Two years ago I took a life-changing trip to Los Angeles. It
all started when my mom had asked for a particular book for her birthday, which
I purchased and never ended up giving her. The tome that I couldn’t bear to
part with was Pamela Des Barres I'm With The Band
. Freshly out of high school
and having mostly dated musicians at that point in my life (in fact, it even
reigns true to this day – old habits die hard apparently) this book was like
tearing pages out of my diary, though with more famous characters. The rites of
passage are universal but the details of trysts with Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger,
and Keith Moon are beyond comprehendible.
If you aren’t familiar with her work, Miss Pamela is not
only a brilliant writer but is also known as the world’s most famous groupie; a
title one can’t help but take notice of. She’s a muse, a musician, and an
inspiration to many, myself included. When I saw she was hosting another Rock
‘n’ Roll Tour of Laurel Canyon, my mother and I jumped on the chance to be
whisked through 1960s Los Angeles.
During the tour I was in a daze, intoxicated by the
experience; touching her diary with Gram Parson’s writing in it. I even wore my
purple suede fringe vest to get in the spirit of it all. Then it happened, I
was thrifting with Pamela Des Barres on Fairfax and the Beatles were on the
radio-how could it possibly get any better than this? But it did.
Before leaving Edmonton, I had contacted her requesting an
interview and to my surprise (and insane delight) she agreed! Post-tour, I sat
down for a dinner with the lovely Miss P and my mother, just three gals talking
about music, men, and the thrills of groupiedom. Much like the way she desired to meet her idols in the 60s and have a CONVERSATION with them, my feelings mirrored that towards her. Though it never ended up being published in the magazine it was originally intended for, I have decided to
post it on my blog instead.
September 4th 2010
SJK What would be an average day for you in the 60s?
I never knew what was going to happen, the Mickey Mouse Club back when I was a
kid, Thursday was 'Anything Can Happen Day' and that was the way it was like for
me everyday. I had no idea what was going to happen. I would get up whenever I
felt like it, hang out with the girls, the GTO’s in Laurel Canyon, we would go
from house to house to visit our friends in rock bands. Just
choose one or two of many choices of bands every single night to see. It was endless. Looking back, now you wait
and wait and wait for Dylan to come or Jack White or something but someone was
playing every night, usually two or three people we wanted to see. We would
make the rounds.
is an average day for you now?
my son moved to Tokyo five years ago. I used to hang out with him quite a bit so that was pretty shocking when he left and moved there. My boyfriend, Mike
Stinson, moved to Houston a year ago so my life is a little different than it
used to be with those guys gone. But I get up late still, I’m a late riser,
late to go to bed. I still get up whenever I want to, and pretty much do what I
want. I know it sounds crazy but I still do whatever I want to do.
I’m writing another book. I teach writing classes two three nights a week. I teach all over the country, doing my writing classes.
SJK And you have a new series coming out?
going to be soon, probably November, late fall. [The series, unfortunately,
never came out. However… if it ever does, I personally volunteer myself to be a
groovy character in the production] It’s
supposed to be called I’m With The Band but
you never know they’ve changed so
you have any control over it at all?
a producer but it doesn’t mean much once they buy you. My ex
husband is a producer but so is Zooey Deschanel who’s playing me, or a
character based on me. And the writer Jill Solloway is a brilliant writer. She
wrote 6 Feet Under for years, she’s
amazing. She’s writing the pilot, so we’ll see.
originally wanted it to be a movie though?
quite a while ago I started to get a movie made but when Almost Famous came out I just had to forget it. But an average
day, I do interviews with people. I just had a two-year stint as a columnist
for Rolling Stone Italy so I was always interviewing whoever I wanted to. That
was the best thing about that and traveling a lot for that, I spent a lot of
time in Italy, actually. I guess travel is very important. I exercise everyday.
I get up and I do some form of exercise. I don’t know an average day; I don’t
really have one because it’s different all the time. I pretty much do what I
want to do which is great.
amazing. Who was your favorite person you ever interviewed?
PDB Jack White. I’ve got a 26 page interview with him on my
website that he says is the best ever. So you should read that. It's on my blog. So recently he’s been my favourite. Chrissie Hynde, I did a great
interview with. I really like her very much. Joan Jett. A lot of women. Cyndi
Lauper, Blondie, Debbie Harry I did a good one. Tommy Lee, I
don’t know, it’s just endless. I’ve done so so many that’s just what's popping into
my mind right now.
PDB I've met almost
everybody I wanted to meet but I haven’t spent enough quality time with them. Bob Dylan I have spent some good time here and there, but not enough. Prince, Springsteen, Paul McCartney. I’ve met em all but I haven’t had a whole
lot of interaction with them. I would love to just sit and hang out with everyone of those people for hours on end.
you ever interview Bruce Springsteen?
I interviewed his wife. But one of my favorite
things in the world is Springsteen concerts.
saw him in Hyde Park in London two summers ago.
like going to heaven
heaven. It’s a heavenly experience. I saw that same show in
Rome actually And in
New York too. I see
him whenever I possibly can.
Miss P and Kip Brown outside the Whisky
SJK Would you say, in terms of today, there there isn’t anyone
that equals the star quality of the bands in the 60s aside from Jack White.
White, of course, but my favourites are not big famous people. Rhett Miller is one of my favorites, do you know the
Old 97’s? He epitomizes a pop star rock god to me this guy. He’s the lead singer of the Old 97’s
but he also has his own solo records and I believe he’s on Elektra, at least he
was. And Ryan Adams, he
was in a band called Whiskey Town that was one of my favorites for a long time.
And Lucinda Williams is one of my heroes she’s a good friend and she’s a
genius. But as far as young bands, Nightmare and The Cat these local kids, they’re just AMAZING! A throw back to the
60s. They’re so into it and he dances. He’s sort of like a a mime as well.
It’s incredible. He’s only 19 years old. His dad is Dave Stewart and his mom was in Bananarama so they’ve got amazing set up there. They’ve got a girl
on keyboards and really unique sound, very charismatic kids. I just interviewed
them for Rolling Stone Italy.
you don’t go to Hollywood much anymore? Only for special occasions?
for shows. I’ll go to the palladium to see Bob [Dylan] I think the last time I
was there to see someone was Dead Weather which wasn’t that long ago. Occasionally my ex boyfriend plays the sunset strip music festival and I
just have to go. It’s just not, people want it to be what it is was so bad. They
come from all over and look around like okay what’s going to happen? Nothing
happens up there anymore. It’s just not, I mean some people think it does but
it’s nothing new, nothing new fresh and exciting and fabulous is going on up
there. It’s a lot of rehash going on there on the strip.
what was the best line ever you got given to you?
best, I’ve got two of them. Chris Hillman he said he was going to curry me like a
fine mare one night. That’s the best come on. Curry you like a fine mare? It’s
And the other one was Dennis Hopper and he said he was going to worship my pussy.
Those are my two favorite lines I’ve gotten.
SJK All the younger groupies that came after you like Sable Starr and lori
happened, well I read your other book, but are they nice to
is dead. But Lori is my friend now.
they came onto the scene and were being mean to you why do you think they
were little kids. Literally, little children.
Lori like 13?
and if you read her chapter you’ll see what it was like. She didn’t know
She had no idea what she was doing. They were so young. If you think
about when you
were 14 there’s not a lot of wisdom there. But Sable
just wasn’t nice, Lori wasn’t really
mean to me, she was just so young. I just
didn’t want to deal with it but Sable was a
bitch, I don’t know how you could
be a bitch that young but she was.
PDB They wanted us out of the way so they could have all the guys, y’know?
SJK I watched that documentary, I think it was from the 70s? It was called
made that? And how did you get involved with that?
don’t know how I met the people. At that point in time the
word groupie was getting
very tarnished and I didn’t want to be called that
anymore. So they said they weren’t
even going to use the word in the movie and then they called it Groupies of course.
They camped out at my
house, they stayed with me. In fact, the place I showed you
Alfred street was where it was filmed.
Miss P on the Sunset Strip with Jesus
SJK I know you were talking about Mike Stinson and a lot of his songs are about you,
but have there been any other ones in the past?
Hillman wrote a couple. And I don’t know, I really don’t know. Robert said "Going to California" [by Led Zeppelin] was about all of us California girls.
you think it’s easier to make it in LA now, or anywhere, because of the
do you think it was easier back then to get a record deal?
is in such a state of flux in the industry now. I think its harder even though
the internet can reach everybody its still, to get an actual record deal, much
one really knows where the industry is going, if
there’s even going to be an industry.
SJK With the internet and despite resources that we have today do you think it’s harder
backstage and with the band?
it depends on the band. It depends on what city you’re in, all that kind of
There’s roadies that still pick girls out of the audience. Depends on the
band. A married
band not so much anymore because...
get’s around easier these days
exactly. In those days, Led Zeppelin could tell their wives they were in
Timbuktu, Idaho and they were here in LA. That happened a lot. They based
themselves here and went out to their gigs. Their wives did not know they were
And now, everybody would know where they are. But they
got away with it. You
know girls meet local bands and hopefully those bands
go on to be successful. And
they’re friends with them, that’s the way it works
now. Or you do what you’re doing,
you meet them by interviewing them, you meet
them by taking their picture, you meet
them by working at a radio station.
what you’re saying is that you have to be a bit more creative now?
were very creative actually. We were very creative. They wanted to meet us
because we were so interesting and fascinating and all that stuff. But there is
competition now, we didn’t have a trillion women after the same guy. I
mean it slowly
got that way, but when I first started doing it, like I said I
was the only person waiting
there for Jim Morrison.
Jim Morrison's house in Laurel Canyon
do you think that changed?
people became aware that you could actually meet them.
People were content,
you know, most people were bobby soxers, the people
waiting for Frank Sinatra by the
side of the stage. Most people never thought
about trying to meet them. That’s the
groupie mentality. Well
I’m not gonna sit home, I’m going to go meet these people that I
you think you’ll ever release your diaries in there entirety?
talked to my agent about that. I said let’s do that and he said he wanted to
something that’s really going to sell. He said oh no that’s a rehash that’s
going to make
you look like you’re living in the past. See that’s something I
don’t wanna ever want,
people to think I’m living in the past.
but we want it! We wanna read it all!
would love to do that. Maybe I could start thinking about some self
like so many bands do their own websites and there music out
there that way. Maybe I
should do that. But it’s expensive.
SJK The only constant thing that I’ve ever kept up in my life was having a
journal. And my
mom bought me my first one with scented pages and this hideous
girl on the cover with
old were you?
Sixish. I mean the first, you know, hundred pages are captivating entries like "it rained today."
still have mine. My mom got me mine when I was 8 and I wrote from then until I
married and then I just stopped. I wish I hadn’t. oh my god.
did you decided to stop or wasn’t really a decision.
was gradual. Yeah. With a kid and everything. It was a gradual thing.
cause honestly, they really could be in a museum.
I think they really should be. The groupie is a very important part of rock
Much misunderstood. The documentary I did is gonna help. [VH1's Let's Spend The
SJK About the GTO’s. Were you ever bummed that you never put out another album?
you start stuff for another album that never…
always wrote and I had so many dreams for the GTO’s but the girls were
you know Frank was straight. And when they got arrested he threatened to
not even put
out this record. It was a miracle that he actually did put it
out because he was very upset
about about that. So I knew there wasn’t
going to be a second album.
we were trying to get on the road with Todd Rundgren and there was various
we were trying to do. It all fell through. There were no girl bands.
There were no girl
acts except Motown. Do you have the album?
SJK I've been trying to get it for quite a while on vinyl. It’s a unicorn. [My mom finally
located a copy for me and it's in my Top 5 for sure]
in a while it comes up.
SJK It’s probably one of my favorites. Oh I just think it’s so crazy that you
guys actually did
poetry readings on it as well. And its weird because
a lot of artists do that now on their
records and it’s like nobody...
were so far ahead of everybody. The way we looked, all of it. It was real
to I don’t know what but we were ahead of the game that’s
for sure. Time and place.
think a lot of people would like to dress like that but they don’t have the
it's out of their comfort level.
they don’t want to be looked at.
wanted to be looked at. We wanted to turn heads. We wanted to scare, and shock,
and frighten people into being awake. Waking up. But I mean…
it did for awhile there. It was fun.
sort of advice do you have for girls nowadays that are interested in rock n
have to do what you’re doing. I talked about that earlier that the
girls, unless they
want to be musicians themselves of course because that’s an
option now. That wasn’t an
option back then. It’s just get into the industry
somehow or other, get involved in the
industry itself and you know start a blog
about bands you love and believe me, they pay
attention now because that’s the
way they’re getting their name out there is through
All photographs are from the Laurel Canyon Rock Tour are from my personal collection.
The interview was condensed from 38 pages! She is such an inspiration, maybe one day I'll even dig deep into my diaries and share my torrid tales. I can dream can't I?
Keep up with Miss Pamela through her website – and for you
Canadian dolls out there, she will be in Toronto this Saturday, November 17th
at Sonic Boom (one of my fave rave record stores when I lived there) details on
the Facebook Event Page
x Miss Sandy
Labels: Channeling my inner flower child, flower child, groupies, GTO's, laurel canyon, Los Angeles, miss pamela, Music, pamela des barres, wayback wednesday