Showing posts with label #Led Zeppelin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #Led Zeppelin. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Maria Muldaur rekindles the spirit of 'Memphis Minnie' on her latest release

 By Ray Shasho

Maria Muldaur interview:

MEMPHIS MINNIE (Lizzie Douglas) was born in Algiers, Louisiana. At thirteen years old, she ran away to Memphis, Tennessee playing her guitar at local nightclubs. In 1929, a Columbia Records talent scout signed Minnie and her new husband Kansas Joe McCoy to a recording contract which led to their hit song “Bumble Bee.”
Minnie became an American blues icon. Not only was she a female trendsetter, but also among the first musicians to play an electric guitar. Minnie was musically engaged between the 1920’s and 1950’s, accomplishing an incredible forty-year journey in show business as a disciple for the blues, an unimaginable undertaking for a woman and a blues artist during those times. She was very popular during the early Depression years through World War II.
Minnie combined her Louisiana-country roots with Memphis-blues, which transformed into electric urban- blues and helped pave the way for artists like Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Little Walter and Jimmy Rogers.

She was an exceptional singer, songwriter and virtuoso multi-instrumentalist. One of Minnie’s co-penned classics was with husband Kansas Joe McCoy, “When the Levee Breaks” (1929), a tune re-created by countless artists over the years including Led Zeppelin. A few other legendary compositions by Memphis Minnie include, “Nothing in Rambling,” “In My Girlish Days,” “Looking the World Over,” and “Me and My Chauffer Blues.”

Memphis Minnie died at the age of 76 in 1973.

The blues are probably the most important genre in American history, and yet there are still many pioneers of the genre that are either forgotten or unknown. And besides the fabulous Bessie Smith, early blues-women are rarely discussed … until now.

MARIA MULDAUR has rekindled the spirit of a legendary blues-woman on her latest release … First Came Memphis Minnie. The album is also a milestone for Maria, it being her 40th recording in an illustrious musical career.
Maria Muldaur began her melodious journey in the early 60s performing blues, bluegrass, and Appalachian “Old Timey” music with John Sebastian, David Grisman, and Stefan Grossman, as a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band. In 1963, she became vocalist for Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band and became part of a Greenwich Village scene that included legendary songwriter Bob Dylan. Maria married guitarist, composer, and fellow jug band member Geoff Muldaur.

When the marriage ended, she began a solo career. Maria’s self-titled first album was released in 1973. The album spawned the megahit “Midnight at the Oasis” (1974 hit #6 on Billboards’ Top 100). The seductive lyrics were evenly matched by Maria’s seductive performance. Maria performed the song on The Midnight Special and Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. The song penned by music/television/ film composer David Nichterm earned the singer several Grammy nominations.

In 1974, Maria Muldaur opened concerts for Stephen Stills and The Grateful Dead, and also became a backup singer for ‘The Dead’ in the late 70s.

Maria Muldaur continues to sing, record, develop, produce, and amaze audiences by covering American Roots music. Her eclectic musical styles have included gospel, R&B, jazz, and big-band. Maria has also recorded several award-winning children’s albums. But it’s apparent that her favorite genre is the blues. The critically-acclaimed Richland Woman Blues album (2001) was nominated for a Grammy and by The Blues Foundation as Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year. Her follow-up album Sweet Lovin’ Ol’ Soul was also nominated.

In 2009, the album Maria Muldaur & Her Garden of Joy captured Maria’s 6th Grammy nomination.
In 2011, Muldaur returned to New Orleans (her “musical and spiritual home”) to record a contemporary electric blues album entitled, Steady Love. Maria calls her favorite music to perform “Bluesiana Music” … her brand of New Orleans-flavored blues, R&B, and “Swamp Funk.” Steady Love reached #1 on the Living Blues Radio Charts.

Her latest release First Came Memphis Minnie features an incredible lineup of legendary musicians including classic tracks by Phoebe Snow and Koko Taylor. Also new recordings by Bonnie Raitt, Rory Block, and Ruthie Foster … and previously released tracks that Muldaur recorded with Alvin Youngblood Hart, Del Ray, Roy Rogers, and Steve James. The recording is also produced by Maria.

The album is pure, down-home soulful blues at its finest …If you love the blues, you’ll love First Came Memphis Minnie -I’m giving it (5) stars!

Maria Muldaur will be performing live in Tampa at Skippers Smokehouse on Sunday, October 28th. Visit or call 813-971-0666 for tickets and information.

I had the opportunity to chat with MARIA MULDAUR recently about the latest album and her incredible musical journey.
Ray Shasho: “Hi Maria, thank you for being on the call today … so where’s the band playing tonight?
Maria Muldaur: “I’m in Minnesota, drinking a nice cup of cocoa, but we can’t wait to be down in Florida.”
Ray Shasho: Yes, you’ll be here in Tampa at Skippers Smokehouse on October 28th.
Maria Muldaur: “I played there before and always remember the amazing seafood… nice kind of backyard casual atmosphere which is perfect for playing the blues and we’re looking forward to it.”
Ray Shasho: Well, the weather here in the Tampa Bay area has been consistently perfect.
Maria Muldaur: “Good! … Well tell them to hold that till we get there.”
Ray Shasho: First of all Maria, I want to say congratulations on the release of your fortieth album.
Maria Muldaur: “Thank you dear, yea, I couldn’t believe it when I counted it all up, some people think I’ve done forty three but my count said forty, so we’ll go with that.”
Ray Shasho: Would you say that your musical career has been a smooth journey?
Maria Muldaur: “I think it’s been an amazing journey and its unfolded one passion at a time, and I just followed where my passion has led me and it hasn’t stirred me wrong yet, Even though I’ve had a few huge Pop hits, but basically my career can be described as a long and adventurous odyssey through various forms of American roots. I started out falling in love with Appalachian “Old Timey” music and country blues, bluegrass, jazz, and all sorts of music and at various stages as the mood lent me, I began to explore different genres …and continuing to do that. It’s been fascinating; we have such an amazing, rich, musical heritage in this country and it’s something I never get tired of exploring.”
Ray Shasho: We are very lucky to be able to enjoy so many different styles of musical culture in America.
Maria Muldaur: “Like this fortieth album … a tribute to the late great blues artist Memphis Minnie. Except for one cut … it’s all early acoustic country blues. I travel around with my Red Hot Bluesiana Band … and “Bluesiana” is a word that I made up years ago to describe the kind of New Orleans flavored blues/R&B that we call “Swamp Funk” that we like to play.”
“I had been doing a string of albums for Stony Plains Records and three of them were nominated for Grammy’s in recent years. I got three Grammy nominations back in the days of “Midnight at the Oasis” and just in the last decade got three more Grammy nominations for a series of albums I’ve done for Stony Plains Records paying tribute to various blues legends and pioneers. And they’ve all been acoustic because the early blues were acoustic. My agent last year said, “Why don’t you do an album that reflects what you sound like live with your Bluesiana Band?” … and I thought that was an excellent idea. So I went down to New Orleans and hooked up with some of my favorite musicians down there and did an album called, Steady Love which I really loved doing, and love the songs that are on it. I’m happy to say it made it to #1 on the Living Blues Charts last year. So we’re coming to Tampa with a combination of material from the Steady Love album which is all very high-octane, high-energy, high-spirited Bluesiana music … as well as a lot of music from the Memphis Minnie album.”
Ray Shasho: When I received First Came Memphis Minnie in the mail … I thought it’s about time someone released a tribute album honoring a blues-woman. I commend you Maria for raising that awareness.
Maria Muldaur: “Well, thank you … as I travel around, I ask people in the audience … How many of you have heard of Bessie Smith? Almost everyone in the audience starts to clap. Then I go, okay … How many of you have heard of Memphis Minnie? Maybe two or three of the hipsters in the crowd will say they know who she is … and so that’s exactly why I did the album. She was a woman who started recording in the late 20s, and not only sang the blues, as a lot of the early blues-women did, but she wrote and recorded over two hundred of her own songs. She also played absolutely amazing guitar, and smart enough to marry … not one, but several guitar-playing husbands. She was a pioneer, a maverick, and created a career for herself that spanned several decades against all racial, social, gender, and financial barriers.”
“Despite the fact she was called Memphis Minnie, in the early 1930s she migrated up to Chicago and became the queen of the blues scene up there. In the early 1940s, she was one of the very first blues artists to plug in her guitar and go from acoustic country-blues sound to an electric Chicago-blues sound. She helped forge the sound that would become the electric Chicago-blues sound, which in the late 1950s morphed into R&B and rock and roll. So really, we owe Memphis Minnie a huge debt of gratitude and a lot more recognition that she’s gotten in past times.”
“So, I got together with several of my soul sisters in music that also love and revere her music and we put together this CD. And everyone picked whatever song resonated with them the most. The interesting thing is … here it is 2012, and most of these songs are supposed to be originally written in the 1920s and 30s, and yet they resonate today … very contemporary and universal. To me the very best songs are songs that are very universal and very personal. And Memphis Minnie’s music totally fits those criteria’s for me. She writes about things that really happened to her. Like the song, “In My Girlish Days” is a great example. I think Phoebe Snow’s rendition of it is just phenomenal.”
“Because she had such an interesting and adventurous life as an independent woman … the songs are very interesting and tell the stories of her adventures. At the same time, they’re the kind of situations that many a woman has gotten herself into … Both Bonnie Raitt and myself, Rory Block and Ruthie Foster whom I just adore, and Koko Taylor and Phoebe Snow. And so many other artist as well, love Memphis Minnie and appreciates what she did, and kind of like a role model for us. If I had the time and money there would be more people that I would have gotten on the album, but just the logistics of it … we reached out to Lucinda Williams who is another huge Memphis Minnie fan, and also Michelle Shocked.”
“Memphis Minnie wrote, “When the Levee Breaks” and even Led Zeppelin recorded their version of her song. So I wanted to shine a little spotlight on someone so unique, soulful, and such a great influence on the music that evolved from her day to today.”
Ray Shasho: Just about every American music genre evolved from the blues, and there were so many great blues artists that never got their fair share of credit or fame.
Maria Muldaur: “I’ve paid tributes on other albums to Mississippi John Hurt, Lead Belly, Mississippi Fred McDowell … and on that series as with this album, I’ve always enlisted the help of my fellow blues artists who share my passion for the early music. So I’ve been blessed to do duets with Taj Mahal, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Bonnie Raitt and so forth and so on. It’s a music that is very important to us and I’m hoping that it will endure. I think it will …people are loving the material.”
Ray Shasho: Well, my review is going to say … The album is pure, down-home soulful blues at its finest and if you love the blues you’ll love … First Came Memphis Minnie. I’m giving it five stars!
Maria Muldaur: “Thank you so much! “Each gal on the CD does their own interpretation, they make it their own and true to Memphis Minnie’s basic spirit and vibe, but each track sounds completely different. I think it’s very interesting on how that turned out.”
“When I designed the album cover, I wanted to make the cover like Memphis Minnie was shining down from blues heaven. All her energy and inspiration is shining down on us to this day. That was the idea behind it. And I slaved over the liner notes because the more I looked into it, the more of a complex story I was discovering and wanted to share with people, all in a space of a two inch, by two inch, little piece of paper that they stick in a CD anymore.”
Ray Shasho: Maria, I really like your version of “Crazy Cryin’ Blues,” that had to be a difficult tune to sing?
Maria Muldaur: “Thanks for noticing that! Ray, I’m here to tell you, I love the song; it’s a very haunting song the way she does it. The incredible guitar work on most of the cuts on the album were done by an amazing guitar player named Del Ray, and she loves and reveres Memphis Minnie as much as I do, and focused on Minnie’s guitar styles. And between us, when she’s playing and I’m singing, we pretty much channel Memphis Minnie into the room. But she kept telling me …you’ve got to do “Crazy Cryin’ Blues.” And I said are you kidding me, I could never sing that. So she worked out all the intricate guitar parts and nudged me into doing it. So I said …okay but I’m not promising anything. But in the end, I think it turned out okay.”
Ray Shasho: Maria you did a marvelous job on the song, I knew as soon as I heard it, that it must have been a relentless task.
Maria Muldaur: “It was one of the most challenging things that I ever had to sing …thank you Ray for noticing that. But who hasn’t been in a state of mind like that where you’re just so heartbroken and beside yourself, crying all night, you haven’t slept and in such a deep state of pain. And that’s what all that moaning is all about in the song. I rose to the challenge and I think I pulled it off.”
Ray Shasho: And I really liked Koko Taylor’s version of “Black Rat Swing” … cool song!
Maria Muldaur: “I thought it was so important… two people that are on the album that are no longer with us, I had been planning this project for awhile, and I saw Koko Taylor a little over two years ago because we usually end up at the blues awards in Memphis every year together. I told her I was going to do this project and she excitedly said she’d do it. But that song is done like a real straight ahead electric Chicago blues style. I thought that was such an important song to have on there for the fact that Minnie went electric and helped create that electric Chicago blues sound. And to have Koko Taylor … the queen of the Chicago blues scene for years and years and probably inherited the crown from Memphis Minnie when she was young. When I found out she recorded it for the last album she did, it was just a real blessing that we got the chance to include it on the Memphis Millie tribute album.”
“I met Phoebe Snow in 1970 and one of the first things we talked about was Memphis Minnie. She knew I was a fan because I had already touched “Chauffer Blues” with my husband Geoff Muldaur in 1969 …a quite different version than the version we have now. But Phoebe whipped out her guitar and started playing it right on the street while standing in front of a club in Greenwich Village, and I was just blown away. I had never heard anyone sing like that and then she played pretty damn good blues guitar as well. And so from that moment, Phoebe Snow and I bonded over our love of Memphis Minnie and became friends and sisters from that time forward. Phoebe had been planning a version of “In My Girlish Days” when she heard about the project and unfortunately should took ill, but we found this early version of it and I think it’s just stellar, it’s magical …I love it. What a singer …I miss her so much!”
Ray Shasho: Maria, I’m going to make a comment even though I know my wife is in the room … When I first saw you sing “Midnight at the Oasis” it may have been either on the Midnight Special or Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert around 1974. I was in high school and already had a thing for Linda Ronstadt, but Linda played second fiddle after I saw your performance. Both you and the tune were incredibly seductive and that was one good reason it was such a huge hit.
Maria Muldaur: “Oh my goodness … Linda and I and Bonnie Raitt were definitely the hot babes of the 70s. We palled around a lot and are still very dear friends. But I was just sort of a young hippie doing my little thing. It wasn’t like Madonna, who by the way, I really respect and admire a whole lot. Her sex appeal was kind of calculated and definitely embellished, and I was just out there with my little halter top, denim skirt, little bellbottom jeans … shaking my tambourine. I hear from people that it really got to them … so whatever works.”
“Several years ago, I should have been writing down all the stories that people would come up and tell me when I was signing their CD’s and so and so. All the little stories about what they were doing when they first heard my song …and I’m telling you, I would have quite the X-Rated book by now.”
“I still do those songs too because people love to hear them. At our show, not only will we be doing some of the Memphis Minnie material, and a lot of the Bluesiana material, but also the old favorites like “Midnight at the Oasis,” “Don’t You Feel My Leg,” “It Ain’t the Meat, It’s the Motion,” …so we aim to please and don’t disappoint anyone.”
Ray Shasho: A final question Maria … If you had a ‘Field of Dreams’ wish to sing or collaborate with anyone from the past or present, who would that be?
Maria Muldaur: “There are two. The one person I asked to sing with me said yes, but then he got called to do a performance at the White House, so it never worked out … I would love to sing with Al Green. I’ve sung with Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, and Aaron Neville … which is a singers dream come true … I’ve sung with Hoagy Carmichael, Taj Mahal … you name it, but I’d love to sing with Al Green.”
“The other thing I’d like to do is collaborate with Bob Dylan. I have played with him kind of unofficially, but would love to do something with Bob Dylan.”
Ray Shasho: Maria… thank-you so much for being on the call today and more importantly for all the great music you’ve given to all of us through the years. We look forward to your appearance at Skippers Smokehouse in Tampa and the release of First Came Memphis Minnie.
Maria Muldaur: “Thank you Ray, I hope to see you at the show.”

Maria Muldaur official website
Maria Muldaur will be performing live in Tampa at Skippers Smokehouse on Sunday, October 28th. Visit or call 813-971-0666 for ticket information.
Order Maria Muldaur’s latest releaseFirst Came Memphis Minnie on Maria’s official website or at

Special thanks to Jill Kettles of Mark Pucci Media

Contact music journalist RAY SHASHO at

Purchase Ray’s very special memoir called ‘Check the Gs’ -The True Story of an Eclectic American Family and Their Wacky Family Business … You’ll LIVE IT! Also available for download on NOOK or KINDLE edition for JUST .99 CENTS at or - Please support Ray so he can continue to bring you quality classic rock music reporting. 
~~Pacific Book Review says Ray Shasho is a product of the second half of the 20th century, made in the USA from parts around the world, and within him is every trend in music, television, politics and culture contributing to his philosophical and comically analytical reflections collected in his fine book of memories. I found Check the Gs to be pure entertainment, fantastic fun and a catalyst to igniting so many memories of my own life, as I too am within a few years of Ray. So to all, I say if you have a bit of grey hair (or no hair), buy this book! It’s a great gift for your “over-the-hill” friends, or for their kids, if they are the history buffs of younger generations trying to figure out why we are the way we are.

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Michael Des Barres: Silverhead rocker & TV villain ‘Murdoc’ chats with Ray Shasho

By Ray Shasho

Interview: Michael Des Barres, CD Review: Carnaby Street

Michael Des Barres is a perfect example of how perseverance, hard work, and a positive outlook, can achieve many of life’s yearnings. Michael is an incredible story; he embraced his passion for the arts and has never looked backed.

Acting lessons at the Corona Stage School led to a supporting cast member role as “Williams,” a London East End pupil on the 1967 British drama, To Sir, with Love starring Sidney Poitier. Besides acting, Michael loved music, especially American blues and rock ‘n’ roll. He formed his first band called the Orange Illusion in his teen years.
In 1972, Michael Des Barres became frontman for British glam rockers and cult icons Silverhead. The band eventually signed with Purple Records (owned by Deep Purple) and released two essential albums, Silverhead (1972) and 16 and Savaged (1973).
Silverhead became a significant role model for future generations of glam rock groups.
After the premature disbanding of Silverhead, Michael Des Barres formed Detective. The band was signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label by legendary guitarist Jimmy Page in 1975. Detective featured guitarist Michael Monarch (Steppenwolf) and Tony Kaye (Yes). The group recorded three studio albums, Detective (1977), It Takes One to Know One (1978), and their third album was recorded on Atlantic Records but never released. (Michael remains friends with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant).
During this time Michael Des Barres appeared on the WKRP in Cincinnati television episode “Hoodlum Rock” as the infamous Sir Charles 'Dog' Weatherbee of the band Scum of the Earth. (Rob Zombie released a song called “Scum of the Earth” in 2000, and a heavy metal band by the name of Scum of the Earth was formed in 2003).

After the break-up of Detective, Michael Des Barres teamed up with Ex-Sex Pistol guitarist Steve Jones to form Chequered Past. The line-up also included bassist Nigel Harrison and drummer Clem Burke from Blondie, and guitarist Tony Sales formerly of Utopia. (The band recorded one album together called Chequered Past). Des Barres also became the lead singer of the touring and Live Aid version of The Power Station, a Duran Duran spin-off band.

Michael Des Barres penned the world-wide hit “Obsession” with Holly Knight, which became a huge hit for the LA new wave group Animation in 1985.

Des Barres states that he loves performing in front of a live audience in a rock ‘n’ roll band, but he’s also in love with all the arts, and in many shapes and forms. He’s also an accomplished actor and probably best known for playing the infamous villain ‘Murdoc’ on the popular TV series MacGyver and ‘Alex’ in the movie Pink Cadillac.
Michael has appeared in countless film, television, voice-over and stage roles and his credits are awe-inspiring. Visit for a complete listing of his credits.

At 64, Michael Des Barres continues to amaze, mystify and diversify.
In April of 2012, Des Barres reunited with Silverhead and all his old mates for the first time in 38 years. The band performed to standing room only audiences in Japan. He’s also recently appeared on the television series The Finder, Suits, and the motion picture California Solo.

More impressively, Michael Des Barres returns to his mid- 1960’s roots with an incredible hard-driving rock ‘n’ roll band initiated by old school elation. The new CD is entitled Carnaby Street and will be officially released on July 10th. Des Barres indicated, “I feel I’m part of a movement that is slipping away, I have something to bring to the table that is endangered of being swept under the carpet.”

After listening to Carnaby Street, two things became certain …rock ‘n’ roll needs Michael Des Barres and we need more Michael Des Barres. The band is incredibly tight and Des Barres’ vocals are majestic. Des Barres embellishes the essence of a ‘British rocker’ by epitomizing Rod Stewart, Noddy Holder and Steve Marriott all in one voice. It’s an incredible musical journey back to the swinging rock ‘n’ roll days of London. Carnaby Street is a natural flow of raw rock energy reminiscent to the days when rock was king. The Brits are back and ready to rock!
I had a chance to chat with Michael last week about the new CD, his inspiring music and acting career, his rock and roll mates, and creating opportunities in life.
I found Michael to be brilliant, receptive, spiritual, charming, and a bloody rocker to the end!

Here’s my interview with the iconic British glam rocker, singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor… Michael Des Barres, as he takes us back to the “Garden of Eden for rock ‘n’roll.”
Ray Shasho: Hello Michael, how are you?
Michael Des Barres: “I’m good man, how are you?”
Ray Shasho: It’s great to be chatting with the original frontman for Scum of the Earth.
Michael Des Barres: “(All Laughing!) I get stopped for many reasons but that was definitely one of the top five. It seemed to define some sort of a Spinal Tap moment for the punk generation. It had an amazing penetration in the media … and it stayed there. That show was so much fun to do.”
Ray Shasho: Michael, I want to say congrats on such an awesome and inspiring career. I’ve heard you talk about how you’ve obtained one of your first acting roles on “To Sir With Love” but it seems you’ve created so many great opportunities for yourself in the entertainment business, how was that possible for you?
Michael Des Barres: “I think you hit the nail on the head in terms of creating opportunities. I think the way you create opportunity is to believe … it wasn’t a choice to be an artist it was something that I never ever questioned. I really knew deep within that what I wanted to do most was express myself in whatever form. I could have done a sculpture, been a painter, taken photographs or whatever, there was something inside that I wanted to get out and the universe provided these wonderful ways of doing it. I never really gave it that much thought, right now I’m sounding too metaphysical for my own good. But I do believe that if you really have faith, and you trust that you have something to offer the world, you will be given that opportunity.”

“But I did work very hard … I was in boarding school for eight years and spent a lot of time reading, because I didn’t have parents, and I spent a lot of time alone. So I took advantage of my education and read everything that I could get my hands on. By the time I was 15 or 16, I knew kind of where I wanted to go. I loved the blues and I loved Shakespeare. Loved Oscar Wilde and loved Elvis, and there was this strange hybrid of influences. I wanted to act and went to drama school. Within months we were given the opportunity to work on To Sir with Love in 1967, which was a huge international success, and I tasted it, and saw what it was like, and saw how Sidney handled himself. Connery was doing Bond at the same time, so I was exposed to great charismatic actors very early on and knew the parameters of what could happen and how it could be done, so I watched and studied them. After the movie I did a lot of theater which gave me a defining discipline, which when I got addicted to everything you could become addicted to, I still had that skeleton of discipline.”
Ray Shasho: Blues and Shakespeare, Michael you are a genuine renaissance man.
Michael Des Barres: “Yea, you know … Muddy Waters and Hamlet that about sums it up. Art is both inspired and inspiring and that’s all ever wanted to do.”
Ray Shasho: I want to chat about your new CD Carnaby Street. Your voice sounds amazing man; it’s a great album, stick to being a rocker for awhile because today’s music scene really needs you.
Michael Des Barres: “You’re so incredibly kind to say that. You know what I do … I’ve been killing people on TV for years (laughing) and “Murdoc” was very good to me and I love my career as an actor… however… really what I want to do is stand on the stage of a club anywhere and plug my guitar in and sing the f-ing blues. And it’s really all I want to do. The words and feel of Carnaby Street is freedom through music… liberation with three chords. You can liberate yourself in the most simplistic way. My music is no way ironic, sarcastic, aggressive, sentimental or apologetic … it’s below the waist music. Rock ‘n’ roll is a euphemism for f-ing and dancing. And by saying that I don’t mean to be crude, I’m just saying perhaps that has been lost on a generation raised on Wellbutrin and Prozac.”

“Jack White and the Stripes, The Black Keyes, Alabama Shakes, there are innumerable bands that play authentic and genuine rock ‘n’ roll music. And I don’t mean I’m the head of an army of authenticity because I believe there are many people doing it. But I just want to add my take on it since I was there. I mean there were very few people singing rock ‘n’ roll music in 1967 at many nightclubs, and are still doing that. I am a rare breed by that definition.”
Ray Shasho: 'Carnaby Street' is just a natural flow of raw rock ‘n’ roll energy and reminiscent to the days when rock was king.
Michael Des Barres: “I recorded and mixed it in 10 days. Everything you hear on that record was done in the moment. There were perhaps backup vocals but no overdubs on the album. That album was done because my band is so extraordinary and so in love with that music. You don’t THINK when you’re playing that music. Everything you hear is one take. I wrote all the tunes and collaborated with the very talented country artist Jesse Dayton. I stayed in Austin, Texas for a month writing this album and met Jesse, and he was all about the music and very inspiring. And the rest of the record I wrote with Paul Hill, who is my bass player, and unbelievably talented. He’s Linda Perry’s bass player for all her productions, Tina Turner, James Blunt … the list is endless. And he has the same DNA as I do, as does the rest of the band. I’m very proud of the album and you’re the first person who I’ve spoken to who has heard it. It hasn’t even been sent out particularly yet, so I do appreciate your diligence.”
Ray Shasho: I’ve always been a huge fan of British rock … another reason why I love this CD.
Michael Des Barres: “Well that’s what it is … that’s why it’s got a Union Jack on the cover, and why I called it Carnaby Street. When I was a kid … 15, 16, 17, I would go and see Georgie Fame, Alexis Korner, Long John Baldry … Rod, Terry Reid, Beck, and then Hendrix and so on and so on. So when I was acting my little ass off, I was listening and so taken by the revolution that was happening every minute. Can you imagine what it was like in London in 1967? It was everything you think it was. Every ten feet was a gorgeous girl, with a gorgeous boy, in gorgeous clothes, listening to stunning music. It was the Garden of Eden for rock ‘n’roll.”
Ray Shasho: You’re kind of a cult figure because of the TV character ‘Murdoc’ on MacGyver, but you also have cult status for being the frontman in the bands Silverhead and Detective. Why were those incredible bands short-lived?
Michael Des Barres: “Well one word and you’ve heard it before, it begins with D and ends with S. And that’s the reason. I look back at those days and don’t regret the fact that we didn’t sell 25- million albums, for me they were some of the best rock and roll bands ever. I’m so proud of being a member of those bands and what we were capable of… even in those circumstances.”

“We were 19 in Silverhead and never experienced about going to Japan or the states, and the temptations were so incredible and we succumbed to them. In Detective we were sponsored by Led Zeppelin at the height of their decadence, so the fact that we even put an album out is a miracle. We were very indulgent and addictive and we succumbed to those things. But even given those circumstances, we made some great records and people have enjoyed them. But all I know is that I’m happy. I’m happy it happened because I’ve learned a lot about what life is.”

“The fact that I’m doing this now …money is not the issue, it’s not like I’m hungry to pay my rent, I’m doing this for the fact… I feel I’m part of a movement that is slipping away. I feel I have something to bring to the table that is endangered of being swept under the carpet.”
Ray Shasho: I heard Rod Stewart, Steve Marriott and Noddy Holder on Carnaby Street.
Michael Des Barres: “I think Noddy Holder was the best of them all. Noddy Holder had the greatest, humorous, bluesy voice of any of them. I have the deepest respect for Noddy, we came up at the same time and I adored him. His voice was like Steve’s … so big. Silverhead opened for Humble Pie a couple of times and I would just sit there and be astonished at this little tiny fellow and this incredible voice. Recently, I did a gig with Jerry Shirley and a tribute to Humble Pie. Steve was an actor, he went to drama school and played the Artful Dodger, we’d all go on auditions before the world changed and everyone was in high heels and eye makeup.”
Ray Shasho: I think you’re one of the only singers around that can hit the same notes like they could.
Michael Des Barres: “I find it really easy for some reason. (Laughing) I’m 64, and a few years ago when I decided I was going to make a record, I played every nightclub that would let me play and my voice came back, still stronger than ever.”

“It’s interesting, Robert Plant has remained a really good friend, and I love him and Jimmy you know, and there’s a reason he doesn’t want to sing those songs anymore. He turned to me one day and said, “I just can’t sing about lemon juice down my leg anymore …I just can’t do it, it would be like a 15 year old playing Romeo.” And he’s the one that has been incredibly creative with his career.”
Ray Shasho: I enjoyed the interview you did on You Tube with Pete Townshend and Gene Simmons. Did you have your own radio show too?
Michael Des Barres: “I was asked once but didn’t enjoy it very much. I love Gene, and Pete is a God you know, and love to interview people as you do, it’s a wonderful conversation to have but I don’t want to do it every day. I love to work and I have to work … it’s a compulsion.”
Ray Shasho: The Silverhead reunion this year in Japan had to be a blast.
Michael Des Barres: “Thirty-eight years I haven’t seen these guys… accept for Nigel. We all live in different countries so we had to regroup in Tokyo. Picture this… walking into a room in Tokyo with all the gear there and all these glam kids outside screaming and yelling, and we walk in there and I see these guys that I haven’t seen in 38 years, and the first half an hour is … I’m so sorry that I slept with your girlfriend … and it’s all very intimate, but within a half an hour its turn the f*** down I can’t hear myself! We only rehearsed for three days and to grasp it all in that short time frame was not an easy thing.”

“With Silverhead, we were always the band that was trying to seduce the audience; we were touring with Uriah Heep, Deep Purple etc. Always trying to win the audience over … skinny little bastards with makeup on in Mobile, Alabama in 1972 … we were a target for the boys and a different kind of target for the girls. We had a big bulls-eye on our ass!”

“When we went to Japan a few months ago and we played, everybody new every syllable to every song and for the first time in our lives, they knew who we were. It was a phenomenon and shocking to us. After that first gig, Robbie was in a corner literally with tears flowing down his cheeks. It was a very emotional closure for the band. We would have never experienced the closure if we would have gone on to make multiple albums in that one band …it would have been a different life.”
Ray Shasho: You’re the second rock star that I’ve interviewed who played a part in Seinfeld. Joe Lala of (Blues Image, Stephen Stills and Manassas), was in “The Face Painter” episode. He’s the only rocker who I know that became a veteran actor besides you. I know David Bowie and Mick Jagger played some parts but not to the extent of you and Joe.
Michael Des Barres: “I worked with Mick … I did The Man from Elysian Fields with him and Andy Garcia, James Coburn… and he was fantastic in it … great movie!”
Ray Shasho: I hope Mick and the Stones can do one more tour … maybe a goodbye tour of some sorts.
Michael Des Barres: “I don’t think it will be a tour per se, they’ll probably do 10-12 cities, 2 or 3 nights in those cities and call it a day. Maybe not even a tour, they might do a satellite thing. I can’t imagine Keith, Charlie is 71 now; I just don’t see them doing a year and a half of vigorous touring. I imagine they’ll do selective cities or a satellite show.”
Ray Shasho: You’re still good friends with Jimmy Page, how’s he doing?
Michael Des Barres: “Great… unbelievably well. Joyous, doesn’t live in the past, lives in the moment and does his thing. I would love to make an album with Jimmy. I’ve said many times to him let’s do it. But right now this record Carnaby Street is terribly important to me and I think people are going to be shocked about how I’m singing, what the songs are, and a bit of a revelation for people who didn’t get it the first time.”
Ray Shasho: Did you actually turn down singing the role for Judas on the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar?
Michael Des Barres: “I did yea. The last thing I wanted to do back then was to go into a studio at 3:20 and sing “What’s the buzz tell me what’s a happening.” There was no way that I had the discipline at that time, because I was learning about life, sex, love and how to go f*ing wild. I didn’t want to have to show up at a particular time and do someone else’s work. I wanted to create my own work.”
Ray Shasho: Michael a final question, you are incredibly fit, how do you do it man?
Michael Des Barres: “It’s very simple … I get up very early and drink a gallon of black coffee, then read about myself on the internet(laughing), then go to the gym and do my cardio … don’t have a trainer I know exactly what I’m doing. An hour and fifteen minutes in the gym, come home and shower, sit-down with a guitar around my neck or some lines to learn and get on with the work. In terms of food … I don’t eat sugar, potatoes or bread. I eat lean fish, no red meat, eat a lot of vegetables and fruit, and drink a lot of water. But I strongly suggest that sugar is the worst thing you could do. I just love being able to walk down the street with my head held high, my shoulders back, Buddy Guy in my iPod, and the love of a good woman.”
Ray Shasho: Michael, thank you so much for spending time with me today and more importantly for all the great rock ‘n’ roll music you continue to bring to us all.
Michael Des Barres: “Thank you so much Ray and have a GREAT day!”

The new release from The Michael Des Barres Band Carnaby Street will be officially released on July 10th and is available for pre-order at or
Michael Des Barres official website
Special thanks to the great Billy James at Glass Onyon PR
Official website

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