Sabel (sometimes spelled Sable) Starr nee’ Shields died recently of cancer, she had been suffering from several brain tumors over the last year. She was 51 years old.
Sabel, from Palo Verde in the San Fernando Valley outside of L.A. found infamy as an under age groupie in Hollywood in the heyday of the rock’n’roll scene centered around the crowd at Rodney’s English Disco. She appeared on the cover of Star magazine in 1973, and was often seen in the pages of Rock Scene, Creem, Phonograph Record and other magazines of that era. In her own way she was as much of a rock star as any of her celebrated beaus. Sabel was the girlfriend of Johnny Thunders, Ron Asheton and later Richard Hell and was also close friends with the Stooges, Led Zep, and Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie. I first met Sabel the day I arrived in New York City (May, ’77), she was hanging around with the late Greg Shaw, then manager of the Flamin’ Groovies and editor of Bomp magazine. I never knew her well but she was always nice, funny, and quite beautiful. After moving to New York to be with Johnny, an experience that left her traumatized when she ended up as Johnny’s punching bag, she left the rock’n’roll world for good. Eventually she moved to Reno where she married, had two children and worked as a black jack dealer. The best Sabel stories can be found in Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History Of Punk by Gillian “Fang” McCain and Legs McNeil (Grove Press, 1996). Phillipe Marcade of the Senders saw Sabel as recently as last year and reported that she looked great and was doing well, which makes her death all the sadder.
He sister Coral dated Iggy Pop for several years. Iggy wrote a song about Sabel and Johnny called Look Away which can be found on the LP Naughty Little Doggie (Virgin, 1998).