Born Pamela Miller in 1950
, this California girl grew up listening to the rock and roll
music that was popular during her childhood and teenage years, and admiring the guys who sang it. She started out trying to meet Paul McCartney
, then became a Rolling Stones
fan, going from peppy teen "Pam" to more individualist "Pamela" at the same time that she met Captain Beefheart
(through his cousin Victor, her high school classmate). She hung out more and more in Hollywood
, attending the protest that inspired Buffalo Springfield
's song "For What It's Worth
," drooling over The Byrds
, Iron Butterfly
, and The Doors
when they were just local bands, and being solicited by Terry Southern
as a possible star in the movie of his book Candy
, all before graduating high school.
She and her clubbing friends with their distinctive dress style hung out, met such non-local musicians as the Jimi Hendrix Experience (bass player Noel Redding was one of Pamela's affairs) and were invited to dance onstage by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. The girls called themselves the GTOs and said it could stand for Girls Together Only, Outrageously, Overtly, or anything else. In 1968 they also wrote some songs, performed them backed by some of the Mothers of Invention, and eventually recorded the album Permanent Damage, produced by Zappa. The band got press for being exemplars of the groupie phenomenon, but the album didn't really sell and the group broke up due to drug use and arrests of members Miss Mercy, Miss Christine, and Miss Cynderella.
During this period, Miss Pamela was involved with first actor Brandon de Wilde, then Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, then Mick Jagger, and a one night stand with Waylon Jennings. She appeared in Zappa's movie 200 Motels, but most of her part ended up being edited out of the movie. She babysat Moon Unit and Dweezil Zappa, took acting lessons, and got involved with Don Johnson before anyone had ever heard of him (he left her for the then-teenage Melanie Griffith). She appeared in several B-movies and still spent time with musician friends, which is how she met Michael Des Barres in early 1974.
The then-member of Silverhead said he had had a crush on Pamela when the GTOs album came out, which was the beginning of the affair between Pamela and this glitter rock singer whose "waist was smaller than mine; his ears were pierced and mine weren't." (p. 256, I'm With The Band) Des Barres divorced his wife Wendy, and married Pamela in 1977; they had a son named Nicholas Dean Des Barres a year later.
Michael Des Barres took a long time to kick his drug and alcohol problems, but eventually joined Alcoholics Anonymous and was a founder of Rock Against Drugs. He supported Pamela's writing her fascinating 1987 book I'm With The Band, which made her known to all the fans of music who wanted to hear her stories (and got Bob Dylan to say she was a really good writer) . However, the two divorced around 1990.
Pamela concentrated on writing rather than continuing to act, and in 1992 released her second volume of autobiography, Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up. (These two books are my sources for this writeup.) She's also written the very interesting book Rock Bottom about the downfalls of various rock musicians (death, imprisonment, insanity, etc).