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Interview: Michael Des Barres

The Actor, SiriusXM Host and Rock and Roll Mainstay Talks About His Experiences in Detective.

If you consume any kind of media, then you’ve experienced the very talented Michael Des Barres. His media presence is ubiquitous: he’s had a long history performing as a vocalist in rock bands, been on television hundreds of times, worked as an actor in many films and now hosts his own music program on Little Steven’s Sirius XM channel, Little Steven’s Underground Garage

So, it’s almost difficult to focus on just one of his projects without thinking about all of the other work he’s accomplished. On one hand, this episode features me speaking with the vocalist responsible for one of my favorite rock and roll songs, “Hello, New York” by Silverhead. But, simultaneously, I’m also speaking to Murdoch from television’s MacGyver. Few guests have such a dynamic background.

Michael Des Barres

But Mr. Des Barres does his best to keep us focused on his career where it matters, he’s been there and done this before, so he can easily jump around topics all with the charm of a true rock and roll gentleman. Mostly, we’re here to talk about the band that Michael fronted during the 1970s called Detective who were signed to Led Zeppelin’s record label, Swan Song. Their 1977 debut was recently reissued by the ORG Music record label and was completely sold out on Record Store Day. There’s a lot to discuss with Mr. Des Barres and he doesn’t shy away from any of it, including the role that drugs and alcohol played for part of his journey. 

But, he’s always focused on the positive side of things. He’s open about the bad and ugly experiences he’s had in his life, but - after all is said and done - he’s happiest when he’s talking about the good.

Evan Toth: Hi, how are you?

Michael Des Barres: I'm on top of the world, my friend. How are you?

ezt: I'm okay. (Noticing MD's picture of Elvis behind him) I have my Elvis picture hanging just around the bend there. My Andy Warhol-

md: Do you really? Which one? Which shot did you choose?

ezt: Should I get it? Should I get it?

md: Yes, yes.

ezt: I'm going to get it off the wall for you. Hold on a sec.

md: Yeah, the Warhol picture.

ezt: This is the Warhol picture, but it's also, It's really cool because this is from an old Italian show. This was some Italian Warhol show and there's some kind of-

An Italian Andy Warhol Exhibition Poster of Elvis Presley

md: It's from the movie Flaming Star.

ezt: Right, right.

md: It was the poster. Yeah.

Evan Toth:

And I'll have you know, guess where I got this?

md: Off Priscilla.

ezt: No, but that's a good guess. I got it in the garbage. I was walking down the street and someone had thrown this thing out. And I couldn't leave Elvis sitting there.

md: No, that's an absolute disgrace. I cannot imagine anybody putting Elvis in the garbage.

ezt: So, it was my lucky day.

md: Me and Miss Pamela saw on our honeymoon, and we went to see The King.

ezt: No kidding.

md: Yeah, in Vegas.

ezt: In Vegas, of course.

md: Yeah, she loves him. She loved him so much, as did I, which was, I think our first connection in certainly a spiritual sense was Elvis. That's who we connected over. Elvis and Krishnamurti, the great philosopher.

ezt: Well, listen, we're off to a good start. We've both got Elvis behind us, so what could go wrong?

md: Well, absolutely nothing and nothing ever will go wrong, ever. That's what I believe, that's why I sit here talking to you. I've never believed in anything going wrong.

ezt: Well, that's an interesting place to start. You're so prolific on social media, and I've been following you and just following your thoughts. And I really enjoy a lot of your kind of no-nonsense, but really just take one day at a time. You've got a great philosophical angle on social media. What kind of feedback have you gotten?

md: Enormous. People want to know positive stuff. They don't want to know who's all wrong. "She's all stupid. Why did she cut her hair? She looked so much better without that hair." Amber Heard, Johnny Depp, you name it, it's all projection of fear. People are so scared in this climate that we're living in, in that they need some good vibes and positive energy from somebody who's clearly been a heroin addict, had three wives.

And I've been through 28,000 bands, I've been in 150 movies. The vibe of it is they trust me because they know I've been through something. So, if I could get through something and do it with humor and a positive stance, then suddenly what they're worried about diminishes.

It's a very simplistic spiritual voyage that one is on and that we're all on. And we don't even know we're on a voyage. We don't even know why we're here.

ezt: Right, right. No, I don't.

md: Well, I'll tell you, to talk to me, A, and B, to be kind and be cool and be courageous with everyone you meet. That's why you're here. That equation becomes all of us. If we're all kind to each other, I don't think we'd have the problems we are having now, both existential and the physicality of these people buying everything up, and we will be slaves inevitably if that continues. But if we love one another enough, that will not continue, that will stop. And I put it in different ways, man.

ezt: Right. Of course.

md: I'm not here to sermonize or lecture anybody. I'm here to share them my experiences that I've learned more from my mistakes than I ever learned at Live Aid.

ezt: But how does someone who's been a member of these jaded communities, the showbiz community where everything is... how did you resist going the cynical way? I'm sure there were times in your life, "Look, I could feel lousy about this stuff, too." But what was the part where you really started to sort of say, "Hey, hold on, I got to do something different."

md: Well, that's a wonderful question. I've never seen these people as jaded. I've seen these people as terrified. Terrified of losing what they have. Every second in show business, you could be unpopular. The classic case would be Johnny, what Johnny's going through right now. And you can be excised or exorcised or executed for all of that.

So, therefore, there's an air of fear everywhere you go. If you walk on a set, all of those people that are on that set are there to be creative. That's what they want to be. But what they are is terrified of being fired, of being insulted, of being not appreciated, all of these negative vibes. Because when you're in show business, it's so intense, life is so intensified.

Very early on when I was 11 years old, I would think, I thought, "I'm here to, A, have a gas, gas, gas," as Mick would abbreviate-

ezt: Sure.

md: ... and to make as much money as I possibly can so I can go run the world and have fun. And it's exactly what I did. Whatever I did, it didn't matter if Detective didn't sell two billion records, it didn't matter. What matters is what is. What is happening is what's happening. You can't change it. And I think that what you're saying about jaded, jaded is a very interesting word because it is indeed another word for fear. It's not a positive word that one uses to. "I'm really jaded. How are you? Oh, you're not jaded. No, dear."

ezt: I'm feeling jaded today.

md: Well, then you're not in my club because I'm very, very jaded. I will not become jaded. I will hold you and caress you until you come to your senses.

ezt: Sounds good. It's a better option. Michael, I don't know if you've ever heard of this band. This is a band that I really enjoyed some years ago. I'm also a musician, and I met them on the road many years ago. Their name is Crimson Sweet. And they do a cover of "Hello, New York" that is so cool. And I don't know if you've ever... have you ever heard it? Has this ever come across your-

md: Never come across me at all. No, but I'd love to hear it.

ezt: Well, you got to check it out. They're a great punk rock band.

md: Is it on YouTube?

ezt: It should be in all the digital places, I would think. But Crimson Sweet, you should check it out.

md: Crimson Sweet, "Hello, New York." You bet. That's great. I love it.

ezt: Really cool stuff-

md: It's funny, the whole thing, Silverhead thing, it's really crazy because they sell more Silverhead records now, especially in Japan, and Japan being this wonderful goldmine for a band rock and roll and we weren't glam. We were about as glamorous as a rat in the gutter of London.

ezt: Tell me about that song. What a curious song. I remember not knowing the lyrics when I was younger and looking them up. And so, what, "fire in my hotel?" And what's going on, and there's a fire and the smoke? What was the impetus for that tune? Do you know?

md: We arrived in New York for the first time and we went to Kansas City literally from the airport. And Thunders is there and the Dolls are there and it's all that. And we obviously had a tremendous simpatico between the bands. BP Fallon was our guy, our PR guy, who you perhaps know or don't. He's a very shadowy figure who has been at the right hand of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, a lot of people.

Marc Bolan was his discovery. He's a very interesting guy. Anyway, we had him. So, we go back eventually last at 3:00 in the morning to the hotel, the Sherry-Netherland Hotel in New York. And a couple of the guys had never even been in a hotel before. You've got to remember, these English kids that were musicians were working class kids that had outhouses and had never been to a hotel, and no one never called room service.

They wouldn't even know. Imagine that. Imagine that before you're born, 1972. So, we go in and what happens? We get in the elevator and suddenly there's smoke coming under the elevator.

ezt: Wow.

md: It comes up to a floor. It opens and smoke just billows in. It closes, it goes up another floor. It opens, we let on Irish kid, he was on the floor going, "Holy mother of God, get me out of this," praying. And we go into a room, we get in the room, find a room. It's all in the dark, towels under the door, put water on them and suddenly, boom, doors open and these immense New York firemen that look like something out of a Jules Verne movie, that big-

ezt: Old stuff. Yeah.

md: Right. And they come in, and collectively Silverhead weighed 140 pounds. So, we were not exactly a burden to these guys. And we got and landed in the foyer end of the hotel. They got us downstairs. So, Beep, we called him Beep, covered my face in dirt and went over to a couple of members of the press and said, "He just saved two old ladies, Lloyds."

"There's two old ladies up there on third floor approaching death, and he brought them down." And we're playing at Max's Kansas City tomorrow night.

ezt: And of course, they came.

md: And showbiz suddenly shone its spotlight.

ezt: Get some butts in the seats however you can. So, this was like your welcome to New York City experience.

md: Hello.

ezt: "Hello, New York. Thanks for almost burning me to death in a hotel, New York. Thank you very much." You've fronted so many high profile bands in your career. Obviously we're talking about Silverhead, Chequered Past, the Power Station. So, what was the transition? We're really here to talk about the new... well, the reissued Detective album here on ORG and the album that has just been reissued recently. But what was the transition between Silverhead and Detective? How did you get from one place to the other?

md: From cocaine to heroin.

A reissue of the Detective album on silver vinyl

ezt: Right, right.

md: Silverhead, very young. We're in America, everything was a party. It was the most amazing two years ever. I think I had 20 minutes sleep in August of '72. It literally was crazy. But I fell in love with Miss Pamela, and we did a movie. I was in New York. We were in New York, we were playing somewhere. You know what? We did a gig with KISS. KISS opened for us. And I'm in the wings with Johnny Thunders out of our minds on angel dust or whatever.

ezt: You mean as Silverhead?

md: This is Silverhead, yeah, but it leads into the KISS thing because what happened next with Detective and all that. But what happened here was that this drum riser went up and we were out of our minds and we thought we were absolutely hallucinating. But the difference between Silverhead and the next one, Detective, was that I fell in love with Miss Pamela.

I wanted to really live in the United States. I fell in love with the United States, and I was already married to somebody else for a few weeks in England. It was terrible, awful behavior. But I fell in love with Miss Pamela, and I left Silverhead and came to live in Los Angeles and try something else. The other thing is we'd done two albums.

We toured the world three or four times, and it clearly was not connecting with the vast public that it has to for record companies to be able to support these bands. And we've gone our different ways. Drugs clearly a huge reason. And that was that. I was living in LA, and I have been here ever since.

ezt: And the Swan Song label was an attempt for Led Zeppelin to have their own sanctioned line of bands on their own label and you guys were chosen. And how did you kind of make that connection with the band and the label? How did the Swan Song thing come together?

md: Well, they liked Silverhead. And we did this gig in Birmingham, and Bonzo had a farm a couple of miles away from the club. And the club had about 30 people in the club and four of them were Led Zeppelin. So, we went back to the farm and we hung out with them for a few days, playing chess.

ezt: Right. And gardening and-

Michael Des Barres and Detective
Photo by Andrew Kent

md: Yes, gardening. Did a lot of gardening. So, what happens was I go to LA and then she gets in a soap thing, a soap opera show, and she goes to New York. So now, I'm in LA. There was this guy, Sep Donahue, he's a manager of rock and roll bands, and he took a shine to me and I went and stayed with him in Benedict Canyon.

He knew of a guitar player called Michael Monarch, who was the young teenage guitar player in Steppenwolf, an amazing guitar player. And he knew Bobby Pickett, the bass player, and Jon Hyde, the magnificent drummer. And within two weeks, we were in SIR, Studio Instrument Rentals, in Los Angeles rehearsing. Well, Zeppelin came to town because of the movie and there was a big bash about the movie.

And we all were going to go to the movie, and Jimmy came to rehearsal. They just started Swan Song. I think they'd signed Paul. I think they'd gotten Bad Company, but maybe not. Maybe we were first, I don't recall. But within 10 minutes, he took me aside and he said, "If you want to come on the label, that'd be good." And at that time, we'd done a couple of gigs, and a lot of people wanted us at Columbia.

It was a great band. And this album is a real wonderful record, but I didn't realize how good it was when I did it. But it's like a lot of things, you look back and you go, "Wow, that's pretty cool." And he loved it. And we ended up on Swan Song. The issues there though, of course, was that it is a vanity label. Bonzo was not a particularly good promo man in terms of the realities of a business.

We didn't have that backing. The biggest band in the world loved us, but it was very difficult to get on the radio, very difficult to get on the tours. Gene had already seen Silverhead and liked it, and therefore... KISS was huge. And we toured with KISS. That's the first time I played the Garden was with KISS. And they were very good to us, but it just didn't click.

We were going to have Jimmy produce. Jimmy was, shall we say, in a different state for a year. And we waited in LA with all the money in the world for a year for Jimmy, and he never turned up to produce that record. And that's a matter of record, which he would attest to, too. So, we got Jimmy Robinson, that didn't work out.

Meanwhile, we're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of just in those days, you're just throwing money out the window. And Jimmy, no, it didn't work with Jimmy. So, Andy Johns came in. Andy Johns was Glyn Johns' younger brother, Glyn Johns of Beatles fame and many others. We really hit it off with and we made that record, bang, bang, bang.

And it was beautiful, and we felt that it was good. Meanwhile, because of the time we'd spent waiting, we got addicted to other drugs, and heroin was the primary vibe of that album. The album didn't do what we thought it would, so we immediately went in and did the same thing all over again and did it at the Record Plant and it also cost a fortune. And we went out on the road by which time a couple of us were pretty strung out, and it dissipated. But you see, this might sound like a dreadful story, but it is a story. There's no adjective to this story because you learn from everything you do. All of you guys out there, you guys and gals, and every sex in between, you're going to learn.

The mistakes are absolutely really important because you find out what not to do. You already have this gift of what to do, what you know you can do. And the only thing that can negate that is negative energy. And I just learned from these things. I got sober very quickly in '81. I haven't had a drink or a drug since June 19th of 1981, to be precise.

And I learned why, that's why, because those records and those bands could have gone all the way in my view.

Detective Album Cover

ezt: And back to drugs and alcohol. 1981 is a long time ago and you've done so much since then. you've had so many careers in film and television and music and radio, all of which, and as I always tell people, all careers have drugs and alcohol in them, whether you're a dentist or you're a teacher or anything else, all careers do.

But these careers in particular also are known for or are stereotyped as being very chemically fueled. So, how did you really... what's it like since 1981 really holding your own and having your own confidence and view of who you are to be that? You've become kind of a role model for it. It's really wonderful.

md: Well, the main thing about it is we created RAD, Rock Against Drugs, and it was this thing on MTV, and we got Ozzy and everybody, Jonesy, everybody, Jon Bon Jovi, you name it, to say drugs suck. And I felt really good about that. We went to Washington and we sat in front of those people that can make those rules and understand that concept. And we had this massive campaign behind us, Rock Against Drugs, RAD. And it was a fantastic feeling. It was better than any applause you could get in a rock concert. So, I really felt that I had a raison d'etre, as they say in French, which is a reason for being. And that reason wasn't just to glorify myself, it was to allow people to realize the gloriousness that is in all of us.

And out of that came Chequered Past, Jonesy, Steve Jones' Sex Pistols, Nigel Harrison and Clem Burke from Blondie, and Tony Sales, Bowie's Tin Machine. Hell of a band, fantastic band, live unbeatable band, wrong producer. EMI we signed with, or as we described them, Every Mistake Imaginable, at the time. And it didn't work, but again, it was a learning process and a couple of those guys got sober as a result.

But what happened was we opened for Duran. So, when we opened for Duran, that was a major pivotal moment in my life because then in 1985, Robert Palmer, one of the greatest recording artists and writers of all time, may I add - and I did know him 10 years before this stuff went down - Andy remembered he bowed out because he knew very well that Robert Palmer's stage performance in front of 20, 40, 60, 80,000 Duran fans, probably he's not going to quite mesh with that audience since his stage act. I can actually do his stage act if you'd like to see it.

ezt: Sure.

md: (Does nothing) So, that was it.

ezt: Really, was it?

md: So, that doesn't really go down well when you're getting into going, and there's John and Andy, people trying to kill... kiss and laugh. Amazing. So, I got that gig. And three days after getting the gig, I did Live Aid.

ezt: It was just 100,000 people. It was the biggest concert of the '80s. No pressure.

md: Well, actually it was two billion people.

ezt: Well, right, but in front of you physically, right?

md: In the auditorium, it was 80,000, I believe, 80, 90,000. Either way, man, I couldn't care if there's three people out there. I was so excited by my new wardrobe. I just went out there, and you can see it on tape, I'm just having... and it's difficult. It was interesting, shall we say? More interesting than difficult. When you do have to fill the shoes of a really talented bloke, you have to respond with, "I brought my own shoes."

ezt: You do. And I did check out the video and people who are listening should go on YouTube and look up Power Station, Live Aid, whatever, 1985. And you do, you're just totally confident. You're totally in your element. You look like you've been with the guys forever. And as you're saying, it was only a couple of days. It's pretty phenomenal.

md: Yeah, it was great. It was really, really fun. I was in a really good mood that day, and my friends were there, Don and Patty and their son, Jesse. They just had a kid called Jesse, Jesse Johnson, Don Johnson. So, it was really beautiful. And he introduced us and as a consequence, when we went to Miami, guess what we did? We did Miami Vice, which is a real fun bit of film.

It's on YouTube. It's Power Station singing "Get It On" on Miami Vice in a bar, and it breaks out in a fight. It's fantastic with John Taylor beating people up. It's really exciting. And then, he came up on stage and what happened was he said, "Well, you've got to sing." We did that song "Some Guys Have All The Luck." Do you know that song? It's a great song.

ezt: Rod Stewart thing. Yeah.

md: We did it because it was such a good song. And what we did was we said, "Come up and sing that song." He said, "Okay." So, we all got shades, exactly the same shades as him. And he walked on there, we didn't have them on, and then we put them on real quick, and he's singing. He looks around, he's looking around at the band, and again, he just fell on the floor because he was a god.

He was Sonny Crockett. He was a god at that time with those sunglasses. So, all of these things that have happened are in a frame to me. It's all like a movie. It's my documentary. Who Do You Want Me To Be? on Amazon Prime? You can get it. There it is. It's a strange sequence of events that on each event made me a better person.

ezt: Well, back to Detective. You're revisiting this a lot lately because everybody's talking about the reissue, and you've got it in beautiful glammy silver as I've been referring it to. But what do you think now when you revisit these tracks now? And tell me the story. I know there's a little bit of a story about getting these masters back. I don't know if you were back with Jimmy Page or he was kind of the... whose sort of in charge of this stuff at this point, but you kind of got the permission to use this stuff again.

md: Well, it's fantastic, once again. First and foremost, I hadn't heard it in decades. And when I knew that this was going down, what happened was Jimmy said, "Well, look, Michael should have the masters back," because we're not doing anything with them. He's so busy doing his legacy of Zeppelin, these beautiful books and these photographs, this incredible thing, me mastering, reproducing beautiful music he's making, and art.

See, he's an artist more than any person I ever met, Jimmy Page, filled with art. So, what happened was, "Give it to him." And they gave it to us. They said, "Take it. It's yours." And then, Scarlett Bartlett, this beautiful, brilliant businesswoman who is also the sister of Jon Hyde, the drummer, took it over, went to ORG Records, who by the way, as I'm sure you're aware, are a tremendous record label. They really believe in what they're putting out. They're a young, tight unit. They seem to be the best, they're...silver vinyl it is, all brand new remastering-

ezt: Sounds great, everything sounds great.

md: ... and new cover, new vibe, lots of incredibly significant things that have made it really pop. And it's sold out on Record Store Day. It's sold out in one day.

ezt: Well, it's an interesting story. And I had never heard... when I got the press release about it, I didn't know anything about this whole story. And I immediately thought, I'd like to talk to you and certainly like to check out the record. And I think people were taken with that story. Obviously the Led Zeppelin tie-in, but also Murdoc, Murdoc in a rock band on Led Zeppelin's label. What's better than that?

md: Nothing.

ezt: Nothing.

md: Absolutely nothing, except for getting rid of the royal family. Other than that, we're fine. I don't really mean that, you guys. God bless-

ezt: Come on. Come on.

md: God sake-

ezt: We love the royals. I love The Crown. I enjoyed The Crown. I watched it.

md: Oh, I love The Crown, yeah. But the vibe about that is it was just a blessing, the Murdoc thing. So, what happens is I'm on the road, six months with the lads, 60,000 kids a night. Unbelievable. In our plane. Shall we say, John and Andy were in an altered state, and I was sober running with the bodyguards. I would just get up, run with the bodyguards every morning and get on the plane and go kick ass that night. So then it was over.

Michael Des Barres as Murdoch in MacGyver

ezt: How do you do that? How do you maintain that confidence of yourself to say, "Hey, look, I'm doing this?" That's very difficult. You're making this stuff easy.

md: Because I don't like to hear people repeat themselves. And then, I was like, "When I was 12, and did I ever tell you the story? Well, it's interesting, and the mouse going and always going," that's why.

ezt: Right, right.

md: Not pretty.

ezt: No.

md: So, I wanted to stay pretty, so I went on a run with the guys and I was like in tip-top shape. So then, it's all over. We did that song for Schwarzenegger. I wrote a song with Andy called "We Fight for Love" and it was the theme song of Commando, which was a movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger. But my agent called me and said, "Okay, they need a villain in MacGyver." MacGyver is a big show. They were like 3 episodes into the first season, CBS. I went and I had a white Rolls. I drove onto the lot in a white Rolls Royce, I mean black leather suit. I opened the door and there all the producers go, and literally I heard them say in their heads, "Let's get him."

ezt: That's the guy. That's the guy.

md: I'm smoking a cigarette, I'm getting out in the car. It was perfect. And I went in and I did my thing, and within two weeks, I was Murdoc. And then, five years later, I was still Murdoc.

ezt: If only you'd showed up with a bazooka, they really would've said, "Wait minute."

md: Yeah, yeah, that would've been funny out there with a flamethrower. But something clicked and I loved them. I loved Richard. He was great. And Michael Greenburg and all of the producers were incredible. And you know who was the most incredible? Henry Winkler.

ezt: It's funny that you mentioned that because I've been trying to... I have two boys. I have a girl too, but she's a little younger. But my boys watch a lot of TV, and I don't know, we were having a conversation a few weeks ago and I said, "You're doing that. You got to get out of this jam like MacGyver. You could do it with a... there was this show," and I'm telling them about this guy that solves problems with paper clips and his Swiss Army knife and stuff.

So, we've been watching it, and I guess it's on Paramount right now, Paramount Plus or something. And I used to watch it all the time when I was a kid, but when I revisited it just recently, I had no idea Henry Winkler was the producer. And I'm watching it, I'm like, "Winkler? I didn't know he was the producer of this thing."

md: Smart man. He's not the fans. He's an actor, but he's also a tremendous businessman and a really sweet guy. I remember I'm scared of virtually nothing except snakes. I can't stand snakes

ezt: Just like Indiana Jones.

md: Yeah. And so, they had this moment where I'm doing something with MacGyver to save his sister or something, whatever, but we had to go across this thing of snakes, and I was terrified of this. And so, Winkler comes in and he says, "Why don't Richard carry Murdoc on his shoulders over the snakes?"

ezt: Good idea.

md: And I thought, "I love this guy. This is the sweetest, most thoughtful thing ever." So, what do the guys do on the crew? Because I always make friends with the crew because they are the real thing. They're really focused on what they do, and beautiful. And they've got families, and I love them. And what they did when I'd finished the scene, I went back to the trailer and it's filled with rubber snakes.

ezt: Very nice.

md: They've got all these toy snakes and put them all over the trailer. And I thought, "Well, thanks a lot, you guys. I really appreciated." But it was really fun. We did it in Vancouver, Canada. I adore it. And it was in Hollywood the second season, and then the rest of it, we did it in Canada. And I loved it up there. Just adored playing that role.

ezt: Right. After all these experiences you've had, what's the key to being a rock star? What's the secret? You're like that Byrds song, "If You Want to Be a Rock 'N' Roll Star." You've had all these great experiences and film, television, and of course the Sirius show, which is a great program. How do you look back on your career? What went right?

md: I think I just believed in myself that I could do it. I didn't really think about whether I could or I couldn't or whether I was good enough, bad enough, thin enough, in shape enough. I never really judged myself as being a competitor. I've never felt like a competitor. I am going to win. I'm going to win. And if I get a bronze medal, great, but as long as I get a medal, I'm okay.

I never really thought there was anybody better than me, because I don't think in those terms. I don't think that that person is better at this and I'm not as good as that, but I'm better than that guy who's much, much better than the original guy, who's better than me, who's therefore twice removed is even better than anybody else. And then, of course, there's Jesus.

And then, where does all that end? All that self, you just do what the job is, man. You do what the job is, and you do the best you can. You give everything you got. You know your lines, you hit the spot, you know the chords, you know the words, you do the thing, and you do it as well as you can, and that's all you can do. Stardom is nonsense.

There is no such... we're all stars. It's an absurdity to even single out, okay, Bradley Cooper is the most beautiful person in the world. Oh, yeah.

ezt: Right.

md: No, no, no. I'm the most beautiful. It's such nonsense.

ezt: Right. Who's to say, right?

md: If things just fell in my lap and I took full advantage of anything that is in my lap.

ezt: You did well, and a great pair of leather pants might help.

md: It's certainly the key to everything.

ezt: Really? And of course, you've still got your show on Little Steven's Underground Garage on Sirius, and enjoying that of course.

md: The greatest thing ever was the phone call. And you know what? I'm at some studio, I'm auditioning to play a villain. I'm about to go in. Maureen, his beautiful wife, had seen me interview Marianne Williamson on the internet. This is 10 years ago. I was doing a political internet program because I was very, very into politics and still am.

MIchael Des Barres at Little Steven's Underground Radio on Sirus XM

And she was so bright and so clever, and Maureen saw it. Andrew Loog Oldham, who is a absolute rock and roll genius, was the manager of the Rolling Stones, was the morning DJ in New York for Little Steven's Underground Garage, he left. He had to leave. He went to Bogota to be with his wife, and they needed somebody.

And so, Maureen Van Zandt whispered in Stevie's ear, "Check Michael up." They called me. They said, "Would you do a couple of weeks for us on the radio?" And I suddenly, in the first gig, I did the first episode of it, I fell in love with it because it did this, and I'm sure you'll want to end here, but it's a wonderful way to end this. Here's the thing about that.

I spent my whole life extolling my own virtues. I am now playing The Temptations. I'm now playing Muddy Waters. I'm now playing Otis Spann, Otis Redding, and all of the wonderful artists, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, the Beatles. And I was extolling the virtues of other musicians. You know that. This is your business to know, "Oh, look at all those records."

ezt: Get all this stuff over here. Absolutely.

md: Yeah. I played every record on that rack, I would imagine, in the eight years I've been there.

ezt: Probably.

md: But I realized that I was not the peacock. I was the guy that was feeding the peacock, whatever. I was a peacocker. Thank you, my new band.

ezt: There you go.

md: The Peacockers.

ezt: Michael, the peacockers.

md: But what it did was it taught me that there's a lot more going on than my stuff. And that was a tremendous relief at that age when I was that age. I needed a kick in the ass to find out what is it all about? It's about being kind, being cool, and playing the greatest music ever at Little Steven's Underground Garage and making great records.

Stevie signed me to his label, and I have a record coming out in a few months, which I did with the band Prima Donna. Prima Donna, amazing band, the guitar players. The guitar player with Green Day right now, he's out on the road at Green Day. And then, we're going to go back in the studio, but I've got two songs coming out with those guys.

ezt: Very cool.

md: So, that is still there. So, I'm a lucky guy, for sure.

ezt: You are. Well, Michael, I really appreciate your time today. This was a great talk. And I really appreciate your work and your art, and your television work and everything, and glad you're there.

md: Well, I'm glad you've got three kids. You're a lucky man to have three little kids.

ezt: Thank you.

md: That's a beautiful, beautiful thing. And they will grow up to be as kind as you are, I'm sure.

ezt: Thanks, Michael. Be well, okay?

md: Yeah.

ezt: All right.

md: Bye now.


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