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Pennie Lane:
Known As: Pennie Lane, Pennie Trumble
Romantically Linked: Goldie McJohn (keyboardist for steppenwolf)
Bio:
Watching the witty, often breezy autobiographical work of director Francois Truffaut
helped inspire Almost Famous, but Crowe found his film's muse nearly 30 years ago.
At the same time that he was embarking on his journalism career, a striking young
Portland, Ore., woman, standing 5 ft. 10 in. with waist-length red hair, moved to
Los Angeles to be with a keyboard player for Steppenwolf. There she became enamored
of musicians and their milieu, and when she returned to Portland, she continued hanging
out with the bands that came through town. Adopting the name Pennie Lane and a vintage
1940s wardrobe of dresses, hats and gloves, she became one of the era's more notable
groupies, playing den mother to a group of attractive acolytes known as
"the Flying Garter Girls." "They had to be good students, and they couldn't get drunk,
and they couldn't be heavily into drugs," says Lane, who asks that her real name not be
divulged. "Of course, they could smoke pot."
Around 1973, Crowe and Lane met at a Portland concert. "I could always tell if someone
had that star quality," says Lane, who retired from the groupie scene at age 21, received
her M.B.A. and now owns a marketing firm in Portland. "He had it all over him, the aura.
I said, 'You're gonna be huge! Huge!' He was so cute."
"I'm putting it together now," she says. "It's gonna be a retirement home called the
Raisin Ranch for aging rock stars and wayward groupies. We're all gonna be deaf because
we didn't wear earplugs. So where are we gonna go? I'm on it." She needn't worry. Thanks
to Almost Famous, Lane--and the music she loved--will live forever in their prime.
By JESS CAGLE Time Magazine 2000

The Oregonian/March 16, 2001

Almost Famous Twice


Life changed for Pennie Lane that day. Again. She picked up the phone at her Portland home. It was Cameron Crowe. He hadn't called in 25 years. The famous filmmaker wanted to chat about the good old days, when he was an impossibly young reporter for Rolling Stone and she was an impossibly alluring groupie. A Flying Garter Girl.

He told her he was going to make a movie about her.

Yeah, right.
Now here's Kate Hudson, heading for an Oscar for her role in "Almost Famous." And here's Pennie.
STILL IN HIDING
When the movie first opened, says Pennie -- not her real name -- all kinds of people tried to track her down. Newspaper interviews. Talk shows. Book deals. "When I said I wasn't willing to talk about my sex life," she says, "the calls stopped."

Pennie says she first got into the human services end of the rock business as a junior in high school. "There were five of us. It was 1972. On the road. We became the 'Ultimate in Entertainment for Entertainers.' It lasted three years, then, one day, we just stopped. Went on with our lives. Got married. Children. Careers."

SEX IS A CAREER TRACK? "I wouldn't want to do it in this day and age," says Pennie. "Back in the '70s, it was different. Every guy had an old lady. Men loved women. Nobody was making records about killing women and stuffing them in the trunk of their cars."
For her, says Pennie, life after rock meant college, an MBA, a career in marketing. In 1994, she came home to care for her dad. "He's 89. He still doesn't know."
That may change soon.
BACK IN BUSINESS This weekend, Pennie returns to her roots. An old friend, a rival groupie, one of the original "Texas Blondes," invited her to be an award presenter at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin. Then Pennie will hit the road.

She's fallen for a new rocker, a woman named Storm Large, about to burst out of California. "I'll be handling the marketing for the West Coast tour," she says. "She's awesome. I got the same feeling from her I got the time I was close to Mick Jagger."

No, I didn't ask. So the feeling's still the same. Has anything else, I wondered, not changed through all these years? "Well," said Pennie, "I still look good in leather."
San Francisco Chronicle/April 29, 2001
Pennie Lane Is Back by Joel Selvin

If nothing else, the Cameron Crowe film "Almost Famous" brought the onetime groupie who called herself Pennie Lane back to the music business.

"Well, I was never really in the music business before," said the cherubic redhead from Portland, Ore. "The only position I had in the music business was on my knees."

She laughs a cheery chuckle and smiles a demure smile. She looks more like the high-powered marketing consultant she is nowadays than the slip of a girl portrayed onscreen so fetchingly by actress Kate Hudson.

But she is a woman with a mission. Her mission is Storm, a brash, bawdy blonde with a rock band in San Francisco. Lane passed through town last week to attend a release party for "The Calm Years," the independently produced premiere CD by her charge.

Lane left the rock scene long ago to finish college and lead a quiet life on her ranch outside Portland. She did not look back. She carefully maintained her privacy and never wanted to write her memoirs. To this day, her father has never learned of his daughter's rock 'n' roll exploits.

All this started to unravel last year when she received a phone call from film director Crowe, who was planning a movie on his real-life experience as a teenage Rolling Stone reporter. He fashioned the movie around the relationship between the character based on himself and the groupie traveling with the band he was writing about. Crowe hired private detectives to find the woman who used to run around backstage at Portland rock concerts with a group of girlfriends who called themselves the Garter Girls.

"We were never there to fall in love and find a husband or anything like that," she said. "I always kept outside career goals and my focus on education. I always said we can't get sucked into this seductive lifestyle, and all of us stayed grounded. We just had our 20-year reunion and the husbands still don't know."

She thought the movie captured the loving, nurturing side of her life as a groupie, although she said the character with her name was actually a composite of several girls.

But she remembered Crowe fondly from when they were both teenagers hanging out on the tour buses, although she hadn't heard from him since she dropped out of the rock world 25 years ago.

After the film's release last year, Lane, 46, came out of hiding at a women's rock conference in Seattle sponsored by Rockrgrl magazine. It was there that she met Storm.

"I have my groupie radar," she said, "and all of sudden I felt someone standing behind me, and it felt like it did when I first met Mick Jagger."

She and Storm joined forces, and in March they went to the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, where Lane appeared on a panel about groupies at the invitation of Austin Chronicle columnist Margaret Moser, herself a former rival groupie.

"How can someone say no to one of the original Texas Blondes?" Lane said.

She is beating the bushes on behalf of her newfound rock star-to-be and is looking forward to renewing old acquaintances in the music scene, this time from a purely business standpoint. She thinks her old contacts are still there.

"I made sure they remembered me," she said, smiling.
Detroit News/March 24, 2001
Real Pennie Lane hopes Kate Hudson pulls 'Famous' win
by Susan Whitall

If Kate Hudson wins the Oscar Sunday as Best Supporting Actress for her role as Penny Lane, the idealistic groupie in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, a very interested party will be watching in Portland, Ore.

The mix of worldliness and innocence that Hudson enacts as the alluring "Band-Aid" is something that was evinced by the real Pennie Lane (Crowe spelled Lane's first name differently in movie), a groupie who dazzled director Cameron Crowe when he was a teen-aged rock writer in the '70s.

The real Pennie Lane is 46, divorced, living on a Portland farm and preferring not to reveal her real last name. Back in '72, she was one of the Flying Garter Girls, an elite corps of Portland groupies.

The Garter Girls had a deal with the Portland promoters: In return for backstage passes, they'd show up, look good, stay out of the roadies' way and entertain the musicians.

Enter the teen-aged Crowe. Like his semi-fictional counterpart in Almost Famous, the journalist-turned-director nursed a major crush on the effervescent groupie. And like her fictional counterpart, Lane was oblivious to her admirer.

"I had no clue! And when we met up again, I was too embarrassed to even ask him. I mean, look at him! I'm single, he's an Academy Award-nominated director."

What she does remember is being jealous of this kid representing Rolling Stone on tour with a rock band, getting paid. "Then I met him and my heart just melted," she says. "He was younger and goofier than I was."

Lane retired as a groupie at 21 and went on to college and a marketing career.
Twenty-five years later, the phone rang.
"I was so surprised when he called me," says Lane. "You meet someone, you don't even know you made an impression on them. And he says, 'Hey, I'm doing this movie with a character loosely based on you.' He asked why I didn't ever contact him. Well, you get married, life goes on. I'm sure everybody contacted him, after he made all those movies. I didn't want to exploit him."

Lane wasn't convinced at first that Hudson could play her. "She didn't look or act like me. But Cameron told me, 'Wait, she can light up a room.' I saw the movie and said, 'Whoa!' She was so like me in many ways, her mannerisms. I can't believe Cameron remembered all that. He has things in that movie that only he and I would know. He must have been taking notes or had a tape recorder going!"

Don't look for a Pennie Lane memoir anytime soon. Lane won't kiss and tell, and "There's nothing I could do to top Cameron," she says with a laugh. "I came off like an angel in that movie."