As Rocklahoma survivors emerge, it seems fitting to give a salute. Here’s one for all you hard rocking classic rock fans. Another Tulsa Today Exclusive.
Classic rock bands sustain. So do the women who love them. Consider Sweet, Sweet Connie, a groupie whose name hit the mainstream back in 1973, when Grand Funk released the title song from their album, “We’re An American Band.”
Performed by Don Brewer, it’s an autobiographical depiction about life on the road. Sky-rocketing straight to number one before the album was even released, the hit catapulted Grand Funk into such world wide fame that they sold out arenas and toppled charts with record sales of more than 25 million.
Since then, that little song about a sweet girl backstage, has been performed by countless bands, decade after decade, in venue after venue.
As it lives on, Sweet, Sweet Connie keeps on rocking. It’s utterly amazing the way two little lines of lyrical poetry have seemingly immortalized her:
Last night in Little Rock, put me in a haze / Sweet, Sweet Connie-was doing her act / She had the whole show and that’s a natural fact. The song rolls on…
We’re an American Band / We’re coming to your town / We’ll help you party down. / We’re an American Band.
“I was so surprised when I heard it for the first time,” Connie Hamzy says at the beauty shop.
“My mother always wanted me to be a nurse, but I saw the girls backstage in those wild clothes and I wanted to be one of them. I was too young then, but it didn’t keep me from trying.”
We chat it up as Hamzy gets her hair done by Tulonda Ellison, hair stylist and a make-over by Cheryl Heard, make-up specialist.
We’re at a little place called Bee Jay’s Hairstyling Academy, just off of the beaten path.
“You can do the blush, but I better do the mascara,” Hamzy says to Heard.
Anyone who has ever met Hamzy knows that she wears very little make-up. For that reason, talking her into it was no easy task.
A few hours and a couple of rock and roll stories later, she’s a walking work of art.
The infamous rock and roll groupie, who has done interviews with the likes of Spin Magazine, Penthouse, VH1, Joan Rivers, Jenny Jones, Sallie Jesse, Lisa Gibbons, MTV, Cosmopolitan and so many more, looks like the rock star she is.
Hamzy, infamous for her relationships with groups such as Grand Funk, Van Halen, Bad Company, the Eagles, Led Zeppelin and so many more, is stunning.
She’s not arrogant or ashamed of the escapades which have rightly earned her a place among a small, elite group of rock goddess groupies like Pamela Des Barres (Miller), Morgana Welch, and Patti Boyd, who had highly publicized relations with George Harrison, John Lennon and Tulsa’s favorite frequent foreign friend Eric Clapton.
There’s also Bebe Buell, famous for her relationship with the Rolling Stones and Steven Tyler, who wrote the book, Rebel Heart: An American Rock n Roll Journey and let’s not forget Lori Maddox, either.
While most of these ladies settled down, Hamzy has not. “I’m still in it. We don’t have a regular promoter around these parts, but there’s a lot going on in other areas.”
Although Hamzy was recently engaged, it ended quickly. “He lied,” she says, while showing me her ring. “A friend of mine goggled him and we found out that he wasn’t what he said he was.”
It seems even Hamzy has to be careful these days. Still, she didn’t consider the loss of her beau for too long–as her heart belongs to a member of Van Halen and probably always will.
“You know, Edward spent a ton of money trying to prove cigarettes do not cause cancer,” Hamzy, who has never smoked a cigarette, said. “He’s mad at me at the moment and I’m hoping he gets over it soon. Our relationship goes way back.”
Hamzy calls me up on the phone every once in a while and we chat about these things. Interestingly enough, I even received a call from her the morning after the David Cook concert in Tulsa. When I told her that I ran into him after the show, she giggled and asked….
“No, nothing like that happened,” I say, laughing. “You should have been here with me.”
Sadly, my rock and roll memento box is nothing compared to the countless photos that Hamzy has hanging around her house, where there is probably enough memorabilia to fill a museum.
Not only does she have photos, there’s a ton of backstage passes pinned to the wall and an impressive collection of drum sticks.
The drum sticks were all gifts. “My favorite is a Ludwig that I got from a female drummer,” Hamzy said.
“It’s difficult for women in this business as they tend to get the shaft. Everyone seems to be of the mentality that they should keep women barefoot and pregnant. Male drummers get all kinds of endorsements, but women rarely do.”
She continues, “The rock and roll industry is getting harder and harder. Record companies have all but gone away. The internet is never going to be as much fun as the good old days.”
Hamzy, who refuses to get a computer, is surprised by the information posted about her on the web.
“One misconception is that I have a book. I had bad management and the book was never published,” she said. “People [on the Internet] report a memoir in 1995 with the title Rock Groupie: The Intimate Adventures of “Sweet Connie” from Little Rock (The title ISBN 9781561713615 was never printed.) You can’t get a copy of it,” Hamzy said.
If there’s a message that she’d like to put in print it’s one about stereotypes and preconceived notions.
“Don’t judge me,” she says, “It’s important to keep an open mind. A lot of people would kill to be where I am.”
Throughout the years, it is true that several people have tried to steal her identity. “They usually don’t get very far,” she said. “The people who matter know who I am.”
Regardless of her age, and she is quick to point out how old she is, she’s still envied. When it comes to getting older, she states proudly, “I’m still doing what I enjoy. I’ve slowed down a little, but not much.” Despite varying accounts on the Internet, Connie Hamzy was born in Jan. of 1955. She receives an occassional birthday card from Pamela Des Barres.
She continues, “You just have to take remarks about aging to the chin. Sammy Hagar taught me that.”
Along with her impressive rock and roll resume, Hamzy is also revered for a highly publicized meeting with Bill Clinton.
In 1991, it’s reported that Hamzy was approached by an Arkansas state trooper on behalf of Bill Clinton, when he was still governor in 1984.
Hamzy is reported to have claimed that she and Clinton looked for “a place where they could have some privacy for an assignation, but couldn’t find one.”
George Stephanopoulos denied her account of things on behalf of the President. When asked further, Clinton told media that Hamzy approached him in a hotel lobby, flipped down her bikini top, and asked him, “What do you think of these?”
Stephanopoulos secured affidavits from three people to validate Clinton’s claims. Although various news outlets such as CNN reported on the issue when it first hit the media, no one pursued it further after the initial accounts.
I ask Hamzy about the buzz surrounding the Clinton affair. “Look, I met up with Clinton in a hotel lobby. The two of us went into something of an utility closet. We were about to do some things and a police officer walked in on us,” she said. “I might be a whore, but I don’t lie. I took three lie detector tests that were administered by a police officer and I passed each one. There’s no way you can lie on those things.”
Her brief encounter with Clinton did lead to a 1992 tell-all article and contract with Penthouse, worth a stunning $20,000.
Following that, Hamzy also attempted a run for office, but never made the final ballot.
While attention to her political affairs were front and center for quite some time, it’s her love of rock and roll that earned her world wide noterity.
I ask how she ever got started in this business and she responds, “My mother didn’t like to drive in traffic.”
For that reason, Hamzy’s mom would take her daughter and her friends to concerts hours before the shows were scheduled to start. “We were just hanging around outside one day, when a promoter approached me and my friend and asked if we wanted to meet the band.”
The two girls, who were only in the ninth grade at the time, drove off with the promoter in his limousine. The rest as the say, is rock and roll history.
It’s been nearly five decades since little Connie Hamzy was out at the lake, listening to a radio as the announcer introduced the new Grand Funk song that made her so famous. She remembers the way she started yelling and jumping up and down. “I was so happy,” she said.
Even though the band’s producer had telephoned a few weeks before the release to say the group had written something about her, she had no idea at that time, what it was.
“I fell in love with the song the instant I heard it,” Hamzy said.
It’s apparent the rest of the world did, too. Hear the song here.
Photo and story: Tracy Crain, www.TulsaToday.com
This is an excerpt from a more in-depth project currently under consideration.