Poison is an American glam metal band that achieved success in the late 1980s and early 1990s. To date, the band has sold 14.5 million records in the United States alone. The band has also charted 10 singles to the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, including six Top 10 singles and one #1. After 25 years, the band is still recording music and performing.
Poison was formed in 1983 under the name Paris, and consisted of lead vocalist Bret Michaels, guitarist Matt Smith, bassist Bobby Dall, and drummer Rikki Rockett. Moving to Los Angeles on March 6, 1984, they started playing big clubs. The name Poison was chosen after the band saw Spinal Tap in concert.
During this period, Poison's manager negotiated a deal under which the West Hollywood club, The Troubador, would pay for shows. At this time, Smith left the band to return home to Pennsylvania, which led to an audition session that was won by C.C. DeVille.
Michaels, Dall, Rockett and DeVille signed to independent label Enigma Records in 1986 (see 1986 in music) for approximately $30,000. Their debut album, Look What the Cat Dragged In, was released August 2, 1986. It originally included only one single, "Cry Tough"; however, Look What the Cat Dragged In became a surprise success and subsequently spawned three charting hits: "Talk Dirty to Me", "I Want Action", and "I Won't Forget You".
In 1987 the band also recorded a cover of the Kiss song "Rock and Roll All Nite" for the soundtrack to Less Than Zero.
Poison's second album, Open Up and Say...Ahh!, was released May 21, 1988. It peaked at #2 on the American charts and would ultimately go on to sell 8 million copies worldwide. The album included the band's biggest hit, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", along with other top-ten hits: "Nothin' but a Good Time", "Fallen Angel", and the Loggins and Messina cover "Your Mama Don't Dance." The album's first cover was controversial, as it depicted a female demonic figure with an obscenely long tongue. A censored version of the cover followed, focusing on the figure's eyes. By the time the band toured with David Lee Roth in 1988 on the Skyscraper Tour, it was apparent that Poison had become a major live act. As of 1989, the band had become the fifth-best-selling hard rock band of the 1980s, behind Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and Guns N' Roses.
Poison's third album, Flesh & Blood, was released June 21, 1990. It also was highly successful, peaking at #2 and selling more than 7 million copies. It too features an alternate cover, as the original featured what appeared to be running ink or possibly blood from a tattoo. (Subsequent versions of this cover removed the "extra" ink.) The record went multi-platinum, spawning three gold singles: "Unskinny Bop," "Ride the Wind," and the ballad "Something To Believe In". The last single released was the title cut, "Flesh & Blood (Sacrifice)". The video was banned from MTV due to its explicit nature, but did surface later in the video compilation Flesh, Blood & Videotape, in early 1991. The album's success prompted the impetus for a further world tour.
One of the band's few appearances in the UK was on August 18, 1990 at Donington's Monsters of Rock festival in the summer of 1990. Whitesnake headlined with Aerosmith, Quireboys and Thunder supporting them. This event was broadcast on BBC Radio 1.
Poison recorded several performances during its 1990/1991 Flesh & Blood tour, which were released in November 1991 as the band's fourth album, Swallow This Live. The double album features live tracks from Poison's first three studio albums and four new studio tracks including the single "So Tell Me Why", which were the last recorded before C.C. DeVille's departure from the band later that year.
Despite Poison's success, DeVille's cocaine and alcohol addictions had begun to cause strife in the band. Conflict between Michaels and DeVille culminated in a fistfight backstage at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, provoked by DeVille's inept live performance. After bringing "Talk Dirty To Me" to a grinding halt, DeVille's guitar disconnected and he needed to stop playing for few seconds, in mid-performance. DeVille was fired and replaced by Pennsylvanian guitarist Richie Kotzen.
Poison's fifth album, Native Tongue, was released February 8, 1993. It was strongly influenced by Kotzen's fresh songwriting contributions and guitar performance. It marked a change for the band as they abandoned their anthemic party tunes to focus on more serious subjects, and was far more blues-rock oriented than glam metal. Containing the single "Stand," the album received generally positive reviews, but sales were comparatively sluggish, selling only a million copies worldwide. The band toured in support of the album, but tensions mounted between Kotzen and the rest of the band. Kotzen's future in the band was doomed when it was discovered that he had become romantically involved with Rockett's ex-fiancée Deanna Eve. Kotzen was promptly fired, and replaced by Blues Saraceno.
Poison began recording its sixth album, Crack a Smile, in early 1994. Recording was brought to an abrupt halt in May 1994, when Michaels was involved in a car accident where he lost control of his Ferrari. Michaels suffered a broken nose, ribs, jaw, and fingers and lost four teeth. After his recovery in 1995, the band continued recording the album. However, in the face of 1980s-style hair metal being almost completely gone and with a shift in staff at the label, Capitol Records offered little support for a new Poison record. The album then became shelved, with no release date anywhere in sight. This prompted Blues Saraceno to leave the band in May 1996. Instead, the label opted for a Greatest Hits compilation, which featured two new tracks with Saraceno on guitar, "Sexual Thing" and "Lay Your Body Down". The record was released on November 26, 1996.
Bret Michaels made his movie acting debut in the Martin Sheen movie A Letter from Death Row in 1998, which Michaels also wrote and directed. He also released his first solo album that year, which is the soundtrack to the movie. After several years apart, Michaels and DeVille were able to patch up their differences, welcoming C.C. Deville back into Poison in 1999 replacing Blues Saraceno.. Bret and Rikki wanted to record an album first, Bobby and C.C. wanted to tour first. In early 1999, Bret caved and voted to go on tour first. The Greatest Hits reunion tour finally took place in the summer of 1999. With the original lineup intact, Poison hit the road. The band's supporting tour was a success, with its show at Pine Knob Amphitheater in metro Detroit drawing a sell-out crowd of 18,000. Tour dates averaged crowds of 12,000. A summer appearance on VH1's Behind the Music appeared to solidify the reunited lineup's new-found popularity.
Hardcore fans uncovered copies of Crack a Smile from the numerous bootlegs that were beginning to surface, but it wasn't long before a shortfall in supply became evident. Fans clamored for an official release fearing that not only was the album becoming a collectors piece but was also quite possibly "their best album to date." On March 14, 2000, Crack a Smile...and More! was finally released with extra tracks to combat the bootleg industry. That being Poison's seventh album after the Greatest Hits: 1986-1996 album took its place as the sixth, fans were calling it "The Lost Album". Crack a Smile...and More! was a bright and raunchy series of party anthems such as the promo single "Shut Up, Make Love", containing few traces of the seriousness of Native Tongue. However it did host one outtake from the Open Up And Say...Ahh! session as well as two outtakes from the Crack a Smile session. "One More For The Bone" and "Set You Free", both outtakes, were originally planned for use as B-sides. In addition to the outtakes, live recordings from the 1990 installment of the MTV Unplugged series were included.
Later that year Deville released his solo album Samantha 7 and Poison also released Power to the People, their first album with DeVille in eight years. The record contained five new studio songs: "Power to the People," "Can't Bring Me Down," "The Last Song," "Strange," and "I Hate Every Bone In Your Body But Mine," the latter with DeVille on lead vocals for the first time. The remainder of the album featured live performances from tours during 1999 and 2000.
Poison's sixth full studio album, Hollyweird, was released on May 21, 2002. It was Poison's first full album of new material with C.C. DeVille back in the band. The album was heavily criticized by both critics and fans, feeling it had poor production quality and an unimpressive new sound. One popular site said "It's muddy, under-produced, badly mixed and features crappy drum and guitar sounds". Other reviewers were more impressed, such as Allmusic, who declared it "one of their best records, if not their best."
Bobby Dall on The Who cover single “Squeeze Box” stated,
...Actually, that was Rikki’s idea. When we came into rehearsals...to break the ice for the new record...before we started fightin’ and arguin’ about songs, we went through a list of covers and remakes. ...It was the song that stuck and I think it fits perfectly for our band. It has a great melody and a great vocal, but it's also kinda sparse and undefined...it was kinda like an open pallet for us.
Poison released their second compilation album, Best of Ballads & Blues, in 2003. It contains a new acoustic version with new lyrics of "Something to Believe In" and acoustic version of "Stand." Bret Michaels also released his 2nd solo album Songs Of Life. On January 7 that year, after almost 20 years with Poison, Rikki Rockett released his first solo album Glitter 4 Your Soul which was distributed online. The album was a tribute to 1970s glam rock.
During the summer of 2004, Poison was invited to serve as the opening band on Kiss's “Rock the Nation” tour. Apart from the release of Bret Michael's third solo album, the country-rock-influenced Freedom Of Sound, the band were largely inactive for 2005.
"Nothing But a Good Time" is featured in the 2003 film Grind. The song comes about when Joey Kern's character put in a Poison CD, which made everyone in the van start to sing the song and air guitar the solo. "Nothing But a Good Time" also appears in the 2005 film Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and in the film The Rocker (2009).
Poison live at Holmdel, New Jersey in 2006. Left to right: C.C. DeVille, Rikki Rockett, Bret Michaels and Bobby Dall.
After a year off, Poison returned to the music scene. They celebrated their 20th anniversary with a "20 Years Of Rock" tour in the summer of 2006, with fellow rockers Cinderella and Endeverafter opening. The tour swiftly became one of the most successful tours of 2006 in the U.S., averaging about 10,000 people per night. To complement it, the band had released an anniversary compilation album The Best Of Poison: 20 Years Of Rock, in April that year. The album also features a new track, a cover of Grand Funk Railroad's "We're An American Band", produced by Don Was. The compilation debuted at #17 with a first week sales total of 39,721, which marked Poison's return to the top 20 charts for the first time since 1993.
On August 1, 2006, Capitol Records released remastered versions of the first three Poison albums: Look What the Cat Dragged In, Open Up and Say...Ahh! and Flesh and Blood, in honor of Poison's 20th anniversary. All three include bonus tracks. Look What the Cat Dragged In features the extra track "You Don't Mess Around With Jim," Open Up and Say...Ahh! (which uses the previously banned album cover instead of the censored one) has the extra track "Livin' For The Minute" and an interview with the band, and Flesh and Blood features two extra tracks: an alternate version of "Something to Believe In" and an instrumental cover of the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen".
DeVille appeared on VH1's reality television show The Surreal Life in March that year, the same day he got out of rehab. "Your Mama Don't Dance" was played in the movie "RV" in 2006.
During the show in Atlanta on August 25 that year, Bret Michaels and Bobby Dall had to be separated by members of the road crew and the rest of the band after the two came to blows right before the encore, with Michaels throwing his mic at Dall, and Dall retaliating by slamming his bass into Michaels, injuring his knee. Michaels apologized later and stated, "You may have just seen the last concert by Poison in its current formation". The altercation happened before the band's set ended with "Talk Dirty To Me". After some tense moments and Michaels' apology to the crowd including his explanation that "like brothers, sometimes you have to air things out", the band did finish the set. Dall left the stage immediately. There have been many physical conflicts within the band over the years, but this is the first onstage since the fistfight between Michaels and Deville at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1991, but that took place after the performance, not during. The band took time out while Michaels continued with his solo tour.
On January 3, 2007, Poison announced on their official MySpace page that they would like their fans to help pick favorite classic rock songs for the new studio album that they are to record. The fans replied with suggestions like Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird", Sweet's "The Ballroom Blitz", and AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long", along with what might be an obvious choice - Alice Cooper's "Poison". On January 28, Rikki Rockett explained,
"The Album will be ready for a summer Poison tour. That is the plan, anyway. p.s. The songs we are doing are NOT what you expect"
On February 14, 2007, it was announced by VH1 that Bret Michaels is going to have his own reality show called Rock of Love with Bret Michaels, where women will have to compete for his love and prove they can keep up with his rock star life. Rock of Love premiered on July 15, 2007.
During 2007, Poison went on a summer tour with Ratt. They released their covers album, now named Poison'd!, on June 5, 2007 through Capitol Records. White Lion was removed from the tour due to legal issues, and Vains of Jenna took their place. The August 2nd sold-out show in at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre St. Louis, Missouri was taped for a live concert DVD and for a HDNet Concert special called: POISON: LIVE, RAW & UNCUT that aired on October 26, 2007 as part of Heavy Metal Halloween. The band also appeared that night on the channel's Sound Off with Matt Pinfield.
The band played at the Rock2Wgtn rock festival in Wellington, New Zealand, on the weekend of March 22–23, 2008. The festival also included fellow legendary rockers Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Whitesnake, and Finnish hard rock act Lordi.
Poison live at the Sweden Rock Festival in 2008
Poison played at the Sweden rock festival 2008. Sebastian Bach is slated to be the opening act on this Summer's 2008 Poison tour, also featuring Dokken.
On March 28 that year Rikki Rockett was arrested on suspicion of rape in Los Angeles after getting off a flight from New Zealand. According to police reports, a woman in Neshoba County, MS, filed a report stating that on September 23, 2007, Rockett sexually assaulted her in his room at the Silver Star Hotel & Casino located on a Choctaw Indian reservation. Rocket was exonerated of all charges on May 22, as it was discovered that he was not in Mississippi during the time of the alleged rape, and that a man by the name of John Minskoff used Rockett's name when he met the woman before raping her.
Bret Michaels also starred in Rock of Love with Bret Michaels (season 2). Both seasons were successful and led to a solo compilation album which featured a few new tracks heard on the series. The album was titled Rock My World and was released in June 2008.
Poison live DVD, "Live Raw Uncut", released on Tuesday, July 15, 2008, was filmed in St. Louis, Missouri during the Poison'd tour in 2007. This DVD/CD set will be initially exclusive to Best Buy stores and will include behind-the-scenes footage as a bonus feature as well as a live audio CD with selections from the concert. It sold around 2,400 copies in its first week of release to debut at position No. 8 on Billboard's Top Music Videos chart.
Also in 2008 a live CD version of the Poison DVD "Seven Days Live" was released.
In 2009, Bret Michaels starred in the third installment of Rock of Love called "Rock of Love Bus", and a Poison box set was released, consisting of 3 Cd's of music from 1986 - 2000. On January 14, 2009, Bret Michaels unveiled plans to team up with fellow rockers Def Leppard for a summer 2009 tour - ending a bitter feud between the two groups, plus Cheap Trick.
On June 7, 2009, Poison made a special appearance at the 63rd Tony Awards, performing "Nothin' But a Good Time" with the cast of Rock of Ages, which features "Nothin' But a Good Time" as a song in the show. As Bret Michaels was exiting the stage, he was struck in the head by a descending set piece and knocked to the ground. He suffered a fractured nose and a split lip requiring three stitches.
On June 23, 2009, Poison kicked off their 42-city Summer 2009 tour in Camden, NJ with Def Leppard and Cheap Trick.
In 2010, Bret Michaels currently appears as a contestant on the NBC reality television series Celebrity Apprentice on NBC and is also currently on his solo tour 'Roses & Thorns' to promote the upcoming release of his autobiography.
On April 12, 2010, Bret Michaels was rushed to the hospital after suffering intense stomach pains, and an emergency appendectomy was performed. On April 22, 2010, Michaels was again rushed to the hospital, this time with an "excruciating" headache. Doctors discovered that he had suffered a massive subarachnoid hemorrhage. He was in critical condition, and while some reports suggested that his condition had stabilized, others later stated that this was premature. On April 28, Michael's representatives reported that he was conscious and speaking, albeit slowly, for the first time since he was hospitalized.
In a news conference on May 5, 2010, Dr. Joseph Zabramski said Michaels has been released from the hospital and that "He's just one of those lucky people" and that "he'll make a complete recovery".
Since being released from the hospital Michaels has stated that he is contemplating marriage with the mother of his two children with whom he has recently reconciled. In an interview with People magazine, he stated:
“ As painful as this experience has been, I was given a second chance, right? I don't want to sit around every night worrying this is going to happen again. What I want to do is make a positive bucket list and say, 'I'm just gonna go for it.' There's just so much more I want to do and experience.
Getting married, for sure, is something I have never done. Kristi's such a great person. We'll see if that happens. But yes, that may be one of the big things on the list. My first goal is to get back (to) 100 per cent. I want to continue to rock the world, and I want to continue to love my family and be a good father.
* Bret Michaels – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (since 1983)
* C.C. DeVille – lead guitar, backing vocals, occasional lead vocals (1985 – 1991, 1996 – 2000, 2000 – present)
* Bobby Dall – bass, keyboards, piano, backing vocals (since 1984)
* Rikki Rockett – drums, percussion, backing vocals (since 1983)
* Matt Smith – lead guitar, backing vocals (1984 – 1985)
* Richie Kotzen – lead guitar, mandolin, Dobro, keyboards, backing vocals (1991 – 1994)
* Blues Saraceno – lead guitar, backing vocals (1994 – 1996)
* Tracii Guns – lead guitar, backing vocals (2000 – 2000)
Official Website: http://www.poisonweb.com/