Turns out Oregon’s Pennie Lane isn’t the only world-famous band-worshiper in the Portland area. VH1’s new rockumentary “Let’s Spend the Night Together: Confessions of Rock’s Greatest Groupies,” premieres Wednesday, Dec. 15, and features 59-year-old Michele Overman. She’s a Northwest Portland resident who also happens to be the ex-girlfriend of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
WW caught up with Overman [pictured above, left] on Friday in advance of the TV show’s premiere to talk about how — in the words of the rockumentary’s narrator, Pamela Des Barres [pictured above, right] — Overman once helped put the “sex” in “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll.” It’s not hard to imagine why. In 1969, Overman bore a striking resemblance to Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas.
[Full disclosure: I regret to say I was unable to contact Tyler, Plant or Gilmour to hear their recollections of Overman.]
WW: Do you agree the word “groupie” is now a bit of a dirty word?
Overman: Yes, unfortunately. It used to just mean women who loved music and loved musicians.
WW: You were only 16 when you dated Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, who went to the same high school you did. How old was he?
Overman: He was 18.
WW: So what was the future American Idol judge like at 18?
He was really cute and really charming. You could just tell the guy was amazing. He’s one of those people who are so over-the-top talented with no brakes, no filter. You could tell he was going places.
WW: But he wasn’t in Aerosmith then, right?
He was in a group called Chain Reaction.
WW: Just two years later you were with Robert Plant? How did you meet him?
I used to go to this club [in Manhattan] called Steve Paul’s The Scene. Every group that came to New York from England used to go there. And I’d seen this guy. He wasn’t famous yet. Led Zeppelin had just formed. [It was 1968.] I thought this guy was gorgeous, and I knew he liked me. But every groupie in New York was after him. Finally, the night of his show, we were in a restaurant next door. He was there and I was there, and he came over.
WW: And that was that. How long were you together?
WW: I hear you were one of the flower children to inspire the lyrics for “Going to California:” Goin’ to California with an achin’ in my heart/ Someone told me there’s a girl out there/ With love in her eyes and flowers in her hair.
That’s what I was told. Jimmy Page told me that in London. He didn’t want Robert and I to break up. He thought I was a good influence.
WW: But he was married and eventually you did break up. Is it more painful to break up with a celebrity?
It was very difficult seeing the person who just broke your heart all over the place, every time you turned the radio on, every time you opened up a magazine … If you’re involved with someone who breaks your heart there’s always a downside. But when that person is famous, it’s harder. It’s more difficult to cope with.
WW: There’s another famous groupie named “Sweet Connie” featured in the VH1 show. She says at one point in the show, while standing in front of an Arkansas venue, “How I fought to give blow jobs in this building!” What do you make of her brand of super-groupiedom?
She’s like from another planet. It’s hard to even put her in a frame of reference that I can relate to!
WW: Now girls don’t have to be groupies. If they love music, they can start their own band, right?
There are still groupies. I just don’t think in this climate it’s quite as, let’s say, freewheeling.
WW: Out of the three famous men you dated who was the better boyfriend?
The better lover? Steven. He really was.“Let’s Spend the Night Together: Confessions of Rock’s Greatest Groupies” airs Wednesday, Dec. 15 on VH1 at 8:30 pm. The show is based on Pamela Des Barres book by the same name.