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June 5, 2018

The Queen of the Groupie Scene: Candid Vintage Photographs of Sable Starr Hanging Out With Rock Stars in the 1970s

She was the queen of L.A. baby groupies and she did everything to caught the rock gods eye. She had a small thin frame but she wore outrageously sexual clothes. Baby groupies were small girls wearing grown up sexy clothes. She wore all the smallest spandex pieces, all the sexiest corset tops and nothing else and all the shortest jean shorts. Her trade mark was platinum blond curly hair with bangs which also Nancy Spungen copied.

Lori Maddox, Dave Hill from Slade and Sable Starr in 1973.

Sable Starr (1957-2009) was a noted American groupie, often described as the "queen of the groupie scene" in Los Angeles during the early 1970s. She first attended concerts around Los Angeles with older friends who had dropped out of school in late 1968. She lost her virginity at age 12 with Spirit guitarist Randy California after a gig at Topanga, California. She had a younger sister, Corel Shields (born 1959), who was involved with Iggy Pop at age 11. Pop later immortalized his involvement with Starr herself in the 1996 song "Look Away."
I slept with Sable when she was 13,
Her parents were too rich to do anything,
She rocked her way around L.A.,
'Til a New York Doll carried her away…
Starr became one of the first "baby groupies" who in the early 1970s frequented the Rainbow Bar and Grill, the Whiskey A Go Go, and Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco; these were trendy nightclubs on West Hollywood's Sunset Strip. The girls were named as such because of their young age. She got started after a friend invited her to the Whiskey A Go Go at the age of 14. Starr later described herself at that period as having been "nuts to begin with. I always liked getting into trouble". She had considered herself unattractive, so she had a nose job when she was 15. During the time Starr was a groupie, she continued to live at home with her family and attended Palos Verdes High School to placate her parents.

Sable Starr and Lori Maddox celebrating John Bonham's 24th birthday, May 1972.

Sable Starr, Queenie, Lori Maddox with Led Zeppelin

Sabel Starr and Legs McNeil, ca. late 1970s.

Sable Starr and Iggy Pop in 1973.

In 1973 she gave a candid interview for the short-lived Los Angeles-based Star Magazine, and boasted to the journalist that she considered herself to be "the best" of all the local groupies. She also claimed that she was closely acquainted with some of rock music's leading musicians such as Jeff Beck, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Marc Bolan, and Alice Cooper, adding that her favorite rock star acquaintance was Led Zeppelin's lead singer, Robert Plant. When asked how she attracted the attention of the musicians, she maintained it was because of the outrageous glam rock clothing she habitually wore. She was often photographed alongside well-known rock musicians; these photos appeared in American rock magazines such as Creem and Rock Scene.

Starr admitted to having gotten into fights with rival groupies and she allegedly had a confrontation with Bianca Jagger, who at the time was married to Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. According to Starr, she knocked on Bianca's hotel room and when the latter opened the door she was told "in a few four-letter words to 'get lost'". Her closest friends in Los Angeles were fellow groupies Shray Mecham and "Queenie". Model Bebe Buell described Starr as having been one of the two top Los Angeles groupies of the era, adding that "every rock star who came to Los Angeles wanted to meet her".

Sable Starr, Arthur Kane and Caroline.

Sable at John Bonham's 24th birthday with Lori Maddox, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, John Bonham, Morgana Welch, Tyla, Rodney Binghenheimer, Peter Grant and Queenie Glam at Rodney's "Rainbow Bar and Grill" in April 1972.

Robert Plant and Sable Starr

Sable Starr and Debbie Harry backstage at Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood on February 9, 1977.

Sable Starr and Debbie Harry backstage at Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood on February 9, 1977.

She ran away from home when she was 16 after meeting Johnny Thunders, guitarist in the glam rock band the New York Dolls.[ She went to live with him in New York City. Their relationship didn't last, mainly due to his violent jealousy and drug addiction. He had wanted to marry her after she became pregnant with his child, but she refused and instead had an abortion. Tired of the physical abuse Thunders often inflicted upon her, and unable to adjust to the New York lifestyle, Starr moved back to Los Angeles. She claimed that "He [Thunders] tried to destroy my personality. After I was with him, I just wasn't Sable Starr anymore. He really destroyed the Sable Starr thing".

She made frequent visits to New York where she had an affair with Richard Hell, befriended Nancy Spungen, and participated in the local burgeoning punk rock scene. By the early 1980s, she was no longer part of the groupie milieu.

Starr later moved to Reno, Nevada where she worked as a blackjack dealer at a casino for a number of years. She died at her home in April 2009 of brain cancer at the age of 51.

Queenie Glam and Sabel Starr on Led Zeppelin's limo outside Rodney Bingenheime's English Disco, June 1972.

Johnny Thunders and Sable Starr

Johnny Thunders and Sable Starr

Johnny Thunders and Sable Starr

Sable Starr and Iggy Pop

Lori Mattix, Leee Childers, Sabel Starr, Queenie Glam (Lynn) and Karen Umphrey.

Sabel Starr and Alice Cooper, 1974.

arious polaroids of Johnny Thunders and Sabel Starr, circa 1973-74.

Sabel Starr and Malcolm McLaren

David Johansen and Sabel Starr dancing on the table at Max's



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