This story deals with one of rock n’ roll’s darkest secrets. A period in the ‘70s many rock stars prefer to keep under wraps, for fear of coming off as irresponsible, exploitative creeps. But although this topic is considered taboo, it’s a noteworthy one that should be acknowledged. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Lori Maddox was one of the most memorable groupies of the ‘70s. With her big brown eyes and chestnut curls, she turned heads all across nightclubs on the Sunset Strip where she hung out with the likes of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Mick Jagger, and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.
This wild child has told some insane stories over the years. Whether she’s making them up or not, you be the judge.
Wearing murderously high stilettos, fishnet tights, and a thin piece of fabric that looked more like a crop-top than a dress, Lori Maddox stepped into The Rainbow, a legendary hangout on the Sunset Strip. Hand in hand with her notorious sidekick, Sable Starr, the two girls were escorted to a private room David Bowie had arranged for them.
Puffing on a cigarette, Maddox took stock of her surroundings as she eagerly awaited Bowie’s arrival. In the meantime, cocktails were served, people were lighting up, and John Lennon stopped by to say hello with Yoko Ono on his arm.
As much as this sounds like a made-up fantasy, it isn’t. This was Lori Maddox’s life in the early ‘70s.
Their dinner that evening at The Rainbow was cut short after a crazy guy dove right over the table, grabbed Bowie’s shirt, and screamed, “You flaming, f****ing fa***t. Kill Bowie!” Straightaway, the singer’s manager pinned the drunken fool to the floor and urged Bowie and the girls to get out. But the night was far from over.
They made their way to Bowie’s enormous suite at the Beverly Hilton, where the singer switched into a red, orange, and yellow kimono. He sat comfortably beside Maddox, who was busy taking puffs in between sips of champagne. After some idle chatter, he asked her, “Lori, darling, can you come with me?” Next thing you know, the groupie was in the bathroom bathing the Thin White Duke.
Sable Starr was territorial of her rock n’ roll stars and wasn’t happy with Bowie’s choice of Maddox over her. She walked back and forth across the shaggy, white carpet, fogging up the floor-to-ceiling windows and writing, “I want to f*** David.” Shortly after, she was invited to join them in the room.
After spending the night together, Bowie and his two enamored groupies woke up to the sound of a loud banging on the door. It was Bowie’s wife, Angie. The girls remained under the covers, terrified, but the singer reassured them they had little to worry about. The couple was already on the verge of divorce.
Maddox’s one-night stand with Bowie was not the first time her name got entangled with that of a famous rock star. The “baby groupie” was part of a young group of girls from the early ‘70s who strutted their towering pumps all across bars along the Sunset Strip, attracting the gaze of famous rock n’ rollers.
Instead of focusing on school and homework, Maddox spent her time flashing her large smile and sticking her tongue out for the cameras that flickered in L.A.’s smoky dancehalls. She was pictured hanging on Iggy Pop’s shoulder, sipping cocktails with Keith Moon, and lounging backstage with Johnny Thunders.
In her words, “I have always been special.”
Lori Maddox, aka “Baby Groupie,” aka “Lori Lightning,” was introduced into the rock scene after becoming friends with the queen of all groupies – Sable Starr. A feisty blonde with an appetite for rock stars, Sable spent most of her time tagging along with huge rockers in their flashy cars and private jets.
“She was so glamorous, totally one-of-a-kind, wearing scarves for shirts and going topless without hesitation,” Maddox told Thrillist. Fascinated by her daring new friend, Maddox used to sneak out at night to join Starr’s adventures behind the stages of wild concerts.
Maddox thrived on the attention. But this wasn’t to say that she wasn’t shy around some of those big names. Even her scandalous night with Bowie didn’t happen off the bat. In fact, the first time she saw him was at the E Club, five months before their scandalous night, and she avoided him at all costs.
Apparently, Maddox was overwhelmed by the poised musician and way too star struck to approach him. “He had beautiful red hair, missing brows, and skin as pale as ice,” she said in an interview with Thrillist; “[I] came up with an excuse for being in the club with someone else to avoid [him].”
Word of the infamous “baby groupies” traveled fast in the rock scene, and it wasn’t long before Maddox got a call from Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. Now, we’re talking about the ‘70s, so with no cellphones around, Page had to call the girl’s home number.
This gets you wondering – what did her mom think about these odd phone calls? “I think she knew,” Maddox confessed; “But what could she say? My older sister was sleeping with lowriders and surfers, my dad was deceased, [and] I was with rock stars.”
According to Maddox, on one of her faded nights at The Rainbow, she was approached by Led Zeppelin’s manager, Peter Grant. He tapped her on the shoulder and said, “You’re coming with me, young lady.” Next thing she knew, she was in a limo on her way to the Hyatt Hotel, staring out the window at the street’s dizzying lights.
Waiting for her at the hotel room was Jimmy Page. Nearly twice her age, Lori said that the rocker fascinated and scared her at the same time. She recalled seeing him in the corner, “wearing this hat slouched over his eyes and holding a cane. It was really mysterious and weird… He looked just like a gangster. It was magnificent.”
Their night together at the Hyatt Hotel marked the start of a long and secretive relationship. Unlike her fling with Bowie, Maddox’s feelings for Jimmy Page grew stronger with every day that passed. He wasn’t just a “passing trend” for the girl. She genuinely fell in love with him.
Page didn’t want to be seen in public with his young lover (although there are many pictures of them floating around online), so he tried his best to cover up his tracks. The couple would often travel separately during his tours, and while he was off rocking on stage, she obediently waited for him backstage or at the hotel.
Groupies are not just frantic airheads who tag along with rock stars for the sake of momentary entertainment. More often than not, they end up becoming their muses. Maddox’s big, naïve eyes have (partly) inspired Led Zeppelin’s song Sick Again.
With sentences like “One day you’re gonna be sixteen” and “Clutchin’ pages from your teenage dream,” it’s clear this song was dedicated to Led Zepellin’s group of enamored, young fans. In a 1975 interview, Robert Plant explained, “the words show I feel a bit sorry for [the girls].”
Mhmm…they felt sorry, yet they locked them in hotel rooms? Okay then…
For Lori, spending long, intoxicated nights with guys twice her age never came across as weird or wrong. She would get letters telling her that Jimmy was using her and that their relationship was disgusting and toxic. “But I’d never think of him like that,” she told The Guardian, “He never abused me, ever.”
According to Lori, they dated for three years between 1972 to 1975. Their relationship became so serious at one point that Jimmy allegedly asked Lori’s mom for permission to be with her. We’re not sure how well she responded to that. But what we know for sure is that Maddox didn’t really need her mom’s consent. She did whatever she pleased.
Maddox told The Guardian that her affair with Page was “the most beautiful, pure love I thought I could ever feel.” At her young age, it’s easy to know why she got carried away like that. Jimmy was like a god to her, and she worshipped him with all her heart.
But, sadly, as we all know, love is – more often than not – a losing game. And Maddox was about to lose it all. Their tumultuous relationship came to an end after Page moved on to another groupie, a pretty, little thing named Bebe Buell.
You might know Bebe Buell as the mom of actress Liv Tyler, Steven Tyler’s oldest daughter. But before she hooked up with Aerosmith’s frontman, she dated several other musicians, including Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, Tom Rundgren, and Jimmy Page.
This came as a slap in the face for Maddox. Buell was a beautiful model who, out of the blue, entered Jimmy’s life and snatched him away from her. To be fair, from Buell’s interviews, she never purposely wanted to ruin anyone’s relationship. It was Jimmy who went after her, throwing Maddox off to the side.
Jimmy told Buell that while he truly loved Lori, his feelings for her were slowly fading away. He couldn’t invite Lori to public events with him (for obvious reasons), so he started taking Buell instead. On May 10th, 1974, he invited her to the Swan Song party, which completely threw Lori off the edge.
With Quaaludes in her system, Lori stumbled around the party looking for Jimmy and Buell. She finally cornered them and yelled, “Why are you doing this to me?” The couple ignored her and slowly snuck out of the party back to their hotel room.
According to Buell’s memoir, Rebel Heart, she and Page were “awakened by a hysterical Lori Maddox trying to get in the room.” She had somehow found Jimmy’s room number and was desperate to barge in. After several frantic cries, she was dragged away by Page’s manager, Richard Cole.
But the story doesn’t end here. Lori came back that same day to their hotel room and innocently knocked on the door. Buell didn’t suspect a thing, so she casually opened it, only for Lori to grab her by the hair..
Now this is where it gets tricky. Some sources claim that Lori and Buell scratched, punched, and kicked each other while Jimmy Page viciously laughed in the background. But Buell completely refuted that in her book and wrote:
“Contrary to the story that’s often told, Jimmy did not sit back and laugh as Lori ripped my hair out – that is not the kind of man Jimmy is. He was extremely upset. And it was BECAUSE Lori hit me that he cut her off.” In addition, Buell mentioned that Lori stormed into the room that day with several other groupies, while Lori argues that it was just her alone.
Lori and Page were officially over after the Swan Song party in 1974. And despite Lori’s claims of dating Page until 1975, his new affair with Bebe Buell makes it hard to believe. In any case, their ugly breakup had completely shattered Lori’s innocence.
“I never trusted him again. He was like a god to me and instantly destroyed this whole image I had of him,” she mentioned in one of her interviews. It was a turning point in Maddox’s “groupie career.” She began to drift out of the groupie scene slowly, never really getting over the way things ended.
Lori Maddox has made several claims about her chaotic early years. Getting down and dirty in the bathroom with Mick Jagger, losing her virginity to David Bowie, snorting you know what with Iggy Pop, and even finding herself in the middle of a bar fight between Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
How much of this is true? Hard to tell. Memories are unbelievably tricky, and it’s pretty common for people to make up things and fill in the blanks of their memories as they please. But while Maddox has some inconsistencies in her timeline, she was clearly involved in the scene.
Unlike her crazy adolescence, Maddox went on to have a pretty quiet adulthood. After graduating from college, she worked as a buyer in H. Lorenzo, later on became a manager at Theodore (a woman’s clothing store), and today manages GLAMboutique in Los Angeles.
Like most of her fellow groupies, Maddox has little regrets about her wild-child years: “I got to hang out with some of the most amazing, most beautiful, most charismatic men in the world. I went to concerts in limos with police escorts. Am I going to regret this? No.”
Maddox might not have many regrets, but that doesn’t mean that her perspective hasn’t changed. Following the whole #MeToo movement, she took the time to share her thoughts on the topic. She told The Guardian, “I don’t think little girls should sleep with guys.”
“I wouldn’t want this for anybody’s daughter,” she added; “My perspective is changing as I get older and more cynical.” Clearly, the 1970s were a radical period in human history, where men were allowed to exploit young girls, and no one really thought anything much about it. Luckily, times are changing.
Has Jimmy addressed it? Well, he never officially came out and talked about it. But we’re sure he’s well aware of how creepy the whole thing was. Years later, he and Lori met in Los Angeles, and she recalled that he told her, “Lori, we were both children back then.”
In response, Maddox wanted to tell him, “At least one of us was.” Today, Page, age 77, is dating a woman 46 years younger, 31-year-old Scarlett Sabet. For some reason, it doesn’t seem AS wrong as when he dated Lori (who was 15 years younger than him), but it’s still a bit off. We guess some things never change.
Looking back, Jimmy must have been a little afraid of getting sued over his time with Lori. That’s why he locked her in hotel rooms all the time and made sure that the two weren’t seen in public too much. In her interview with Thrillist, Maddox stated:
“He had to be afraid of getting sued for being with such a young girl, so maybe he thought it would be better if he cleared it with my mother and told her he was in love with me. And I do think he was in love with me. He bought me beautiful maxi dresses to wear and wouldn’t let me do drugs or anything.”
Because of Lori’s young age, Jimmy never took her anywhere other than smoke-filled, dimly lit L.A. parties. “Jimmy never took me anywhere amazing,” she told Thrillist; “We just sequestered ourselves in the hotel room. Then there was an incident at the Drake Hotel in Manhattan.”
Maddox revealed that money was stolen from the room’s safety deposit box. So, when the FBI came to investigate, Led Zeppelin’s manager, Peter Grant, told her she had to leave the hotel immediately, or he might go to jail.
In those three short years (perhaps less, perhaps more, who knows?), Maddox said her whole life revolved around Jimmy. “I hung out with Sable and Queenie and went to the clubs and waited for him,” she told Thrillist; “I stayed loyal. My whole life was about waiting for Jimmy.”
Maddox added, “I tried going to high school, but I couldn’t concentrate. And after Jimmy Page and David Bowie, what was I going to do with a North Hollywood boy? I didn’t go to high school prom because I was too busy living the Hollywood prom.”
When I read about Lori’s story, I have to admit I was a bit angered by the whole thing. Clearly, rock stars from the ‘60s and ‘70s exploited their young groupies. But Maddox doesn’t seem to be as upset and has different opinions about the older men.
When Thrillist asked her if she ever felt used, she replied: “No. I feel blessed. I feel like I was protected rather than exploited. I feel like I was very present.” We’re not sure how “protected” one can be when they’re around drugs at that age, but, oh well.
There are major differences between today and the ‘70s. Probably the most life-changing one is the internet, specifically, social media. Today, almost anything can be uploaded to YouTube, and all your dirtiest deeds can wind up on TMZ or Instagram.
Lori told Thrillist that living in an era when no one was afraid of exposure allowed such risqué things to happen. “Nobody was afraid of winding up on YouTube or TMZ. Now people are terrified. You can’t even walk out your door without being photographed. It has become a different world.”
So, who was this alleged “Queen of the Groupies” who lured Maddox into this crazy lifestyle? Back in the 1970s, Sable was the groupie everyone knew and every girl wanted to be. She had intimate relationships with the likes of David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Rod Stewart. She was one of the first “baby groupies” to hang out at the trendy clubs on West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip like Whisky A-Go-Go, Rainbow Bar, and Grill. And Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco.
She confessed everything about her lifestyle in a fascinating 1973 interview with Star Magazine. The notorious groupie talked about “rival groupies” who tried to challenge her for the attention and affection of the leading rockers of the day. Sadly, she passed away at the young age of 51 in 2009, after developing brain cancer.
Bebe Buell wasn’t your typical groupie. She went to NYC in the hopes of becoming a singer. To earn money, she used her good looks to model and landed a spot as Playboy’s Playmate of the Month back in 1974. She entered the groupie scene when she started dating Utopia’s Todd Rundgren.
Buell was also linked with a host of other rockers like David Bowie, Jimmy Page, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop, and Mick Jagger, as well as Steven Tyler (who fathered Liv Tyler). Buell married twice in her life. First to Coyote Shivers, and in 2002 she married a second time to Jim Walters.
Buell, Starr, and Maddox are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to groupies. While many of the girls in the ‘70s were linked to British bands, here’s a groupie who had her heart set on Californian rockers Guns N’ Roses. Evin Everly wasn’t new to the lifestyle because her dad was Don Everly, of the Everly Brothers’ band.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Everly found herself hopelessly in love with the band’s wild and unpredictable frontman, Axl Rose. The two got married and stayed together for just a year before splitting. Everly was the inspiration for their great song, Sweet Child O’ Mine, and she even appeared in the music video.
Pamela Des Barres grew up in a house of music lovers. So, it’s really no surprise that she ended up spending most of her youth at concerts and being around some of the biggest names in the music industry. She was a big fan of iconic artists like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
De Barres was Frank Zappa’s babysitter and got to hang around many emerging artists in L.A. She had intimate relationships with stars like Jim Morrison, Jimmy Page, and Keith Moon, and she even inspired The Beatles’ hit, Penny Lane. She’s known for her descriptive 1987 memoir, I’m with the Band, which details her wild experiences L.A.’s rock music scene of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Marianne Faithfull was a talented singer and songwriter. She loved to make music, so it seemed only natural when she came across Andrew Loog, the Rolling Stones’ manager and later hooked up with the band’s frontman, Mick Jagger.
She fell in love with Mick, but some rumors suggested she had personal relationships with other guys in the group as well. Like many groupie and rocker relationships, Mick and Marianne’s bond eventually fell to pieces. In May 1970, she ended the relationship. That same year, she lost custody of their son and attempted suicide.
One of the most beautiful groupies who ever lived, Pattie Boyd was a model who travelled all over the world for her work. After gracing the covers of numerous magazines, she began working as a photographer. Her new job was how she entered the world of rock n’ roll, snapping photographs of rockers like Eric Clapton and George Harrison.
While working with these music legends, the beautiful Pattie Boyd caught their eye. George Harrison was especially entranced by her. They eventually married and enjoyed over a decade of being together before they finally split. After that, she tied the knot with Clapton. Today, Boyd is actually married to a property developer named Rod Weston.
It’s pretty easy to tell who this groupie is associated with. Bianca Jagger was a one-of-a-kind groupie with a magnetic personality. She was the kind of person who could light up a room merely by smiling and being present. Her wit and charm won over the heart of Rolling Stones leading man, Mick Jagger.
They married in France, but their marriage didn’t last very long. Bianca remained in the rock and club scene in the years that followed. She met and dated other musicians before leaving it all in favor of human rights advocacy, fighting for positive change around the globe.
Most people assume that groupies either marry rock stars or stick around in the scene for years. But in fact, a lot of them end up pursuing calmer lives as they grow older, and Audrey Hamilton is just the example of that. Today, she lives a simple life, but back in the 1970s, things were different.
Hamilton was a huge fan of Led Zeppelin and a serious crush on the band’s lead singer, Robert Plant. The groupie was constantly photographed with Led Zeppelin, but there are no interviews of her gushing over them live. Tragically, when Robert’s son, Karac, died in the late ‘70s, their relationship began to crumble as a result. Audrey also dated Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley.
Also known as Cherry Vanilla, Kathleen Dorritie was David Bowie’s publicist. Like Bowie, she was a true artist, working in the play Pork written by the sensational Andy Warhol. Dorritie ultimately made a name for herself in the music scene when she formed a band named Cherry Vanilla & Her Staten Island Band.
In short, she made many connections and had exposure to big stars from different fields. This made her a bit more unique than other groupies. While many are linked purely with rock stars, Kathleen Dorritie had a relationship with Warhol, too, as well as being involved for a while with Beatles star John Lennon.
Cathy Smith had a difficult start to life. Like many other groupies, Smith found comfort in the loud world of rock ‘n’ roll. The Canadian groupie entered the scene just as it really started to take off in the swinging sixties. She came into close contact with The Band. The Band mentioned Smith in The Weight, and she accompanied them on tour all throughout the ‘60s.
Cathy Smith also developed a relationship with Gordon Lightfoot. The folk star wrote a song about Cathy called Sundown, but sadly, the lyrics were quite negative. Which makes sense, because she spent 15 months in a California state prison for injecting heroin into John Belushi.
Roxana Shirazi was an unconventional groupie. She was born in Iran, which means she wasn’t really exposed to the rock n’ roll scene. But her life changed after her family decided to move to the U.K. She fell in love with dancing, and developed a career in professional belly dancing, appearing at clubs all around the capital.
She caught the eye of her audience as one of the most unique dancers they’d ever seen. Amongst her audience were big rockers like Black Cherry and Guns N’ Roses. Shirazi authored two books, “The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage” and “Dead Iranian Girl.”
Guns N’ Roses were associated with many famous groupies over the years. Everyone wanted to be close to them and their exciting life including groupie Pamela Manning. She was one of their most memorable groupies, initially hired as a dancer. She dated Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, and even Tommy Lee.
She appeared beside them on stage, dancing along to their famous hits and starring in several of their music videos too. She was constantly being classed as little more than a groupie by the media, a label that stuck to her and harmed her career in the long run.
Nico was born in Germany as Christa Paffgen. She’s one of the most successful groupies of all time. She entered the rock and roll world as a fan but left it as a star. She used her many contacts and friendships to get her own big break in the industry, eventually catching the eye of Andy Warhol. He brought her in as a cabaret singer after discussing it with the Velvet Underground.
Nico enjoyed an incredible life and career and was known for being intimate with plenty of huge names like Jim Morrison and Lou Reed. Sadly, she passed away in 1988 at just 49 years old. She was on vacation in Ibiza and had a stroke while cycling.