Unlike those who can’t be named (or can now, I forget), I cannot afford a super injunction, not that I want one as I am not ashamed of my legendary obsession with Duran Duran. This does indeed stretch to all the solo offerings, including the John Taylor solo track ‘I Do What I Do (To Have You)’, theme to 80s schoolboy wet dream flick ‘9½ Weeks’, on Japanese 12” amongst others formats.
And it is this attention to detail that first introduced me to Michael Des Barres. Whilst Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor were forging a more ‘arty’ pursuit with Arcadia, John and Andy Taylor chose to get their ‘rock’ on with The Powerstation. Original line-up included Robert Palmer on vocal duties but as the success of the band led to more recognition, Palmer left to pursue his solo career and Michael Des Barres stepped in to steer the ship.
This also included an appearance at Live Aid where the band performed at the Philadelphia concert, but as a child of the 80s I was more impressed with the group’s cameo on Miami Vice.
Des Barres story began long before this though; his first band Silverhead (including a pre-Blondie Nigel Harrison) released their self-titled debut album in 1972. Signed to the Deep Purple ‘Purple Records’ imprint they released two studio sets and a live album but split before the completion of their third album.
Whilst commercial success may have slightly eluded them (in the UK), the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle certainly didn’t, touring with the likes of Nazareth and Uriah Heep as well as becoming huge stars in Japan. Their brand of slightly sleazy rock draws comparisons to fellow 70s glam rockers the New York Dolls and they have become a cult name over the years.
After the break-up of the band, Des Barres formed Detective, this time signed to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Swan Song’ label, but like Silverhead the band broke up before the release of their third album.
During the 1980s Michael released two solo albums 1980s ‘I’m Only Human’ and 1986s ‘Someone Up Their Likes Me’ as well as forming another group, ‘Chequered Past’ with Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) and Clem Burke and Nigel Harrison (Blondie) and of course aforementioned stint with The Powerstation.
Arguably it is his acting career that will be more familiar to some, spanning some 50 years having started at the tender age of eight (after he found himself an agent by looking in the phone book) he appeared in episodes of Z-Cars and Dixon Of Dock Green in the 60s and Mother’s favourite (or was it just my Mum?) The Rockford Files during the 70s.
Between the 80s and 00s he appeared in some of the biggest TV shows around including Frasier, Alias, MacGyver, 21 Jump Street, Roseanne, Melrose Place and best of all…. ALF. He has been in over 30 movies including ‘Sugar Town’ with Duran Duran’s John Taylor (have I mentioned them?) and David Lynch’s ‘Mulholland Drive’.
So what is he up to now? Thanks for asking, that leads me in nicely to the here and now. Michael has been working on a number of new tracks and his new group ‘The Michael Des Barres Band’ have played a few exclusive shows in Hollywood. The band currently includes Jebin Bruni (Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann) on keyboards, David Goodstein (Nil Lara, Daniel Powter) on drums, Eric Schermerhorn (Iggy Pop, David Bowie) on guitar and Paul Ill (Juliette Lewis, Courtney Love) on bass.
A recent appearance at SXSW saw Michael reunited with Nigel Harrison for a rendition of a Silverhead classic ‘More Than Your Mouth Can Hold’ and you can see a clip of it below.
Pete Makowski has known Michael for many years and has recently been treated to some exclusive new tracks, currently commercially unavailable and only recently debuted live. So I am very excited to be able to exclusively bring you one of these tracks for TAPEtoTAPE. Oh, yeah, that is how we roll these days!
Here is a cheeky little number called ‘Little Latin Lover’. Unavailable anywhere else (for now at least) and an introduction to the new material Michael will be working on and hopefully releasing later in the year.