Michael Des Barres
Who Do You Want Me To Be?
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Michael Des Barres was born in Hove, England in 1948, the son of a vagabond aristocrat and a schizophrenic showgirl. After being raised to age 8 by his mother and her dancer friends, he is thrust into the world of upper-crust British boarding schools (paid for at his birth by his absent father.) In this new world of privileged children and abuse, he quickly learns to reinvent himself in order to survive: "I've been using my vibe as currency since I was 8 years old."
At 16, Michael enrolls in acting school in London and must adapt his vibe to the swinging, mid- 60's London scene where he meets his first love, Wendy. A big break comes when he's cast as one of Sidney Poitier's students in the hit film "To Sir, With Love." While he works regularly as an actor, it's the world of Rock and Roll that calls to him. When Andrew Lloyd Webber sees Michael in a West End musical, he asks if Michael has any songs of his own? Michael doesn't, but quickly pens a song "Will You Finance My Rock and Roll Band?" and nearly as quickly, Michael has a record deal.
Reinventing himself once again as the front man of the glam rock band, Silverhead, Michael and the band dive headfirst into the rock star life on the road. "Hedonism was the modus operandi" says Michael. While on tour in New York, Michael is asked to replace Keith Moon in an independent movie. On set, he meets his co-star, Miss Pamela, "Queen of the Groupies" and falls in love with her – 2 weeks after marrying Wendy. Upon returning to England, drugs, infidelity, and poor record sales all catch up to Michael at once and he is left without a band, a wife, or a record deal. Then an ill-advised joke in front of a journalist makes him a pariah in his home country. "I needed fresh territory" so he moves to Los Angeles, and Pamela.
Michael and Pamela begin their new life together in L.A.. Michael puts together a new band, Detective, and their heavy sound soon attracts the interest of Led Zeppelin, who sign Detective to their Swan Song record label. Now married, with a son on the way, Pamela struggles to contain Michael's ongoing drug habit. When Detective fails to make a commercial splash, Michael pivots back to acting with guest-star roles on "WKRP in Cincinnati", "The Rockford Files", and other shows. After another record deal as a solo artist, Michael returns from the road debilitated by drugs and ready for help. He says "I looked in the mirror and I saw Iggy Pop's mom." Michael gets clean and stays that way. His experience in recovery meetings inspires him to write the hit song "Obsession" with Holly Knight. More success follows including replacing singer Robert Palmer in "The Power Station" at Live Aid and on tour and playing the iconic assassin Murdoc, arch enemy of "MacGuyver."
Despite his career successes, Michael and Pamela's marriage deteriorates and they split up. Forced to take care of himself for the first time in life, Michael struggles to adjust, but when his son faces troubles, he steps up to become the father he needs to be. Michael reflects: "It took me all that time, all that time, to become a stand-up guy."
Michael continues acting, playing live, and preaching the Rock and Roll gospel on Sirius XM on "Little Steven's Underground Garage" to an audience of millions."
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