Permanent Damage: Memoirs of an Outrageous Girl

Rare Bird. Jun. 2021. 208p. ISBN 9781644281826. $27. MEMOIR
Fontenot, better known as Miss Mercy, a member of girl group the GTOs, led a life of rock and roll excess, parties, and the constant search for the next big thing. In her memoir, cowritten with music journalist Parker before Fontenot’s death in 2020, she immerses readers in the San Francisco and Los Angeles music scenes of the 1960s and ’70s. Fontenot’s candid memories of her friendship with Jimi Hendrix, reading tarot for the Rolling Stones, partying with Gram Parsons, and working with Frank Zappa, who produced the GTOs’ album, Permanent Damage, will appeal to music fans nostalgic for the period. But readers seeking a feel-good rock and roll memoir should look elsewhere. Fontenot holds nothing back when talking about her difficult childhood, addiction, homelessness, multiple rapes, and abusive relationships, and her narrative sheds light on the unglamorous side of the California music scene. At times, the writing is stilted and reads more like a hodgepodge of events than a cohesive memoir. But many readers will pick up this book anyway, because of its many connections to rock history.
VERDICT This memoir from a true counterculture icon has an important place in music history and culture; it will appeal to those eager to read more about the era.
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