The Groupies is a fantastic show by famed photographer Baron Wolman, the very first chief photographer at Rolling Stone Magazine.
Mach Schau presents Baron Wolman: The Groupies @ 46/48 Beak Street, W1 until 27th October.
Featuring photographs from 1967 onwards, the exhibition gives a unique insight into the rock and roll life he saw every day. From backstage sessions to shooting from the stage….to almost being knocked out by Jimi Hendrix as he swung his guitar in concert, every day was different – the scene, as his photos show, was constantly evolving.
This exhibition, however, doesn’t just make stars of those stage-gods….the more he found himself in the crowds at the concerts, Baron began to notice that aside from the usual hangers-on at concerts, there were women who were not just hanging out, but strutting – this was about fashion. Frank Zappa thought them important enough to form a band, The GTOs, led by the legendary Pamela Des Barres. A new subculture of chic was born, and in 1968 documented in an entire ‘special super duper neat issue’ of Rolling Stone called ‘The Groupies and Other Girls’, featuring interviews and photographs of the scene.
GROUPIES: Baron tells about the particularly memorable early issue:
“I loved the “groupie issue” of Rolling Stone, mostly because I love women and am always looking for an excuse to photograph them. Here’s how the issue came about.”
“Backstage women hung out with the bands. Nothing new here – a lot of women were back there ready for action, sexual and otherwise, I guess. But those aren’t the ones about whom I’m talking.”
“The ones who caught my attention were young women who had obviously spent an inordinate amount of time and effort putting themselves together for their backstage appearance; these were not just chicks coming to hang, they were back there strutting. This was something else – style and fashion mattered greatly, were central to their presentation, and I became fascinated with them because these were obviously not just girls in jeans looking for guys to take home. I discovered what I believed was a subculture of chic and I thought it merited a story. These ladies were different from all the girls I knew – all the women I knew – and Jann agreed it was a good idea; it ultimately became so interesting and extensive that it became an entire issue.”
“During the groupie interviews we learned how they would chase after a rock star and get into his bed in his hotel room or wherever he was staying when he was on tour. For the groupies that was, of course, a central step in the chase, but the most important element – and they almost all admitted this to us – was when they would get on the phone in the hotel room, call their friends and say, “You’ll never guess where I am.” It was not the guy, it was the moment, it was being able to talk about it and brag about achieving another notch in their belt. For them it often had little to do with the guys themselves because they were all moving on anyhow.”
The Groupies runs until 27 October at 46/48 Beak Street, London W1F 9RJ