The GTOs

Looking for something a little outré today, and I think the GTOs is gonna help me out.

Sunset Strip group from the late 60s that congealed into a band when each of the members began orbiting the Frank Zappa household in some way. One of the original sisters, Christine Frka, was Moon Unit's nanny, and she, along with her friend Sandra Rowe, with whom she moved to L.A., lived in the basement of the Zappas' Laurel Canyon home. Pamela Miller, another lady in the ensemble, took over for Christine after some time, and that's how she and her pal Linda Parker fell into the circle.

Far as I can tell, they were more of a Zappa conceptual pet project than an actual band; they only performed live once, as the warm-up for a Mothers of Invention, Alice Cooper, and Wild Man Fischer gig, and formally existed for but a moment. Also, judging by the credits on their one and only LP, 1969's Permanent Damage, which, of course, Zappa produced, none of them could really played anything; the instrumental side was taken care of mostly by the Mothers and some special guests, like Jeff Beck, (a very young) Rod Stewart, and Davy Jones. More of a "girl groupie group" than anything. The cheeky name—Girls Together Outrageously? Orally? Often? Only?—didn't tip you off?

Whatever the case, the record's something else. It flows like a schizophrenic musical, drifting from campy spoken word sketches to hillbilly psych rock to flower power folk-pop with an ambling ease that feels, well, pretty groovy.

Post-GTOs, Pamela continued to babysit for the Zappas. She also acted in 200 Motels. Got married to Michael Des Barres from Detective. Had a kid. Wrote some memoirs. Allegedly, Cameron Crowe drew from her writings to create Penny Lane, the groupie played by Kate Hudson in Almost Famous, though he doesn't directly acknowledge doing so.

The others all had pretty colorful lives, too: Mercy Fontenot was shacked up with Shuggie Otis for a while; Cynthia Wells married John Cale, but an affair with Kevin Ayers—as well as some other problems, presumably—led to their divorce; Christine died from a heroin overdose young, but not before dating Alice Cooper, Todd Rundgren, and Chris Hillman.