Permanent Damage: Memoirs of An Outrageous Girl (Rare Bird Books), which veteran music journalist Lyndsey Parker co-wrote with late GTOs member Mercy “Miss Mercy” Fontenot, has turned out to be one of the most acclaimed music books of the year. See the pull quotes below including four-star reviews from Mojo and Goldmine and praise from The Guardian which noted that “The book reads like a romp, aided by Mercy’s keen sense of the absurd and flair for black humor…”
Released June 9, 2021, it received strong notices from the press and accolades from Mercy’s contemporaries. It was also honored with events in Los Angeles, including an in-store at Stories Books and Cafe and virtual events with the GRAMMY MUSEUM® and the Women’s International Music Network.
“It has been bittersweet to see the support the book has received, because she [Mercy] didn’t live to see Permanent Damage’s success,” PARKER says (Mercy died July 27, 2020). “I think she would have gotten a real kick out of seeing her name on the charts (go to #4 on Amazon’s Music Books list) or in a four-star Mojomagazine review–like the rock star she was born to be. But I don’t believe she would have been surprised by the reception, because she believed in herself, and in way, neither am I, because I believed in her too. I always thought if Mercy’s stranger-than-fiction story could be told, it would find an audience. That is why I was so hell-bent on getting her to write her memoirs, wearing her down for years before she finally agreed! I am so thrilled her story will live on forever now.”
Permanent Damage: Memoirs of An Outrageous Girl shows us the world of the 1960s and 1970s music scene through Mercy Fontenot’s eyes, as well as the fallout of that era–experiencing homelessness before sobering up and putting her life back together. Written just prior to her death in 2020, Miss Mercy’s journey is a can’t miss for anyone who was there and can’t remember, or just wishes they’d been there.
“All Miss Mercy ever really wanted was respect. I knew she was important, of course, but I think I was so close to this project, and to Mercy herself, that I didn’t fully grasp her impact until the accolades for the book came in. She definitely made her mark,” PARKER notes of things she gleaned after the book was published.
She adds: “I also learned that even though she was a relatively obscure figure in the rock world, she was revered and respected by so many–from the celebrities like Alice Cooper and Shirley Manson who were so eager and delighted to promote the book, to the young GTOs fans who literally cosplay as Mercy on Instagram.”
Mercy Fontenot was a Zelig who grew up in the San Francisco Haight-Ashbury scene, where she crossed paths with Charles Manson, went to the first Acid Test, and was friends with Jimi Hendrix (she was later in his movie Rainbow Bridge). She predicted the Altamont disaster when reading the Rolling Stones’ tarot cards at a party and left San Francisco for the climes of Los Angeles in 1967 when the Haight “lost its magic.” Buy the book here.
Here’s some critical praise for the book:
“Great writing; wild stories, but very dark…But through all of it Mercy emerged undaunted.”
–Sylvie Simmons, MOJO, 2021
“Though it all, through the homelessness, the assaults, the estrangement of her family, she always carried herself with class, style and her own perverse sense of dignity.”
–Mike Greenblatt, GOLDMINE, 2021
“The book reads like a romp, aided by Mercy’s keen sense of the absurd and flair for black humor…”
–Jim Farber, THE GUARDIAN, June 2021
“Mercy, Mercy, She: A Famous Groupie’s Wild Child Story…The stories came fast and furious, as Mercy recounts her encounters with acts like those mentioned above along with Gene Simmons of KISS, Arthur Lee of Love, Shuggie Otis, Jobriath, Ike Turner, Gram Parsons, and Janis Joplin. Then there’s the book’s Marquee Batshit Crazy Story: Chuck Berry.”
Bob Ruggiero, HOUSTON PRESS, May 2021
“Whoa! With what sometimes feels like a minor miracle, Miss Mercy’s life story careens from delight to disaster and back so many times there is a considerable chance of whiplash during the reading…With writer Lyndsey Parker’s above and beyond assistance, everything from tragedy, treachery, heartbreak and happiness come through in day-glo colors. In the end, Miss Mercy stands upright as a true survivor, except for the fact that she died not long before the book’s completion. But what is surely a small miracle, the memoir was finished and now permanently stands as a cautionary tale for those who get too close to the flame, or don’t have working brakes in how they live their life. And while there is no way to capture the three-dimensional swing of Miss Mercy’s daily travels in black & white, PERMANENT DAMAGE and its evocative prose and complete honesty comes close enough to the bonfire to catch afire. What a trip.”
–Bill Bentley, AMERICANA HIGHWAYS, June 2021
Miss Mercy lays her story bare with the help of her friend and co-writer, journalist and author Lyndsey Parker. Armed with over 60 hours of interviews with Fontenot, Parker carves out a down and dirty episodic memoir that rolls into the lost hours of night, like an empty bottle between bar close and sunrise.”
— Noah Lekas, LETHAL AMOUNTS, 2021
“Lyndsey Parker’s excellent book Permanent Damage: Memoirs of an Outrageous Girl, written with and about GTO Miss Mercy Fontenot, is receiving heaps of well-deserved praise and attention.”
–Brett Callwood, LA WEEKLY, June 2021
“Permanent Damage: Memoirs of an Outrageous Girl is the posthumously published memoir of Mercy Fontenot…the memoir is, in two words, wild and weird…Fearless, shameless and regret-less, Miss Mercy’s tone in the book is casual, alarmingly so when she’s speaking about the most traumatic events: rapes, homelessness, the suicides of her parents, her drug use.”
–Lily Moayeri, ROCK AND ROLL GLOBE, June 2021
“Permanent Damage: Memoirs Of An Outrageous Girl…is full of stories, the ultimate tale of sex, drugs, rock & roll, rape, violence, homelessness, fun, parties, lovers, and independence…From page one, you are enveloped by Mercy’s straightforward, honest personality and you don’t feel like you’re simply reading another musical soap opera. She hooks you immediately and you laugh with her at her goofyness, drop your mouth to the floor when she casually mentions that her second husband beat her so bad he had broken all the bones in the side of her face, and envy her hangs with Robert Plant and Jimi Hendrix. The words flow like she’s right there telling them to you herself and the 208 pages fly by in no time.”
–Leslie Michele Derrough, GLIDE MAGAZINE, June 2021
“She passed away in July last year, but judging by this book she didn’t half live.”
–Johnny Sharp, CLASSIC ROCK, 2021
And here’s some feedback from Mercy’s friends and colleagues:
“Miss Mercy was dripping in sarcasm. She was a very funny and lovely lady. She may have been the voice of reason for the GTOs… but I doubt it.”— Alice Cooper
“Mercy wore unusual and stunning makeup. She set a trend. She was a very individualistic, charismatic woman. The GTOs made the party swing and were an integral part of rock ‘n’ roll culture at the time.”– Dave Davies, the Kinks
“Miss Mercy spun herself through the most magical days of the ‘60s and into the arms of punk. She was a th at one-of-a-kind character none of us will ever forget.”— Exene Cervenka, X
“I am thrilled to know this book is finally out there and we can know firsthand what it was like to live in Miss Mercy’s towering platform shoes. I love rock ‘n’ roll, and Lyndsey Parker has the most encyclopedic knowledge of all music; I can’t think of a better person to bring Mercy’s story to life.”— Margaret Cho
“Miss Mercy was a one-off iconoclast, style- and taste-wise. She looked, lived, and loved uniquely and was a trailblazer for women in rock ‘n’ roll.”— Siobhan Fahey, Bananarama and Shakespears Sister
“Mercy was one of the most inspirational and magical people I ever got the chance to meet and work with. She had endless stories to tell and the coolest style, like a badass Gypsy pirate witch. She embodied that old spirit of Hollywood that we never get to see anymore. Mercy was and will always be a legend.”— Arrow de Wilde, Starcrawler
“Lyndsey and Mercy had many things in common, the most important of which was commitment. Both committed to the music and the musicians that made it. Mercy had secrets and stories and reveals them here to someone who understands. An imperative read for anyone with a rock ‘n’ roll soul.”— Michael Des Barres
About Lyndsey Parker:
Lyndsey Parker is the music editor at Yahoo Entertainment and host of the daily SiriusXM Volume show Volume West. Considered an expert in music and pop culture, Parker is an Online Journalism Award nominee and has written for Elle, MOJO, Rolling Stone, NME, and Guitar. She has appeared as a commentator for the ABC special The Show Must Go On: The Queen + Adam Lambert Story, AXS TV’s The Top Ten Revealed, and the documentary I Want My MTV, as well as for VH1’s Behind the Music, CNN, MTV, The Insider, and Good Day L.A.. She is the author of Careless Memories of Strange Behavior: My Notorious Life as a Duran Duran Fan (one of the first e-books published as part of Rhino Records’ all-digital music book series, which went to #1 on the iTunes Music Books chart).
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