Poison

  • Heavy metal band formed in 1983, from Mechanicsburg Pennsylvania. The classic lineup is Bret Michaels (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), C.C. DeVille (lead guitar, backing vocals), Bobby Dall (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Rikki Rockett (drums, backing vocals). All members contributed to song writing.
  • Michaels and Rockett were friends when they were kids, and as teenagers they formed a band called The Spectres. In 1980, they teamed up with Dall and guitarist Matt Smith, and named themselves Paris. They played in local bars in western Pennsylvania until 1983, when they decided to move to Los Angeles to advance their music career. They changed their name to Poison, and arrived in L.A. with no home or money. They played at local clubs, and eventually got an on-going gig at The Troubador. Smith soon left the band to return home to Pennsylvania. They auditioned 3 guitarists to replace Smith – DeVille got the job (one that did not was Slash, who went on to join Guns N’ Roses). Finally, by 1986, they signed a record deal with an independent label.
  • Their debut album, Look What The Cat Dragged In, was released in 1986. Only 1 single was planned – Cry Tough did not chart. Initially the album was overlooked, but this was the time when glam metal rock was just becoming popular, and interest in the album grew steadily. Three more singles were released – Talk Dirty To Me reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, and I Won’t Forget You reached #13 – and the band got heavy airtime on MTV, which helped establish the hairband genre. Eventually, the album sold over 3 million copies in the U.S.
  • Poison’s follow-up album, 1988’s Open Up and Say…Ahh!, was their biggest success, reaching #2 on the album chart and selling over 8 million copies worldwide. It included 4 top 10 singles, with their signature power ballad Every Rose Has Its Thorn landing at #1, their only song to top the Hot 100. Michaels wrote the song after calling his girlfriend while at a laundromat and hearing a man’s voice in the background – a perfect heartbreak song. It’s #6 on Rolling Stones’ Reader Poll of the greatest hair metal songs of all time.
  • The band endured much conflict during this time, with numerous lawsuits for bad behavior, plus internal fighting and drug addiction. Despite this, they managed a successful third album – Flesh & Blood was released in 1990. They took a more serious approach to this album, and also shed their big hair look. The album was 3x platinum, with the songs Unskinny Bop peaking at #3 and Something To Believe In reaching #4 on the Hot 100 chart.
  • Life on the road became too much for the band. DeVille’s cocaine addiction and fighting with Michaels led to his departure. He was replaced by Richie Kotzen. Kotzen brought a blues-rock sound to the band. In 1993, they released Native Tongue – sales were much less than previous albums, as the grunge movement was gaining momentum, and 80s hairbands were losing their appeal. Kotzen was fired after it was discovered that he was sleeping with Rockett’s fiancée. Eventually, DeVille and Michaels reconciled, and DeVille rejoined the band in 1996. A greatest hits compilation was released that year that was 2x platinum, and a reunion tour kicked off in 1999.
  • New albums were released in 2000, 2002 and 2007. While their music was no longer making the charts, they remained popular with live performances – the hairband fans were feeling nostalgic, and Poison concerts were well attended. They continue to tour today. Michaels gained notoriety with his 3 season reality TV show Rock of Love with Bret Michaels, where women competed to have a relationship with him.
  • Myself – I’m not a hairband lover. But, Poison was among the best of them – in 2015, VH1 ranked them at #3 of their list of the greatest glam hairbands of all time. Watch the video to their first hit, Talk Dirty To Me. Wow – how do they get hair that big?! Hilarious!

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