Authors: Pamela Des Barres,Michael Des Barres
Take Another Little Piece of My Heart
Also by Pamela Des Barres
I’m with the Band
Let’s Spend the Night Together
A GROUPIE GROWS UP
PAMELA DES BARRES
new foreword by Michael Des Barres
An A Cappella Book
Cover design: Visible Logic
Cover photo: Raeanne Rubenstein
Copyright © 1992, 1993 by Pamela Des Barres
Foreword © 2008 by Michael Des Barres
Afterword © 2008 by Pamela Des Barres
Reprinted by arrangement with the author
This edition published in 2008 by
Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
814 North Franklin Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Printed in the United States of America
5 4 3 2 1
This book is dedicated to my adored and adoring Mother—Margaret Ruth Hayes Miller
Love your life out
I got a call. I was in New York. Somebody wanted me to replace Keith Moon in a movie. Apparently he had thrown his psyche out of a hotel window and was not available. Yet another replacement gig in my long and illustrious career as a professional exhibitionist and performance artist. My current incarnation was a singer in a rock and roll band, the child of Aleister Crowley and Anita Pallenberg (it was a very difficult pregnancy).
I arrived at the location in last night’s makeup and I saw her (to be more precise, the back of her). There before me in all its tantalizing glory was the greatest ass I had ever seen. Somebody said my name and she turned and looked at me over her bare left shoulder. Even though I had hardly slept in several weeks everything was suddenly crystal clear. She smiled and literally captivated and catapulted me into a dimension I had never experienced. No longer was my life about me—it was and has remained about us.
I knew of course who she was—the GTO’s were legendary to any rock culture aficionado. In fact her spectacular pedigree made me love her all the more—I was the groupie, not her. She was at Altamont with Mick, the Whiskey with the Lizard King, the Garden with Page. I felt elevated to a rarefied rock and roll consciousness. All of that, however, paled when I realized that no one could be as lustful and loving, as passionate and patient, as her. She was the embodiment of everything I had ever loved about the new world of America. She was Marilyn, she was Elvis, she was a forties bathing suit; she swooned, she swayed, she was the Mary Magdalene of the Electric Church.
My pursuit was vigorous and focused, cutting through the narcotic trance established as de rigeur for a rock and roll decadent.
Then I was at the Hyatt on the Sunset strip. She had a cowboyfriend with boots and everything. My boots had platforms and silver stars.
I had to be with her, and before long I was. I left the ol’ country, I broke up the band, I flew back to LA, and this book, dear readers, describes what happened next.
Along with our miraculous son, Nick, my beloved Miss Pamela is the most important person in my life—a life that has been saved many times by her joie de vivre and joyous view of our increasingly fearful world.
This book is a fierce and honest account of this time in our lives, written by a woman whose skills are unparalleled and wisdom infinite.
My love for you, Pamela, exists in a timeless place that transcends sentimentality and regret, analysis and speculation. We are all in love with you . . . forever.
I must be one of the most lighthearted people on the planet. I feel like I’ve lived fifteen lifetimes, and I still weigh only 112 pounds! Oh, I’ve been through a lot of unbelievable shit, but at least all the thrills and chills, rock-and-roll heart-bruising, subconscious self-abuse, and co-co-codependence have led directly here, and I am one happy chick. Would you believe I still wake up every day and say, “Yay!!!”
When I was a flamboyant, wacky, peace-and-love, rock-and-roll teenager, I wanted to fit it ALL in because I assumed that when I hit my forties, it would be a downhill slide to sitcom heaven. I thought I would be spending a lot of time doing normal-formal things like mending, baking, cheering on my son in the big game, taking my daughter to baton practice, kissing my husband’s ass, reading romance novels while the dough rose, and shedding a simple tear. That’s why I tried to cram every day chock-full of amazing stuff, so I could iron shirts, pack lunches, watch
and be content to reflect on the Stuff That American Dreams Are Made Of. I lived my early years so hard and fast, I just figured by this time I would be ready to relax and take it easy. I am delighted to announce that this is
I am the world’s most famous groupie. Isn’t that something? I keep going over the incidents that created this phenomenal fact, only to have a bunch of question marks floating over my head. It’s true I wrote a book about my life as a young girl when I hung out in raging New Hollywood—“freaking out” onstage with local bands, creaming my lace undies over the brand-new long-haired boys littering the streets. I also chronicled my relationships with a bunch of different guys, most of whom were musicians, but I never expected to be introduced on the
show as “Queen of the Groupies.” Wow. What a twisted and unique legacy. I never know whether to defend myself or take a bow. Should I have my own TV show or move to some remote island and gnaw on mangoes all day long? Did I live it up just to have to live it down?
When I met the Byrds on the Sunset Strip and knocked on that backstage door, there was no word for what I was doing, but what was WRONG WITH IT? Who was I hurting? I
to find my place in and around the music I loved so much. Nothing—not even the panicky fear of foolish failure—was going to stop me. In the nineties there is a little more room in the industry for rock-crazed women, although there are still nowhere
enough A & R females, if you ask me. But back then there was NO room, and I
to be near the inspiration. And guess what? I was a welcome visitor and probably an inspiration myself. As I wandered around backstage throughout those madmadmad years, all I really wanted was to locate Mr. Right. Mr. Forever. Someone I could devote myself to. And he had to play the devil’s music.
Actually, I’m really proud of my thrilling heritage. I’ve always considered myself to be a freewheeling feminist, a lover of men and a champion of chicks. In “Like a Rolling Stone” Bob Dylan prodded and provoked, “You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you,” and my life-style was validated. Thanks, Bob. I have always been determined to get my own glorious, heartaching kicks. Despite the hard-core fact that we all make big, fat mistakes, all of us have moments in life when time stands still for a few illuminating, mesmerizing split seconds and we are brilliantly grateful to be in our bodies, on the planet, ALIVE right now!! The reason for being comes into focus, everything shimmers with clarity, and The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music. Know what I mean?
When I was Jimmy Page’s doll-face of the moment, I got real chummy with the rest of the band, and one night before Led Zeppelin swept majestically onto the stage, one by one they slipped their big, hunky turquoise bracelets on my arm for safekeeping. I stood by the side of the stage touching the trendy, treasured Indian silver, watching my friends make rock-and-roll history, feeling honored and blessed. Gotta whole lotta love. I knew I would have my hands all over the exquisite, coveted Jimmy after the show, and I was awash with luminous gratitude. Of course, I was only twenty years old at the time. Ha! After Jimmy’s day off, which we spent holed up in my tiny pink bedroom, under Grandma’s handmade quilt, listening to
Led Zeppelin II
until I had it totally memorized, Peter Grant, their infamous, mountainous manager, called to tell us we were all going to Vegas that night to see Elvis. It was way over overwhelming. I sat in between Robert Plant and Jimmy Page in the front row while the leather-clad King scorched the room with his gigantic voice, flaunting his royalty in grand, steaming style. (It was before he got gaudy with those big, sequined tents and lost his mind to/in the rigors of prescription madness.) Even though Jimmy declined an audience with His Majesty—why, I’ll never know—and I lost the opportunity to converse with the King, it was still one of the most shimmering nights in my history.
There was also the lovely night I walked right onstage with the Doors. The day before the show I had discovered Jim Morrison digging around in his fridge, wearing leather pants so low you could see his crack, living right down the hill from one of my best friends in Laurel Canyon! I had been hanging out in the danger zone, inhaling a lethal substance called “Trimar,” which I have since found out was an intense liquid version of PCP. In fact, my freak flag is constantly at half-mast, mourning the brain cells that bit the dust in those lazy,
hazy heydays. Come back, come back, coome baaa-aaaack. But way back in the Summer of Love sunshine, I did the neighborly thing and went down to introduce myself to the Lizard King. Being in the most cockeyed condition imaginable, I promptly did a full back bend in the middle of his living room and found myself gazing up at his redheaded girlfriend/soon-to-be-wife, who asked me impolitely to leave. As I offered her a hanky full of Trimar, which she declined with menace, Jim hissed from behind me, “Get it on!” and moments after I headed back up the hundred rock stairs, he was tapping on the door, wanting to try a spot of the ill-advised liquid. Hours passed as we lolled and rolled around under the chemical spell, laughing our pixilated asses off. I don’t remember when he went back home, but I slept almost comatose until the Doors soundcheck at the Hullabaloo the following afternoon. As I stumbled down the stairs on my way to the club, I almost tripped on the many broken Doors demos, which I figured the redhead had hurled down as Jim climbed up. Or was it the other way around? Either way, she must have been entirely unamused. Poor Pam Morrison! Can you imagine the shit she had to put up with through the years?
Dolled up to beat the band in my handmade stripy bell-bottoms, and armed with a quart jar of Trimar, I propped myself casually by the backstage door. Jim slunk up to me, snarling, pulled me to a ladder leading to a musty storage area full of props and fixtures, where we reclined on my tatty muskrat jacket like it was a plush four-poster love den. Inhaling, kissing, slobbering, moaning, rubbing, stroking, touching, damp, wet, hot, almost passing straight out from sheer passion, until the strains of “Light My Fire” filtered into our tripping heads. Uh-oh. Was this soundcheck? How long had we been writhing around in nirvana? His exquisite face disappeared, and I was flat on my back, oozing steam, a dripping lace hanky in each hand. I made my way slowly down the ladder and followed the music, dragging the muskrat, hankies, and half-full quart jar right onto the stage where Jim was clutching the microphone like he had just clutched me. I stood there rock-stock-still, gaping at the audience that stared at me like I was an apparition until a nice roadie came to my rescue, escorting me to the wings.