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The Legend of Pamela Des Barres, Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Most Iconic Groupie

'I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie' was her groundbreaking bestseller and Penny Lane from 'Almost Famous' is based on her. We talk to Pamela about her new book, 'Let It Bleed: How to Write a Rockin' Memoir.'

by Katie Bain
Apr 27 2017, 5:55pm

Pamela Des Barres is most often remembered for having sex with Mick Jagger. And Jimmy Page. And Keith Moon. And Waylon Jennings. And a bunch of other rock gods in between. Des Barres carved out her place in rock 'n' roll history as one of LA's most prolific groupies during the decadent era when the members of Led Zeppelin rode motorcycles down hotel hallways and musicians got crazy rich off of record sales. But she also made music herself as a member of The GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously), a band made up of a bunch of groupies, as organized by Frank Zappa (Des Barres used to babysit his kids). In pictures from the era, Des Barres is an ethereal, glowing redhead in silk vintage wear—exactly the kind of woman you'd want to spend time with if you were a virile young rock star in town for the week.

But what Des Barres is often less remembered for is her most significant title: best-selling author. Her first book, I'm With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, recounted her adventures through the rock and roll renaissance and shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list upon its release in 1987. (The book celebrates its 30-year anniversary with a special edition released later this year.) Des Barres' following books, Let's Spend the Night Together, Take Another Little Piece of My Heart, and Rock Bottom recounted the highs and ultra-lows of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, and also became bestsellers. Des Barres has been honing her skills as a writer her entire life, since the days she spent scribbling in her diary, growing up in the San Fernando Valley. A college English major, she's taught writing workshops for women in her living room for the past 16 years, not to mention taking her classes on tour to cities around the States and beyond. She considers writing and teaching her most important life's work.

Des Barres' newest book, Let It Bleed: How to Write a Rockin' Memoir, is a masterclass for those who want to get their own life's story on the page. Published last week, the book encourages would-be memoirists of both sexes to fearlessly confess their darkest secrets and deepest flaws, offering prompts on how to do so, while weaving in writing from her own students and her own plucky observations ("Jesus and I have had quite a stormy relationship").

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