80s Hair Bands Revisited: The History Of Poison #moreclassywriting

Poison ~

Bret Michaels Band - ROT Rally 2010

Poison exploded onto the music scene in 1986 with their debut album, “Look What The Cat Dragged In.” Most people didn’t know what to make of them. Just like their idols, KISS, Poison came across as a makeup-wearing, highly glamorized, gimmick-laden rock band with little talent. However, American youth would soon start grabbing Poison’s albums off the shelves, and turn them into the next big rock and roll sensation.

Poison: Glam Rock Metal Goes Mainstream

Poison was originally comprised of four young men from Pennsylvania: Bret Michaels, Bobby Dall, Matt Smith, and Rikki Rockett. However, shortly after making the move to Los Angeles to join the city’s growing club scene, Smith would leave the band. Bret, Bobby, and Rikki auditioned several lead guitarists to take his spot before settling on fiery New Yorker C.C. DeVille as his replacement. The band then went on to sign with Enigma Records and set out to conquer the world.

The first single for Poison was “Cry Tough.” It barely even scratched the charts. However, fans started buying up the album, and the call for more singles came. Three more singles, “I Want Action”, “Talk Dirty To Me”, and “I Won’t Forget You,” were released from the album and thanks to video airplay from MTV, Poison became a huge success.

Poison’s second album, “Open Up and Say…Ahhh!,” started controversy when the album cover, which originally depicted a supermodel in demon makeup, was forced to be changed by the PMRC for violent and degrading artwork. The cover was changed to feature the eyes of the supermodel in a small strip across the cover. However, the album was an unmitigated success. The singles “Nothin’ But A Good Time”, “Fallen Angel”, and the power ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” were all hugely successful.

Life Loves A Tragedy

Despite these successes, however, conflict and turmoil constantly followed the band. They were slapped with numerous lawsuits, mainly for brawls that Michaels would get involved in after shows. C.C. Deville would develop a very bad cocaine addiction that threatened not only his place in the band, but also his life, and Bret Michaels, who is diabetic, would suffer several collapses resulting from his illness while onstage or immediately following a show. Poison was in jeopardy at times.

Their 1990 album, “Flesh and Blood,” became their biggest success yet, spawning four huge hit singles, “Unskinny Bop”, “Ride The Wind”, “Flesh and Blood (Sacrifice)”, and the very emotional “Something To Believe In.” While professionally Poison was riding a huge wave of success, inside the band things were not so well. DeVille’s growing cocaine habit had led to him being obnoxious and hard to put up with. It all came to a head at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, in which DeVille went completely out on a tangent and didn’t perform the song the band had rehearsed for the show. He was fired immediately backstage.

C.C. DeVille Gets Replaced

Poison hired Richie Kotzen as DeVille’s replacement, and headed into the studio to record their next album, “Native Tongue.” However, shortly after the album’s release, it was discovered that Kotzen had been having an affair with Rikki Rockett’s fiance at the time. Rikki, Bobby, and Bret were furious, and tossed Kotzen out of the band. He was replaced by Blues Saraceno, who would go on to record “Crack A Smile” with the band. By this time, grunge had taken over the music scene, and Poison’s glam metal sound had fallen out of favor with fans. Album sales were sluggish at best.

Controversy and The Downfall Of The Band

Bret Michaels continued to be surrounded by controversy after a sex tape of him and his then girlfriend Pamela Anderson surfaced and was put up for sale on the black market. Michaels was also involved in an automobile accident that sidelined him for several months. Poison was suffering, and they knew it. The band decided that the shot in the arm they needed was C.C. DeVille back in the band. So, DeVille was rehired as their lead guitarist.

Β Nothin’ But A Good Time – Poison

The reunited original members still tour today, but not without their issues. In 2010, Bret Michaels and Bobby Dall got into a fistfight onstage just before an encore set, leading to speculation that Poison was done. However, Michaels apologized immediately and the band has somehow soldiered on, despite slumping record sales. In 2012, Poison went on tour with Def Leppard, and the tour was considered successful. To those of us who are hair metal fans, we hope for more of Poison in the future.

What Was Your Favorite Poison Song?


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About Jay Crawford

Jay is a die hard sports fan {football and college basketball being his favorites}. His favorite teams are the Carolina Panthers and Tarheels and, of course, his alma mater, the Appalachian Mountaineers. He spends his free time listening to music, especially KISS, Def Leppard, the Eagles and a lot of the newer country music, and watching comic book and action movies. The more special effects - the better.


  1. My husband, aka the rock star (on my blog) tells me he knew Poison back in the day when his hair was down to his elbows. The band he was in opened for a lot of the big bands around that time. I didn’t know much about Poison, so thanks for the history lesson πŸ™‚
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  2. Where was I? I lived through the 80’s, I have no recollection of this band!
    thanks for sharing, i did have the hairbands though.

  3. I love Bret!!! I have so many faves! I want to go to a concert NOW! =)
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  4. I was not exposed to rock music so I don’t know this band. I guess I have to check them out on Youtube. πŸ™‚
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  5. I have heard of them but am not at all familiar with them. Thanks for sharing about them!
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  6. Loved reading this post. Reminds me of how awesome the 80s were. Favorite song has got to be Every Rose Has Its Thorn.
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  7. Love this post! I’ll have to share it with my husband.
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  8. Jenna Wood says

    I’m all for Brett Micheals, but I really am not familiar with Poison outside of the radio hits.

  9. I love Poison! Of course “Every Rose Has it’s Thorn” was one of my favorites. I had not idea about all that history though…it is very interesting! I think he really improved his image when he was on Celebrity Apprentice. Love him! πŸ™‚ It would be so fun to go to one of their concerts. I think it would have been very cool to see them when they were touring with Def Leppard!
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    • Dawn McAlexander

      I have seen Def Leppard {once with Joan Jett, once with Styx and REO Speedwagon and once with Styx and Foreigner} and Poison {once with Cinderella} separately. It would have been awesome to have seen them in concert together.

  10. Amber Edwards says

    My favorite was every rose has its thorn.

  11. Oh wow does this bring back memories!
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  12. Hmm, I was not much of a poison fan. I am probably more familiar with Brett Michaels from Celebrity Apprentice. πŸ˜‰
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  13. 80s music was just like the clothing. Excessive and fun and tragic.
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  14. I have seen Poison, but didn’t know much about them – Thank you for the history
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  15. OMG, I can’t even narrow it down to one. I love POISON.
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    • Dawn McAlexander

      Yeah, I think that is the same for me. I really love the entire Flesh and Blood album and their Greatest Hits albums best, though.

  16. Every song you list I start singing it..until the Native Tongue album.

    Favorite Poison song?? Wow…so tough I love many of their songs. Life Goes On is a favorite one of mine if I have to pick one right now!
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  17. Oh geez, I remember them! I was a fan when I was 12! That was so long ago. I feel really, really old now.
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  18. I’m not much of a Poison fan but I am familiar wit Brett. I was more into Aerosmith, Cheep Trick things along those lines. I still listen to classic rock and I don’t mean classic 90’s rock.
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    • Dawn McAlexander

      I love classic rock, too. And I don’t just mean from the 90s. πŸ˜‰ I think my FAVORITE era of music is that that included the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc. πŸ™‚

  19. I wasn’t a fan of any of the “hair bands” – isn’t that odd?
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    • Dawn McAlexander

      Nah, we all have our own tastes. πŸ™‚ My husband is a few years older than me and he was really mad {aka bitter, lol} when grunge came in because he was such a fan of the hair bands. I came it at just the right time to like both. πŸ˜€


  20. you are bringing back some old memories! man… those were the days.
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  21. I love Poison, but I also love anything hairband! I was totally born in the wrong era!
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    • Jay Crawford says

      I could introduce you to some awesome hair bands that no one has ever heard of! That music just died out way too early for me!

  22. Boy was I in love with Bret Michaels back in the day!

    I remember the first time my dad saw the cover of one of their albums… he asked who that girl band was, ha!

    thanks for taking me down memory lane!
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  23. I didn’t realize the band went through so much! My favorite song of theirs is Every Rose Has Its Thorn.
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  24. Every Rose Has Its Thorn of course!! That song still brings back memories every time I hear it and thank you for the walk down memory lane.
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  25. Thanks for all the Poison information and all the memories of the band and I love Brett 2

  26. I LOVE 80’s music….. Def Leppard, Poison, Bon Jovi…… My favorite Poison song was Every Rose Has Its Thorn

  27. I love Ride the Wind and Tell Me Why. Also Sweat & Blood Sacrifice.

    I read somewhere that he and the late, great Jani Lane from Warrant were good friends. Anyone know if that’s true or not?
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