Michael Des Barres

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Michael Des Barres
Des Barres in 2017
Des Barres in 2017
Background information
Birth nameMichael Phillips Des Barres
Born (1948-01-24) 24 January 1948 (age 76)
Hove, Sussex, England
OriginLondon, England
  • Actor
  • singer
Years active1960–present

Michael Philip Des Barres, 26th Marquis Des Barres,[1][2] (born 24 January 1948) is an English actor and pop singer. He appeared as Murdoc in the original MacGyver, Lenny Stokes in Lois & Clark, and Murdoc's mentor Nicholas Helman in MacGyver (2016). He replaced 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 Philip and Irene Des Barres (Marquis and Marquise 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] He has some French ancestry. His title of Marquis was bestowed upon a 13th-century ancestor Guillaume II Des Barres, a French knight, after rescuing King Philip II of France during the Battle of Bouvines in 1214.[5]



Des Barres started his musical career in the glam rock band Silverhead in England in 1972. The group released two albums on Deep Purple's record label Purple Records before breaking up in 1974.[6]

After leaving Silverhead, Des Barres moved to Los Angeles, where he formed the band Detective. The band was signed to Led Zeppelin's Swan Song Records label by Jimmy Page, whom Des Barres had met after a Silverhead performance in Birmingham, England, that the members of Led Zeppelin had attended.[7]

Following the break-up of Detective in 1978, Des Barres formed Chequered Past in 1982.[8][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 the 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.[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 reunited 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.[9]

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 Zandt'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).[10] The Mistakes' plans to tour Japan and Russia in 2020 were cancelled because of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.[11]


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,[12] 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 2001 film Mulholland Drive.[13]

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 alumnus, Teri Hatcher; JAG; Melrose Place, where he played devilish Arthur Field in 11 episodes; Nash Bridges; Northern Exposure; The 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]


Recently, 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.[14]

Documentary: "Michael Des Barres: Who Do You Want Me To Be"[edit]

In 2021, Des Barres released the documentary "Who Do You Want Me To Be," directed by J. Elvis Weinstein, on streaming platforms plus DVD and Blu-ray. The tag line for the film is "The son of a junkie aristocrat and a schizophrenic showgirl becomes a master of reinvention on a 50+ year journey through rock and roll, TV, and movies."[15]

Personal life[edit]

In 1974, Des Barres 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.[16]

Des Barres was married to Pamela Des Barres from 1977 until 1991. They have a son, Nicholas Des Barres, who is a writer and video game designer.[17]

Des Barres has been sober since June 1981.[18] In the mid-1980s, he was one of the founding members of Rock Against Drugs.[19] He later did volunteer addiction counselling 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.[20][17]

Des Barres married his long-term girlfriend, Britta Hayertz, on December 21, 2018.[21]


Studio 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]

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]
1974 Arizona Slim Michael Pearson
1985 Ghoulies Malcolm Graves [22]
1987 Nightflyers Jon Winderman [22]
1989 Pink Cadillac Alex [22]
1992 Waxwork II: Lost in Time George Sequel to the 1988 film Waxwork. [22]
Under Siege Domiani
1997 Poison Ivy: The New Seduction Ivan Greer Sequel to Poison Ivy (1992) and Poison Ivy II: Lily (1996). [22]
1999 The Hungry Bachelors Club Mr. Spinner The film was retitled Food for the Heart for its DVD release. [22]
Sugar Town Nick [22]
2001 Diary of a Sex Addict Sammy [23]
Mulholland Drive Billy [22]
The Man from Elysian Fields Nigel Halsey [22]
2002 Ocean Park Gower [22]
2004 Catch That Kid Brisbane [22]
2012 California Solo Wendell [22]


Year Title Role Notes ref
1978 WKRP in Cincinnati Dog w/ Scum Of The Earth Episode: "Hoodlum Rock" [22]
1980 Hart to Hart Syd Sado Episode: "Downhill to Death"
1985 Miami Vice Himself w/ The Power Station Episode: "Whatever Works" [22]
1987–91 MacGyver Murdoc Recurring role [22]
1988 Miami Vice Shane DuBois Episode: "Baseballs of Death" [22]
1988 ALF Eddie Episode: "Promises, Promises" [22]
1989 21 Jump Street Mr. Karst / Gavin McHugh 2 episodes
1991 Roseanne Jerry Gimble Episode: "Dances with Darlene" [22]
1992 Batman: The Animated Series Carl Fowler / Nostromos Voice, episode: "Prophecy of Doom" [24]
1991–93 The New WKRP in Cincinnati Jack Allen Recurring role [22]
1993 Seinfeld Restaurateur Episode: "The Smelly Car"
1994 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Lenny Stoke Episode: "Wall of Sound" [22]
1995 Freakazoid! Man in the Hole Voice, episode: "Sewer Rescue" [24]
1995 Renegade Michael St. John Episode: "Hitman" [25]
1996–97 Melrose Place Arthur Field Recurring role [22]
1996 Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm Kano Voice, 2 episodes
1996 Spider-Man Jackson Wheele Voice, episode: "The Rocket Racer" [24]
1996 The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest Merlin Voice, episode: "The Alchemist" [24]
1997 JAG King Josif Episode: "Washington Holiday" [26]
1998 Just Shoot Me! Nick Hewitt Episode: "Nina in the Cantina" [22]
1999 The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Immigration Agent #2 Voice, episode: "Brussels Sprouts" [24]
2002 My Guide to Becoming a Rock Star Eric Darnell Recurring role [22][27][28]
2002 Gilmore Girls Claude Clemenceau Episode: "A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving" [26]
2002 Charmed Dark Priest Episode: "We're Off to See the Wizard"
2004 Dead Like Me Gideon Jeffries Episode: "In Escrow" [29]
2004 Frasier Georges Episode: "And Frasier Makes Three" [30]
2004 JAG Howie Black Episode: "Trojan Horse" [26]
2005 Alias Miles Devereaux Episode: "The Index" [22]
2006 Four Kings Nick Dresden Recurring role
2010 Bones Simon Graham Episode: "The Rocker in the Rinse Cycle"
2012 The Finder Icepick Episode: "Voodoo Undo"
2012 Suits Sergei Baskov Episode: "All In" [22]
2012 NCIS Del Finney Episode: "Phoenix" [22]
2014 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Marty 'The Cat' Kirch Episode: "Long Road Home" [22]
2018–2019 MacGyver Nicholas Helman 2 episodes [22]

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Artist(s) Role
2011 "Moves like Jagger" Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera Man on Stage
2016 "East Coast Girl" Butch Walker The Governor


  1. ^ "About Michael Des Barres". Michaeldesbarres.com. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  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. ^ "Findmypast.co.uk". Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  5. ^ "Des Barres, Michael". The Rocktologist. Archived from the original on 27 September 2020. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  6. ^ Prato, Greg. "Silverhead Biography". AllMusic. AllMusic, Netaktion LLC. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
  7. ^ Larsen, Peter (23 April 2022). "Thanks to Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, the 1977 debut of Michael Des Barres's Detective gets a Record Store Day release". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
  8. ^ "michaeldesbarres.com/bio". michaeldesbarres.com. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  9. ^ "First Listen: Michael Des Barres's Album 'The Key to the Universe'". Yahoo.com. 18 August 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  10. ^ "Interview: Michael Des Barres Redefines "Renaissance Man", Performs with New Band in DTLA Wednesday Night". Californiarocker.com. 25 September 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Michael Des Barres shares a lifetime of music". Goldmine Magazine. 29 June 2020. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  12. ^ "The Scream Factory Unleashes Ghoulies / Ghoulies 2 Blu-ray Details". Dreadcentral.com. 4 March 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Mulholland Drive (2001)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 14 November 2019.[unreliable source?]
  14. ^ "Interview: Michael Des Barres Redefines "Renaissance Man", Performs With New Band in DTLA Wednesday Night". Californiarocker.com. 25 August 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  15. ^ "Michael des Barres: Who do You Want Me to Be?". IMDb. 10 July 2020.
  16. ^ "Michael Des Barres - Bio". michaeldesbarres.com. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  17. ^ a b "Nicholas Dean Des Barres - Biographical Summaries of Notable People". Myheritage.com. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  18. ^ "Observer-Reporter - Google News Archive Search". News.google.com. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  19. ^ Dougherty, Philip H. (10 March 1987). "Rock stars deliver anti-drug messages". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  20. ^ "Don't Knock The Rock 2012". Cinefamily.org. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  21. ^ "Interview: Michael Des Barres Redefines "Renaissance Man", Performs with New Band in DTLA Wednesday Night". Californiarocker.com. 25 August 2019. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  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 y z aa ab ac "Michael Des Barres : Credit Listings". TV.com. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  23. ^ "Diary of a Sex Addict". www.imdb.com. 13 November 2001. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  24. ^ a b c d e "Michael Des Barres (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved 18 January 2024. A green check mark indicates that a role has been confirmed using a screenshot (or collage of screenshots) of a title's list of voice actors and their respective characters found in its opening and/or closing credits and/or other reliable sources of information.
  25. ^ "Renegade Full Cast & Crew". IMdB. Retrieved 19 May 2023.
  26. ^ a b c "Michael Des Barres". TV.com. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  27. ^ "Tuned In: British 'Office' crosses the pond, but will it work?". Old.post-gazette.com. 22 January 2003.
  28. ^ "Wanna-Be Comedy: Almost Infamous". New York Daily News. 14 March 2002.
  29. ^ "Dead Like Me, In Escrow". IMDb.com. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  30. ^ "Frasier, And Frasier Makes Three". IMDb.com. Retrieved 16 January 2024.

External links[edit]