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Below The Belt:
The Michael Des Barres Interview

The legendary musician/actor talks to Dr. Music about The Key To The Universe, his ex-wife Pamela, and the heart of rock and roll. 

Michael Des Barres’ story reads like a fairytale. 

This is a man that is known in many different ways. He is an actor, appearing in some of the most successful films and television shows ever made. He’s been a successful musician for more than 40 years. And ironically enough, his biggest claim to fame may be his marriage to famed groupie Pamela Des Barres.


Born in Hove, Sussex, Michael Des Barres’ first foray into film was in 1967 being cast alongside Sidney Poitier for the film To Sir With Love in which he played an East End pupil who always wore dark sunglasses. Des Barres officially abandoned acting in 1972 and formed Silverhead. After two well-received albums and subsequent tours of the USA, Europe and Japan, he disbanded the group and moved to Los Angeles (with 200 dollars and a hairdryer) where he was met at the airport by a girl who would turn out to be the future Pamela Des Barres. Pamela was dating Jimmy Page at the time but the two soon fell in love and Des Barres managed to remain friends with Page, who subsequently signed Michael’s new band Detective to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label. By the time 1978 came along, Michael had radically altered his view on rock music after witnessing an extraordinary Sex Pistols’ gig in San Francisco and split Detective up to later sign a solo deal with Dreamland Records in 1980. Des Barres co-wrote and recorded “Obsession” in 1983 which was covered by Animotion two years later, becoming a multi-million- selling worldwide hit. The late 80’s saw Des Barres head back into acting with roles starring opposite Clint Eastwood in Pink Cadillac and he continued to take film roles in Ghoulies, Under Siege, Poison Ivy: The New Seduction and Mulholland Drive along with dozens of TV roles including the role of assassin and master of disguise Murdoc in the MacGyver series. In 2012, Des Barres released two albums: a studio record called Carnaby Street and a live album called Hot n Sticky Live, recorded at Los Angeles’ Viper Room. Michael Des Barres’ most recent offering, The Key To The Universe, was released on April 7, 2015.


I had a chance to sit down with this incredibly gracious and vibrant man and discuss some of the things that he’s seen throughout his incredible life. An extremely candid and loving person, Des Barres made me feel like I was rekindling an old friendship. 


Click the play button on the player below to listen!


"I was the healthiest junkie in the world."

 00:48      How do you stay so prolific?

02:35      I just saw video of your interview with Gene Simmons. Your story is very
               much the 
same, is it not?

04:53      So many veteran musicians are living off of what they’ve done in the past
               and are not 
making new music. Why did you choose to make new music?

07:55      Michael discusses his new album, The Key To The Universe.

09:40      You’ve said that with your last record, Carnaby Street, you wanted to
               transport the 
listener to the streets of London in the late 60’s. Is there
               anything you were going for 
with this new record?

"Nothing's too hard to take if you learn from your mistake."


11:43      You strapped on a guitar for Carnaby Street. Did you play any guitar on this
               new 
record?

12:48      How did the collaboration with Linda Perry come about?

14:35      Out of all the huge moments in your career, is there any one moment that
               you are 
most proud of?

16:45      Does it ever bother you that people know the name Pamela Des Barres
               more than they 
know Michael Des Barres?

19:10      What would the 65-year old Michael Des Barres tell the 19-year old
               Michael Des 
Barres?

20:35      Are we going to get a book from you one of these days?

24:15      Any regrets?


"Rock and roll is not a synonym for intellectualism. The heart of rock and roll beats below the waist"
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