Another reason to raise an eyebrow at the claims regarding Bowie is not the lack of corroboration, or of photographic evidence in the notoriously paparazzi-prone Sunset Strip groupie scene, but Mattix’s own accounts. While this may not be every account she’s given, there is enough to be deeply concerning:
- For many years, she maintained that she had her first time with Jimmy Page during the Zeppelin 1972 tour. For instance, she stated in an in-depth 1985 interview with music journalist Stephen Davis that Page had her brought to his hotel room in 1972, that he insisted on keeping her locked up in his room when he first began seeing her, and that he would not “let me go anywhere because I was so underage.” She then explained that after about one year together, Page was willing to be seen in public with her: “After that first year, Jimmy took me along to all the shows. Sometimes they would dedicate a show to me! And if I wasn’t with him, he would call me every day from wherever he was. Especially at the time he was in his prime, ’73 to ’75, that was the prime of Zeppelin.” This, indeed, lines up with the fact that there are numerous pictures of them together beginning in 1973.
- She later started to claim that she had sex with David Bowie before becoming involved with Page. One significant issue with this claim is that Zeppelin’s ’72 tour took place over the summer of 1972, well before the first Ziggy Stardust tour (“Ziggy I”) came to California in late October 1972.
- The story was further muddied when Mattix gave an interview to Peter Gillman in 1986. In that interview, she said that she had been getting dinner at the Rainbow Bar in March 1973 (during the second Ziggy Stardust tour, or “Ziggy II”), and that Bowie — who also happened to be at the restaurant — first spotted her from across the room. According to her, he sent his bodyguard over to ask if she would like to join him in his suite that night. She said she accepted, and that fellow teenage groupie Sable Starr (who was sitting with her) insisted on joining them. Mattix then said that she had sex with Bowie that same night for “five or six hours,” that Starr was waiting jealously the whole time, and that Mattix — feeling guilty about leaving her friend in the sitting room — convinced a reluctant Bowie to have sex with Starr in order to humor her. She then said all three of them fell asleep, and that she and Starr frantically snuck out the next day, before Bowie’s wife Angie was set to arrive at the hotel.
- Mattix gave another interview (made available online in 2009) in which she said that she was a virgin when she met Page. This lines up with her first story listed here, but contradicts later accounts.
- Mattix also gave an interview to Paul Trynka with a completely different version of her encounter with Bowie. There, she said that she and Sable Starr actually made their way over to the Beverly Hilton in October 1972 (Ziggy I), found out which room Bowie was in, and snuck in. She said that when they managed to get into his room, he was “tired” and hesitant to have sex with them at first, but that they eventually convinced him before sneaking out of his room, unseen.
- Mattix later gave the account that’s being circulated in the Thrillist piece. There she claimed that she had actually been propositioned by Bowie back in October 1972, but rejected him; that he called her and took her to dinner when he was back in town in March 1973; that John Lennon and Yoko Ono joined them while they were sitting together prior to heading to Bowie’s suite at the Beverly Hilton; that she had a threesome with Bowie and Starr; and that Angie had actually walked in on them the next morning. In addition to contradicting her prior accounts in just about every particular, it is worth noting that this version contains at least one significant, confirmed factual error: Bowie and Lennon didn’t even meet until September 1974 — they were introduced by, of all people, Elizabeth Taylor at a party she was hosting.
(Other errors — such as the fact that David Bowie stayed at the Hyatt in March of ’73 rather than the Hilton as Mattix insists, and the fact that he didn’t depilate his eyebrows until after the Ziggy I tour had left California, are less serious.)
- It’s also worth noting that, in that same Thrillist interview, Mattix claims to have attended a recording session in 1975 (now age 17) featuring John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and several other musicians including Mick Jagger, and then had sex with Mick Jagger immediately after. There are two major factual issues here: (i) the only post-Beatles jam session between Lennon and McCartney happened a year earlier, in March 1974 (check out “A Toot and a Snore in ‘74”); and (ii) there’s nothing to suggest that Mick Jagger was anywhere near that recording session.
None of this, of course, definitively disproves that something happened between Bowie and Mattix and/or Starr — or Mattix and Jagger, for that matter — but taken together, this all has to raise some doubts. Some inconsistencies are to be expected even in truthful accounts, but it’s the number and the seriousness of the errors and inconsistencies in this particular tale, in combination with the lack of corroboration, that make Mattix’s account at least somewhat questionable. There is a genuine issue of fact here, and it would be irresponsible to ignore it.
ETA: Since publishing this piece, it has come to my attention that Pamela Des Barres’ celebrated memoir, I’m With the Band, also places Ms. Mattix in a relationship with Jimmy Page well before Mattix claims to have lost her virginity to Bowie.
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