Pamela Des Barres, Cynthia Plaster Caster, Lori Lightning, Cherry Vanilla; all names you associate when it comes down to girls and Rock 'n' Roll.
Though, certainly, the most iconic is Pamela Des Barres, former groupie, musician and celebrated author and journalist.
Miss Pamela is probably best known for the book I'm With the Band (1987), the groupie confessional memoir describing her relationships with Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, Keith Moon, Gram Parsons and Jim Morrison -to name just a few - in the late '60s and early '70s. She recently published its followup, Lets Spend the Night Together, in 2007.
Des Barres grew up in Los Angeles in the early '60s, idolizing the Beatles and Elvis, and fantasized about meeting her favourite musicians. After leaving school in 1966, she became friends with Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa, which opened the door to the scene on L.A.'s Sunset Strip and with rock musicians. During this time, she carried on with a diary that had started back in school, which lead to her
She was also a member of the GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously), an all female band that combined music, spoken word and performance art.
And now, without further ado...
Nine Questions with Pamela Des Barres!
CM: What is R'n'R to you?
PDB: The actual term Rock 'n' Roll means having sex, so it has always represented desire, rebellion, joy, ecstasy, danger...
CM: In 1969, you released Permant Damage with the GTOs, which is famously backed by Zappa and Jeff Beck. Due to some of its members being arrested, this was the first and last album the GTOs made. Did you for see this as a start of something which got hindered?
PDB: Yes indeed, Mr. Zappa was totally anti-drug, and I lived in fear of him finding out that a few of the GTOs were into hard drugs...
CM: Rock stars, wives and groupies; is there any understanding between them?
PDB: They don't like to admit it, but I think anyone who marries a musician knows that that's a possibility, for sure. But more and more lately, [rock stars] are getting involved with actresses and models, and I don't think those women are as accepting of the old rules that the groupies used to go by.
CM: The meaning of the word ''groupie'' was somewhat of a status symbol back in the '60s; these days it is used a negative term. How would you describe groupie mentality?
PDB: A true groupie is just a music lover who wants to get as close as possible to the people who make the music they love. They want to share ideas, love, experiences, intimacy, and show their appreciation for making them feel sooooo damn good!
CM: Beatle Paul was your first love; did you ever get to 'hook up' with him after the whole Beatle phenomena passed?
PDB: No, we met a few years back, at a party after his concert in L.A... Paul was meeting and greeting people. He looked beyond fabulous. I shook his hand, stammered my name before thrusting my book into his hands.
He looked bemused, raised his eyebrows questioningly, a bit fearful...uh...did we...uh...we haven't met before have we? I said... unfortunately no.
He looked at Heather and smiled and said 'see dear, I'm innocent, I have never met her before!'.
He seemed to get a kick out of the whole thing.
I had my moment with my favorite Beatle, and it was glorious.
CM: Many groupies had longtime relationships with rock stars. It wasn't just about sex? Has that changed now that rockstars tend to live from stage to bus and back again?
PDB: Groupies will always become wives and girlfriends and always have. Even the girls who only get ten minutes in the bus really want ten years with the rocker they adore...but will take that ten minutes and remember it forever. It really hasn't changed, except that it it harder and harder to meet the rock gods.
CM: The day John Lennon got shot is the day many people claim that R'n'R changed forever. Do you perceive this to be true?
Yes, security was certainly beefed up, and rock also became a big business with a capital ''B''. Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison never waited around for a paycheck. And actresses and models became groupies, and had easier access to their ''peers,'' making it more difficult for the ''regular'' groupie.
CM: There is the famous story of you high on PCP doing acrobatics on Jim Morrison's Persian rug; that through this you got to know Jim pretty well. In I'm With the Band you said there was a time where Jim threw your drugs out of the car window. There has been plenty of speculation that Jim was working for the government, your thoughts on this?
PDB: Hahaha! That is a good one. I saw Jim groveling around in the gutter too any times to believe that loony idea. Jim and many other long lost rock gods have become mythologized to the point of insanity. He was always in trouble with the law!
CM: I'm with the band is a book I return to again and again. It's a very personal account of a time which has been described as 'Opening up your mind to the world of philosophy and psychology of the ego manic guitarist' did you expect it to have had such an impact on the history of rock literature?
PDB: I just wanted to tell my story because I knew it was a doozie-a female point of view from within the center of the rock renaissance. While I was living it, I knew people would want to know about my life and times in the middle of that magnificent maelstrom.
Thanks again, Ms. Des Barres, for humouring us madmen (and women)!
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