Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. was the birthplace of Poison. In the spring of 1983 Bret Michaels (Real Name: Bret Michaels Sychalk; vocals) and Rikki Rockett (Real Name: Richard Ream; drums) decided to start a band. Soon after, Bobby Dall (Real Name: Kuy Kendall; bass) and Matt Smith (guitar) joined in. Slash (of Guns N' Roses fame) once applied for the job but didn't get it.
Originally they weren't known as Poison, and only assumed the name after relocating to Los Angeles originally gigging as Paris. At this time, Smith left and was replaced by C.C. Deville (guitar). In 1985 they were signe d to 'Enigma' and their 1986 debut, Look What The Cat Dragged In, went double platinum in the U.S.A. reaching #3 and created three hit singles, including the sleaze anthem Talk Dirty To Me. Other hit singles included Cry Tough, I Want Action and I Won't Forget You.
Open Up And Say...Ahhh! (1988), the follow-up, climbed to #2 and featured their first U.S. #1 for the obligatory ballad track, Every Rose Has Its Thorn. Four other singles, including a remake of the 1972 hit for Loggins And Messina, Your Mama Don't Dance, were also featured. Time Magazine listed them, along with Metallica, as one of the top grossing act s of the era. The album was originally slated to be produced by Paul Stanley (of Kiss) but schedulingproblems forced them to select the equally competent Tom Werman. Touring with Ratt and David Lee Roth would further increase their fan base.
Because of their hairstyles, costumes and makeup they were considered "Glam", but in 1990 with the Flesh And Blood release, much of that image was removed. Flesh And Blood ended off being their most popular album to date and achieved number 2 in the U.S. and 5 on the other side of the 'pond', despite containing silly tracks like Unskinny Pop. Unskinny Pop, Ride the Wind and Someth ing To Believe In ended off being gold hits as singles. That same year, they visited the U.K. as guests at the Donnington Monsters Of Rock Festival.
Shortly before the release of their live album, Swallow This Live (1992), it became clear that all was not well in the Poison camp when the tensions between DeVille and Michaels passed the boiling point. The evidence was clear when the pair engaged in fisticuffs while on tour in New Orleans. The battle became public when it continued backstage at the 1991 MTV Music awards shortly later. DeVille left immediately after the ceremony. DeVille would be replaced by Richie Kotzen thenext year, while Native Tongue (1993) saw the addition of a brass sectionby The Tower Of Power Horns, and set them along side Bon Jovi as respected image modeled Rockers.
Kotzen's tenure with Poison would be short lived due to personal conflicts, causing him to be "dismissed" from the outfit and replaced with Blues Sraceno in time for the 1994 release of Crack A Smile. Crack A Smile, however, wasn't released as promised in 1994 due to Brett Michael's car accident; an accident that saw him loose control of his Ferrari, suffering a broken nose and upper jawbone, broken ribs and fingers and the loss of four front teeth. Thealbumwas further delayed by 'Capitol Record's' employee shake-up with the company choosing instead to release Poison Greatest Hits (1996), a "best of..." album with only two tracks from the Crack A Smile release featured. The album immediately went platinum all the same. During the downtime, Bret Michaels and good friend Charlie Sheen, started their own production company, 'Sheen/Michaels Entertainment', which saw Michaels write, direct and appear in several of the productions.
Michael's face was seen in the news again, this time in 1994 when he dated Baywatch star Pamela Anderson, but he was 'dumped' by her when it was decided he wa s no longer savvy enough for her press image. The scandal didn't stop there, however, for they would unwillingly appear in the spotlight together, along with their sexual escapades, in the scandal sheets and on tape and television.
In 1998 Michaels and DeVille would settle their dispute with each other. DeVille would subsequently rejoin.
Crack A Smile was finally released in 2000, along with another live album titled Power To The People, an album that also featured 5 new studio tracks. The subsequent Slam Jam Metal Jam tour came to a sudden halt, however, when bassist Bobby Dall was rushed to the hospital due to a back injury he suf fered on stage. Hollyweird (2002), the next studio release, and the subsequent tour would see Dall back in full form. But despite their more recent image adjustment,they still take flak from Heavy Metal purists and are still considered as a Glam act. Poison'd (2007) and Live Raw & Uncut (2008) followed to luke warm notice. Despite all the glory and power Glam metal had during the 1980s it failed to sell to the new generation in any significant numbers and little new material has been produced since.