Michael Des Barres
Michael des barres.jpeg
Background information
Born 24 January 1948 (age: 65)
Nationality British
Occupation Actor, singer
Associated acts Power Station
Chequered Past

Michael Des Barres (pronounced "Deh-Barr", born 24 January 1948) is a British actor and rock singer. He is best known for playing the recurring role of Murdoc on the television show MacGyver and for replacing Robert Palmer in the band Power Station, fronting the band at the 1985 Live Aid concert and the rest of their Summer Tour.

Personal[edit | edit source]

The only son of Philip and Irene Des Barres, Michael grew up in the Surrey area and attended a boarding school. He later attended drama school and appeared in several plays. Des Barres married his first wife Wendy in England, but divorced her after meeting Pamela in 1974. He married Pamela on October 29, 1977; the couple was divorced in 1991 and remained friends.

A heavy alcohol and drug abuser during the 1970s, Des Barres has been sober since June 1980. He does volunteer addiction counseling and works with homeless teens. His acting credits and hit songs, particularly "Obsession," have given him the time and freedom to make the Hollywood event and party circuit, where he is often photographed.

Des Barres also organized and hosted the annual Don't Knock the Rock Film Festival, which debuted in 2003.

Music[edit | edit source]

Des Barres formed his first band Silverhead in England in 1972. They recorded two albums and toured the U.S., Europe and Japan, before disbanding in 1974.

After relocating to Los Angeles, he formed the band Detective in 1975. They recorded two albums that were released on Led Zeppelin's Swan Song Records label. In late 1978, they made a guest appearance on the original WKRP in Cincinnati as the incorrigibly naughty punk band Scum of the Earth in the episode "Hoodlum Rock."

A solo album, I'm Only Human, followed in 1980, with a solo tour of the U.S. and UK.

He was part of the band Chequered Past from 1982 to 1984, which included Steve Jones from Sex Pistols and Clem Burke and Nigel Harrison from Blondie.

In 1983 he wrote and recorded the song "Obsession" together with Holly Knight, which later became a #6 Billboard Top 40 hit when covered by Animotion in 1985.

Des Barres met the members of Duran Duran when Chequered Past opened for them during a few shows on their 1984 Sing Blue Silver tour. In 1985, when Robert Palmer withdrew from the Duran Duran side project Power Station just before their American summer tour, Des Barres was chosen to take his place as lead vocalist. He performed live with them for several months before they disbanded, including a set broadcast to millions at the 1985 Live Aid charity concert in Philadelphia. Des Barres' friendship with actor Don Johnson got Power Station a guest appearance on Johnson's TV show Miami Vice. He wrote one song with the band, "We Fight For Love" which appears on the soundtrack to the movie Commando.

Des Barres released a second solo album called Somebody Up There Likes Me in 1986, which featured contributions by former bandmates Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) and Andy Taylor (Power Station).

In the 2000s, he began performing with his new band, Free Love, at The Mint Club in Los Angeles.

Acting[edit | edit source]

Des Barres has had a diverse and prolific acting career, having appeared in one or two movies every year, as well as dozens of television appearances. His first movie role was as a supporting cast member in the classic 1967 film To Sir, followed by a few other minor roles before he decided to pursue a career in rock 'n' roll instead. After 1986, he concentrated his energies on acting again and was quickly cast in Nightflyers as a charismatic empath. He has had lead movie roles in Midnight Cabaret, Poison Ivy: The New Seduction, and Sugar Town.

On television, besides the famous role as Murdoc on MacGyver, Michael was also a lead cast member of The New WKRP in Cincinnati during the 1991/92 season. During this same time, he played a gay man (Leon's boyfriend) in two episodes of Roseanne. Some of his dozens of television appearances include Seinfeld, Ellen, Just Shoot Me!, Hart To Hart, My Sister Sam, Lois & Clark, JAG, Melrose Place, Nash Bridges, Northern Exposure, Rockford Files, Sliders, St. Elsewhere, 21 Jump Street, Dead Like Me and WKRP In Cincinnati. He has also done voice work for several animated television series.

His most recent role was on the American TV series, "NCIS" in the Season 10 episode, "Phoenix".

Selected discography[edit | edit source]

  • Silverhead: Silverhead (1972)
  • Silverhead: "16 and Savaged" (1973)
  • Silverhead: "Live at the Rainbow" (1975)
  • Detective: "Detective" (1977)
  • Detective: "It Takes One To Know One" (1977)
  • Detective: "Live from the Atlantic Studios" (1978)
  • Michael Des Barres: "I'm Only Human" (1980)
  • Chequered Past: Chequered Past (1984)
  • Michael Des Barres: Somebody Up There Likes Me (1986)

References[edit | edit source]

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