the dysfunctional ramblings of a rambly kind of gal
This is an interview I originally did for my web site, the Neverending Story Project. It’s with the wonderful Pamela Des Barres. Ch-ch-check it out:
Miss Pamela Des Barres is one of my favourite authors. She is not only an author but she is one of the most incredible female icons of the music world. Miss Pamela only ever made one album with her all-girl band The GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously… They were one of the first all girl bands of the time) produced by Frank Zappa. She was an integral part of the industry in another way.
Growing up, Pamela developed a love for music and the makers of the music. Like many girls at the time, she was in love with Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and more. Her affections for the music led her to bars like the Whisky A Go-Go, to attend shows and meet like-minded people.
Yes, Miss Pamela was a groupie. Probably THE groupie, if you want to get technical. At the time, groupies weren’t just around to sleep with their favourite musicians. Groupies were much more than that. They were noticed at shows and concerts because they were the ones that you could spot in the crowd whoreallyfelt the music. They loved the music, they loved the people who made the music and they weren’t afraid to show it.
Groupies would hang out with the musicians to share in the experience of being around the music. Groupies like Miss Pamela did everything from making them clothes, teaching them how to apply make-up and even how to groove. The late and lovely Tura Satana was the love of Elvis Presley’s life. She taught him everything she knew about gyrating and how to groove. She arguably made him the iconic entertainer we worship to this day.
They were friends to the musicians and they looked after them when they were around. They offered advice, took them out on the town, sometimes they fell in love, but at all times, they inspired. They still do today, even after the word groupie has taken on a very different meaning.
Pamela Des Barres continues to inspire and keep the message of her generation of groupies alive. Miss Pamela’s books are vivid and insightful accounts of her life as a groupie. She recalls her life sharing stories about knowing people like Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin, Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers and Keith Moon and The Who.
Pamela Des Barres was and is a muse. Kate Hudson’s character, Penny Lane, from the Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous is based on Miss Pamela. HBO was also working on creating a show based on the life of Pamela Des Barres starring Zooey Deschanel. While the show never took off, there is no denying the impact Miss Pamela has had on the world.
Pamela’s book also recounts the takes of other incredible women who share Miss Pamela’s philosophies. I has the opportunity to ask her some questions and ask her about her life and her writing. Without further delay, I give you a little Q&A with the lovely and brilliant woman who is Pamela Des Barres.
I was an English major, always kept diaries, so knew I would eventually share the amazing tale of my life. AFter I did an interview with Stephen Davis for his Zeppelin book, he encouraged me to write my own book.
How did you decide what parts of your life you wanted to include and what parts to leave out? You must have so many stories that it seems like it would be hard to pick and choose between them all.
I had all my diaries to refer to, and actually most of my life during those heyday years were pretty spectacular, I didn’t leave out much!
Were there times with the book when you just felt like ‘Oh, forget it…’? If so, how did you get yourself motivated to keep going with the book and to continue on to write several more books after that?
Motivation isn’t my strong suit! I always have to kick my own butt to get writing. I think most writers pace around a lot. For “Band” I got many rejection notices from publishers before Morrow picked it up. I was determined. One publisher said it would never be a book, maybe a story for Rolling Stone, so when I got on the NY Times best seller list, I sent him a copy of the list!
Your life inspired the character Penny in the movie Almost Famous and there were even talks of HBO doing a series based on your life. When you were growing up, did you ever think that you would become such an iconic figure in the music world and in pop culture in general?
I had hopes for the GTOs, one of the very first all-girl groups, and i wanted to be an actress, but never saw myself as a pioneer until the last few years. I was a women’s libber in my own way for sure! I speak for groupies everywhere, o=women who love the men who make the music.
In a lot of ways, you and fellow band-aids out there helped inspire the music that is around today, by inspiring the music then. Other than the music you created with the GTOs, did you ever consider a career in music or writing music?
I attempted a country career but I didn’t have the right voice for it. I had a fiddle, guitar, piano before I realized I wouldn’t be a musician. I did write some cool country songs though! Gram Parsons inspired that in me.
Music is so different today, but are there any groups or artists out there that have managed to capture your interest? If so, why?
I love singer-songwriters because of my Dylan obsession. I want to know what’s going on inside the musicians I love. Todd Snider, Rhett Miller, Jack White, Lucinda Williams.
Who are some authors that you admire? What are some of your favourite books?
Steinbeck, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Walt whitman, William Blake, Rumi, Rilke, Alice Hoffman, WIlliam Styron, Emily Dickinson, Oscar WIide, Stephen King!
I just appreciated my life and all I have been through more, I became more grateful to be me.
What advice could you offer to other aspiring writers out there on how to get their work seen and how to work collaboratively with other artists to keep their work fresh?
Be here now, don’t miss anything, keeps your eyes and ears and heart open. Don’t compare yourself with others. Don’t judge, see the good in everyone and everything.
At the Neverending Story Project, we are all about artist collaborations. If you could give us a few pointers on sentences to start a story with, what would they be?
I am all about detail. Description is everything, it brings your readers into your world. Always describe in ‘great and piercing detail’ as Nabokov said. I teach writing classes all over the country, and my first assignment for new classes is always to describe your best friend.
To learn more about Miss Pamela, you can check out her official web site or pick up any one of her incredible books: