Book Review: I’m With the Band is like going to bed with your favourite rock star

Did you know Pamela Des Barres inspired the Penny Lane character in Almost Famous?

Rock’s original groupie, Des Barres released her first-kiss-and-tell memoir I’m With the Band back in 1987. Earlier this year the book was re-released with additional chapters, and a new introduction by music journalist Roisin O’Connor. The result is one warm and rollicking read, and is as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.

Des Barres AKA Miss Pamela grew up in Reseda, California. An ardent music fan, she befriended Frank Zappa, frequented the Sunset Strip, and formed The GTOs (a group known as Girls Together Outrageously). Part of this book is about her fledgling acting career and her desire to be famous. In reality, she performed a series of odd jobs, playing nanny to Dweezil and Moon Zappa and designing cowboy shirts for the biggest names in music.

When it came to rock gods, Des Barres knew most of them. Her book is incredibly honest and revealing, with Des Barres describing her sexual exploits with Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, Noel Redding, Chris Hillman, Keith Moon, Don Johnson and Nick St. Nicholas, amongst others. There are also other important cameos from the likes of Ray Davies, Robert Plant, Jim Morrison, and Paul McCartney.

Included in I’m With The Band are excerpts from Des Barres’s diaries. Frankly, these entries can be quite gushing, over-the-top and self-indulgent at times. But, they are also an honest and forthright chronicle of a young woman experiencing her sexual awakening. A flower child in the period of free love, this groupie was a fan first and muse second. I’m With The Band is highly readable and accessible, allowing readers to sit in on some incredibly private and intimate moments. Des Barres really speaks from the heart here.

Some readers may find themselves a little frustrated by the fact that this story does gets a tad repetitive. Des Barres wants somebody to love her, but all she ever seems to get is heartbreak. She meets a new love interest, winds up taking her man home, only to be cast aside at a later date. She might have made some mistakes over the years, but it’s obvious that she lived life to the full and has no regrets.

I’m With the Band is a sun-drenched book, dripping in positivity, that is all about loving and worshipping your musical idols. An emotionally-charged and heartfelt tale, Des Barres captures some heady and freewheeling times, taking us on an emotional rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster through the sixties and seventies. Des Barres ultimately proves to be an excellent  and entertaining guide on an amazing journey to the top of the pops.



Pamela Des Barres’ I’m With the Band is available now through Omnibus Press.