Although Pennie Lane 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.
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.”
15 thoughts on “Then”
I really enjoyed ‘Almost Famous’ because I almost did it. I worked for a high school radio station called WKWZ 88.5 in Syosset N.Y. I had a absolute love for music and almost got to interview some of my rock heroes of the time. However, many doors slammed in my face because I only 16-17 years old. Therefore, when ‘Almost Famous’ came out I really related to it, big time. I have to watch ‘Almost Famous’ at least once a year just to bring those good memories back. It must had been a wonderful and magical epoch for you. Thank you for your stories and helping bringing those memories back to life. It was a great time! -Hank
Thank YOU, Miss Pennie Lane.
You were lucky and smart Penny. A life well lived, and still living well. 🙂
Thank you Pennie Lane, you truly are an inspiration to those who love music. I enjoyed the film Almost Famous immensely. It is my all time favorite movie. Kate Hudson did such a such a wonderful job making me believe in music, and in just being passionate about what I love in life.
I’m glad to know there is a real woman behind the character.
Thank you for being you, and in making me believe in myself. ♥♥♥
Always one very confident yet privately fragile woman. The best friend you could ever hope to have.!
Rock and Roll in the Seventies, there will never be music to compare to that period.
You are right! It was a very special time, and I feel very fortunate that the recording industry was able to capture the songs. Could you imagine if we had all of that great music, but no way to record it? And I also was grateful for the Album-Oriented-Rock radio format. Until then, we could only hear songs that lasted around 3 minutes. I remember hearing Iron Butterfly’s Innagoddavida (sic) and the Doors’s When The Music’s Over” on the radio. It was the first time I had ever heard 14+ minutes of pure music on the radio without commercials! My friends and I couldn’t believe it!
You my dear lady are truly an inspiration to many.
Thank you for your story and letting us in your personal life.
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!
Was & is still in my top five favorite movies of all time. I love how strong Pennie is. She had fun, she partied, then she left OZ with fond memories. The movie Pennie and the real Pennie both 🙂
Oh Pennie, glad to see you exist! You see, I’m one of those unfortunate young girls who didn’t live through that period, but feels as if she had. My dad is a huge melomaniac and relates a lot to Crow. Practically since I were in my mums belly, I’ve been listening to the greatest music ever done. I so often wish I could have been someone like you and see the greatest bands in their apogee. I mean, I still get goose pumps every time I listen to some Pink Floyd or Doors, for example.. so I can’t even imagine how it would have been to see them live back in the days and to share the passion for music with them. It isn’t easy living through this new era where people don’t even know who those artists were and how it feels like for some like us to listen to music, as everything is about money now and nothing comes from the heart. Of course there are lots of great bands nowadays, but non of them make me feel the same way the others do.
Anyway, I’m just glad I had the chance to know a bit of your story to feel related and kind of identified to someone :).
All the best!
Hi, I traveled with my now husbands southern rock band when i was 17.We traveled in a old bus and they opened for Grinderswitch,Steppenwolf,Heartsfield,Headeast and many more nown bands.It truley was Drugs,sex and Rock and Roll.Their manager who was also my guardian since i was underage.Was now Govener Jeb Buches assistant.Funny how people change over time.
Wow Elisha! What a story! If Jeb Bush would let that info fly, he would probably garner a lot more votes! Great story… thanks so much for sharing!
Hi Pennie, Last night I was scrolling through trying to find something on the tube and saw “Almost Famous”. A thrill went through me because it has been a while since I have seen it. The movie is so special because I was 17 in 1973. I also stood at the load outs and walked on stages where musicians played their souls out. Endless houses spent riding to a new town just to do it all over again. The band’s were not famous but it didn’t matter because it was about the music. I saw a guy today with long hair and a beard and that also transported back .The world has changed so much. I can’t believe how far down the path I have gone. I married a music man knowing I should not have done it because it would change his song . And it did. But he is gone now. Died by his own hand at 28 because he stopped hearing and believing in his own song. Sometimes I hear a guitar lick , think of him. I miss his music as much as I miss that special time in the world. The innocence has been lost. Kids grow up even quicker and lose the innocence even earlier. I am glad that the movie is out there as a testament to what it was really like because a sterile documentary about that time does not touch the joy of actually living it.
Hi Robin, You get it! I truly enjoyed reading your post but was sad to hear about your music man. We are close in age age and
Experdienced life in the early 70’s which was so amazing.
Wordpress is no cooperating so I’ll say thank you and gtoodbye. I loved your letter.