Michael Des Barres Talks New Documentary, Sex Pistols Cover, and Playing a Killer on 1071 The Boss
On July 13, 1985, Michael Des Barres took the stage in Philadelphia facing the largest televised audience ever to front The Power Station, a super group which included Duran Duran members Andy and John Taylor, with Chic drummer Tony Thompson.
Des Barres had only been with the band for “a few dates,” he told Michele Amabile from 1071 The Boss, with only three days rehearsal. No big deal right?
“I had to learn 30 songs in a few days,” he said.
The group wound up doing two songs–“Murderess” and the T-Rex cover, “Bang a Gong (“Get it On”)–due to the explosion of Andy Taylor’s guitar amp, but that’s rock and roll, he laughed.
“Bill Graham, the notorious, legendary Bill Graham was furious and screaming and shouting, and I was just standing on that drum riser laughing my ass off,” he said. “Nothing could have affected me that day.”
Power Station was introduced that day by actor Don Johnson, who along with John Taylor, will make an appearance in Des Barre’s forthcoming documentary (due July 10), “Who Do You Want Me To Be?” Named for a lyric in the hit song he co-wrote for Animotion, “Obsession,” the documentary chronicles Des Barres’ career, from his early childhood to his acting roots appearing with Sir Sidney Poitier in “To Sir With Love,” through his rock and roll journey in bands with The Sex Pistols Steve Jones, to label deals with Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song Records, his marriage to Pamela Des Barre and current deal with E Street Band member Steve Van Zandt’s “Wicked Cool Records.”
“I have been at it since I was 8, and now I am 72, so there is a lot of ground to cover,” he said. “Dying young and leaving a good looking corpse is bull-s–t. I want to die extremely old looking spectacular.”
Van Zandt–who also appears in the documentary–was instrumental in Des Barre’s recent release, an orchestral cover of The Sex Pistol’s “Anarchy in the UK.” Profits from the single will be donated to the Poor People’s Campaign.
“It’s orchestral, it’s melancholy,” he said, noting that the idea of the arrangement was “New Jersey’s Steven Van Zandt, who I admire more than anyone.”
“It’s a melancholy warning, not a battle cry,” he explained. “The interesting thing is it was done before the pandemic and before George Floyd’s murder. It’s a very prescient piece.”
In a wide ranging interview, Des Barres talks about his long relationship with Van Zandt as well as his extensive resume, which includes writing Animotion’s hit, “Obsession” with Holly Knight (who wrote “Love is a Battlefield” for Pat Benatar and Scandal’s “The Warrior”), playing an assassin on “MacGyver” (a role he plans to reprise in the reboot), and the conniving Arthur Field against Heather Locklear’s Amanda Woodward on “Melrose Place” and more!
To download the single, click HERE.