There was only one Butter Queen who reigned the world of rock as she hungrily sought the company of men like the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, then also Jimi Hendrix, David Cassidy, Joe Cocker… and the list goes on and on and on.
Appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1987, Barbara Cope claimed she had “been with” around 2,000 musicians.
Cope was, undoubtedly, the most popular groupie of the 1960s and early ’70s rock scene.
After she withdrew from the turbulent groupie lifestyle, which entailed accompanying rock bands on their official tours, little was heard and known of this woman again.
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Barbara Cope was aged 15 when she first saw the Rolling Stones perform in her home city.
“I didn’t care about average boys. I just wanted to meet musicians,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 1972. It was seemingly her natural talent to meet and hang out with rock stars. She would just sneak backstage, through fire escapes and security and meet them.
So, just how famous was Barbara Cope? Musician and Partridge Family star David Cassidy described her in his autobiography Could it be Forever? My Story (2007) as “legendary.”
Barbara’s nickname apparently came from her penchant for using Land O’Lakes butter when performing a particular intimate act. “The guys in my band and crew just gasped when they heard that Barbara the Butter Queen was actually coming to ‘do’ them all.” wrote Cassidy.
David Cassidy further explains a buttery episode involving the Queen. “She looked us all over, the whole band and crew, and announced, ‘I’ll take the star, the dark hairy one, and the guitar player. My girls will divvy up the rest,’” he wrote.
“Barbara picked up the phone and called room service. ‘Can we have a pound of butter, please?’ She brought out the butter and put it all over Sam.”
The details and secrets of exactly what Barbara Cope did with her boys and the butter have never been fully revealed, which only adds to her myth.
The Butter Queen gets a mention in various songs and on stage by some ultra-famous rock stars. Other groupies could have only dreamed about that.
The Rolling Stones referred to her in their 1972 single “Rip This Joint”, in the following lines: “Down to New Orleans with the Dixie Dean/ ‘Cross to Dallas, Texas with the Butter Queen.” It was the second song of their Exile on Main St. album from the same year.
Barbara the Butter Queen also featured on the front cover of Buddy music magazine in November 1973, which presented her as “Dallas’ leading groupie.” Not that she needed any publicity.
In fact, by the age of 22 the Butter Queen got tired of her thrill-seeking lifestyle, and her mystical endeavors with musicians…and butter. It wasn’t long before she entirely retreated from this of lifestyle. She kept her public appearances rare after her withdrawal.
In 1987, when Oprah asked why she was called the Butter Queen, she had the perfect answer: “Those who know, know. And those who don’t, wish they did.”
Over four decades after her days of glory, at the age of 67, Barbara Cope lost her life on January 14, 2018 in a house fire. Her 93-year-old mother, who shared the East Dallas home, was rescued by a neighbor.
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One thing that is regrettable is that Barbara Cope never fulfilled her plans to pen an autobiography. We will never hear from the Queen herself on her wild youth. She would have probably defended some of the statements made about her, for instance, she did not like the word “groupie.” She also insisted she was always friends with the rock stars she so much liked to hang out with.
Cope remained coy about her early days until the end. Even when she died in the fire, nobody in the neighborhood knew who she was. They all learned afterward.