Detective was an English-American hard-rock band that released the 1977 albums Detective and It Takes One to Know One, both on Led Zeppelin‘s Swan Song label. The band featured former Silverhead vocalist Michael Des Barres, one-time Steppenwolf guitarist Michael Monarch, and ex-Yes/Badger keyboardist Tony Kaye.

Members: Michael Des Barres (lead vocals), Michael Monarch (guitar), Bobby Pickett (bass, backing vocals), Tony Kaye (keyboards), Jon Hyde (drums, percussion, backing vocals)


Detective formed circa 1975 in Los Angeles when English singer Michael Des Barres teamed with guitarist Michael Monarch and drummer/singer Jon Hyde, both ex-members of Hollywood hard rockers Hokus Pokus.

Des Barres started out as a child actor and attended London’s Corona Academy drama school. At 19, he played the role of Williams in the 1967 coming of age drama To Sir, With Love starring American actor Sidney Poitier and Scottish pop singer Lulu. After a few minor roles on UK television (You and the World, The First Lady, Dixon of Dock Green) he branched into rock as the frontman of Silverhead, which issued two albums on Purple Records (Deep Purple‘s label) in 1972/73. Upon their demise, he moved to Los Angeles.

Monarch co-founded Steppenwolf and played on their first three albums, scoring 1968/69 hits with “Rock Me” and the FM radio evergreens “Born to Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride.” After leaving that band, he played guitar (uncredited) on I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, the 1969 debut solo album by Janis Joplin. In 1972, he surfaced in Hokus Pokus, an LA rock band fronted by singer, lyricist, and drummer Jon Hyde. They issued one self-titled album on small-press Romar.

Detective rounded out its lineup with bassist Bobby Pickett (not to be confused with the ’60s pop singer). They gigged to local applause and caught the attention of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and manager Peter Grant, who signed Detective to Swan Song, Zeppelin’s newly established label.

Page planned to produce Detective’s debut album but bowed out due to Zeppelin commitments. They scrapped their initial round of recordings over trouble with the drum sound. The over-budget sessions took place at Record Plant (LA, Sausalito) and Sound City (LA). Monarch overdubbed most of the keyboard parts. Just before sessions wrapped, Detective added English keyboardist Tony Kaye, formerly of Yes and Badger.

1977: Detective

Detective’s self-titled debut album appeared in 1977 on Swan Song (all territories). Monarch co-wrote eight of the nine tracks, including four with Hyde: “Detective Man,” “Wild Hot Summer Nights,” “One More Heartache,” and the acoustic ballad “Nightingale.”

Des Barres co-wrote the first three songs on side one: “Recognition,” “Got Enough Love,” and “Grim Reaper.” The first two feature lyrical contributions from his then-partner, Pamela Ann Miller, soon-to-be known as Pamela Des Barres.

Pickett co-wrote “Grim Reaper” and the instrumental “Deep Down.” The one non-original, “Ain’t None of Your Business,” is a co-write between songwriter Lewis Anderson and country singer Becky Hobbs.

Detective was co-produced between the band, producer Andy Johns (Blodwyn Pig, Free, Jack Bruce, Heavy Metal Kids, Gary Wright, Television), and engineer Jimmy Robinson, who also worked on 1976–78 albums by Paris, Sammy Hagar, and Yesterday and Today. Additional engineering was done by Andy Zane (Rick Springfield, Marcus), Deni King (Ayers Rock, Boston), Doug Rider (Strongbow, Emperor), John Henning (Montrose, Bob Welch), and Pete Carlson (The Babys, UFO).

The cover sports the slanted all-caps Detective logo, designed by John Kosh, whose credits also include album art for The Who (Who’s Next), Humble Pie, Family (Bandstand), Hudson-Ford, McGuinness Flint, Curved Air (Second Album), Paladin, and Hummingbird. Photographer “sam emerson” (Angel, Zuider Zee, Rod Stewart, Leon Ware, Jethro Tull, Back Street Crawler) took the back-cover group photo (b&w), which shows Detective in the leisurely fashions of the day (feathered hair, spread collars, flared slacks, three-piece ensembles).

Swan Song issued “Recognition” as a single (b/w “Grim Reaper”).

It Takes One to Know One

Detective’s second album, It Takes One to Know One, appeared in late 1977. Side one bookends with solo compositions from Hyde (“Help Me Up”) and Des Barres (“Something Beautiful”). Monarch co-wrote six songs, including “Warm Love,” “Tear Jerker,” “Dynamite,” and “Are You Talkin’ to Me.

Pickett pitched in on the side two cuts “Betcha Won’t Dance” and “Fever.” Miller, who Des Barres married around this time, made a lyrical contribution to “Competition,” one of Kaye’s two co-writes for the band (along with “Tear Jerker”).

It Takes One to Know One was co-produced between the band and Steve Smith (Les Variations, Claire Hamill, Trapeze, Robert Palmer) with engineer Richard Digby Smith (Patto, Bronco, Sparks, Boxer, Mott the Hoople, McDonald and Giles). Sessions took place in Hollywood at Clover Studios, Record Plant, and United/Western Studios; the last with assistant engineer Gary Boatner (Player, Santana, Blondie, Shalamar).

The glow-lit cover shot (full color) shows the band looking similar to the Emerson pic, apart from a greying (at 32) Kaye, who dons peach polyester flares and a leather jacket with red arm stripes. Des Barres sports a suit and tie; the others wear spread-collar leisure suits in combinations of lime/black (Pickett) and yellow/brown (Hyde). Monarch appears to wear the same shirt/vest ensemble as last time. Photographer David Alexander captured the shot, having also taken 1977 album photos for Sea Level, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Legs Diamond, Minnie Riperton (Stay in Love), and Carole Bayer Sager.

Atlantic art director Bob Defrin did the cover design on It Takes One to Know One, having overseen the visuals on 1974–78 albums by Wishbone Ash, King Errisson, Margie Joseph, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ace Spectrum, LeBlanc & Carr, Hall & Oates (War Babies), Sam Dees (The Show Must Go On), Andy Pratt (ResolutionShiver in the Night), Frannie Golde (Frannie Golde), The Manhattan Transfer (Coming Out) and numerous jazz and funk artists, including the Average White Band, Lenny White, Mass Production, Billy Cobham (Inner Conflicts), Sonny Fortune (Serengeti Minstrel), Stanley Clarke (School Days), Narada Michael Walden (Garden of Love Light, I Cry, I Smile), Jan Hammer Group (Oh, Yeah?), and Jean-Luc Ponty (Upon the Wings of Music).

Swan Song issued a white-label promo 7″ of “Something Beautiful.”

Later Activity

In 1978, Swan Song issued Live From the Atlantic Studios, a promo release of live-in-studio performances. It features nine numbers, mostly drawn from the first album, including a near nine-minute rendition of “One More Heartache.”

That year, Detective switched to Swan Song’s distributor, Atlantic Records, which paired the band with veteran producer Tom Dowd. At the label’s insistence, they recorded “I Need a Lover,” an Australian hit (and later FM evergreen) by up-and-coming Midwest rocker John Cougar. That and a few originals got vaulted when the band collapsed over personal differences. Purportedly, the funky hard-rock that Detective purveyed no longer appealed to Des Barres, whose interests shifted to the nascent punk/new wave scene.

After Detective

Des Barres appeared on a 1978 episode of the CBS radio sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati in the character of Sir Charles Weatherbee (aka “Dog”), the singer of Scum of the Earth, a punk/metal band booked for an in-studio appearance, much to the apprehension of staff.

In 1979, Des Barres sang one track (“Fooling Myself”) on In Full View, the second album by Argent-offshoot Phoenix. His first solo album, I’m Only Human, appeared on Dreamland Records in 1980. It includes three songs written by Barry Goldberg (Electric Flag, KGB, Ivar Avenue Reunion) and backing by drummer Ric Parnell (Atomic Rooster, Horse, Ibis), guitarist John Goodsall (Brand X), and Des Barres’ onetime Silverhead bandmate Nigel Harrison (then bassist of Blondie), who co-wrote five songs with the singer.

In late 1982, Des Barres teamed once again with Harrison, plus two other members of the recently disbanded Blondie, guitarist Frank Infante and drummer Clem Burke. They formed the AOR band Chequered Past with ex-Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. After serving as the opening act for Duran Duran on a US tour, Infante cleared out for guitarist Tony Sales (Todd Rundgren, Iggy Pop). Their self-titled album appeared on EMI America in 1984.

In mid-1985, Des Barres replaced Robert Palmer in the Power Station just in time for their appearance at Live Aid. They also appear on a season two episode of the NBC crime drama Miami Vice, where a bar fight breaks out mid-performance. He released a second solo album, Somebody Up There Likes Me, in 1986 before turning his attention back to acting.

Kaye played on the 1980 Warner release A Perfect Fit by Craig Mirijanian and joined Badfinger for their 1981 album Say No More. He rejoined Yes after sessions wrapped on their 1983 comeback album 90125 and played on their ensuing 9012Live tour and subsequent three albums.

Detective and It Takes One to Know One were first reissued in 1990 on the Japanese branch of Swan Song. In 2003, US archivists Wounded Birds reissued both albums on CD. The debut got a third CD reissue in 2010 by Euro archivists Rock Candy. It Takes One to Know One appeared once more in 2016 on Cherry Red.


  • Detective (1977)
  • It Takes One to Know One (1977)
  • Live From the Atlantic Studios (1978)


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