Da Capo Press, 1997), ISBN 978-0306807831, p. 294.
  4. ^ Rhodes, Lisa L. (2005). Electric Ladyland: Women and Rock Culture. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 156–176. ISBN 9780812238402.
  5. ^ Davis, Stephen. Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga (1985)
  6. ^ Kennedy, Gerrick (December 5, 2010). "Pop & Hiss". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ a b Des Barres, Pamela (2007). Let's Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781556529795.
  8. ^ Pamela Des Barres (1987). I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, Books.google.com
  9. ^ Pamela Des Barres (1992). Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up, Books.google.com
  10. ^ Publishers Weekly, Review of Let's Spend the Night Together on Amazon.com
  11. ^ Coates, Norma (June 2003). "Teenyboppers, Groupies, and Other Grotesques: Girls and Women and Rock Culture in the 1960s and Early 1970s". Journal of Popular Music Studies. 15 (1): 65–94. doi:10.1111/j.1533-1598.2003.tb00115.x.
  12. ^ McNeil, Legs; McCain, Gillian (2006). Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. Grove Press. ISBN 9780802125361.
  13. ^ Gleason, Ralph J. (1969). "Like a Rolling Stone". In Eisen, Jonathan (ed.). The Age Of Rock: Sounds of the American Cultural Revolution. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0394414164.
  14. ^ Watkins, Billy; Fred Haise (2007). Apollo Moon Missions: The Unsung Heroes. Bison Books. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-8032-6041-2.
  15. ^ Nallainathan, Maurika (November 16, 2006). "Puck Bunnies". The Vancouver Observer. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007.
  16. ^ "5,000 new words". CBC News. July 24, 2004. Retrieved March 14, 2008.
  17. ^ Barber, Katherine (January 20, 2005). Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-541816-3.
  18. ^ Messner, Michael A. (2002). Taking the Field: Women, Men, Bobby Jones and Sports. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 45. ISBN 978-0-8166-3449-1.
  19. ^ a b Gauthier, D. K.; C. J. Forsyth (2000). "Buckle bunnies: groupies of the rodeo circuit". Deviant Behavior. 21 (4): 349–365. doi:10.1080/016396200404131. S2CID 218523729.
  20. ^ 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.")
  21. ^ Elizabeth Gilbert, "Buckle Bunnies", Spin, September 1994, pp.78ff. Copy available at Google Books.
  22. ^ "Jersey pullers on the hunt for stray players". Independent.ie. August 4, 2013. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  23. ^ Groupies. Dailymotion. 1970.
  24. ^ "KXNG Crooked's (Crooked I) Mixtape 'Sex, Money, & Hip Hop' Is Dropping December 16—XXL". Xxlmag.com. December 5, 2014. Retrieved March 12, 2017.