The Real Story

Pennie Lane

Welcome to the site of the real-life Pennie Lane. Yes, she does exist! She walks among us. You might pass her on a street, in a store, or while riding your bike. You might catch her eye in a crowded restaurant, in an art gallery, or more likely, in a small club listening to a hot but unknown band. How would you know if it was her?

The fact is, you wouldn’t. Pennie Lane is, and has always been, very careful about that. She believes that her personal life is, well, personal. She never believed in selling her memoirs, although she has been asked. She just doesn’t kiss and tell!

It is a fascinating story about a woman who never planned to tell it. In the end, she didn’t have to, for someone else did. Sometimes life takes some unexpected turns, and opportunities present themselves in the most unusual ways. Pennie Lane understands this. She believes in destiny.

Although she met and loved men who were rock legends, her motivation for meeting them was not marriage, money or personal gain. She simply did it because their music touched her in ways that nothing else could. Her motivation was pure and it was simple. Perhaps because of that reason, she was able to meet and connect with the men she so admired.

“Rock Stars? I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.”

As she watched musicians living their dream, she realized that anything was possible. She also knew how seductive the lifestyle could be, so she carefully created a personal time line. She allowed herself three years…the time between her junior year in high school (17) until she started college (20) to live, tour and get to know musicians.Maybe it was protective intuition, but she never could tune out a tiny voice in her head that kept warning her…”this isn’t real”. Yet she allowed herself the jet set luxury and took the risk. Sometimes she had to hold onto her heart with both hands…but in the end, she knew that it was the right thing to do. (And for you film buffs, there were no drug overdoses!)

Pennie Lane knew, however, that it would soon be time to go. She realized even then that she had only been a spectator on the sidelines. She had watched, listened and learned a great deal from her rags-to-riches rock star lovers…and also from their managers, record companies, promoters, roadies, travel people and even chauffeurs. She had a pretty good idea of what she wanted out of life by that time, and more importantly, what she didn’t want. She was ready to focus on her own life and her career. It was time to begin the next chapter of her life. After all, it was 1974.

At age 20, Pennie Lane walked away, got on a plane and flew home to Portland, Oregon. She went back to her real identity and closed the chapter on this amazing and secret part of her life. She knew that rock and roll would go on, and she also knew how quickly groupies were forgotten. She went to college, graduate school and enjoyed a stellar marketing career. She was even married for 10 years. The one thing that never changed was her love of music.

Then a very strange thing happened. In the year 2000, she received a phone call. Someone had remembered her. Ironically, it was not a rock star, but a writer. Even more amazing, in the past three decades the writer had become even more famous than some of the people he had interviewed! He was a man who loved the music as much as Pennie did and, more importantly, he really understood what it felt like to be a fan. They were both very young when they met in 1973, and were good friends for that short period of time. They had not seen each other in 27 years.

The writer wrote a story…not just about Pennie Lane, but about the many girls who loved musicians. He knew that many of us may never be cool and at best, we might be almost famous. Movie critics have said that this kind of life never existed in the music business, but it really did…in 1973. If you were not alive at that time, it might be hard to fathom. It was post-Woodstock and pre-Punk. Men loved women and women loved men. It was the last decade of innocence in rock and roll.

Pennie Lane would like to say just one thing at this point…”Thank you, Cameron, for your memories.”

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34 Responses to “The Real Story”
  1. maura says:

    I have longed to meet you and talk with you and knowing you wouldn’t has made the facination all the more. I wish you’d write your story, not a tell all , but your story… I would certainly read it. Any of us girls of that era , who began their life long love of music, would love to read your story. 1973 was my favorite year. I have always thought you really rocked ! Thanks for your legend !

  2. Pennie, the critics are full of it. Yes, it all happened just that way, and when Cameron made that movie, for me it was like seeing the past all over again, just the way I remembered it. It was an innocent time and how much fun we had!

  3. Johnn Beuscher says:

    I am a 48 year old single parent of 2 wonderful children, an 11 year old boy and a 17 year old girl. Both remind me so much of the innocence, wonder and adventurism portrayed of our generation. As an adult, I find that we have lost so much during our “growth”, that many of us forget those days; and it’s a shame. Thank you, and your ‘friend’ for helping me to remember. As I sit here writing these words, tears flow down my face. All the joy, pain and sorrow comes flooding back and I can only hope for the same with my children. Thank you ‘Penny’, for bringing it all back.

  4. what a strong inspiring woman. Her life touch my heart and i simply loved the life she lived. I would love to bump into her on the street, at the mall or in Pismo Beach one day. To hear her speak in person, would be amazing and a dream come true. Anita Mansera aka Local Vons Checker in the Central Coast.

  5. Scott Smith says:

    I have had a similar experience being 54 years old. So many of the fantastic memories of that time came flooding back to me. It has taken me a couple of days of true retrospection to realize what I was feeling. And I’m more motivated then ever to continue living in that fashion we all loved so much. The amazing adventures that we undertook. This story is so true of that time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  6. Zidders Roofurry says:

    Hey, Pennie. I wrote this huge long essay but deleted it. I figured if you’re at least a little bit like the character in the film, you’ll appreciate me being real more than you would appreciate a bunch of flowery bs. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, and you probably haven’t had a huge impact on my life but the very fact that you had an impact on someone, and that someone went and made a great film that helped me imagine what it would be like to live the rock and roll dream..it put a huge smile on my face, and knowing that you’re still out there and doing well..it’s kinda really nice.

    I’m a huge sap, and despite the fact that i’m 38, disabled and can’t play guitar to save my life, I still haven’t given up my own rock and roll fantasies. I’ve been thinking of putting some of them into story form. So what if it’s cliche, so what if it’s fantasy..a lot of what makes rock and roll special is the illusion, the showmanship…right? You can be real and make it all up, as long as the made up stuff isn’t harmful, right? As long as it’s true to the spirit of the music..right?

    I hope so. Maybe i’ll inspire someone to go out and live a real rock and roll dream. Hah…as if. I’m being more than a bit pretentous. So what’s the point of all this rambling? Kudo’s to you for getting as far, if you’re still reading it. The point is, I want to thank you for inspiring me. I want to thank you for the trickle down effect your love has had. Cus that’s what this is all about, I guess. Sappy is as sappy does but I believe in the power of love and I believe that your love eventually brought me here tonight so i’m going to show my appreciation by thanking you from the bottom of my heart for being someone who believed in love and still believes in it.

    We need love today. More than ever before. Another reason I want to thank you is because I see so much hate. People like me…there are people who hate me because of who I love. Some days, it’s all I can do to find the strength to go on. I try not to let their words get to me..they call me ‘fag’..’homo’..but one can only take so much. Thank you for not hating, and for loving.

    I wish you all the best. Again…sorry for the ramble. .

    • Pennie Lane says:

      Dear Zidders, Thank you for opening up your heart and speaking from the depths of your soul. Honesty that deep doesn’t come often. Yes, you are right- inspiration is such a gift. People ask me today, what do you do? And it’s a hard answer because as you go through your life, it changes. But I so believe that we all have a chance, every day to me memorable. Whether it is a random act of kindness (with a person whom you may never see again) or you are doing something special for a friend/musician, or helping a person who really needs it. I say this, knowing that I get sidetracked in my own stuff and I don’t do it every day. But I know someone who did.

      My father lived his life following this plan (although he never tried to be memorable- just a good person) He lived, to help somebody each and every day. And when he died at 94, I would like to believe that he didn’t take the stairway to heaven… he took the non-stop, high speed elevator straight there. But guess what? So many people, and many, many, many whom I have never met before, keep seeking me out to tell me how much my father meant to them and/or how much he helped, inspired, or counseled them when they needed it most. It was his gift… and it keeps on giving. That is memorable. That is inspirational. That is love. (Thanks, Dad)

      • Thank you so much for the reply…It meant a lot. Since I posted here, my life has changed dramatically. I’ve met some wonderful people, made some amazing friends, and have gotten back into art, music and writing. Part of what kept me going through the dark times was reading stuff written by folks like you. I really, truly appreciate you being part of the chain of events that have led me to where I am.

        Knowing you’re out there and knowing the kind of person you are…It’s one of those few moments where you find the exception to the rule and the Hollywood lie ends up being true, only better.

        I don’t want to be memorable. I just want the people whose lives I touch to be able to love themselves as much as I love them. I just want you to know that I love you! You’re one of the leaves on my family tree and it gladdens my heart to know that you’re out there doing exactly the same as me.

        Wow…my life is just so…rock and roll. <3
        -Zid

  7. anthony says:

    Liked the movie except the ending kinda ended a little different i think.

    • Pennie Lane says:

      Anthony, I’m glad you liked the movie, and of course you know that it was a feature film…not a documentary. And about the ending…I’m older now but it isn’t over yet! (soft smile). Thanks for your comments.

  8. karloz g says:

    sorry, penny lane “almost famous movie” the real penny lane? hooooo my god!!

  9. I had no idea that that Penny Lane I loved so much from Almost Famous was a real person after all. When I found this blog, I felt the need to comment. For as long as I can remember, I was in love with music just as you are. My parents raised me on all of the music that you and Cameron Crowe talk about loving so dearly. That was my childhood. In the car, on the back porch on summer nights, on road trips and vacations, what I woke up hearing in the mornings, what I could hear coming from my parents record player while I was falling asleep at night. They were obsessed, and so was I. As I grew older, I found my own love of music, and it started with a band called Hanson when I was only 10 years old who so many would probably find to be silly. But they had that heart and soul that all of the bands my parents loved so much had. And through them, through going to so many of their shows, I met SO many amazing people, was introduced to many other bands who I grew to love… and it didn’t take long to realize that the “music world” wasn’t as big as I originally thought. It was actually a fairly small world where if you knew one person/band, you eventually knew everyone they knew as well. And from the time I was 17 until I was about 21, I soaked in every second of it as much as I could. I am 26 now and have settled down a little compared to then, but with over 300 live shows under my belt, I still love music just as much as I did when I was younger. So much of who I am today was shaped by that period of my life. The conversations I had, the experiences, late night hotel acoustic jams, all of the people I met and their stories. It led me to explore writing and performing my own music, music journalism, working behind the scenes of concert planning on my college campus, working for a ticketing company, etc. And at the end of the day, nothing compares to the feeling of those “Penny Lane” moments. I had so many that I could relate directly back to that movie, from standing side-stage, singing along quietly and watching a band you loved so much finally have the success they wanted, and knowing they soon would no longer be your “little secret”, to dancing barefoot in an empty venue after a show had cleared out. There are so few people out there who can really truly relate to that lifestyle, the people, the love of music, the adventure… and I am so glad I’m one of them. Thanks for being willing to share your story with the world. I love having this movie to turn to anytime I want to relive it and bring those feelings back. I lived by this quote from the movie for so long: “They don’t even know what it is to be a fan. You know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.” You are awesome!

    • Pennie Lane says:

      Danielle,
      You are the real deal and a great fan. I hope that our paths cross someday!
      – with a whole lotta love,
      Pennie Lane

    • Danielle,

      From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for the inspiration this post provided. I’ve been writing my own little rock and roll tale. It’s not based on real life, unfortunately, but I think those rock and roll fantasies are just as important. I’m hoping to inspire others to dream and maybe (hopefully) go out and live the life I couldn’t. I’m glad you had those experiences. Write about them! Share them! Inspire others to do the same. I want to read your story some day.

      -Zid

  10. jerid bailey says:

    Dear pennie my name is jerid i was born 1983 i live in shreveport louisiana when i was still in diapers i listened to music on the radio i knew i wanted to be a rockstar by age two i smashef my fathers guitar at age five i wouldwoustand on table singing bon jovi at age five i got my first guitar and started music school up till forteen when i mastered music therory. at sixteen i started my own band and met amazing friends and your story relates to me so much because my music carrear led me not to fame for myself by choice but close to it on the sidelines as yours did . in shreveport we are known for our major rock scene and on the local level i have rubbed shoulders with world class musicians and others allmost famous. my friends band being one allmost. self produced they sold 250,000 albums nation wide . shortly before i decided to stop the persuit for my self i was asked to join this band and play a mardi gras parade then it was off to tour with candle box. i decided not to based on the fact i didn’t want america to see me playing around the country someone else’s music when i had it me and watched what they did to do it myself. but none the less i relate and your story touches me because i have met partied and lived the high of the modern rock n roll life with modern day stars. even though you never intended your story to be known it is a incredible one that touches people and you should know the story continues today through other younger people

  11. Angelica Hahn says:

    Pennie,
    My name is Angelica, I first watched Almost Famous at age 12….I know a little young
    I’ve always been inspired by your free spirit and love for music. I come from a generation of technology and absolutely no social interaction. To me its sad to say I’m a part of this commercialized world that woman think there goal weight is 92 pounds. I appreciate how tough you are and how much inspiration you have given to so many people about music and rock and roll

    • Pennie Lane says:

      Dear, dear Anjelica,
      I think you are beautiful and have an old soul. Yes, the world has changed but social interaction is still possible- just in different forms. I struggle too, but we all need to stay in the game to work and survive! However, that being said, I just returned from Italy and it seems that life is more face to face and more intimate there. People work to live, not live to work. Houses are small and people go outside to socialize. Yes, there are smart phones, but somehow, European men can check their phones and also keep an eye out for a girl passing by! If they catch her eye, they will often invite her for an espresso. Now, they may not have your taste in music, but I’m just sayin’ there are places other than America where centuries of culture survive! I understand the thin obsession as well, as I’m still fighting the battle- but now my health is more important than other people’s judgement. But one thing I’ve learned, is that even the most beautiful women think they are not perfect and complain about their bodies. So, take heart. Be healthy. Love yourself and travel whenever you can. The world is a beautiful place and the music’s great!

  12. Nancy Boss says:

    Pennie Lane,
    I have been watching Almost Famous the last couple of days,just for fun,and remembering my younger years in the 70’s and all the music I enjoyed during that era,and any era!! Graduated in 1974 in Dayton Ohio and was and still am Elton John’s greatest fan. My 5 children call me an “old groupie”and of course love in the movie the bus scene when they all begin singing “Tiny Dancer”.The song of course Elton wrote for me,since I am a dance teacher.
    Elton’s music took me to follow him and the band leaving my young daughter at home with grandma.That daughter is now 40 years old and has grown up listening to Elton’s music,as well as the rest of my kid’s and now grandchildren.The music,as Kikki Dee would quote,I got the music in me” is so true. Your past life is yours to hold on to forever and remember,never wanting to shut the door on those days,that some of us could only dream and wished we could have been there.I also had no idea there was a real Pennie Lane and thank you for your story
    Nancy Boss,Kettering Ohio August 16,2013

    • Pennie Lane says:

      Thank you Tiny Dancer, for the inspiration. And for the great note. Rock on, Sister!

      • robert says:

        Can we have an updated picture?

      • Nancy Boss says:

        Robert,Thanks for asking for an updated picture,but unfortunately,as my 5 grown children would say,Mom you gotta get up with the times!!! I either borrow computers,use library computers,since i do not have my own home computer.So I would have no idea on how to even post a recent picture of me, the Tiny Dancer. I’ll ask my kids for help to post me at the last Elton John concert here in Dayton Ohio,April 3,2013 and I’m going to see Elton in Vegas October 9 and then November 20 in Columbus Ohio. Yes, Pennie it is all about the music,when the music is in your “soul”,it just takes you to that great place in life that is Fantastic,”Captain Fantastic”
        Thanks,
        Nancy Kettering Ohio

  13. Oxix Uma says:

    Hello Pennie Lane, I came across this blog after watching one of my all time favorites movies (again), which obviously is Almost Famous.. :) I have seen it in 2000, and have seen the movie several times since, I still cry though. It must have been a blast, those years when you were thriving in the music.. Yes, the music is still here, and will always be. I was born in 1984, so I grew up in a different era, but I also love music so much, I love hearing every lyric, every single guitar note or bass line. For me, music is psychedelic, it makes me transcend to some place, makes me see things.. I loved the character in the movie, and it is just great to learn that she was based on a real person. You are an inspiration Ms. Pennie Lane. Thank you for the story..

  14. barbara says:

    Pennie it was so long ago,an the years have run the show’s together some, but from Colorado to Calif. We were delivering some stash to a show one night for the Who Joined the party backstage an my daughter was 3 at the time , lost her back stage in the turmoil an found her with you playing she was a singer, we shared a j an watched her be silly-best concert ever ( I never shared this with her an she’s 45yrs old) but thanks for the moment in time-it’s right up there with Janice an bobby mages peace

  15. miriah herport says:

    Just wanted to say that you are a true inspiration ! The love and passion you have for music and people is rare and something this world needs more of these days. Thank you for inspiring me :)

  16. Hi Pennie, How are you? I think we have a few things in common, the most common is being a fan of the music and especially back in the 70’s. The 70’s is a magical surreal memory for me. Sometimes actually quite a bit I am stuck in the 70’s musically. Tonight I was out at Sauvies Island working late a my cousins kennel fixing some computer issues for them. I was thinking about you and wondering about what a blast it must have been back in the day following the music. When I got home I pulled my protected dish/hbo recording of Almost famous. I love that movie and I really love the story about you and cameron. Awesome story. I remember my 1st concert other than a few festivals at delta park and Mcgiver park. It was Black Sabbath backed by Edgar Winters white trash featuring Rick Derringer. $5 and a hit of black acid, my 1st trip and looking back it should have been my last, though I did not do any past high school. Can you imagine being on acid at RHS. I had to leave after 1st period. I think that was in fall of 71 It was that era of music that pulled me in to play guitar and still today I play in a band with high school friends from RHS. I wish our lives could have crossed back then before I settled down and got older. Well maybe we did and just did not know it. Well I just wanted to say hi and thank you for a great story that takes me back to a place that is one of the best for me. But like most places I have been it is just a memory. But what a memory it is. Wish you much happiness and Blessings.

    Mike

  17. Chris says:

    Almost Famous is a fantastic movie, & a great behind the scenes peek at the rock & roll life in the 70’s. I grew up in NE Portland & used to play with my toys in our basement on Sunday’s listening to American Top 40 on AM radio. In 1976 (when I was 9), I talked my parents into letting me buy a couple of rock albums from Crystalship Records @ the Galleria downtown. I bought Queen, Bad Company & Boston’s first LP I believe. It was a huge moment for me, music became a big part of my life. I can remember sneaking down to my buddy’s older brother’s room & digging through all of his records. Led Zep, Eagles, Pink Floyd, Foghat, Elton John, Clapton, The Who, Sabbath….he had them all. It was a great time to be alive & the era produced such amazing music. It’s wonderful to see this period still celebrated. Many of the bands are still touring & classic rock is all over tv commercials & movie soundtracks alike. I enjoyed reading your story & can only be a bit envious of your experiences. Cheers to you & your loved one’s.

    Chris in Clackamas

  18. Bess says:

    In my family we live and breathe music. It’s the constant presence in out lives. My father was a musician, (well known) beat writer, poet ,and artist. My brother is a musician, song writer. I am a writer. We all listen to music (who doesn’t?) But we all feel music, experience music, and love music in a way that seems to be pretty uncommon now (my bro and I grew up in the 70s). When I saw Almost famous, I told my brother he needed to go see it immediately. Finally there was a movie dedicated to the real essence of rock and Roll. Cameron told his story and yours in a way that made total sense to me. I envy and admire your journey. And I continue to live my own with plenty of good music as the soundtrack. Thank you…

  19. Jorge Guerra says:

    Hi Pennie Lane, I am 27 and I write you from Chile. I have always liked the movies and Almost Famous is one of my favorites, I never get tired watching it, specially for your character, besides her beauty and the relationship she kept with the rock player and for being a woman who really love and feel the music within yourself. The story she had, I have always had some doubts related with some characters mainly for your character and the little journalist. One of the doubts I have, Did you met the little journalist? I guess no, but you never be sure until confirm it.

    According the movie and as you said, when you realize about to start a new sort of life and to leave the life you were living for few years, I guess you had man man on crush on you whom missed you after leaving that life, I could see you were beautiful for your picture of 1973 and as well the 2012.

    I would say my favorite scene is when Pennie Lane is on the plane while the little journalist is watching her from the airport and he starts running according the plane goes forward.

    I am very glad for having found your site and I can write you now.
    I wish you the best

  20. jorgeguerra430 says:

    Hi Pennie Lane, I am 27 and I write you from Chile. I have always liked the movies and Almost Famous is one of my favorites, I never get tired watching it, specially for your character, besides her beauty and the relationship she kept with the rock player and for being a woman who really love and feel the music within yourself. The story she had, I have always had some doubts related with some characters mainly for your character and the little journalist. One of the doubts I have, Did you met the little journalist? I guess no, but you never be sure until confirm it.

    According the movie and as you said, when you realize about to start a new sort of life and to leave the life you were living for few years, I guess you had man man on crush on you whom missed you after leaving that life, I could see you were beautiful for your picture of 1973 and as well the 2012.

    I would say my favorite scene is when Pennie Lane is on the plane while the little journalist is watching her from the airport and he starts running according the plane goes forward.

    I am very glad for having found your site and I can write you now.
    I wish you the best

  21. Isa says:

    Hi Pennie, hope you are doing well… i have to say how much i admire you, i adore all this people like you who REALLY love music the girls back in time who were there for the music and knew how much a song or a melody can help and change you in such a beautiful way, you know for me music it’s the best thing that could ever exist and i love the people who thinks the same, i worship musicians because they make people so happy and love so much what they do, and i think them love people who notice that. Anyway i’m here just to say how much i adore you.. it is so good that out there still are people who can really feel what LOVE the music and be one with it is.
    I’m a 17 years old girl.. when i first saw almost famous wow! it was how i thought about 70’s and those golden years were. Music at that time spoke for itself every note had a meaning, all about it is just beautiful.
    I have a record player and i still listening vinyls, there are posters of my favorites bands in the walls of my room and yes i feel like i was born in the wrong generation, but we can always do the best with our lives in anytime, right?. I hang out with bands of my city and sometimes i write about them or their shows even when it is a show in a little bar is still great!

    if you read this it would be the best! btw; when you first meet Cameron.. which one was the band who you and Cameron were touring with? ..1973 it might have been Led Zeppelin.. (? what a perfect dream.. they are my favorite band!

    Thank you so much for your memories and for this site, whether you read it i’m glad to write you.
    Lots of love, lots of music, Rock on and Ramble on!

  22. Rob Polo says:

    Hi there
    Well it brings back memories of a special friend looking you up. Love to chat sometime and hear all about the you and the ranch. All is well here and I’m still rocking and Rollin in the kitchen.
    Hope to catch up soon.

  23. Edwina says:

    Oh my god!! You’re a real person! The second I saw Pennie Lane in Almost Famous a few years ago I said that will be my first daughters name. So damn cool! I’m still young, 21…So I’ll notify you in a few years whenever I have my first girl ;)
    That movie is my favourite movie ever just because of your character in it! I can’t even count how many times I’ve watched it!
    It’s all happening :)

  24. Pennie Lane says:

    Hi and thanks for the link to my site. For the record (!) Cameron Crowe and I are STILL friends!

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  1. […] …Cameron Crowe, who directed this quasi-autobiographical story, created this character (in part) from his friend at the time, Pennie Lane. You can check her out here.  […]



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