I’ve made a friend on Blip.fm whose musical tastes I enjoy a lot; seems like we have a lot in common, and happily for me she seems to think so too, as Sally Parmer – @BlueJeanBaby – and I exchange tunes and props and replies regularly on Blip. As a result, I was recently the happy recipient of a signed copy of her new book, Blue Jean Baby: One Girl’s Trip Through The 1960s L.A. Music Scene.
I really enjoy a book that stays with me after I’m finished with it, and this one definitely does that. Life was not easy at Sally’s childhood home, and as she moved into her teenage years, music was her escape and her balm. And as an L.A. child, she turned out to be perfectly placed to start meeting people in the music industry, and start building a life and relationships around the music which brought her so much.
Sally did start out as an obsessed concert fan, trying her best at age 15 with her friends to get close to the Beatles on their first trip to L.A. and then managing back-stage passes at other concerts and venues to meet other musicians of the time. She and her friends plotted and planned at every turn how to discover when and where the stars would arrive at a concert or at their hotel, and how to be able to intercept and meet them – and more, if possible. Necking sessions and even going to bed with the musicians and those close to them were definitely in the plans.
But because she was (and is) a musician herself, Sally was able to bring something more than just screaming groupie antics to the table. And she was able to keep her head and not get deeply into the drug scene or alcohol overload, like so many others in the music scene. Those qualities brought her into contact with some pretty amazing and interesting figures in the music industry. Ultimately, Sally got her wish to lose her virginity to someone who helped make the music that made her sane.
As it happens, Sally is quite the ringer for Cher, especially in her facial features. As a teenager, she started to play off that, dying and ironing her hair to look even more like the famous singer (see the cover photo of her book.) The resemblance worked both for her and, sometimes, against her. That was one of the many many interesting bits of this book.
This is no light-weight, white-washed memoir of the gay and swinging 60s – as you read through Sally’s teen years and learn more of the abuses she suffered both at home and the other areas of her life, you start to realize that the forces driving her to get into the groupie scene were much deeper, more compelling, and more painful than just shallow “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” desires to score another musician. Her connections to the musicians and others in the industry and to the music itself were what enabled her to survive, and ultimately grow up and make a life for herself.