Open Up And Say… Ahh! – 1998 – Enigma
Flesh & Blood – 1990 – Enigma
Swallow This Live – 1991 - Capitol
Native Tongue – 1993 - Capitol
Crack A Smile… And More! - 2000 – Capitol
Power To The People – 2000 - Cyanide
Hollyweird – 2002 – Cyanide
Live, Raw & Uncut – 2008 – Cyanide
Seven Days Live – 2008 – Cherry Red
MembersS= Spectres, Solo>>BRET MICHAELS [BRET MICHAEL SYCHAK]>>Solo
G= Lace, Screaming Mimi, Lace Slip, Roxx Regime, St. James, Samantha 7>>C.C. Deville [Bruce Anthony Johannesson]>>C.C. Deville Experience, Samantha 7, The Special Guests – Arthur’s Museum, Solo>>Richie Kotzen>>Solo, Mother Head’s Family Reunion, Mr. Big, Forty Deuce, Wilson Hawk, The Winery Dogs, Smith/Kotzen– Solo, Kingdom Come>>Blues Saraceno>>Solo, Ziggy Marley, Melissa Etheridge, Transmission OK, Lita Ford – Lace, Screaming Mimi, Lace Slip, Roxx Regime, St. James, C.C. Deville Experience, Samantha 7, The Special Guests>>C.C. DEVILLE [BRUCE ANTHONY JOHANNESSON]>>Samantha 7, The Special Guests
B= The Special Guests>>BOBBY DALL [ROBERT KUYKENDALL]>>The Special Guests
D= Spectres, Solo, Devil City Angels, The Special Guests>>RIKKI ROCKETT [RICHARD REAM]>>Solo, Devil City Angels, The Special Guests
HistoryPoison is the ultimate glam band. The band rode the wave of glory of the sub-genre in its heyday and correspondingly has been the subject of much derision for the same reason. At their height, the band and its members were on every rock radio station, television program and touring everywhere. The band, however, imploded both due to internal acrimony, inconsistency and the changing of musical trends.
The band is associated with the California glam scene, but was founded under the name Paris in Pennsylvania in 1983. Singer Bret Michaels, guitarist Matt Smith, bassist bobby Dall and drummer Rikki Rockett were - Michaels and Rockett were teenage friends - and idled time in Spectres. Paris was even featured in a French national heavy metal magazine at the time. Inspired by the Kix song of the same name from the 1981 album Kix, the band changed its name to Poison and moved to California in 1984. Smith opted to move back to Pennsylvania and take care of his growing family and the band auditioned for a guitarist. Among others Slash, who would later join Guns N’ Roses, applied, but C.C. Deville was hired for his attitude, chops and looks. Slash and Deville would walk by one another on the way to the audition. The band signed a deal with Enigma and issued its debut in August 1986. The Look What The Cat Dragged In – produced by porn movie musician Ric Browde - album exploded and with support from MTV made hit singles of Talk Dirty To Me (a C.C. Deville track) and I Want Action. This album could be the ultimate investment success. It was recorded in 23 days for $23,000 and sold 4 million copies in short order. Tours with Cinderella and Ratt followed. The group appeared at Texxas Jam festival. The band was heard on the soundtrack to the film Less Than Zero alongside Slayer and Aerosmith. Poison was in a legal tussle later with music publishers Warner Chappell, which claimed the song I Want Action was a plagiarization of the song We Go Rocking by Sweden’s Easy Action. A settlement was made.
Open Up And Say… Ahh! Was out in 1988 and reached No. 2 in the Billboard charts. The album was produced by Tom Werman (Kix, Stryper, etc.). Every Rose Has Its Thorns was everywhere – TV, radio and magazines. The album’s cover was somehow deemed controversial in the USA and the face of the devilish woman with a tongue lashing out was changed to focus away from the tongues. Poison, Warrant and Britny Fox toured. The band also played with Japan’s Loudness. The band’s former management sued them and was counter-sued. Flesh & Blood was issued in 1990. It was produced by Bruce Fairburn in Vancouver, Canada. This album was adapting to a changed landscape influenced by the grittier sounds and images of grunge and Guns N’ Roses. Yet, it was still Poison and neither grunge nor Guns N’ Roses. It was another big hit and Unskinny Bop and Something To Believe In were all over the radio and MTV. The band appeared at Donington in 1990. Bret wrote for and produced his girlfriend Susie Hatton’s album. The lifestyle, incessant touring and drugs had created a lot of tension within the band and Deville, in particular, was becoming erratic. The band issued a live album in late 1991. The band was invited to the MTV Music Awards in 1991 and with Deville high on drugs and alcohol proceeded to play Talk Dirty To Me instead of Unskinny Bop. The performance was interrupted, Deville’s guitar unplugged, a fistfight with Bret ensued backstage and it was left up to host Arsenio Hall to re-introduce the act and try to gloss over the matter. This was basically the implosion of the band. Deville was fired/walked off and promptly replaced by solo artist Richie Kotzen. Flesh & Blood shows were also cancelled. Dall was in rehab and Deville founded the C.C. Deville Experience. Native Tongue – there is that ‘tongue’ again – was less glam and more rock. It was also issued on Capitol Records. The band hired the horn section of R&B band Tower Of Power here. The album did OK, but nowhere near multi-platinum and the new guitarist was fired when he cheated with Rockett’s fiancée, one Deanna Eve. Kotzen was replaced by session guitarist Blues Saraceno. The band continued to play live and record soon. The recording for Crack A Smile was put on ice for months when Michaels was in an accident in his Ferrari. The label was not too keen on promoting a new album either and instead pushed a compilation with a couple of newer tracks. Blues was out of time and Deville was friendly with the band again, behaving less erratically and re-joined. Deville had a solo record and Michaels too re-recorded Poison tunes for his Show Me Your hits album. The next album, featuring the reunited line-up, was Power To The People. Hollyweird was out in 2002. More touring ensued. Michaels was focusing on is TV and solo career, but a tour with Kiss went ahead. 20 Years Of Rock was a commemorative tour and became a compilation album as well. Aiming to issue a covers’ album for some reason the band polled its fans and recorded Poison’d! Michaels and Dall went at it on stage during a show in 2006. A tour with White Lion was cut short. The band appeared at the Sweden Rock festival in 2008. The band then toured with Sebastian Bach and Dokken. Live, Raw & Uncut was a 2008 video. After attacking one another for much of 2009 Def Leppard and Poison banded with opener Cheap Trick for an American tour spanning the entire summer of 2009. Bassist Eric Brittingham of Cinderella filled in for Bobby Dall on the last few shows of the latter band’s tour with Def Leppard and Cheap Trick after Dall had to exit for personal reasons. Bon Jovi's Hugh McDonald filled in for Dall at the August 25th concert at USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City, Utah, USA. Bret was hospitalized in the spring of 2010 for appendectomy at first and internal haemorrhage later. He was 47 then. Another compilation came in 2010 and it was called Nothin’ But A Good Time. The band toured with Mötley Crüe and New York Dolls in 2011. Mötley Crüe and Poison had been slagging each other for years. It was also the band’s 25th anniversary. Yet another sampler was called Double Dose: Ultimate Hits. The band opened for Def Leppard in 2012. Bret Michaels was forced to leave the stage on Thursday, May 29th 2014 in the middle of a solo concert at the Palace Theater in Manchester, New Hampshire due to complications involving insulin shock and low blood sugar, along with other conditions like exhaustion. The singer cancelled planned concerts. The Special Guests, a new project featuring C.C. DeVille (guitar), Bobby Dall (bass) and drummer Rikki Rockett (drums), which also featured singer/rhythm guitarist Brandon Gibbs (Cheap Thrill, Devil City Angels, etc.), was to play at the Metal May-hem on Friday, May 29th 2015 at the Ava Amphitheatre at Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona. Rockett was also in Devil City Angels. Rockett announced he has throat cancer in 2016. He was cancer-free by 2017. History repeated itself in 2017. A tour again with Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe (who had pulled one of the usual farewell gimmick years ago) was announced, but postponed from 2020 to 2021 to 2022 owing to the pandemic.
Amidst all this, Michaels has been furthering his new Country, TV and merchandising career. C.C. is nicknamed after his favourite automobile Cadillac Coupe Deville. Will Doughty and Jesse Bradman have been live Poison keyboardists.
POISON - POWER TO THE PEOPLE - CYANIDE/ TREND
POISON - THE BEST OF POISON 20 YEARS OF ROCK - CAPITOL
BRET MICHAELS - ROCK MY WORLD - POOR BOY RECORDS/VH1 CLASSIC
InterviewsThe mere mention of the name Poison is cause for controversy on the metal scene. Regardless of where one stands on the 'metal or not metal' side of the discussion there is no denying the band's steadfast loyalty to the glam scene and the amount of fan support that singer Bret Michaels, guitarist C.C. DeVille, bassist Bobby Dall and Metallian's interview partner Rikki Rockett still Command. The band has remained one of the biggest draws on the North American live circuit and is doing the rounds again this summer, along with openers Cinderella where both bands intend to celebrate their twentieth anniversaries. In addition to the 20 Years Of Rock Tour the band has also just released a compilation called The Best Of Poison: 20 Years Of Rock. Ali "The Metallian" caught up with a jovial, lively and friendly Rikki on a warm Monday afternoon and reports on the latest with the Los Angeles glamsters. - 17.04.2006
METALLIAN: Hello Rikki, you have just announced a tour, but the number of dates seem limited. Why is that?
RIKKI: I think there will be more dates announced soon. We will announce Toronto soon, for example. By the time the readers see this our website (www.poisonweb.com) will have an update.
METALLIAN: Let's take it from the top, Rikki. Your most recent biography refers to Poison as "80s rockers." What do you think of that?
RIKKI: It does bother me personally. I think it is a narrow definition. What does that mean? I mean Cyndi Lauper was an '80s rocker, but we don't have that much in common - well, maybe my hair was similar to hers. A Flock Of Seagulls were '80s rockers and so was Megadeth. It doesn't mean much. I wouldn't want to narrow down Aerosmith like that or call the Stones '60s rockers! I think people are getting over that '80s rocker thing anyway. For a couple of years there, around 1999, it started to become retro-fun. Now people know that we are here to do business. They know we are not a cute ironic thing that is looking back.
METALLIAN: Having said that Poison has not exactly been productive recently in terms of releasing new material. Do you think that might be contributing to your being pigeonholed as such?
RIKKI: There hasn't been, you are right. We basically toured. That has been our career. We made a record called Hollyweird. It didn't do very well. It didn't have much of a distribution in terms of a major label. That broke our spirit a little bit. I think the new record and Capitol Records' involvement and how excited they are has renewed our belief and refreshed our faith a little bit in ourselves. We might see something productive here soon. I would like to do something here other just tour. I like to make records. That is a lot of fun.
METALLIAN: In fact, in the middle of 2005 you did announce a new album for this year.
RIKKI: (Laughingly) I think we lied! What happens... you know, we are not connected at the hip. One member will walk away from a meeting with a particular impression of how something is going to happen and the other members have different impressions. We all did think something like that will happen. We did go to Capitol and say we would like to release a new album, but they said they will release this 'greatest hit' CD and see how that does. They didn't think a new album would be a good idea. We were wondering how many compilations they want to release! At least, we got them to include a new song on it. They gave us their half of the bargain and we gave them our half of the bargain so I think we might finally do an album with them. The new compilation is #17 on the Billboard charts right now.
METALLIAN: The new song is in fact a cover version.
RIKKI: We went in and recorded Grand Funk's We're An American Band with Don Was. He has produced Rolling Stones, Dylan and artists I can't even remember. The fact that he has worked with The Rolling Stones was good enough for me. That was a really cool experience. I think capitol is now looking at Poison and thinking that this band is viable. It is twenty years later and they haven't missed a beat. They know we are not just messing around or just touring. It is not even a decision anymore.
Some artists go on a journey and they don't even know how it's going to go. Then they put it aside and say, "I've been there, done that. What is my next thing in life?" We think this is our life. This our choice. Our career was down for a while, but so what? I can't change who I am. This is who I have chosen to be. Poison has chosen to be this in the same way that Kiss isn't going anywhere or the Stones aren't going anywhere. I am putting myself with some big company by saying this, but it's OK. We have been around for twenty years. We have hung in there. It is a contribution in itself to do that because we have some stories to tell. We are not done.
METALLIAN: You have never denied your roots or the glam scene. I'll give you that.
RIKKI: Thanks. I thank you for noticing that. I do feel that way. I don't apologize for any records that Poison has done. There were mistakes made and I can point them out to you. I don't listen to our records and say that since one is my favourite because it went 'Top 10.' Some other people who became famous... I mean don't talk to Vanilla Ice about Vanilla Ice. I don't get that. I don't even get why he is embarrassed about what he did. So what? You did a song, you did well with it, whatever.
METALLIAN: I tend to agree. No one will respect you if you don't respect yourself.
RIKKI: Right! (Starts laughing) you said, in like five words, what took me seven paragraphs.
METALLIAN: Actually, interviewers appreciate that kind of a thing. Back to Poison though and a question on many peoples' minds. How are the members getting along nowadays? It hasn't always been a bed of roses in that camp.
RIKKI: It's volatile. I'll be completely honest with you. It worries me. It always worries me. I try to find some kind of a restitution so I don't worry, but I do. This is my family. I am married to these guys so to speak. I can walk away from it, but you know what, and I have said this to the band too, if I walk outside right now and get hit by a car it will be "Rikki Rockett from Poison got killed." They will put in the Poison part. I carry that cross no matter what I do. Now that cross is either something that I am proud of or is something that is heavy and weighs me down. This is what I am known for, I gotta make the most out of, I can't help it. I cannot change it. I can get famous for something else, but I doubt I am going to be more famous for something else. I guess I can do a porno or something. I keep saying that to the band every time we get into a dispute.
METALLIAN: Are you guys going to stick together?
RIKKI: I hope so. We have a couple more records and a few more tours in us. I think we would be dropping the ball if we didn't. We would be doing a disservice to the fans and ourselves if we didn't do it. I will do whatever is necessary to try to make that happen. I can't make people do what they don't want to do though. I can show up and do my best.
METALLIAN: Finally, how is your relationship with the guys from Mötley Crüe nowadays?
RIKKI: We might have our differences with Mötley Crüe, but they put together a nice show this year and they gave the fans a lot of bang for the buck. That is what I want to do this year too. It is all entertainment. I got into this because I enjoy entertainment. I want the whole pageantry to go along with it.
METALLIAN: Did you actually attend a Crüe show this past year?
RIKKI: I didn't, but I saw a DVD of it. You know, Nikki Sixx has a hard-on for Poison for some reason. I can't figure it out. I really don't. At one point he didn't want to be affiliated with the bands of the '80s. Well, where the fuck are you from? Whatever. We are doing our thing and they are doing their thing. We share a lot of the same fans. Nikki doesn't want to believe that, but we do. Rock & Roll is only 6% of the music market so why would we all fight amongst ourselves? It's beyond me.
Poison has indeed announced a long summer trek for the summer, which does include Toronto! Thanks goes to the dogged Tracie Galinski for making this happen and Rikki for being such a talkative and interested interview partner.
If you enjoyed this, read Cry Havoc