Michael Des Barres

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Michael Des Barres
Des Barres at the Chiller Theatre Expo in 2017
Des Barres at the Chiller Theatre Expo in 2017
Background information
Birth nameMichael Phillips Des Barres
Born (1948-01-24) 24 January 1948 (age 73)
Hove, Sussex, England
OriginLondon, England
GenresRock, Pop, Jazz, Funk
InstrumentsVocals, Guitars
Years active1960–present
Associated actsSilverhead, Detective, Chequered Past, The Power Station

Michael Philip Des Barres (born 24 January 1948), the 26th Marquis Des Barres,[1][2] is an English actor and rock singer. He is known for playing the recurring role of Murdoc (9 episodes) on the television show MacGyver, appears as Nicholas Helman, Murdoch's mentor, on the new reboot of MacGyver (2016) and for replacing Robert Palmer in the band the Power Station, fronting the band at the 1985 Live Aid concert.[3]

Early life[edit]

The only child of Marquis Philip and Marquise Irene Des Barres, Michael Philip Des Barres was born and brought up in Hove, Sussex.[4] He attended Repton School, a boarding school in Derbyshire, and went on to attend the Corona Academy drama school in London and appeared in several plays.[3]



Des Barres formed Silverhead in England in 1972. The band released two albums and performed on two world tours before disbanding.[5][non-primary source needed]

He then moved to Los Angeles, where he formed the band Detective, personally signed to Swan Song Records by Jimmy Page.[5][non-primary source needed]

Following the break-up of Detective in 1979, Michael formed Chequered Past in 1982.[5][non-primary source needed] In 1983 he co-wrote and recorded the song Obsession with Holly Knight. In 1984, the band Animotion had an international top-ten hit with their cover.

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.[3]

On 5 November 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.[3]

On 7 April 2015 Des Barres released a solo album, The Key to the Universe. Produced by Bob Rose at The Forum Music Village in Rome, the album reunites Des Barres with Nigel Harrison (former bassist of Blondie and Silverhead) on bass and guitar, in addition to Clive Deamer (Radiohead, Portishead, Robert Plant) on drums, and Dani Robinson on guitar.[6]

In 2018, he formed The Mistakes, consisting of all veteran musicians – Loren Molinare (founding member of Little Caesar & The Dogs) on guitar, Eric Himel (Powerman 5000, host of The Sunset Jam) on guitar, Paul Ill (LA based musician with sales of over 20 million records as a studio musician and 4.5 million records as a songwriter) on bass guitar, and Matt Starr (studio and touring drummer with Guns N' Roses, Ace Frehley, Bon Jovi & Whitesnake) on drums. The band is signed to Steven Van Zant's Wicked Cool Records and has released 4 songs – Living in the USA/Gotta Serve Somebody (1/19/18) and Crackle and Hiss/Stop in the Name of Love (7/5/19). The Mistakes will tour Japan in 2020.[7]


Des Barres has appeared in over 100 different TV shows and almost 30 movies in his career. He first started acting at 8 years old as 'The Nux Bar Kid' on posters all over England. He appeared (uncredited) in the 1966 film starring Tony Curtis, Drop Dead Darling. His first credited 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,[3] followed by a few other minor roles before he decided to pursue a career in music instead. He later concentrated his energies on acting again and was cast in Ghoulies (1985) as cult leader Malcolm Graves,[8] and Nightflyers (1987) as a charismatic empath. He worked opposite Clint Eastwood in 1989's Pink Cadillac. His other film roles have included Midnight Cabaret (1990), Under Siege (1992), Waxwork II: Lost in Time (1992), A Simple Twist of Fate (1994), and Sugar Town (1999). He also appeared in the 2004 film Catch That Kid and had a brief part in David Lynch's classic 2001 film Mulholland Drive.[9]

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. On Roseanne he portrayed (Leon's boyfriend) as well as appearing as 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, JAG, Melrose Place, Nash Bridges, Northern Exposure, Rockford Files, Sledge Hammer!, Sliders, St. Elsewhere, 21 Jump Street,[3] The Pretender, Dead Like Me, Frasier, Hawaii, Bones, and NCIS in the Season 10 episode "Phoenix".

On 23 October 2013, Des Barres joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the world premiere of 200 Motels: The Suites, by Frank Zappa, in which he appeared as Rance, the narrator.[3]


Currently, Des Barres hosts "The Michael Des Barres Program" every weekday morning from 8–11 AM ET with a replay every weekday evening from 9- midnight PT on Little Steven's Underground Garage (SiriusXM Channel 21). Over six million listeners hear an eclectic mix of rock, soul and punk, infused with Des Barres' extensive musical knowledge and his messages of positivity and longevity.[10]

Personal life[edit]

In 1974, Michael married his girlfriend of seven years, actress Wendy Hamilton (Professor Emeritus Wendy Wheeler, London Metropolitan University). They divorced when Michael moved to Los Angeles following the disbandment of Silverhead.[11]

Michael was married to Pamela Des Barres from 1977 until 1991. They have a son, Nicholas Des Barres, a successful writer and video game designer.[12]

Des Barres has been sober since June 1981.[13] In the mid-1980s he was one of the founding members of Rock Against Drugs.[14] 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.[15] [16]

Des Barres married his long-term partner, Britta Hayertz on December 21, 2018.[17] Hayertz is the owner of Britta Morgan Pilates and also earned a BSc in Plant Science from California State Polytechnic University.[18]

In 2020, Rugged Entertainment [19] released a documentary entitled "Michael Des Barres: Who Do You Want Me To Be?"[20] that features interviews with Michael, as well as many former band members, friends and family members.[21]


Solo albums[edit]

  • I'm Only Human (1980)
  • Somebody Up There Likes Me (1986)
  • The Key to the Universe (2015)

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)



Year Title Role Notes ref
1967 To Sir, with Love Williams
1971 I, Monster Boy in Alley Released in the U.S. in 1973 [22]
1985 Ghoulies Malcolm Graves American horror-comedy film [22]
1987 Nightflyers Jon Winderman American science-fiction/horror film [22]
1989 Pink Cadillac Alex American action-comedy film [22]
1992 Waxwork II: Lost in Time George Horror-comedy film directed and written by Anthony Hickox and a sequel to the 1988 film Waxwork. [22]
Under Siege Domiani Action thriller film directed by Andrew Davis
1997 Poison Ivy: The New Seduction Ivan Greer Erotic thriller, drama and sequel to Poison Ivy (1992) and Poison Ivy II: Lily (1996). [22]
1999 The Hungry Bachelors Club Mr. Spinner Directed by Gregory Ruzzin, based on the novel of the same name by Lynn Scott Myers. The film was retitled Food for the Heart for its DVD release. [22]
Sugar Town Nick Independent film written and directed by Allison Anders and Kurt Voss about a web of characters coping with ambition, fame, and the aftermath of fame. The film was named after the 1966 hit single Sugar Town by Nancy Sinatra. [22]
2001 Diary of a Sex Addict Sammy Drama film directed by Joseph Brutsman and co-written by Anthony Peck, son of Gregory Peck. [23]
Mulholland Drive Billy Stylized onscreen as Mulholland Dr. American neo-noir and mystery film written and directed by David Lynch. [22]
The Man from Elysian Fields Nigel Halsey [22]
2002 Ocean Park Gower [22]
2004 Catch That Kid Brisbane Adventure and comedy film directed by Bart Freundlich. [22]
2012 California Solo Wendell Independent feature film [22]


Year Title Role Notes ref
1985 Miami Vice Himself w/ The Power Station Episode: "Whatever Works" (S 2: Ep 2) [22]
1987–91 MacGyver Murdoc Recurring [22]
1988 Miami Vice Shane DuBois Episode: "Baseballs of Death" (S 4: Ep 14) [22]
1991–93 The New WKRP in Cincinnati Jack Allen Recurring [22]
1993 Seinfeld Restaurateur Episode: "The Smelly Car" (S 4: Ep 21)
1994 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Lenny Stoke Episode: "Wall of Sound" (S 2:Ep 2) [22]
1996–97 Melrose Place Arthur Field Recurring [22]
1997 JAG King Josif Episode: Washington Holiday (S 2:Ep 9) [24]
2002 My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star Eric Darnell [22][25][26]
2002 Gilmore Girls Claude Clemenceau Episode: "A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving" (S 3:Ep 9) [24]
2002 Charmed Dark Priest Episode: "We're Off to See the Wizard" (S 4:Ep 19)
2004 Dead Like Me Gideon Jeffries Episode: "In Escrow" (S 2:Ep 6) [27]
2004 JAG Howie Black Episode: "Trojan Horse" (S 9:Ep 22) [24]
2005 Alias Miles Devereaux Episode: "The Index" (S 4:Ep 10) [22]
2010 Bones Simon Graham Episode: "The Rocker in the Rinse Cycle" (S 5:E 19)
2012 The Finder Icepick Episode: "Voodoo Undo" (S 5:E 19)
2012 NCIS Del Finney Episode: "Phoenix" (S 10:Ep 3) [22]
2014 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Marty 'The Cat' Kirch Episode: "Long Road Home" (S 14:Ep 17) [22]
2018, 2019 MacGyver (2016 TV series) Nicholas Helman 2 Episodes: "Murdoc + Handcuffs" (S 2:Ep 15), “Murdoc + Helman + Hit” (S3:Ep 18) [22]

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Artist(s) Role
2011 "Moves like Jagger" Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera Man on Stage


  1. ^ "About Michael Des Barres". Michaeldesbarres.com. Retrieved 29 August 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "In Conversation With: Michael Des Barres". 100percentrock.com. 27 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Michael Des Barres Interview". Guitarhoo.com. 8 December 2013.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b c "michaeldesbarres.com/bio". michaeldesbarres.com. Retrieved 13 August 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "First Listen: Michael Des Barres's Album 'The Key to the Universe'". Yahoo.com. Retrieved 14 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Interview: Michael Des Barres Redefines "Renaissance Man", Performs with New Band in DTLA Wednesday Night". Californiarocker.com. 25 September 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "The Scream Factory Unleashes Ghoulies / Ghoulies 2 Blu-ray Details". Dreadcentral.com. 4 March 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Mulholland Drive (2001)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 14 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Interview: Michael Des Barres Redefines "Renaissance Man", Performs With New Band in DTLA Wednesday Night". Californiarocker.com. Retrieved 14 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Michael Des Barres - Bio". michaeldesbarres.com. Retrieved 10 August 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Nicholas Dean Des Barres - Biographical Summaries of Notable People". Myheritage.com. Retrieved 14 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "Observer-Reporter - Google News Archive Search". News.google.com. Retrieved 14 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ Dougherty, Philip H. (10 March 1987). "Rock stars deliver anti-drug messages". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 October 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "Don't Knock The Rock 2012". Cinefamily.org. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "Nicholas Dean Des Barres - Biographical Summaries of Notable People". Myheritage.com. Retrieved 14 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "Interview: Michael Des Barres Redefines "Renaissance Man", Performs with New Band in DTLA Wednesday Night". Californiarocker.com. 25 August 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ "Meet Britta Hayertz of Pilates With Britta in Hancock Park and Larchmont Blvd". Voyagela.com. 20 March 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ Rugged Entertainment
  20. ^ Michael Des Barres: Who Do You Want Me to Be?, retrieved 22 July 2020
  21. ^ J. Elvis Weinstein
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "Michael Des Barres : Credit Listings". TV.com. Retrieved 11 August 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  23. ^ "Diary of a Sex Addict". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 13 August 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  24. ^ a b c "Michael Des Barres". TV.com. Retrieved 4 May 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. ^ "Tuned In: British 'Office' crosses the pond, but will it work?". Old.post-gazette.com. 22 January 2003.
  26. ^ "Wanna-Be Comedy: Almost Infamous". New York Daily News. 14 March 2002.
  27. ^ "Dead Like Me, In Escrow". IMDb.com. Retrieved 30 August 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]