The fire reportedly broke out in the early hours of January 14 in the single-storey Dallas home that 67-year-old Cope shared with her 93-year-old mother. A neighbour, 45-year-old Eduardo Flores, reportedly managed to help Cope’s mother out of the property, and she is recovering in hospital.
However, NBC 5 reports that by the time Flores returned to the house to attempt to rescue Cope, the fire had spread too much to allow him to access the property. Cope’s body was reportedly found near the front porch of her home.
“I grabbed my phone, and then I woke my parents up,” Flores’ 21-year-old daughter Veronica told WFAA. “He didn’t even put on any shoes or anything, he just ran out of the house and headed that way,” Flores said about her father.
Cope was known in the music industry as the “Butter Queen” groupie who socialised with rock musicians as they travelled through Dallas. She is said to have gained her nickname from her habit of using a stick of butter as an aide for sex acts.
Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant dedicated the song “Dazed And Confused” to Cope when the band performed in Fort Worth, Texas on May 19, 1973.
“We’d like to ah, in fact it’s got nothing to do with we. It’s got something to do with me. 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, and so we’re , we, and this is an old one. An oldie, but goodie.”
That on-stage remark from Plant lead to a 1996 bootleg release of the show to be named “Tympani For The Butter Queen.” Her nickname also featured in several other bootleg titles including “The Revenge Of The Butterqueen,” “The Sex Machine & The Butterqueen,” and “The Butterqueen.”
Plant also mentioned Cope on stage in Dallas on March 4, 1975. “Whatever happened to The Butter Queen?” he joked. “She got cheap and started using margarine!”
Cope was also friendly with members of The Rolling Stones, and she’s mentioned in the lyrics to the band’s 1972 song “Rip This Joint.” “Down to New Orleans with the Dixie Dean,” Mick Jagger sings on the track, “‘cross to Dallas, Texas with the Butter Queen.”
Cope’s Facebook profile included a photograph of what she said was an autograph from Jimmy Page while he was a member of The Yardbirds. “To my dearest Barbara, over under sideways down,” the note reads, which is a reference to the 1966 Yardbirds song.
Cope was profiled in a Los Angeles Times article in the newspaper’s June 18, 1972 edition. 22-year-old Cope told the newspaper at the time that “I dislike being a freak in a circus.”
“That’s what people think I am. They think – ah ha, a groupie, a camp follower. But it isn’t so. I’m just a friend to the rock stars. The reason I’m at the top – and man, this is a very competitive field – is that I treat them as a friend. And I always have a lot of young girls and drinks around for them.”
Cope was also featured in a 1987 episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1987.
David Cassidy wrote about his experience with Cope in his 2007 book “Could It Be Forever? My Story”:
“After a concert in Dallas, I was visited by one of the most celebrated groupies of the era – a woman known as Barbara the Butter Queen, who liked to cover her conquests in butter before performing a particularly intimate act.
If you were a rock star – or close to one – Barbara went with the territory. She serviced countless rockers of the Sixties and Seventies and I’d heard her name in connection with Joe Cocker, the Rolling Stones and others.
The guys in my band and crew just gasped when they heard that Barbara was coming to ‘do’ them all. They were shaking with anticipation.
She turned out to be a rather tired-looking woman with a heavy Texas drawl, around 30 years old and by no means a beauty. But it was still a memorable evening.”