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Poison (1983-present): a Glam Metal band from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, USA.


echanicsburg, Pennsylvania, USA 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 signed to 'Enigma' for an advance of $30,000. Their 1986 debut, Look What The Cat Dragged In, was an unexpected success going double platinum in the USA reaching 3 on the charts while spawning hit singles, including the sleaze anthem Talk Dirty To Me, along with 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 US charting 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 acts of the era. The album was originally slated to be produced by Paul Stanley (of Kiss) but scheduling problems forced them to select the equally competent Tom Werman. Touring with Ratt and David Lee Roth would further increase their fan base.

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Falling in line with act's "work hard, play hard" motto, conflict was a persistent enemy of the band. Bryn Bridenthal, head of publicity at 'Geffen Records', slapped a $1.1 million lawsuit on the band for drenching her with drinks and a bucket of ice at a music industry party. Then, 'Sanctuary Music', Poison's former management company, filed a $45.5 million breach of contract suit against the band. In this case, Poison retaliated with charges of mismanagement of funds. Michaels' frequent brawling garnered him further lawsuits in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Tallahassee, USA.

Because of their hairstyles, costumes and makeup Poison were considered a pat of the glam metal genre, 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 US and 5 on the other side of the 'pond', despite containing silly tracks like Unskinny Pop. Unskinny Pop, Ride the Wind and Something To Believe In ended off being gold hits as singles, however. That same year, Poison visited the UK as guests at the Donnington Monsters Of Rock Festival. Poison also received a letter from then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney thanking the band for contributing 20,000 CDs of the album Flesh & Blood to lift the morale of US troops during the Desert Storm campaign of the early 1990's, and their continued support of the US Armed Forces.

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. His departure was probably inevitable anyway for his cocaine addiction had begun to cause strife in the band behind the scenes. DeVille would be replaced by Richie Kotzen the next year.

Native Tongue (1993) saw the addition of a brass section by 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 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. The album was 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, Michaels and good friend actor 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 TV star Pamela Anderson, but he was 'dumped' by her when it was decided he was no longer savvy enough for her press image. The scandal didn't stop there, however, for the couple would unwillingly appear in the spotlight together, along with their sexual escapades, in the scandal sheets and on tape and television.

In 1999 Michaels and DeVille would settle their dispute with each other. DeVille would subsequently rejoin Poison.

After the Poison reunion DeVille soon released his solo album, Samantha 7.

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 Dall was rushed to the hospital due to a back injury he suffered 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 metal act.

Poison'd (2007) and the live effort, Live Raw & Uncut (2008), followed to luke-warm notice.

In 2010, an unauthorized biography was released titled A Shot of Poison featuring a collection of stories from over twenty years with the band by Christopher Long. Michaels also launched his solo tour Roses & Thorns to promote the upcoming release of his autobiography.

Since 2010 the act has toured yearly with several compilation albums being released. Despite all the glory and power the glam metal genre had during the 1980s it failed to sell to the new generation in any significant numbers; little new material has been produced by Poison, and other purveyors, since.

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