Archive for the ‘I’m With The Band’ Category

I’m With The Band: Confessions of a groupie, by Pamela Des Barres

Monday, May 12th, 2014


I’m With The Band: Confessions of a groupie, by Pamela Des Barres – A great coming-of-age story of a young groupie-musician-actor, who witnessed the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and eventually hung out with, bedded, and married some of the most influential musicians of this incredible era. The first half of the book is (as always) the most interesting, and she describes the arousal of her teenage passions – in particular her early encounters with the Rolling Stones – with great color and enthusiasm. The middle of the book chronicles her adventures in her own pioneering girl band, GTO, and her affairs with rock stars, before slowing down a bit and becoming all about the hunt for a long-term relationship and marriage (around page 188 of this 300-page book she says “I am sweet, delicious, and a juicy 21! Somebody claim me!!”). She even starts to get discreet, hiding the names of the stars she was shagging! But among the people she sleeps with are members of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Byrds, Michael Des Barres, Lane Caudell, a pre-fame Don Johnson and Woody Allen. Crazy! But nothing is as nutty as the bizarre Marlon Brando obsession that emerges in the last pages of the book, as she goes off to see Last Tango In Paris, has butter fantasies, and calls Brando’s personal line repeatedly (and you have to wonder if Brando – or McCartney, or any of these people who didn’t really know her all that well – dug her book and all her freaky groupie fantasies, or were simply freaked out).

This is the updated edition, with an afterword, an after-afterword, as well as a little foreword by Dave Navarro, who was born in 1967, right around the time that events in the book are taking place. Navarro’s intro is okay, but he never loses his fanboy approach.

Now there are always lots of hot women around rock stars, and there always have been, historically speaking (I pray every night tat there always will be). What makes Pamela so special and intriguing? I would say her mind – she is fucking brilliant (as I typed that, I actually felt myself become aroused – that’s how brilliant she is!).

Pamela also adds a new intro, which is funny:

I was unprepared, however, for the reaction to I’m With The Band when it was initially published. When uptight women on talk shows chided me for being too free-spirited and sexually open, I told them I was sorry they missed out on the good times and didn’t get to sleep with Mick Jagger. It caused an outrage, but I had a ball shaking things up once more.

(Nice pun, by the way Pam.)

The book gets into the young Miss Pamela’s journeys through life, starting with her family background, her parents, her middle-class upbringing, her school life, her extreme Beatlemania, her first adventures with boy crushes, her protection of her virginity (!!!), her first experience shaving her legs (her finally relented and let her shave them below the knees), and extensive experience giving blowjobs. We get excerpts of diary entries, letters, and poems that she had written over the years, some good and some not-so-great. Bad boys in school, first boyfriends, and the eventual onset of massive horniness.  Beatlemania was the big passion for her early on: the young Miss Pamela was a Paulgirl (for whom early girlfriend Jane Asher was a “creepy freckle-faced bow-wow”), in a Beatle girl-gang with three others.

Even here she demonstrated her randiness:

I collected Beatle bubble-gum cards, and one of them was a shot of Paul playing his bass, sitting on a bed in a hotel with his legs apart. You could actually see the shape of his balls being crushed by the tightness of his trousers, and I carried that card around with me in a little gold box with cotton covering it like it was a precious jewel. I peeked at it reverently once a day, and lifted the cotton gently, holding my breath as I stared between his legs at the eighth wonder of the world.

Years later, she met Paul when he was with his second wife Heather, and she had to contextualise for him that they actually hadn’t slept together.

She “wrote with a Beatle pen, slept on a Beatle pillowcase, and breathed with Beatle lungs,” composing plays “in which Jane Asher dies many grisly, horrifying deaths. The Pam Miller character was always around to pick up Paul’s pieces.” Pamela includes one of her poems to him in the book, it’s actually pretty good. She even describes the obsessive rituals that she would go through every day, such as writing Paul’s name down every time she farted (!!!).

Later, when the young Miss Pamela broadens her vision to allow admiration of the Rolling Stones in addition to the Beatles, her friends are aghast, and write her a hilariously petty letter!! “You had better watch out before you become completely friendless. Why on earth could you even start to like Mick over Paul?” She leaves her friends in the dust, and starts a new approach to life. “My brief sexual encounters with [my boyfriend] had opened up new vistas of turgid, twisting thoughts, and Mick Jagger personified a penis. I took my new records and my glossy steaming photographs into my rock and roll room, where I scaled new heights of tortuous teen abandon, wriggling in my seat with newfound throbbing ecstasy.” Wow!! This is all, of course, personified by the Rolling Stones song “I’m A King Bee”.

Miss Pamela’s friend Victor had a cousin in the business, named Don Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, this launched her in rock ‘n’ roll, and before too long she was hanging out with Frank Zappa and stalking Jim Morrison. But things really got crazy when the Rolling Stones came to play Los Angeles in 1965:

The month of waiting for the Stones’ arrival increased my wanton desire to feel those gigantic lips on mine. I started writing porno things in my diary for the first time: ‘Someday I will touch and feel him, I know it. Mick, my dear, dear PENIS!’ I brazenly created in pink and red oil colors my concept of what his balls might look like. I turned it in to (my high school art teacher) as a modern-art project and got an A.

Of course, she eventually gets her wish, and Mick’s lips (and other things) all over her, but that would take a couple of years. They search for the band at a recording studio, and then actually bump into them – they look the girls over, ask them for directions to their hotel… but don’t invite them inside. But the girls linger and instead of meeting the Stones, they meet “a wiry black girl with a switchblade prominently displayed on a leather cord around her neck [who] told us that Keith had given it to her so she could keep the fans from bothering him. She led us to believe that she was one of the chosen who did have access to the pink rooms by proudly telling us that the Stones called her ‘the Grand Canyon.’ She did a bump and grind to make sure we didn’t miss the point.”

At one point, Miss Pamela observes Brian Jones “cavorting with two scantily clad ladies of Spanish descent. While I watched, some teenybops banged on the front door, begging him to come out and give them an autograph. He threw open the door in his underwear, holding a broom as some kind of weapon, and shouted, ‘IF YOU DON’T GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE, I’LL DRAG YOU IN HERE AND FUCK YOU!!!’ They ran squealing into the moonlight.” Miss Pamela eventually spends a few hours with Captain Beefheart, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts listening to Muddy Waters. Wow… how cool is that?

At the concert, “Mick was so sexy. I had never seen anybody move like that; it was downright skuzzy, driving the girls in the audience to poke and prod at their private parts. The music was hot and raunchy, my heart was beating below my waist, and my hands were itching to hold something warm. I was a sticky, sweaty teenage girl, squirming my way into womanhood. They only played for about half an hour in those days, so the lights came on much too soon and we were herded out into the night, clutching our Rolling Stones programs and damp, wrinkled ticket stubs, wanting more more more!!” Kind of makes you understand the girls who swarmed and screamed at those early Stones shows in the UK that were so insane.

Eventually we find her auditioning for Terry Southern’s “Candy” – she got the role, but funding fell through – and getting ogled by Tony Curtis and Dennis Hopper, who scared her “with his devilish demeanor and those pop-eyes that seemed to poke at me”.  Next come strange flirtations with the hippies, who were much too earthy for her, and parties with wacky friends Vito and Szou. She also ran into a sad hippy poet called Bummer Bob, who was the first hippy to panhandle in Haight Ashbury, and he bought donuts for Miss Pamela and read her his “scary and beautiful” poetry that he “read from a tattered book by candlelight with such ferocity, I thought he might cry. He read it like I were a huge audience, and seemed surprised when I was the only one applauding.” Turns out Bummer Bob was actually Bobby Beausoleil, the actor (he was to be in a Kenneth Anger film before falling out with the director) and musician who eventually ran with the Manson family and tortured and killed people! Yes, the Sixties weren’t all fun and games, maaaan…  When she saw him on TV being interviewed by Truman Capote about the murders she said:

He had no remorse at all, and even said he would do it again. His eyes had turned into hard, flat, matte  black buttons, like somebody had thrown darts into them, and I tried to remember what his poetry had been about. I could only recall a beautiful, strange boy who was all alone with his poems and an elegant top hat and I wondered what happened to (his dog) Snowfox, the best friend a man ever had.

(incidentally, fellow GTO member Miss Mercy is described as living in the same neighborhood as Charles Manson).

Eventually, she gets very serious about her groupie-ness:

The girls and I spent a lot of time locked up in the vault, making lists of all the gorgeous boys in bands that we wouldn’t kick out of bed. Lucy and Sandra wrote their lists on the wall and crossed them off one by one as they encountered the lucky lads. I kept my list in a little gold loose-leaf notebook in my purse: none of the names had been crossed off yet, and Mick Jagger was number one, written in flaming red.

She had cool friends that she’d run into all the time. “Oh yes, I met Gram Parsons last night and I told him I rolled for him and asked him why he quit the Byrds, and he said ‘to do my own thing.’ I can’t wait to see what that is.” She saw him a lot, and described him well. “When he sang about the agonies of love, his heart breaking, tears rolled down his cheeks without his knowledge. The Whiskey-A-Go-Go was unfamiliar with sobbing men in Nudie suits, but I wallowed in his tortured Southern soul, swaying back and forth on the dance floor like a weeping-0willow tree.” They also got to hang out with Pink Floyd, who came over one day…

Eventually, she gets it on with Mick Jagger, who puts her in a limo and whisks her to a show, where she has another Stones concert experience quite unlike the first one. “I was put ON STAGE for the concert, and I got to see the audience FREAK OUT from the Stones’ perspective. Everyone came together: surging like a sea to the stage, thousands of eyes never leaving MJ’s magical being. Such power with a capital ‘P’. How would it feel to have thousands of kids ‘under your thumb,’ ha!” Amazing how things come around eventually, and she gets another one of her wishes (and a name crossed off of her list). “He gave new meaning to giving head, which did not surprise me in the slightest; those lips!!! Please!! But looking down and seeing Mick Jagger between my legs kept me from surrendering with the wild-animal abandon I had anticipated. We made love for hours, but I kept flashing back to squatting in front of my hi-fi, touching myself for the first time while Mick groaned about being a King Bee coming inside, and here he was, right on top of me, doing  just that.” Miss Pamela paints a beautiful picture of being with Mr Jagger; of course, this picture is quite different from the one that Marianne Faithfull paints, or what Keith Richards or Bobby Keys would add, but this is what she had to say about it, and God bless her for that. Later on, when Mick wants a three-way with Michelle Phillips, she’s against it. “I didn’t want to share him, and I didn’t want to share her either.” Rrrrrrrrawrrrr!!!

Funnily enough, she didn’t like Keith much in the end. “Keith scares me, he’s like a foreign object.” She also saw Gram moving too much into Keith’s influence.

Rivalry! Lori Lightning steals Jimmy Page from her one night, and then she gets taunts from other legendary groupies! “The most hideous of these tartlets was Sable Starr. She thought she invented nipples and pubic hair. At an Elton John party on the lot at Universal, she shouted out to me, ‘give it up, you old bag.’ I flipped her the bird right in front of the newest piano-playing wunderkind.”

Eventually, she starts to get a bit crazy with her Marlon Brando obsessions:

I went to see Last Tango In Paris by myself. Me and a bottle of Kahlua. It was better than any of my wet dreams ever were and I massaged my pubic area while Marlon unwrapped the butter. I ached to have it melt in my underpants and puddle under my thighs while he pulled his polyester pants down just far enough so I could feel the crack of his ass. His thin graying hair and slight sexy paunch incited me to a private riot in the theater.

Eventually, she gets together with the already-married Michael Des Barres. “He came back to my hotel that night and gave me head for two hours, but couldn’t consummate anything because his dick was about to fall off form some unutterable thing he had caught in Japan.” Wow!!

Miss Pamela reports a weird conversation with Ringo Starr: “He kept flipping out, saying, ‘Where are the new groups to take our place?’ I agree. Not much happening in rock and roll except the oldie-moldies. It was a drag to see how zongoed they all got.” And yet, the early Seventies produced or was the heyday of so many more of the bands we all adore – Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Big Star, and many many many more.

One of the great mysteries of the book is Miss Pamela’s band, the GTOs, and what happened to them. Despite the fact that great session players like Nicky Hopkins played on their only album, Permanent Damage, along with Jeff Beck, Ry Cooder and Rod Stewart, the album is out of print and the band is near-forgotten! “We saw the films of our Whiskey show, and they made m realize we’re going to make it!” Sorry, not gonna happen! There was so much hope that this was going to be something, and the project lingered and lingered, and then Zappa let it linger some more when he found some of the girls had become junkies (out of boredom? Or was it something else?). Miss Pamela describes jamming with the Jeff Beck Group, and it must have been a lot of fun! Later on, she describes what a nutty GTO show was like, with the inclusion of “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” (an old Nicky Hopkins favorite), and all sorts of hippy granola fun.

With the new edition, Miss Pamela provides an afterword (or aftermath), talking about all of those good souls who are gone, including Bryan MacLean, the guitarist form the band Love, who was the reason she first smoked marijuana. He took the bible literally, and died in 1998 of a brain aneurism. And Daryl DeLoach, Iron Butterfly’s frontman, who died of liver cancer in 2002. Arbitrarily, she reprints stuff from her letters to Cynthia Plaster Caster, which Cynthia shared with her more recently, including things like “I saw Deep Purple last night and can’t dig them in the slightest. They think they’re all Jimi Hendrixes. Miss Cynderella (of the GTOs) was sitting with her legs slightly ajar and Jimi #2 said ‘Will you please close your legs, you’re offending me.’” And later in a letter to her good friend/rival Cynthia Plastercaster “… I’m so glad you threw up all over Deep Purple’s room. I find them so yucky, I don’t even consider them a group. (But I’m so sorry you were sick).”

Funnily enough, it’s on the last page that we learn that Miss Pamela sings backup on a Flying Burrito Brothers song on Gilded Palace Of Sin, “Hippie Boy”:

And, just for fun, here are a few GTO songs:

Of course, the back cover has great endorsements by Robert Plant (“I couldn’t have done it better myself. I will always love you Miss Pamela, and again a thousand apologies for the premature ejaculation.”), and Gene Simmons (“She knows a thing or two about rock stars… a thing or two. Thank God for Miss Pamela!”), even though he’s not mentioned in the book itself (Plant is).

Some pictures of the stunning Pamela Des Barres (nee Pamela Miller).

PDB 01

PDB 03

PDB 02

The GTOs’ only album, Permanent Damage.



Girls Together Outrageously!!

GTO 01

GTO 02

GTO 03

GTO 04

GTO 05

GTO 06

GTO 07

GTO 08