Michael Des Barres has been entrenched in the rock ‘n’ roll scene for four decades now; a European nobleman, brought up in England, living in Los Angeles, but with an enduring love of delta blues and the rock and soul of the mid-60s beat boom, he was front man for such seminal 1970s bands as Silverhead and Detective (featuring Tony Kaye of Yes). Jimmy Page personally signed Detective to Led Zeppelin's Swan Song records in 1975. Michael Des Barres was also the singer with the touring and Live Aid version of The Power Station, a Duran Duran spin-off band that became one of the most iconic live acts of the mid-1980s. From 1982 to 1985, Michael was a member of Chequered Past, which included Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols. Clem Burke and Nigel Harrison from Blondie, and Tony Sales of Todd Rundgren ('Runt') and Tin Machine fame. In 1985, Michael penned the song "Obsession", which became a number one hit in 27 countries for LA new wave group Animotion; the track has been featured in numerous movies throughout the years.
In 2012 Gonzo Multimedia were proud to release Michael’s album Carnaby Street; an earthy return to his mid-60s blues/soul roots, and now, we are overjoyed to be bringing you a reissue of his debut solo album from way back in 1980; recorded when Michael was a very different fellow to the healthy, happy man he is today.
He told us:
“It was the project after Detective. And what happened to me was, I was so influenced by 80s music. The essence of those ‘80s songs really fascinated me because it was like some kind of robotic pop and I thought that was very interesting because my whole trip has been something about the body, and sexuality and hedonism was what I was so used to, suddenly thought ok I am going to reinvent myself as some kind of really handsome robot. <laughs>
I got this crack band - on bass was Nigel Harrison and you will probably know the rest of the band. John Goodsall was on guitar – from Brand X – and Rick Parnell was the drummer. And they were all guys who had worked progressive progressive area with Phil Collins, and Brand X, and are really wonderful musicians. But what happened was, I was just out of Detective, which was a very, very intense and dark and decadent period of my life and I had just left that. I was pretty strung out on drugs at the time, because that world was so dark and Babylonian that I had succumbed vigorously and rigorously to drugs. So I came out of it and I was still kind of stoned but I wanted to do something fresh and new so I put this band together. But what happened was, I played the Whisky-A-Go-Go and every single label was there and they all wanted me, and Peter Grant wouldn’t let me go from Swan Song.”
Luckily, producer Mike Chapman, the legendary producer of The Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Blondie, innumerable hits, created a label called Dreamland. His partner was Nicky Chinn who knew Grant, who was tied in with the, shall we say, the underbelly of – the underworld of –
“Mike Chapman wanted me so bad and he got to Nicky Chinn to call Peter and say `let des Barres out of the gig. Let him do this`. And they said, you know like I was a bit of meat, which is like it is in showbiz. But he let me go and I did that album. And we recorded it in
Sausalito near , over
a period of like 2 weeks. Very quickly.
And I love it. I think it
chronicles the time. You know I wrote about the tabloids, I wrote
a song on it called Scandal Papers
which preceded the obsession with papparazi, the obsession with celebrity that
we see today, by 20-30 years I was on that.
And I’m proud of it, I think it is an interesting album”. San