Michael Des Barres

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Michael Des Barres
Born (1948-01-24) 24 January 1948 (age 66)
London, England, United Kingdom
Spouse(s) Pamela Des Barres (1977–1991)
Wendy Hamilton (1974)

Michael Philip Des Barres (born 24 January 1948) is a British actor and rock singer. He is known for playing the recurring role of Murdoc on the television show MacGyver and for replacing Robert Palmer in the band Power Station, fronting the band at the 1985 Live Aid concert.[1] He is also the ex-husband of groupie, actress and author Pamela Des Barres and is written about extensively in two of her books, I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie and Take Another Little Piece of My Heart.

Biography[edit]

Personal life[edit]

The only child of Philip and Irene Des Barres, Michael Des Barres grew up in Surrey and attended a boarding school. He later attended the Corona Academy drama school in London and appeared in several plays.[1] Married in England, he divorced his first wife (Wendy) after meeting Pamela in 1974. He married Pamela on 29 October 1977; the couple were divorced in 1991, remaining friends. Their son, Nicholas Dean Des Barres, was a contributor to the video game magazine GameFan, writing many of his articles under the pseudonym "Nick Rox,"; Nick also designed the Resident Evil film poster, and is currently a game writer at video game developer PlatinumGames.

A heavy alcohol and drug abuser during the 1970s,[2] Des Barres has been sober since June 1981. In the mid-80s he was one of the founding members of Rock Against Drugs.[3] He later did volunteer addiction counseling and worked with homeless teens. Des Barres has also organised and hosted the annual Don't Knock the Rock Film Festival, which first took place in 2003.[4]

Music[edit]

Des Barres formed his first teenage band the Orange Illusion with Nicholas Young, Darryl Read and Kit Williams, whilst they were all attending Corona Academy Stage School studying to be actors. The lineup, despite being broken up by the school's agent Hazel Malone, all went on to do greater things individually. Des Barres then formed Silverhead in England in 1972.[1] They recorded two albums and toured the US, Europe and Japan, before disbanding in 1974.

After moving to Los Angeles, he formed the band Detective in 1975. They recorded two albums that were released on Led Zeppelin's Swan Song Records label, before breaking up in 1978.

A solo album, I'm Only Human, followed in 1980, with a solo tour of the US and UK. The album was recorded on Dreamland Records and produced by Mike Chapman (composer of "Mickey" and producer of "My Sharona"). His musicians at this time were the session band Zoo Drive featuring John Goodsall (guitars), Paul Delph (keyboards), Doug Lunn (bass) and Ric Parnell (drums). On the recording and in significant gigs Nigel Harrison (Blondie) replaced Doug Lunn on bass.

He was part of the band Chequered Past from 1982 to 1985, which included Steve Jones from Sex Pistols, Clem Burke and Nigel Harrison from Blondie and Tony Sales of Todd Rundgren ('Runt) and Tin Machine fame.[1]

In 1983 he wrote and recorded the song "Obsession" together with Holly Knight, which later became a No.6 Billboard Top 40 hit when covered by Animotion in 1985.

Des Barres met the members of Duran Duran when Chequered Past opened for a few shows during their 1984 tour. In 1985, when Robert Palmer withdrew from the Duran Duran side project Power Station just before their American summer tour, Des Barres was chosen to take his place as lead vocalist.[1] He performed live with them for several months before they disbanded, including a set broadcast to millions at the 1985 Live Aid charity concert in Philadelphia. Des Barres' friendship with actor Don Johnson got Power Station a guest appearance on Johnson's TV show Miami Vice. He wrote one song with the band, "We Fight For Love" which appears on the soundtrack to the film Commando.

He released a second solo album called Somebody Up There Likes Me in 1986, which featured contributions by former bandmates Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) and Andy Taylor (Duran Duran).

Although focusing more on his acting career in the following years, Des Barres continued to write music and perform live with various bands in the Los Angeles area. In 1996 - 1997 he played in Vince Lightning and the Spectaculars, which included Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom. From 1998 - 2000 he had a band called The Usual Susspects with Steve Jones and Mick Rossi.

In 2001 Des Barres formed Down Boy together with Paul McCartney's guitarist Brian Ray. In 2006 - 2007 he fronted a 10-piece soul band called Michael Des Barres and Free Love Foundation.

In 2011 he formed The Michael Des Barres Band which includes Jebin Bruni, David Goodstein, Paul ILL, and Eric Schermerhon and released a new album entitled Carnaby Street in June 2012.

On November 5, 2013, The Michael Des Barres Band released a live album "Hot n Sticky Live", which was recorded at the Viper Room in Los Angeles, in November 2012. The album is available as high quality mp3 downloads.[1]

Acting[edit]

Des Barres has appeared in one or two films every year, as well as dozens of television appearances. His first film role was as a supporting cast member in the classic 1967 film To Sir, with Love playing an East End pupil who always wears dark sunglasses indoors and out,[1] followed by a few other minor roles before he decided to pursue a career in music instead. After 1986, he concentrated his energies on acting again and was quickly cast in Nightflyers as a charismatic empath. He worked opposite Clint Eastwood in 1989's Pink Cadillac. His lead film roles have been in Midnight Cabaret, Under Siege, Poison Ivy: The New Seduction, and Sugar Town. He also appeared in the 2004 film Catch That Kid.

On television, besides the role of Murdoc in MacGyver, Des Barres was also a lead cast member of The New WKRP in Cincinnati during the 1991-92 season as part of a husband-and-wife morning team. He had previously appeared on the original WKRP in Cincinnati as the lead singer of a punk band, Scum of the Earth. During this same time, he played a gay man (Leon's boyfriend) in two episodes of Roseanne. He also played one of Darlene's baby's doctors on one of the final episodes of the series. Some of his dozens of television appearances include Seinfeld, Renegade, ALF, Ellen, Nip/Tuck, Just Shoot Me!, Hart To Hart, My Sister Sam, Lois & Clark (which reunited him with another MacGyver recurring-character alumna, Teri Hatcher; the two had even appeared together in two MacGyver episodes), JAG, Melrose Place, Nash Bridges, Northern Exposure, Rockford Files, Sledge Hammer!, Sliders, St. Elsewhere, 21 Jump Street,[1] The Pretender, Dead Like Me, Frasier, Hawaii, Bones, and NCIS in the Season 10 episode, "Phoenix".

He played a role as an eccentric record producer in Four Kings. He has also done voice work for several animated television series.

On October 23, Michael joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the world premiere of 200 Motels – The Suites by Frank Zappa, where he appeared as "Rance", the narrator.[1]

Discography[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

  • I'm Only Human (1980)
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me (1986)

with Silverhead[edit]

  • Silverhead (1972)
  • 16 and Savaged (1973)
  • Live at the Rainbow (1975)

with Detective[edit]

  • Detective (1977)
  • It Takes One To Know One (1977)
  • Live from the Atlantic Studios (1978)

with Chequered Past[edit]

  • Chequered Past (1984)

with The Michael Des Barres Band[edit]

  • Carnaby Street (2012)
  • Hot n Sticky Live (2013)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Michael Des Barres Interview". Guitarhoo!. Guitarhoo.com. December 8, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Rocker Michael Des Barres, once part of the problem, now fighting drug abuse". Google News archive. Retrieved 2012-10-18. 
  3. ^ "Rock stars deliver anti-drug messages". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-18. 
  4. ^ "Don't Knock The Rock 2012". cinefamily.org. Retrieved 2012-10-18. 

External links[edit]