Poison: Still Nothin’ But A Good Time

Since the 80’s, Poison has given us “nothing but a good time,” and served up some hard driving rock & roll as well. The band, initially named Paris, was formed in 1979, in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania and consisted of lead vocalist, Bret Michaels, and drummer, Rikki Rockett, who were childhood friends, as well as bassist, Bobby Dall, and guitarist, Matt Smith.

They changed their name to Poison and moved to California. Arriving in L.A., the group struggled to survive away from home with no family and no money, but they were determined to make it. Smith, however, was about to become a father and concerned about the band’s future and left the band to return to PA. Auditions were held, and were down to three: C.C. DeVille, Steve Silva, and Slash. Although Michaels and Dall did not initially get along with Deville, the band eventually agreed that his “fire” made him the best choice.

The band signed to independent label Enigma Records in 1986 for approximately $30K. Their debut album, Look What the Cat Dragged In, was released August 1986. The album shocked everyone, and became a surprise success, spawning three charting hits: Talk Dirty to Me, I Want Action, and I Won’t Forget You. It became the label’s biggest selling album to that time and sold over 4 millions copies worldwide. The videos quickly went into heavy rotation on MTV, earning the band tours with established rockers Ratt, Cinderella, and Quiet Riot.

Poison’s second album, Open Up and Say…Ahh!, was released in May 1988, and went on to sell over 8 million copies worldwide. It produced hits like Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Nothin’ but a Good Time, Fallen Angel, and a cover of Your Mama Don’t Dance. However, the cover was censored, creating yet more controversy for the band.

Not to be held back, the band continued their adherence to their “work hard, play hard” motto, and garnered a few lawsuits along the way, as well as Michaels’ frequent brawling in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Tallahassee causing even more chaos.

The band released their 3rd album, Flesh & Blood, in June 1990, but the band took a more mature approach to this one. Thealbum still shot to the top of the charts, selling over 7 million copies worldwide. Michaels said, “I think that the same way that we shocked people in the beginning with the look, this one might shock them with the music a little bit. This one’s the one that’s going to show that there’s a little bit of another side to the band.”

By this time, the band’s relentless touring schedule was taking its toll. After two consecutive years on the road, band members were at each other’s throats with personal differences and drug addictions. Specifically, DeVille’s cocaine addiction 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. Deville was fired and replaced briefly by Richie Kotzen.

Tensions mounted between Kotzen and the rest of the band, when it was discovered he was romantically involved with Rockett’s then fiance, and he was fired. He was replaced by Blues Saraceno. They went into the studio to record their next album, however, were quickly sidelined in May 1994, when Michaels was involved in a car accident when he lost control of his Ferrari. Michaels suffered a broken nose, ribs, jaw, and fingers and lost four teeth. While he recovered, the band shelved recording the new album, instead opting to release their first Greatest Hits album. After several years apart, Michaels and DeVille were able to patch up their differences, and Michaels welcomed DeVille back into Poison in 1996 to replace Saraceno.

The Greatest Hits reunion tour took place in the summer of 1999, with the original lineup back in place, to great success. The band continues to record new material, and release albums to this day, in spite of several “time outs,” legal problems, and numerous internal conflicts. They have also released solo efforts as well as collaborations with others.

I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention this: Rikki Rockett was wrongfully accused of rape in March 2008, then completely exonerated a few weeks later, when he proved he wasn’t even in Mississippi at the time. It was later discovered that a look-alike took on Rockett’s identity and was the perpetrator. That man was charged and arrested.

Both Michaels and DeVille have starred in separate hit reality TV shows; Deville in The Surreal Life, and Michaels in the now infamous Rock of Love, which gave us 3 seasons, as well as a few spin-offs.  Michaels also won Celebrity Apprentice and has appeared in numerous other guest starring roles.

Tami Danielson is the main in-house blogger and Director of Operations for Pop-Daze. She was raised in California and Florida and currently resides in Oregon. Tami has written for a variety of periodicals and has provided digital marketing services for a number of artists. She can be reached at [email protected]