It became fashionable for rock bands and fans from 1992 onwards to ridicule the '80's bands esp. those who were bracketed in the "Glam Rock" category. These bands were said to have brought rock n'roll down to the level of a formula - the anthemn rocker, which would make entire areans to chant as one and raise their hands and the complusory 'power ballad'. The industry was stagnated with bands undistinguishable from each other, with band members that wore makeup, dressed in rags and spandex. And yes the hair, carefully groomed and teased hair that would make every young woman envious. Well while there may have been many such bands that seemed to be guilty of the above crime, there were the cream of the crop that rose above the rest and still continue to rock hard and release albums and tour - maybe not as lucratively as before and without all those rock cliches and over the top extravanganzes and perks that stuck to '80's rock bands like glue. One of these bands are Poison, now back to their original lineup after a couple of guitarists came and departed. The band may have had some hard times but they deserve respect and admiration for sticking to their guns when times got tough. Their true fans also need to be appreciated, cause it is easy to stay a fan when the artist(s) is popular and apprear on music channels and mags regularly, but to stay loyal when times are bleak is another matter altogether.
"We wanted to be flowers in the dirt", said frontman Bret Michaels when asked about their decision to mold themselves on the best of the New York Dolls, Kiss & David Bowie, all bands that were predecessors to the Glam era rock. Posion started in 1984 when singer Bret Michaels and drummer Rikki Rockett split up from their former band "Spectres" and decided to from a band that played more melodic rock. Along with bassist Bobby Dahl and a guitarist they set about forming a strong fanbase in their hometown of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the very fanbase that would soon extend to other cities and countries and would be responsible in Poison being around today. They would play free concerts evry weekend and play till all times of the night, honouring every request for songs. As much affection the fans in Harrisburg showered them with, Poison realised that if they wanted to stake their claim to big time success they would have to move to the hotbed of the pop-metal movement, Los Angeles. Their guitarist left the band not willing to leave everything for a shot at stardom.

Once they reached and settled in L.A. they set about looking for a replacement guitarist and when C.C.Deville approached them with the desire to be the guitar player the rest of the guys could not believe their good luck. C.C. was a major star in his own right on the L.A. club circuit and played in the band Stryper when they used to be known as Roxx Regime. He had also replaced Slash in a band called Screaming Mimi, when the Slash left to form Guns n'Roses. C.C. was a mean string bender and also an image man, who could strut his stuff and be charismatic on stage while knocking out great licks one after the other. With their lineup complete and the band members getting on just fine, Poison started working on original material and creating a name for themselves in California. Just like in their hometown, fans flocked to their shows to see the boys in action. Poison would send out flyers themselves and chat with the very people who were to be in the audience later on in the night. Soon they became the hottest unsigned band in Los Angeles and record companies sent their representatives sniffing about to see just what the hell
was all that fuss about. After long negotiations Capitol Records signed Poison in 1985 and the band retreated into the studios to create their first album. "Look what the cat dragged In" came out in 1986 and created a big noise when within a week it had climbed onto the #3 spot on the Billboard Charts. Singles "Talk dirty to me" & "I won't foregt you" made it to the top ten as well and the album was a big successful debut. Their names now famous Poison with the hits and their faces on the covers of music mags, the guys set forth to concert venues with more confidence. "I got to walk out on stage and play a 10 minute solo in front of 20,000 people every night" says Deville, which he describes as a magical and marvellous experience. The Poison gang were out to prove that beneath the glam and image were hearts that rocked with passion and intensity and they smashed the idea that glam bands were only image and did not have the chops to back it up. After the conclusion of their first tour, they went back to the studio and came back out with "Open up and say aah" in 1998 which went on to outdo the debut. What has been said to be their best effort till date, the album went to #1 on the charts.

Although it took almost 2 years to complete compared to just a couple of weeks for the first one, the songs on "Open up..." justified all the extra time that went into creating it. No less than four singles ("Nothing but a good time", "Every rose has it's thorn", "Your mama don't dance" & "Fallen Angel") were Top 20 Singles chart busters and "Every rose.." was #1 for 12 weeks. It was a song about a broken relationship and was topped off by a great solo by Deville. Now that they had proved that they were no fluke, Poison went on to become one of the biggest concert draws in the U.S. Bret Michaels established himself as one of the best frontmen in rock, full of energy and confidence as he sang the lyrics. C.C. and Bobby Dahl would run around on stage backing up Michaels and forming a good guitar/bass combination. Meanwhile, one of the best drummers to come out of the '80s, Rikki would leap out from his drumkit , run upfront ot join his buddies before rushing back to nail the final "tha thump" as the song ended. It was rumoured that the contract for one of their tours at this time called for dressing room supplies of Kentucky Fried Chicken, shrimp cocktails, Dominos pizza and condoms......boxes and boxes of condoms!

The next album is what I personally consider their best record, "Flesh & Blood", which reached triple-platinum sales and climed to #1 as well. The singles "Unskinny Bop", "Ride the wind", "Life goes on", "Something to believe in" were hits and Poison lapped up all that fame had to offer. Around this time, C.C. in particular had let the lifestyle rule the person. The guitarist started living life dangeroulsy, messing around with hard drugs and alcohol and that changed him from a fun-loving guy to a moody character. He himself admits that most of Poison's problems were his fault. Cocaine was the monster that had a grip on him, although he played great on the recent album. After another sold-out tour, followed by the live album "Swallow this live" recorded while on tour, the rest of the guys fired him and began looking for a worthy replacement. The decision was not easy as the chemistry that existed between the four of them was a special kind and that is not the kind of thing you can just replace. Guitar players came in droves for auditions but none gelled with the other three. Finally Richie Kotzen showed up, barely into his 20s but already with 3 well recieved solo albums to his credit. He showed up with a ton of ideas and songs, had a gritty bluesy voice plus the fact that he too was from Pennsylvania and Poison had their guitar player.


With Richie in tow, the band went in for a change in attitute and sound. They steered away from glam and decided to do something a bit more serious. The band sounded like a Southern Rock band, adding a gospel choir on one song and piano by Lynryd Skynrd organist Billy Powell and the Tower of Power brass section. The resulting record, "Native Tongue" stalled at #25 on the Billboard charts, good enough if you consider the changes in sound that they made and the fact that Grunge was at it's peak in 1993. I feel that this is a good album with some great song and it should be be dismissed so easily as it was by a lot of Poison fans. Things did not get any better, as Kotzen left the band leaving Michaels very bitter as he said in an interview, that he worked hard to promote Richie and had hoped that the guitarist would be around till the end of the band's career. Poison did not wait too long to search again and this time they hooked up with Blues Saraceno. Blues, like Kotzen had some solo albums under his belt and dispite his young age had established himself as a guitar maestro. Having also worked with Charlie Watts, Cher, Dweezil Zappa, Taylor Dayne and Michael Bolton he was used to the band experience as well. Sadly during the making of the next album Bret crashed his car into a telephone pole and the injuries kept him in and out of hospitals for well over a year. In the meantime the band released "Greatest Hits" with two songs recorded with Saraceno, who packed his bags and left during the inactivity that followed Bret's accident. Still more trouble was to come at their record label due to the fact that Capitol Records were undergoing a change of staff and many people who took care of the band were no longer there. Poison had to fight a long time from around 1997 in order to put the album out, even if the guitarist who played on it was no longer with the band. The three original members branched out individually, doing other things for a change. Rikki created a comic series called "Sisters of Mercy" and Dahl tried out playing with other artists. Rikki also started his side project "Glitter for the Soul" (with a release in 2000). Bret Michaels was the most busiest, as he starred in a movie for which he wrote the sreenplay & soundtracks (as a solo artist) and did his own stunts, "A letter from Death Row". The movie, with special guest apperances by Martin & Charlie Sheen, has Michaels play a criminal on death row and has his head shaved off completely in a jail shower.

They took their time but Poison have come out on top. The best news for the band and fans alike was that a clean an d sober C.C.Deville who had only played & recorded briefly in his time away from Poison was back in the lineup. It was due to happen and everyone was happy. The band started touring once again in 1999 either on their own or as a packed deal with Cinderella, Dokken, Slaughter and occasionally with Warrant (all once '80s successful bands) and gave hope to fans. Finally in early 2000 Capitol Records relased "Crack a smile" the long overdue album in which Saraceno had done all the records, but since C.C. was the guitarist once again, they included an unrealsed song from the "Open up and say ahh" sessions plus 4 tracks from Mtv Unplugged done in 1990.
Though off the road for over five years with virtually no radio support, no new album and no current single, Poison averages over 12,000 fans per show and sells out Detroit's Pine Knob Amphitheatre (over 18,000), thus proving the band's staying power and the demand for Poison music. VH-1 includes Poison in the highly successful series "Behind the Music". C.C. has also setup his side band - Samantha 7, and with an album released in 2000 has also toured behind it. Poison continued touring in 2000 and in midyear the first Poison album with C.C. since "Swallow this live" was released. Called "Power to the people". Unluckily for me, I have not been able to get a copy of this album, all I have heard are mp3 clips from the band's official website WWW.POISONWEB.COM (anyone with reviews on the album please email me). The Power To The People tour continues till the end of August. Details of the tour is in POISONWEB.com


All pics taken from POISONWEB.com. Poison history has been complied from magazine articles and from POISONWEB.com.

Vist :

The Official Poison Website
Bret Michaels's Website
Rikki Rockett's Website



Mr.Big : Get Over It (2000)
Richie Kotzen: Break It All Down (1999). JVC Victor-Japan
Richie Kotzen: Bi-Polar Blues (1999). JVC Victor-Japan
Vertu: Vertu (1999). Sony Music
Richie Kotzen: Wave Of Emotion (1998). JVC Victor-Japan
Richie Kotzen : What Is (1998). JVC Victor-Japan
Richie Kotzen & Greg Howe: Project (1997)Shrapnel Records, Inc Bass: Kevin Vecchione Drums: Atma Anur
Richie Kotzen: Intergalactic Fusion Experience Shrapnel Records, Inc Drums: Atma Anur
Richie Kotzen & Greg Howe: Tilt Shrapnel Records, Inc
Richie Kotzen: Mother Head's Family Reunion (1994). Geffen Records Bass: Chris Pierce Drums: Atma Anur
Poison : Native Tongue. (1993) Capitol Records Richie Kotzen: Fever Dream. Shrapnel Records, Inc
Richie Kotzen: Electric Joy (1991)Shrapnel Records, Inc SH-1056 Bass: Richie Kotzen Drums: Atma Anur
Richie Kotzen: Richie Kotzen (1989) Shrapnel Records, Inc SH-1042 Bass: Stu Hamm Drums: Steve Smith Guest: Jason Becker, co-producer

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania and now a resident of Los Angeles, Richie first began playing piano at the age of five and two years later inspired by a Kiss poster took up the guitar. By the time he was 17, he had travelled throughout the US playing over 500 gigs, opening for the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Greg Allman and The Allman Brothers Band. Soon he signed onto Shrapnel Records and released his first solo album, "Richie Kotzen". His excellent playing saw him grace the covers of every top guitar magazine and he won many guitar awards and accolades.His musical inspiration has included Motown greats Hall & Oates, Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton, Derek & The Dominoes, John McLaughlin and Jimi Hendrix. He has a very gritty, bluesy voice that is used to good effect in his albums with vocals, esp. "Mother Head's Family Reunion". His guitar sound had changed from his debut, which featured unusual high speed solos and fretboard wizardry. He has since opted for more a more blues based sound. The two albums with Greg Howe contains alternate songs written and produced by one with the other as a guest. Both were hailed as fusion rock classics. The "Native Tongue" LP features two hits "Stand" and "Until you suffer some (fire & ice)", both co-written by Kotzen. Then in lat 1998, Mr.Big asked Richie to join them as a replacement for their guitarist Paul Gilbert, who had opted for a solo career. Richie obliged and toured with the band. He is now a permament member of the group and recorde "Get Over It" with them. Headlining tours of Japan, South Korea and Indonesia were followed by club tours of the USA. Mr.Big are in the midst of creating the second album with Kotzen.

Visit RICHIEKOTZEN.com for more.


Transmission OK: Transmission OK (2000) Beyond Music.
Poison: Crack A Smile (2000) Capitol Records.
Blues Saraceno: Hair Pick (1995) Guitar Recordings. Bass: Blues Saraceno Drums: Josh Freese Guitars: Dweezil Zappa
Blues Saraceno: Plaid (1993) Guitar Recordings. Bass: Blues Saraceno Drums : Joe Franco
Blues Saraceno: Never Look Back (1992) Guitar Recordings. Bass: Randy Coven Drums: Joe Franco

Blues Saraceno was the first guitarist to be signed onto Guitar Records, at the age of 16! His debut album had been started the previous year and released as "Never Look Back". Guitar Records is part of the pioneering Guitar magazine. Blues has a great legato sound and mixes rock & blues with a little bit of funk. His total album sales from those three records having gone past the platinum mark, Blues was well on his way to being hailed as a 90s guitar hero. He was asked to replace Richie Kotzen as the guitarist for Poison and toured a few months with the band. The recording sessions spawned the songs that were to make up the new Poison album "Crack A Smile", but Saraceno left the band during a period of inactivity when singer Bret Michaels suffered an accident. Although he is credited with the songwriting, lyrics and playing guitars on the album (which was only released in 2000) Blues had left Poison in late 1996. He started work on another project, looking for a more diverse sound in order to sound more original, adding elements of jazz as well to his compositions. He has added vocals for some songs as well. The music for the album was written and recorded at his home studio, built at Ojai, California. All I have heard from his solo efforts are wav clips downloaded from his official website. "Annie Sings", "Deliverence", "Before The Strom", "Lighter Shade of Plaid" & "Last Train Out" are great tracks. Blues has made an apperance in tv's "Married with children" and has several side-projects. Moving further away from his earlier work, Blues has put together a band in which he plays guitar and sings, playing almost every club in L.A. in order to showcase the band. The project originally called Gorgeous George was later changed to Transmission OK and the first album bears the same name. He recorded the album himself and then sent it out to record companies. The album was released in late 2000.

Visit BLUESSARACENO.com for more

Pic taken from BLUESSARACENO.COM. Bio complied from webarticles and BLUESSARACENO.COM