Barbara Cope

Barbara Cope (born 19 March 1950), is an American music fan and media celebrity. She is best known by her nicknames the Butter Queen and Miss International Butter Queen, and has been frequently mentioned in song lyrics and live performances by bands touring through Texas.

Cope was born in Dallas, Texas. She experienced her first rock concert at the Dallas Memorial Auditorium in 1965. She briefly moved to Los Angeles, California, during the mid-1960s, a fan of the burgeoning psychedelic music scene and counter-culture movement, before returning to Dallas. With a demure influenced by Mae West, she never self-identified as a 'groupie' in interviews, always regarding herself as merely a friend and confidante of the musical artists she met. Her trademark full-body massage used 'a pound of Land O' Lakes butter' as lubricating cream. British singer-songwriter Donovan is reportedly the first person to have dubbed her 'the Butter Queen'. Cope travelled across the United States with Traffic, when that band first toured North America, and later with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. She was also associated with the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Donovan, George Harrison, Elton John, and David Cassidy. In 1970 she joined Joe Cocker on tour and appeared in the 1971 film documentary of Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. In the notes for the DVD Gimme Shelter, the Rolling Stones assistant Jo Bergman, recalled having responded to a door of a motel in Texas during the band's tour of 1969 and the blonde woman said: 'I have a pound of butter in my bag. Where's Mick [Jagger]? The Butter Queen is mentioned by name in the Rolling Stones 1972 song 'Rip This Joint', from Exile on Main Street:

'Down to New Orleans with the Dixie Dean,

'Cross to Dallas, Texas with the Butter Queen.'

'The Butter Queen' is also named in the opening song by Three Man Army on their 1970 album A Third of a Lifetime:

'If your name is Barbara, how come they call you Butter Queen?'

Timpani for the Butter Queen bootleg album cover 1973

Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant mentioned the Butter Queen in concert at Fort Worth, Texas, on 19 May 1973, during their ninth American tour. He dedicated the song 'Dazed and Confused' to her:

'I'd like to dedicate this next one to ah, an old friend of mine, if she's about anywhere. The Butter Queen. The Butter Queen. Fantastic. Do you know what it's like? Far out. She is too much really.'

The unofficial bootleg for the concert was subsequently named Tympani for the Butter Queen.

In January 1987, Cope appeared on the Oprah television programme with Miss Pamela (Pamela des Barres), as 'Barbara Butter Queen' discussing her creative rock music activities of previous years. She also appeared on the Geraldo show.

In 1993, the Butthole Surfers wrote a song for the Freaked film soundtrack entitled 'Butter Queen'.

Bibliography

  • Amende, Coral (2000) Rock Confidential: A Backstage Pass to the Outrageous World of Rock 'n' Roll. New York, NY; London: Plume. ISBN 978-0-452-28157-8 (OCLC 43069987).
  • Cassidy, David (2008) Could It be Forever?: My Story. Leicester: Thorpe. ISBN 978-1-84782-269-7 (OCLC 453239082).
  • Edwards, Gavin (2008) Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton's Little John?: Music's Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed. Reprint edn. Paw Prints. ISBN 978-1-4352-8870-6 (OCLC 228362009).

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