Music: Poison

Sticks, Tricks and Lipstick Fix. Clockwise from top left: Bret, Bobby, Rikki, C.C.

An American Hard Rock group, Poison was formed in Pennsylvania in The '80s by Bret Michaels (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Bobby Dall (bass guitar) and Rikki Rockett (drums) before relocating to Los Angeles, where they were joined by C.C. DeVille (lead guitar) and quickly established themselves as one of the most popular bands in the Hair Metal scene.

Their greatest success was the album Open Up and Say... Ahh!, which included the number one hit "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" and peaked at number two on the Billboard charts, held off the top spot by either Appetite for Destruction, New Jersey and Hysteria. While their next album (Flesh and Blood) did pretty well, they were eventually undermined by the rise of Grunge, intra-band tensions and unsuccessful attempts to adjust their style to changing trends within rock music.

For many listeners, Poison is the group that embodies the late eighties glam scene (and less charitably, it's often cited by folks who aren't so keen on hair bands as one the reasons why the style sucks balls). They were famed for their hard-partying lifestyle, their seemingly endless bickering with one another and their ability to fill arenas and stadiums and sell millions of records even though music critics (and most metal fans) aren't terribly keen on them.

Still a popular live draw, they enjoyed something of a renaissance later in their career.

Bret Michaels has since become a VH-1 reality star, and has his own series of dating shows, Rock Of Love. He also won the third edition of The Celebrity Apprentice.


Tropes:

  • Breakup Song: "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", which starts out sad and melancholy and regretful before turning bitter as hell for the final verse.
  • Contemptible Cover: Their first album, Look What the Cat Dragged In, featured the band in make up so heavy they ended up looking like somewhat masculine women. Open Up and Say... Ahh! was better, but its picture of a creepy-looking demon girl was eventually censored (in this version, only her eyes are shown) to avoid provoking too much hostility.
  • Cover Album: They had one called Poison'd, which mostly consisted of their versions of older glam rock songs.
  • Cover Version: "Your Mama Don't Dance" by Loggins and Messina, which appeared on the Open Up and Say... Ahh! album.
  • Darker and Edgier: Native Tongue, which Richie Kotzen wrote the majority of.
  • Distaff Counterpart: The all-female hair metal band, Vixen, was marketed as a female version of Poison.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: On the cover of their first album (pictured above).
  • Hair Metal: Archetypical example.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: "Fallen Angel" has a line:
    It's like heads they win
    Tails you're gonna lose
  • Intercourse with You: Almost all of their songs.
  • Long Runner Line Up: First lineup, but second time around. Bret Michaels, Bobby Dall, Rikki Rockett, and C.C. DeVille lasted only 8 years the first time around (before C.C. was kicked out after a major fight), but they buried the hatchet and C.C. returned 5 years later, and the lineup has remained stable ever since.
  • Mouthscreen: A pair of lips sings the opening phrase in the video for "I Want Action".
  • Power Ballad:
    • "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" is a particularly famous one.
    • There's also "Something to Believe In".
  • Reality TV: They enjoyed a revival when they were featured on VH-1's Behind The Music, and Bret Michaels' has been involved in reality TV shows like Rock Of Love and Celebrity Apprentice (which he won).
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Their excessive tendencies were the stuff of legend in their heyday.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: paraphrased in "Nothing But A Good Time":
    I spend my money on women and wine
    But I couldn't tell you where I spent last night.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Banging Rikki Rockett's fiance was what got Richie Kotzen thrown out of the band.