THE 2000 film Almost Famous told the love story of a schoolboy writer tracking a rock band and falling for a teenage girl – who happens to be a groupie. Or was she?

"We are not groupies," said Penny Lane, played by Kate Hudson in Cameron Crowe’s sensitive and humorous semi-autobiographical movie. “Groupies sleep with rock stars because they want to be near someone famous.”

She grinned and added: “We're here because of the music. We inspire the music. We are Band-Aides."

Groupies – or muses? There remains a fascination with the ‘rock chicks’ who followed the bands like seagulls follow trawlers.

Pop stars such as David Cassidy and Rod Stewart used young girls as they did drugs. Led Zeppelin’s account of life with groupies became legend. Sometimes, the rock stars would develop deep relationships with the groupies – or those who considered themselves muses. Sometimes they would write songs about them. Sometimes they would marry them.

But in an age of #MeToo, the behaviour of rock stars and their female followers is subject to deeper questioning. Are groupies now an extinct species? When we think of those young women with a mission to bed a rock star is it with a sneer of disdain, or sympathy? Or is becoming a groupie/muse an act of empowerment?

The questions have been explored in a new book by Jenny Boyd called Jennifer Juniper: A Journey Beyond the Muse.

Boyd, now with a doctorate in psychology, was once in a relationship with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, married to Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood (twice) wooed by Eric Clapton, married to Bob Dylan’s drummer and at one point during her life of hedonism in the 1960s and 1970s prompted Donavan to write a hit song about her.

She believes she was a muse, an inspiration to her famous lovers. Yet Boyd admits that at times she didn’t have control in the relationships with the rock stars; such as the time when Fleetwood was sharing his affections with band member Stevie Nicks. “It was like being a leaf in the wind,” she recalls. “You went along with things.” Boyd also talks of being defined by the men in her life such as drummer Ian Wallace.

Are the women who attach themselves to celebrity exercising free choice – or does the sex, the connection with the star – come with a price?

Writer Caitlin Moran once worked as a music journalist. Her best-selling autobiography How To Build A Girl has been turned into a film and is scheduled for release this summer.

Moran, who writes about female empowerment (she is the mother of two young girls) and “about the awful things that happen to women”, has long been a cheerleader for groupies.

Moran, however, doesn’t see a contradiction between being a groupie and a feminist. Indeed, she still encourages teenagers to chase their heroes. “Being a groupie is a fairly maligned hobby,” she argues. “If you want to have sex, why is it somehow more noble to bang some warty-fingered boy at school who’s probably not very good at sex – and will tell everyone at school the next day – than it is to have sex with a rock star you fancy, and who fancies you?”

Moran adds: “So long as you want to have sex with someone in a band, have sex with someone in a band. Why not?”

What of the argument that rock stars simply use the women for physical release then discard them like the plastic razor they’d thrown away that morning? Or is there indeed a special bond formed in which the females are far from subservient?

Dr Rosemary Lucy Hill of Huddersfield University admits analyses of the groupie are complex. Her research into gender and relationships in the music industry features former groupie Pamela Des Barres, who slept with the likes of Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page and Jim Morrison.

Des Barres, who wrote the bestseller I’m With The Band, didn’t consider herself to be a sex toy.

“Her [Pamela’s] idea is that the groupie is the muse,” says Dr Hill. “The way that she talks about sex with musicians as being about getting close to the music is really powerful.

“When you start to think about music and sex in those terms, it changes your idea of what it means to be a groupie.”

Pamela Des Barres argued: “A groupie is just a music-loving muse. It’s a give-and-take with a musician and the ladies who love them, or boys who love them, and it’s all one big happy connection. It’s inspiring them to be great. It’s a real beautiful life-affirming thing.”

Roxana Shirazi, who wrote The Last Living Slut, Born In Iran: Bred Backstage slept with band members of the likes of Motley Crue and Guns N’Roses. Shirazi has mixed feeling about being a groupie. “I wasn’t going to be of service to them; I wanted to be happy and turned on.”

Yet, she adds: “It’s never possible to have full agency [as a groupie]. From the outset, the power structure is not equal. They’re famous, and, unless you’re famous yourself, you’re not on the same plane.”

Can women ever be in control of such a relationship in which they are often commoditised? David Cassidy, once the most famous pop star in the world, wrote of sex in the early 1970s as being as freely available as room service.

Cassidy admitted he once had sex with a groupie through the wrought iron gates of his mansion (after his management had locked him in to protect his public reputation).

Former groupie Lori Maddox says she lost her virginity to David Bowie when she was just 14. And during his 1972 tour of America the former Ziggy Stardust rang 19 year-old model Cyrinda Fox to come see him, while he was having sex with a groupie “because he needed someone to talk to.”

To describe some rock star’s treatment of groupies as sordid doesn’t even begin to illustrate the reality. And the reputation of the groupies could be seen as an early example of slut shaming.

However, many former groupies have no regrets. Blondie’s Debbie Harry says she was once a rock groupie. And she believed she held the reins of power. “Since I was a little girl I’ve known the effect I have on men. I just capitalise on what I’ve got. The sex thing has always been there and I know how to use it.”

What’s the reality? Were the teenage girls who slept with the stars impressionable innocents, desperate to touch the hem of celebrity underpants – or highly focused, in-control pursuers of their pray who wished to become part of the music world?

Linda McCartney came to be tagged as a groupie prior to marrying a Beatle. A former friend said she was, “a groping groupie who was into photographing stars with little or no film in her camera.”

This doesn’t suggest a woman being taken advantage of. And Lori Maddox doesn’t regret her groupie relationship with Bowie at all. “David was so gentle and kind with me when we were together. It could have been some creepy guy who threw me on the bed and raped me. It was a different thing, he took me by the hand and was a gentleman. He was a fascinating creature.”

She adds: “Was I supposed to do it with some algebra teacher in the back of his van? I was the last of the virgins at my school, too.

“Do I regret it? No, life goes on. I am 60 years old and it was 45 years ago. People should get over it. You go through a journey in life. I don’t believe in mistakes. I believe there is a destiny for everybody.”

Yet, Maddox wouldn’t recommend becoming a groupie. “I don’t think underage girls should sleep with guys,” she says. “I wouldn’t want this for anybody’s daughter. My perspective is changing as I get older and more cynical.”

Will young women be so keen to describe themselves as groupies in the modern world? Will they accept the rock star-groupie, or muse, power dynamic?

Dr Hill doesn’t think so. “Where fans might once have lapped up tales of debauchery, they now want something different from their idols: an awareness of social issues, respect for their fans and an attitude that condemns, rather than continues, the hair-raising exploits of rock’s bygone days.”

Jennifer Juniper: A Journey Beyond the Muse, Urbane Publications, £16.99

How To Build A Girl is due for release on July 3