“Sweet Sweet Connie” Hamzy, a famous groupie immortalized in Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band,” died Saturday in her hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. She was 66.
Allen Taylor, director for Little Rock’s Griffin Leggett Healey & Roth funeral home, confirmed Hamzy’s death to Rolling Stone. Taylor added that she had been put in hospice prior to her death, but a cause of death was not immediately available.
Hamzy is best known for her shoutout in the first verse of “We’re an American Band,” where drummer Don Brewer sang, “Out on the road for 40 days/Last night in Little Rock put me in a haze/Sweet, sweet Connie, doin’ her act/She had the whole show and that’s a natural fact.”
Hamzy recalled to KTHV that she first heard the song on her transistor radio when she was swimming at Lake No 1 in Little Rock following her high school graduation. “‘Folks, you’re not gonna believe what we just got in the studio, it’s the new release from Grand Funk Railroad!'” Hamzy recited. “‘And you know that dark-haired girl we see backstage a lot wandering around? Listen to the first few lyrics!’ …I was determined to become a famous groupie. I really was.”
“So sorry to hear of Connie’s death,” Brewer told Rolling Stone. “My memory of her is of a very outgoing ‘sweet’ girl that wanted to be famous. That was her goal in life. May she rest in peace.”
Hamzy was born on January 9th, 1955. She was just 15 years old when her mother dropped her off at the Barton Coliseum to see Steppenwolf. “She didn’t like to deal with parking, she didn’t like to deal with traffic,” Hamzy told KTHV. “So she’d take me out there to the fairgrounds early in the afternoon before the traffic got bad. And we’d go out there and would wander around in the backstage area and then one thing would lead to another.”
Hamzy linked up with her first musician that night — Steppenwolf drummer Jerry Edmonton — but she confirmed to Joan Rivers that she lost her virginity to Frijid Pink drummer Rick Stevers. As she told Howard Stern in 2010, “The drummers gravitated to me because they wanted to hear about John Bonham and Keith Moon…I haven’t had Neil Peart. That I regret.”
In addition to Bonham and Moon, Hamzy claimed to have been with Huey Lewis, Joe Walsh, Don Henley, Eddie Van Halen, Paul Stanley, Dr. John, Vanilla Ice, Dan Fogelberg, Neil Diamond, all three members of ZZ Top, and more. In both her Stern interview and the documentary Let’s Spend The Night Together: Confessions of Rock’s Greatest Groupies, she was quoted saying that Peter Frampton was “the smallest.”
“They’re passing you around like a plate of potatoes,” Stern told her. “Well, a plate of good potatoes,” she replied.
It’s rumored that Hamzy was also the subject of the 1985 Cheap Trick song “Standing on the Edge”: “Oh, Connie likes nighttime, every night/Connie likes candy, every bite/All day sucker, Connie might/Swallow that thing ’cause she does it right.” A representative for the band did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone for comment.
In 1995, Hamzy published the memoir Rock Groupie: Intimate Adventures of “Sweet Connie” From Little Rock. She was profiled by Cosmopolitan in 1974, and she wrote an article in Penthouse in 1992 detailing her adventures.
In the latter, she claimed she nearly had an encounter with Bill Clinton in the lobby of the North Little Rock Hotel in 1984. George Stephanopoulos, then the communications director on the 1992 Clinton campaign, recalled the controversy in his 1999 memoir All Too Human: A Political Education: “The governor was leaving a speech with a few associates when Hamzy, who had been sunbathing by the hotel, ran up to him, flipped down her bikini top, and asked ‘What do you think of these?’ Clinton seemed to take great pleasure in picturing the scene again. Hilary was less amused.”
Stephanopoulos was able to secure affidavits from witnesses to disprove the story. “We’d survived our first bimbo eruption,” he wrote. “The Hamzy episode was a test — of Clinton’s character, our campaign’s competence, and the media’s resistance to tabloid trash. We all passed. Too bad it was only a drill.”
Hamzy spent 12 years working as a substitute teacher in Little Rock. According to her Rivers interview, she was an only child. After her father’s death in 1984, she stopped speaking to her mother over issues with her father’s estate. She was engaged twice and kept the rings both times.
“I became a groupie at 15 and since then it has become an addiction,” Hamzy told the London Sun, quoted in New York’s Daily News in 1991. “No matter how hard I try, I just can’t give it up. It’s the thrill, the chase, the challenge of getting to meet a famous star that lures me back time and again.”
“When girls find out what they’re in for — group sex, kinky sex, sex with other women, and usually all of it in one night — they chicken out,” she added. “I didn’t. I felt as though I had arrived. I thought I was somebody.“