Monday, March 14, 2016

GTOs - 1969 - Permanent Damage

Permanent Damage

01. The Eureka Springs Garbage Truck Lady
02. Miss Pamela And Miss Sparky Discuss Stuffed Bras And Some Of Their Gym Class Experiences
03. Who's Jim Sox?
04. Kansas And The BTO's
05. The Captain's Fat Theresa Shoes
06. Wouldn't It Be Sad If There Were No Cones?
07. Do Me In Once And I'll Be Sad, Do Me In Twice And I'll Know Better (Circular Circulation)
08. The Moche Monster Review
09. TV Lives
10. Rodney
11. I Have A Paintbrush In My Hand To Color A Triangle
12. Miss Christine's First Conversation With The Plaster Casters Of Chicago
13. The Original GTO's
14. The Ghost Chained To The Past, Present, And Future (Shock Treatment)
15. Love On An Eleven Year Old Level
16. Miss Pamela's First Conversation With The Plaster Casters Of Chicago
17. I'm In Love With The Ooo-Ooo Man

Bass Guitar – Roy Estrada
Drums – Jimmy Carl Black
Guitar – Jeff Beck (1, 14)
Guitar – Lowell George (7)
Guitar – Ry Cooder (11)
Keyboards – Craig Doerge, Ian Underwood
Vocals – Rod Stewart (14)
Tambourine – Frank Zappa
Vocals – Miss Christine, Miss Mercy, Miss Cinderella, Miss Pamela, Miss Sandra

The GTO's began as a collection of wildly outrageous girls who frequented the Sunset Strip in LA and hung out with the bands and groups who performed in that area during the late 1960s, such as Carl Franzoni & the Log Cabin commune, the Magic Band and Mothers Of Invention.

They effectively coined the phrase "Groupies" and initially became the Cherry Sisters, then became a spontaneous performance-art collective known as the Laurel Canyon Ballet Company- which was an opening act for gigs led by Frank Zappa. Two members, Miss Frka and Miss Pamela, were also babysitters in the Zappa household.

In 1969 Zappa collected this group together, producing them as one of his side projects, as the GTO's (an acronym for Girls Together Outrageously). [The use of the apostrophe appears in the original recording, but is not always employed in reference to this group].

There were seven original members of the GTO's: Miss Christine (aka Christine Frka), Miss Mercy (aka Mercy Fontenot), Miss Lucy (aka Lucy Offerall), Miss Sandra (aka Sandra Leano), Miss Sparky (aka Linda Sue 'Sparky' Parker), Miss Pamela (aka Pamela Miller [nee], Pamela Des Barres) and Miss Cinderella (or Cynderella) [Real name unknown].

The resultant album, 'Permanent Damage', consequently featured a number of renowned musicians who happened to be around the LA 'freak scene' during these psychedelic and experimental music times. The group also crossed paths with the notorious Plaster Casters Of Chicago, who became the subject upon two of their album tracks.

Miss Pamela, born Pamela Ann Miller on September 9, 1948 in Reseda, California, is the best-known and most commercially successful of the GTO's. Prior to joining the group, she had been a member of Vito Paulekas' dancing troupe. In the 1970s, she pursued an acting career and appeared (credited as "Pamela Miller") in several films, including Zappa's 200 Motels, and TV series, including a yearlong role on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow. Des Barres is the author of five books. The first, I'm with the Band (1987), is based primarily on a diary she secretly kept from her high school years all the way through her marriage, due in part to the encouragement she received from her group's future producer, Frank Zappa. The book spent several weeks in the US top ten best sellers list. The book contains different perspectives on the author's life during the 1960s and, in particular, the groupie scene – a scene which Des Barres defends in her 2007 book, Let's Spend the Night Together, a collection of interviews with fellow rock groupies. Miller was married to British actor/musician Michael Des Barres for fourteen years (1977-1991). Together they have a son, Nicholas Dean Des Barres (NickRoxNRX), who is now an editor for a video game magazine in Tokyo, Japan, where he currently resides.
Miss Mercy, a.k.a. Mercy Fontenot, was born Judith Edra Peters on February 15, 1949 in Burbank, California. She has been referred to by Pamela as "the human facsimile". Having moved around the country, the family eventually settled in the Bay Area. When she was 15, she dropped out of high school and told her parents she was ready to become legally independent. Despite their disapproval, she filed for emancipation, becoming a ward of the court within a couple of weeks. Peters went to live with a group of friends in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Some of their neighbors included members of the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and a young Charlie Manson. Eventually, Miss Mercy and Miss Pamela heard that Los Angeles was the mecca for meeting entertainers and especially rock & roll musicians. In addition, Miss Pamela wanted to pursue her acting career in Hollywood, and in early 1969, they moved south, immersing themselves into the local scene. Then, one of Miss Pamela's childhood friends, Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart), took the girls to a large castle-like compound in Laurel Canyon where they were introduced to musician Frank Zappa. Soon after the breakup of the GTO's she became romantically involved with blues guitar prodigy Shuggie Otis, the son of rhythm & blues pioneer Johnny Otis. They married and had a son, Lucky Otis, who became a world-renowned multi-instrumentalist / musician in the likeness of his father and grandfather. A few years later, Miss Mercy and Shuggie divorced. For the next 15 to 20 years she moved around northern and southern California, living a life of heavy drug use and sporadic public appearances. Miss Mercy quit all hard drugs and cigarettes. She has been clean and sober ever since. Miss Mercy currently resides in Los Angeles and works for Goodwill Industries, a thrift store in Hollywood. A chapter of "I'm With the Band", entitled "Miss Mercy's Blues", is an account of her life. She has worked for five decades in magazines, books, radio and television, and contributing to award-winning feature-length documentaries. She had a ten-minute segment dedicated to her life in the movie Mayor of the Sunset Strip starring alternative rock pioneer KROQ disc jockey Rodney Bingenheimer, who was a close longtime friend of the GTO's. Miss Mercy and Miss Pamela remain close friends. As of 2015, Miss Mercy is working closely with an author / biographer to help document her life. She has many stories to tell.
Miss Cynderella (sometimes Miss Cinderella) was born Cynthia Sue Wells (later Cynthia Cale-Binion) on January 26, 1952 in Los Angeles, California. She married John Cale of Velvet Underground in 1971, but the marriage was rocky, and they divorced in 1975. Cale's song "Guts" opens with the line, "The bugger in the short sleeves fucked my wife" (referring to Kevin Ayers' sleeping with Cindy in 1974). Cindy died at 45 under “mysterious circumstances” on February 19, 1997 in Palm Desert, California; however, her death was not widely reported until 2007, when Pamela Des Barres mentioned it in her book Let's Spend the Night Together (where she inadvertently listed the wrong death year).
Miss Christine, born Christine Ann Frka on November 27, 1942 in San Pedro, California, also babysat for the Zappas. She is shown on the front cover of Frank Zappa's 1969 album Hot Rats emerging from an empty swimming pool on the infamous Errol Flynn estates in the Hollywood Hills. She dated rock and roll singer Alice Cooper (she’s credited with creating his stage persona). She also dated Todd Rundgren from Utopia fame, and Chris Hillman of The Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, where she inspired the song “Christine’s Tune” (“She’s a devil in disguise, you can see it in her eyes.”) Frka died on November 5, 1972, of a heroin overdose in a house in Cohasset, Massachusetts, which at the time was being rented out by musician Jonathan Richman and his original group, The Modern LoverShe overdosed shortly before her 30th birthday after spending nearly a full year in a body cast to correct a crooked spine.
Miss Lucy (born Luz Selenia Offerrall[8] in Puerto Rico[9] (date unknown), better known as Lucy Offerall, later Lucy McLaren) appeared in Frank Zappa's films Uncle Meat, 200 Motels, Video from Hell, and The True Story of 200 Motels. In 200 Motels she had a moderately-sized role portraying a promiscuous groupie. She dated Jeff Beck in 1969.[10] In 1975 she married Gordon "Gordie" McLaren (bassist for the New York City group called, coincidentally, The Groupies). They divorced in 1981, after producing a son, Coleman.[11] Years later, she was impregnated by a close friend and bore another son named Dallas, only to find that she had contracted AIDS, still a fairly new and little-known disease for that time. Lucy McLaren died in 1991. Her son Dallas died later the same year, having been born with ARC (opportunistic diseases related to HIV).[12]
Miss Sandra was born Sandra Lynn Rowe (later Sandra Leano, Sandra Lynn Harris) on January 18, 1949 in San Pedro, Los Angeles. She was in the group only a short while before becoming pregnant by Cal Schenkel, Frank Zappa's official artist-in-residence. In publicity photos for the band she is shown late in her pregnancy, with a big star painted on her belly. She moved back to San Pedro with her infant daughter named Raven, and after The GTO's broke up she met and married Bradley Harris. They had three more children together. Sandra died of cancer in Albion, California on April 23, 1991 at age 42.
Miss Sparky (born Linda Sue Parker, sometime in 1948) was renown for driving a Hudson Hornet in the late 1960s on the Sunset Strip. She recorded a vocal track (credited under the pseudonym "Sharkie Barker") on the song "Disco Boy" on Frank Zappa's album Zoot Allures (1976), and was once employed by the Walt Disney Corporation. She was reported still alive in 2012 but didn’t give interviews.

Pamela Miller and Linda Parker met around 1966 while attending Cleveland High School in Los Angeles. Christine Frka traveled to Los Angeles from San Pedro with Sandra Rowe, and both lived in the basement of Frank Zappa's Log Cabin at 2401 Laurel Canyon Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills in 1968. Christine was the live-in nanny for Zappa's eldest child Moon Unit, before Pamela took over the position the following year. Judith Peters had emigrated from the Haight Ashbury hippie scene to LA due to "boredom", alleging she "couldn't be a hippie forever." Cynthia Wells was brought into the group by Judith after the nucleus of the group had already been formed. This accounts for Miss Cynderella's presence in some, but not all of the GTOs' publicity shots. Lucy Offerall was also not an original member, but joined after the recording of Permanent Damage.

The group initially called themselves “The Cherry Sisters” but soon changed to "The Laurel Canyon Ballet Company.” When Frank Zappa took them on he changed their name to The GTOs. The new name was described as an acronym which, as Stanley Booth wrote, could mean "Girls Together Outrageously or Orally or anything else starting with O."On their album the acronym is also defined as "Girls Together Occasionally", "Girls Together Often" and "Girls Together Only". Miss Lucy stated in a filmed interview that the latter name is what it stood for, though it is understood by most that the name on the album, Girls Together Outrageously, is the name of the group.

The members were connected by their association with Zappa, who encouraged their artistic endeavors despite their limited vocal skills. The group performed live “only 4 or 5 times”, although they created a strong impression at their December 1968 performance at the Shrine Auditorium opening for The Mothers of Invention, Alice Cooper and Wild Man Fischer. A mix of theatrics, singing, dance and wild costumes were staples of their act. Their only album, Permanent Damage, (Straight Records) was produced in 1969 by Frank Zappa with the assistance of Lowell George and Russ Titelman (tracks 7 and 11). The latter track also features Titelman's brother-in-law, guitarist Ry Cooder, both of whom appear on Captain Beefheart's Safe As Milk album. Track 5 "The Captain's Fat Theresa Shoes" is a GTO comment on Beefheart's taste in footwear (his cousin Victor Hayden had introduced him to Pamela Des Barres). The songs are mixed in with conversations between the members of the group, friends, and others, including Cynthia Plaster Caster and Rodney Bingenheimer. The album features songwriting contributions from Lowell George, Jeff Beck and Davy Jones. A young Rod Stewart (Jeff Beck's singer at the time) pops up track 14.

This 17-track aural document is arguably more sociological than musical in nature. Frank Zappa's insatiable curiosity into human behavior -- especially with regard to all manner of sexual deviance and the so-called "lunatic fringe" -- became the subject of several releases on his ironically titled Straight Records vanity label. However, Permanent Damage (1969) is additionally unique for including an interesting aggregate of late-'60s musical talent, ranging from Monkee Davy Jones to Lowell George. The moniker G.T.O.'s stands for "Girls Together Outrageously," which describes the ragtag group whose stated primary directive was to bed as many pop and rock stars as they possibly could. Such is the subject matter of the vast majority of both the spoken word and musical numbers on the album. As is the case with most Zappa-related projects, the results vacillate wildly between the ridiculous "Miss Christine's First Conversation With the Plaster Casters of Chicago" and "Miss Pamela's First Conversation With the Plaster Casters of Chicago" to the comparatively sublime "Captain's Fat Theresa Shoes," a tribute to Captain Beefheart's odd choice of footwear. Concurrent Mothers of Invention keyboardist Don Preston also contributes a darkly beautiful musical arrangement on "TV Lives." Additionally, there are a few non-musical inclusions, such as "Wouldn't It Be Sad if There Were No Cones?" and "Moche Monster," both of which provide a unique, if not somewhat inspired, perspective into the young ladies' social interactions. While a majority of the G.T.O.'s garnered no further significant successes, the most infamous member to have come through the ranks is Miss Pamela (aka Pamela des Barres), whose tell-all novel I'm With the Band (1987) was an international bestseller.

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