In 1984, BRET MICHAELS and his band mates packed up their lives and everything they had into a small van. In pursuit of a dream, they headed to Los Angeles from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Settling in Hollywood, the band found shelter in an old dry cleaners warehouse that would serve as a place to rehearse and a place to live. POISON, as they called themselves, began playing in clubs on the Sunset Strip. Decorating the stage with items found at a local junkyard. They were now ready to take on the impossible task of getting the deal They played sold out! Performing over the top shows and drawing bigger crowds than many national acts, record companies showed strong interest in the band but, they were apprehensive to move forward with a deal due to the band's outrageous attitude. POISON was also voted LA' s largest drawing act by Music Connection. Believing in themselves. They stuck to their guns and kept sight of making a permanent mark in the world of rock & roll. Soon after a string of sold out shows, an independent record label, "Enigma," caught the vision and signed . They Signed Poison to a deal. They received fifteen thousand dollars to make their first record. POISON's first record was complete, the music video "Talk Dirty to Me" aired on MTV. The video and single were a smash! They went from playing the clubs in Hollywood to playing huge arenas all over the world opening for bands like: Aerosmith, David Lee Roth and Ratt. Many critics pinned the band as a 'one hit wonder' but before those words could have any value, hit single after hit single were coming from their debut record that went on to sell over four million copies.Their next record, "Open Up and Say, Ahh..." went on to have five hit singles including the number one smash, "Every Rose Has its Thorn." The album sold over six million copies and sent the band on a two-year world headlining tour. Following with "Flesh & Blood," the band's third album came continued success; five hit singles including "Something to Believe In" and "Ride the Wind," numerous number one videos and another headlining tour selling out arena's around the world. Never relying on the POISON style, They dared to be different and under BRET MICHAELS' direction changed their style and sound with each record After the Flesh & Blood Tour, They released "Swallow This Live," a double-CD capturing the magic of the bands live shows from the previous outing. This album was a huge hit and even spawned a hit single, "So Tell Me Why." "Native Tongue" followed a year later and was launched by the hit, "Stand," a controversial crossover song written after the LA riots which seemed to bridge a gap when racial tension was at an all-time high. Another world tour followed which grossed over 45 million dollars. This tour was voted the top grossing tour of the year by Performance and Time Magazines. At this time, BRET MICHAELS' was named Playgirl Magazine's Sexiest Male two years in a row. A Greatest Hits album, released in '97, shipped gold. This was the best selling greatest hits' package of any other band in their genre and to date POISON has sold over twenty million albums worldwide. BRET MICHAELS has also written hit songs for many other artists including Stevie Nicks, Kyle Level, Tuff and 1998 Country Music Awards Artist of the Year nominee, Rhett Aikins. Ready to spread his wings into another arena of the entertainment industry, BRET MICHAELS created an idea for a film, (spawned by the fact that Michaels scripted and story boarded over 20 videos with POISON ) wrote the script, moved to Nashville, Tennessee and went on to executive produce, direct, score and star in A Letter from Death Row . BRET MICHAELS' is making history on this project by being the only musician to Executive Produce, Write, Direct, and Score as well as record the entire soundtrack (not to mention stunts, camera operator and yes, caterer). The picture was shot in the Tennessee State Prison, using real inmates as extras and Death Row as a location. In the process of posting the film, BRET MICHAELS showed his long time friend, Charlie Sheen, a rough edit. After Charlie viewed "A Letter from Death Row," he sat in awe of the fact that his friend, who had never picked up a camera, had gone off and made a great film. After commending BRET MICHAELS work, Charlie offered to appear in the film and present the project to his father, Martin Sheen, about playing BRET MICHAELS dad in the picture. It was this project that spawned Sheen/Michaels Entertainment, a company that BRET MICHAELS and Sheen partnered to produce films and records. Supporting "A LETTER FROM DEATH ROW" is BRET MICHAELS first solo album. All the songs were written and performed by BRET MICHAELS and have all the flavor of his former hits which include: The Last Breath, "Devil Inside," "Human Zoo," "Times Likes These" etc.. Released through BRET MICHAELS label Poor Boy Records and distributed through Unity/ SONY/RED, the soundtrack hits stores Oct. 6 with a tour to follow. "No Code of Conduct" is Sheen/Michaels' first feature film venture. The picture was scored, produced, co-written and directed by BRET MICHAELS. This action-drama stars Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, Joe Lando, Mark Dacascos and BRET MICHAELS. Filmed on location in Phoenix, Arizona, the picture will be released internationally through Millennium and distributed in the U.S. through Miramax/Dimension Films. Other projects that BRET MICHAELS has sphere headed in the last year include: "Free Money," a dark action-comedy starring Marlon Brando, Mira Sorvino, Charlie Sheen and Donald Sutherland. Filmed in Canada, "Free Money" will be released through October Films; "Street Pirates," a docu-drama where five-time Emmy Award winning filmmaker, Lee Stanley, takes seven kids from a maximum security prison and trains them to compete in one of the largest regatta's off the West Coast.
In late 1982, an ad in the local newspaper prompted guitarist Matt Smith to join singer Bret Michaels, drummer Rikki Rockett (the two met one day when Rikki, a hairdresser, came to Bret's house to cut his sister's hair) and bassist Bobby Dall. After writing several songs and playing local shows, they changed their name from Paris to Poison.
In March of 1984, the unsigned band moved from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Los Angeles, California in hopes of making it big. Guitarist Matt Smith decided to leave the band, but he agreed to help find a new guitarist. After over a hundred applicants, the band chose C.C. DeVille (over Slash, of Guns N Roses fame, interestingly enough), and the current lineup was born.
Interestingly, their real names are: Bret Michael Sychak (Bret Michaels), Alan Ream (Rikki Rockett), Bruce Anthony Johannesson (C.C. DeVille), and Harry Kuykendall (Bobby Dall).
After playing LA clubs for a few years, the band was finally signed by Enigma Records, where they recorded their debut album, Look What the Cat Dragged In, in only 12 days for only $23,000. To almost everyone's surprise, the record spawned 3 top 10 hits; I Want Action, Talk Dirty to Me, and I Won't Forget You.
After touring with bands like Cinderella and Ratt and selling over 2 million copies of their album, the band went back to LA to record their follow-up smash hit, Open Up and Say... Ahh! This album outsold the first by millions, selling 5 million in the US alone. Hits off this album included Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Fallen Angel, Nothin' But a Good Time, and the cover tune, Your Mama Don't Dance. After a tour which included former Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth, the band went back to record their third album.
In July of 1990, Poison released Flesh & Blood. Hits included the energetic Unskinny Bop, the sentimental Something To Believe In, the rockin' Ride the Wind, and the slow tune Life Goes On. After a worldwide tour which was recorded, the band released their fourth album, Swallow This Live. This two CD set included all their major hits live plus 4 new studio tracks.
Unfortunately, after the release of Swallow This Live, guitarist C.C. DeVille was fired from the band. He has since revealed that the reason for his departure was a drug and alcohol problem which he has since overcome. To replace C.C. at guitar, however, the band hired guitar whiz Richie Kotzen. The result was an excellent bluesy album called Native Tongue. Despite the amazing music on this disc, it didn't do well commercially because of the drastic change in image and sound. Soon after the tour to support Native Tongue, Richie Kotzen was fired from the band due to personal conflicts.
The next guitarist to fill C.C.'s shoes was another guitar whiz, Blues Saracino. With Blues, Poison recorded another excellent disc, Crack a Smile. However, due to problems with the record company, this album was shelved and can now only be obtained as a bootleg. You can see it reviewed here, and you can also listen to sound clips from various songs.
Instead of releasing Crack a Smile, Capitol Records decided to release a Greatest Hits disc to commemorate the band's 10 years of success. The result was Poison's Greatest Hits 1986-1996. In addition to all their greatest hits, this album also included two new songs which were originally meant for Crack a Smile: Sexual Thing and Lay Your Body Down. Unfortunately, this album didn't get enough of a budget for the band to release any new singles or videos.
C.C. DeVille rejoined Poison right before the release of the greatest hits collection. Currently, the band is writing individually in hopes to meet soon to craft yet another Poison masterpiece. In the mean time, Bret is working on his movies (in conjunction with Charlie Sheen) and is supporting his Letter From Death Row CD. Rikki is writing his own comic book series called Sisters of Mercy. Bobby and C.C. are both working on their own in anticipation of the next Poison record. For more updated news, check out the news page.
1982 - 84 Poison. After many discussions with the other members of Spectres, Bret and I decided in a parking lot one day that we needed to do what we always wanted to see in a band. We wanted high energy rock coupled with all of our glitter influences, pop songs with a punk edge and a stage show that would make Kiss proud. We began looking for the third member.
Bobby Dall was just leaving a Zeppelin cover band when I had heard that there was a guy willing to do anything to make it. He was a guitarist turned bass player and had black hair. If he had the right attitude, that's all we cared about. If he couldn't play that well, he'd learn. We were sick of the jaded litter in our small town.
Bret and I jammed with Bobby for fifteen minutes and knew he was right. He helped change our minds about how we did things and *Poison was born a half hour later.
In an answer to an ad in the paper, Matt Smith walked into our lives. He sounded like Joe Perry and in a time when everybody sounded like K.K. Downing, we were stoked!
Poison played everywhere and anywhere. Small bars, clubs, opening gigs and our "ace in the hole"... the infamous skating-rink concerts. * Poison was first called the Kidz and then changed to Paris. Paris became Poison in 1984 when we moved to the West Coast.
1984 Poison had to move. We weren't the nice little clubbing band that PA and Maryland wanted us to be. Hard rock was on the rise and it was all coming from the West Coast. We wanted to be original and play our own material. The clubs wanted cover songs and people to drink a lot of beer.
We left for California in March of '84' in a van that was converted from an old ambulance. It was "sink or swim". We had $800 dollars between us and that ran out fast. We lived hand to mouth and knocked on every door. We had our gear and each other. ( At the time I had a 1981 Pearl kit and a mixed array of cymbals with a 1972 Slingerland snare. ) We also had a drum riser that we had stolen from a high school back in PA.
We wrote songs, hustled gigs, put flyers up everywhere, spray painted walls, wrote lies about ourselves in women's restrooms and practiced.
1986 Poison had been turned down by every record label at least twice even though we were the top drawing band in Los Angeles by now. We were working off a demo that Jim Faraci had produced and got financed through Atlantic Records (Atlantic passed on us by the way).
We finally got a break from an Indie Label called Enigma. We made our first record in twelve days with $30,000. Herman Rarebell from the Scorpions lent me a Ludwig kit for the record. (Thanks Herman!) I changed my name officially to Rikki Rockett and considered myself as finally "going pro".
Mike Morse from Zildian Cymbals gave me my first endorsement deal (Thanks for believing in me Mike!) and I played Zildjian up until recently. (I recently signed with Paiste Cymbals.) I was still playing the Pearl kit.
Late 1986 we hit the road in a camper with Quiet Riot. (Quiet Riot had a tour bus). With the exception of Frankie Banalli the drummer, we were treated like shit on that tour. (Thanks Frankie for making it bearable.)
1987 - 1999 What can I say, it's been an unbelievable road and life that I have led so far. Poison has taken me around the world eight times and allowed me to express myself both as a drummer and a songwriter. After seven records selling more than 17 million copies and 12 top ten hits there are still people who doubt Poison. I've been doubted all my life and I still have what I really care about to show for it... my career as a musician!
I can't control the press or people's perceptions about me or Poison, but I can control my music and my drumming. To this, I am dedicated.