When people harken back to the big-hair hard rock bands of the '80s, Poison never fails to come to mind. Coming in behind Bon Jovi and Def Leppard, Poison was one of the top three best-selling bands of the era.
Formed by singer Bret Michaels, guitarist C.C. Deville (who topped Slash in the auditions), drummer Rikki Rockett, and bassist Bobby Dall in 1984, Poison teased it up and out on the Sunset Strip. Their efforts paid off with a record deal and a 1986 debut with Look What the Cat Dragged In. Two million records and two Top 40 hits later ("Talk Dirty to Me" and "I Won't Forget You"), Poison was on top of the world.
Then, with 1988's Open Up & Say...Ahhh!, they pretty much took over the world. Three more massive hits – "Fallen Angel," "Nothin' But a Good Time," and the number one "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" – and a sell-out tour with David Lee Roth pumped up their egos and bank accounts.
By the time 1990's Flesh and Blood came around, the pop-metal scene was starting to fade. Two singles, "Unskinny Bop" and "Something to Believe In," did okay, and the album went multi-platinum, but the tides were shifting. Their subsequent tour was captured on the double Swallow This Live album.
The beginning of the end was made even more evident during (and after) an MTV performance of "Talk Dirty to Me" in which Deville's guitar was unplugged. The band came to fisticuffs backstage after the show. Soon enough, the drug-addled Deville was handed his walking papers.
In his place came the young Richie Kotzen for Native Tongue in 1993. The album all but tanked and Kotzen got the boot while on tour. Blues Saraceno got the call for Crack a Smile which got put on hold for Greatest Hits: 1986-1996.
Saraceno departed and Deville returned, a coming together that resulted in Poison's 1999 reunion tour. Crack a Smile finally saw daylight in 2000, followed in short order by Power to the People – a collection of 12 live tunes and five new one. When Dall suffered a back injury, the supporting tour was cut short.
Once Dall was back in the saddle, Poison went back to the studio for 2002's Hollyweird. VH1 ponied up some promo support for a tour and a partnership was born with Deville appearing in The Surreal Life (season six) and Michaels starring in Rock of Love with Bret Michaels for two seasons. He also starred in the Rock of Love series.
Hollyweird didn't fare so well, so Michaels and Rockett tried their hand at solo projects. For the band's 20th anniversary in 2006, Poison issued another greatest-hits set and hit the road. Nostalgia must have been the order of the day because The Best of Poison: 20 Years of Rock entered the album charts inside the Top 20.
Somehow, Poison managed to keep the motor running for 2007's Poison'd! covers collection. The following year saw the Seven Days Live DVD release with 2009 being marked by a performance of “Nothin' But a Good Time” on the Tony Awards along with the Rock of Ages cast. That same year, Poison teamed up with Cheap Trick and Def Leppard for a U.S. tour.
Michaels went back to the solo thing in 2010 with a tour, an autobiography (Roses & Thorns), a solo album (Custom Built), a victory on Celebrity Apprentice, and yet another VH1 series (Bret Michaels: Life As I Know It). Poison also had its moment in the 2010 sun with the release of Nothin' But A Good Time: The Poison Collection which combined Swallow This Live and The Best of Poison into one package.
For 2011, it was back to the stage. This time Poison recruited Motley Crue and New York Dolls for a joint tour dubbed the Glam-a-Geddon. Poison - Double Dose: Ultimate Hits was also issued to mark their 25th anniversary.