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Miss Mercy death: GTOs co-founder and Frank Zappa muse dies aged 71

Miss Mercy (far left) with band The GTOs: Pamela Des Barres/Omnibus Press
Miss Mercy (far left) with band The GTOs: Pamela Des Barres/Omnibus Press

Miss Mercy, a founding member of Frank Zappa-formed band GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously) and the groupie collective of the same name, has died at the age of 71.

The Californian’s death was confirmed by her former bandmate, fellow groupie and friend Pamela Des Barres on Tuesday (28 July), who wrote on Instagram: “My beloved sister for most of my life, Miss Mercy has just passed.

“Words don’t work for me at this moment. I can’t imagine my world without her in it.”

No cause of death was given.

Born Judith Edra Peters in 1949, Miss Mercy, also known as Mercy Fontenot, was a well-known figure on the Los Angeles Sunset Strip scene in the Sixties. It was here that she met her future GTO members, who formed an all-girl band at the suggestion of Zappa.

A 1969 Rolling Stone article about the band said: “The GTOs are a sociological creation of Frank Zappa’s. He didn’t create the GTOs; he merely made a ‘group’ of them... and now is presenting them.

In Memoriam MISS MERCY February 15, 1949 – July 27, 2020 #MissMercy #RIP #InMemoriam #RestInPeace #groupie #thegtos #permanentdamage #GirlsTogetherOutrageously

Posted by Frank Zappa on Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Following the band’s split, Fontenot married guitarist Shuggie Otis, having a son Lucky together. The couple later divorced.

Miss Mercy features prominently in Des Barres’ famous rock and roll memoir, I’m With the Band, about her life around bands including Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones.

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My beloved sister for most of my life, Miss Mercy has just passed. Words don’t work for me at this moment. I can’t imagine my world without her in it. #pameladesbarres #groupie #thegtos #missmercy #imwiththeband

THE Pamela Des Barres