Iconic gender bending rock star, David Bowie passed away earlier this month and tributes poured in from all over the world. People were saddened at the passing away from a musical and cultural icon. His ground breaking music, his refusal to adhere to society’s norms of being compartmentalised into gender inspired a generation. While many seemed to praise the music and the costumes, one fact was conveniently left out. He slept with underage girls. In today’s world he would been labelled a pedophile, faced some serious jail time and lost all hopes of a career.
In the 1970s, David Bowie, along with Iggy Pop, Jimmy Page, Bill Wyman, Mick Jagger and others, were part of the ‘Baby Groupies’ scene in LA. The ‘Baby Groupies’ were 13 and 14 year old girls who were raped by male rock stars.
Lorri Maddox a ‘baby groupie’ of the 70s lost her virginity to him at the age of 14 and 15. She denies being a victim of rape however, this is what she told the Thrillist, “He walked me through his bedroom and into the bathroom, where he dropped his kimono. He got into the tub, already filled with water, and asked me to wash him. Of course I did. Then he escorted me into the bedroom, gently took off my clothes, and de-virginized me.” Lorri never thought of herself as an underage girl at that time. She said she was in love. That is regardless, the age of consent in the U.S even at that time was at least 16. Bowie was at least 10 years older.
Jimmy Page lead guitarist of Led Zeppelin was also a relationship with Maddox around that time. She was apparently kidnapped by him and also raped. The Led Zeppelin song, Sick Again is even about teenage ‘groupies’: ‘Lips like cherries and the brow of a queen/ Come on, flash it in my eyes/ Said you dug me since you were thirteen.’
Classic rockers seem to have a penchant for underage girls, The Rolling Stones’ bass player Bill Wyman was 47 pursued a teenager who later on claimed she was 14 when she first had sex with him. They married when she turned but quickly divorced. Don Henley of The Eagles was arrested after a drugged, naked 16 year old was found at his Los Angeles home.
The list goes on, Cher was 16 when she met Sonny Bono, Elvis Presley met his wife Priscilla when she was just 14. Prince reportedly lived in with a teenager. Steven Tyler persuaded his 14 year old girlfriend’s parents to be her legal guardian. Iggy Pop wrote a song about sleeping with a 13 year old girl.
Oscar winning director Roman Polanksi had sex with a 13 year old girl. He pleaded guilty but has escaped the full wrath of his punishment. He continues to make movies with famous actors and has the support of his peers.
Moving on to recent times, Tyga, an American rapper has been heavily criticised for dating an underage teenage Kylie Jenner but earlier rockstar escapades remain a thing of the past.
Is this just accepted as part of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle or do we conveniently brush this under the rug as it doesn’t fit into the image of our musical icons? Do we just don’t care? Is it OK as nobody was ‘hurt’? Here’s what a former groupie told the Daily Mail in 2010.
“It’s not about being physically mature. It’s emotional maturity that matters,” she stated, after making it clear that she regrets what happened to her. “I don’t think most 16-year-olds are ready. I think the age of consent should be raised to 18 at a minimum, and some girls aren’t even ready then. You are still a child, even at 16. You can never get that part of your life, your childhood, back. I never could.”
Some of you may be thinking, well times were different then. Well, yes but sex with a minor was still a punishable offence in the 70s. Even if it was as some put it ‘consensual’ and the girls were ‘fine’ with it, it doesn’t make it right. Teenage girls are stupid, they don’t know what they want, they have raging hormones, are probably desperate to please and idolise rockstars. They probably had very little adult supervision as well. It is upto adults to resist those advances.
Being labelled a pedophile is probably one the worst things one can be and rightfully so. But the same rule of law must be applied to all, rockstar or not.