Talks New Book,
Career, Prince, US Festival And More
Dale Bozzio, the lead singer of Missing Persons has recently released an autobiography titled Life Is So Strange. The tell-all book details her life growing up in Boston, becoming a Playboy Bunny, a chance meeting with Frank Zappa to her eventual forming the New Wave band Missing Persons and everything in between.
We spoke with Dale from her home in California to discuss her book and her incredible career.
Greg Drugan: Hey Dale, congratulations on your book. I loved it. What a fascinating story, I ended up reading the whole thing in one day.
Dale Bozzio: Ohhh, thank you!
GD: Why did you think it was time to write the book and tell your story now?
DB: That’s the big question. The reason I wrote the book is because Prince died. I thought, if I died, who would write the book about me? I don’t want that to happen, not that I’m planning on dying or anything. (laughs) My son woke me up and told me and told me Prince had passed away, I started crying and I went right to my desk and started writing a poem about Prince. I just went into this metamorphosis and just wrote everything right then and there. So that’s kinda how the book happened. I wrote it with my friend Keith Valcourt and I just put it on paper and I just kept going. It was not premeditated.
GD: Your book has something unique with it, you included a 7” vinyl with ”Destination Unknown” and “Mental Hopscotch.” Whose ideas was it to include some music with your book? I think that’s very cool.
DB: Actually it was the record company because they’re a record company. (laughs) I think it was a really good idea because I am a musician. A regular book writer isn’t going to put a record in with their book!
GD: Right! Did you work with Kevin Haskins (of Bauhaus) or did he just remix the tracks himself?
DB: No, he remixed them. You know how that goes, it just goes from one person to the next. That was very cool. There’s also lots of pictures in the book. It really puts my life together. It shows me as a little kid to a big kid. That little kid did a lot of things! (laughs) I was on the cover of Hustler magazine! I did do those things and I don’t regret anything. All the things that I did do at the time and the place were right for me.
GD: Besides Frank Zappa, what other bands were you into growing up?
DB: This is really awkward for me because I love soul music. The Chi-Lites, Tavares, The Dramatics, Curtis Mayfield. I’m old school. Then I liked The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. I like them both. I wasn’t one or the other kind of person. I like all kinds of music but I don’t listen to music. If it’s not soul music, I’m not listening to music because I like to dance. I don’t even dance to my own music when I’m on stage because it’s so complicated. I mainly have to pay attention. I dance in front of my big screen, doing my two-step to Tavares when no-one is looking! (laughs)
GD: Missing Persons was the perfect band for MTV, you had the look and the sound that stood out from other bands. Do you think you would have been as popular if it wasn’t for MTV?
DB: The MTV thing made us all get into fucking uniform. We had to figure out what we were going to portray visually and musically. Oh my god, that’s a lot to think about. In the world today, they are half visual, half music. They don’t really get that end of the music. The reason that all these musicians from a long time ago are timeless is because they are true. They are true to their musicianship. They are true to their guitar. They really do play those things. If you can’t play it yourself, you can’t play it. If you can’t play it, let the person that can play it, play it and you listen. That’s all.
GD: I totally agree. Missing Persons formed in 1980 and three years later, you were playing at the US Festival. What was that meteoric rise like and did it feel like something like that was possible to play in front of hundreds of thousands of people?
DB: That was a lot of people. There was so many people, I couldn’t even imagine it. I had to move my head to the right and then to the left to see all the people. You couldn’t get it all in one eye shot. The performance was all on you. The people were just out there and they were a part of the tapestry. Let me tell you, it was hot. It was maybe 105 degrees, it was hot. Those people were roasted tomatoes. I approached it with all my power, and I was going to go for it. When I saw those people, I said I would never, ever, ever play a concert like this again. It’s all down hill from here. And we never did. The crowd was overwhelming and it took my breath away but I didn’t get afraid. I just get my gusto up and I just started rockin’. Terry, Warren and I were very tight and we didn’t make any mistakes.
We rehearsed for a year. We split tuna sandwiches and split Coca Cola's and had no money and worked really hard to make ourselves the Missing Persons. Without them, I couldn’t have done it. They are geniuses and they are great friends and I miss them. But I have a really good band now. I play with Prescott Niles from The Knack on bass and my guy Gatsby on guitar Paris on keys and we are very tight and right. We are working with Nate from The Voice, he’s the drummer. I’m doing things, I think I want to make a movie about the book or at least my life anyway. After I wrote the book, I decided that I need to do some visuals for it because I’m a video person, I may as well make a movie. Isn’t that the next stage of life? I’m just following the instructions.
GD: That’s funny. One of my questions was if your book got made into a movie, who would you like to see portray you in the film?
DB: Portray me? That’s a really hard question to ask. I can’t say. I was thinking about narrating the movie in the way that I speak and how I see it. I don’t know how your gonna see the person, full fledged, the person that’s gonna play me. It might not be a real story. Like story, story. I’m asking a person I know, Billy Bob Thornton if he will help me. I love him so much and admire him so much. I think he could think it right for me because of Frank Zappa and because of my awkwardness. I never made a movie before, but I trust him in my heart. I sent him a book so we will see what he says. All he can do is say no. What are they gonna do, shoot you? They’re not!
It’s so worth the try. That’s all I’ve been trying to do in life. Like I poked Prince on the nose and I asked him to dance, I thought his bodyguards were gonna choke me. But he danced with me and ultimately he made me a record and wrote me a song and became my dear friend. I had to take the chance. He wasn’t going to poke me on the nose!
I like holding myself accountable and making my own choices. That’s why I wanted to capture that in the book. I was contained and I was controlled and there was very interesting ways how I found my way out. I know that song, “No Way Out.” I know how it is to be “In The Here and Now.” I know how it is to have your “Destination Unknown.” I know how it is to be one of the “Noticeable Ones” that’s me. That’s my heart and my soul in those songs with Terry Bozzio and Warren Cuccurullo. Those were songs that I wrote and they were proud enough to make the music with me. All of those things that I say, that’s part of my makeup, it’s who I am. Frank Zappa told us to never write a song that says “I love you.” And we didn’t.
GD: You are very open in your book. Was there anything that was more difficult for you to talk about?
DB: It was all difficult really. It’s hard talking about people, especially dead people. When you love them, and cherish them and want to secure their secrets and the lifestyle you shared with them. About all the people. About Prince, about Frank. I wrote a poem to Warren Cuccurullo, that was really difficult. He doesn’t talk to me any more. Neither does Terry. They aren’t my friends. I think they’re mad at me because I quit Missing Persons. I don’t think they can ever forgive me and I have to live with that. That was really hard. To all the people that I have loved and lost. There’s a chapter there about all of these men in my life that came and went. I loved them and I lost them, including three husbands. They slipped through my fingers and I think that it’s because I’m too independent, I just can’t share. I really am a difficult nut to crack. I am from Boston and I have such an attitude. I have to, to keep myself alive. I have had way too many sad situations and I have to be very selective who I let into my life.
GD: You mention at the end of your book about having Hashimoto’s disease due to your breast implants. I hope that you are doing ok. Was getting the implants a personal choice or did someone encourage you to get them early in your career?
DB: I wanted those. I was getting fame and I thought if I had perfect boobs, the world would love me more. Little did I know, that those little boobies would make me really sick. I’ve had them taken out and put them back in again. Now I live with them. I don’t want to regret it because I was really happy with them for a while. (laughs) Time goes on and things wear out, like a car. Now it’s a medical condition that I have to take care of and I do. I’m ok. That Hashimoto’s disease makes you cry and makes you a little tired and makes you do things.
GD: I’m glad you’re doing well. That’s the most important thing.
DB: I appreciate you asking and being concerned. You are a very considerate fella. You're a sweetheart!
GD: Well, I appreciate that. Thank you. I have a couple of more questions for you. Many classic rock artists are now selling their publishing rights to their music. I just wanted to know your opinion on that.
DB: A lot of musicians have made that choice. That’s their choice to make. It’s their hard earned money, their brains, their thoughts. Maybe they think also, when they do do that, they have the thoughts of family but it could also be medical problems or whatever. I believe they should make their own decisions in what they want to do. I know that Frank Zappa did the same thing. He told me on his deathbed. He told me that he sold his publishing and he was going to take care of his children and that Gale didn’t have any financial problems. She has since passed away. I know a lot of people do it but me, personally, I have not.
GD: Very good. It’s been a long time since you have played in Cleveland, we would love to see you again. Do you have any plans to play the midwest or maybe do a book tour?
DB: Possibly! Let me get going with what I have to finish now. I have to get onset with my book and my new record. As the months come forward, I see that the COVID is lifting and the world is in a better place. As long it’s more comfortable, I’m gonna travel. I’m gonna be sixty-seven on March 2. It’s my son’s birthday as well. Then my mother and my brother, a year apart, passed away on the same day. It’s a heavy day for me, but I’m moving on.
GD: You also mentioned that you have two sons. What did they think about having a mom as a rock star growing up?
DB: I don’t think they even noticed. I haven’t changed much. I always act the same if I’m on stage or not. They don’t see me any different. They see me on stage and I’m still their mother. They have my attitude I think. They are pretty easy going and they are pretty tall too. I’m 5’2” and they’re like 6’2”. I live with them and they take care of me. We are the best of friends. Shane is a guitar player, he’s making a movie and he makes videos. My son Troy is an incredible photographer. He does photos for me too and runs my social media.
GD: Do you have control of the Missing Persons name, so when you perform live, you can call yourself Missing Persons?
DB: Yes. I have Missing Persons tattooed on my forehead. (laughs) It’s all ok with Terry and Warren. I know Terry wants me to be successful in my own right. He doesn’t begrudge me, I know that in my heart. Warren, on the other hand, I don’t know about him.
GD: Dale, what a fascinating story and I thank you so much for your time. I’m glad we finally got to get together and hopefully tell a little bit more of your story and sell some books.
DB: You are so nice to talk to me and you are such an admirable fella. I’m so happy to have this conversation with you. You made me think about all of these thoughts now that I’m going to have to juggle around in my head all day. And you made me happy and I appreciate your time.
Tell everyone to go to facebook.com/dalebozzio and I can send you an autographed book and you can order my vinyl records there too. I can autograph them to you and I have 8x10’s and all the stuff that rock stars have. Follow me on Facebook.
Check out Dale Bozzio's new book, Life Is So Strange. You can get an autographed copy from her Facebook page, click the above link, or you can get it from any major book store.