Poison: The Glam Rock Kings of Hair Bands

By Chris McDonald | Monday Monday Staff -    2016-08-23

Hair Bands
Hair Bands


In the late eighties my older sister was listening to a new cassette on her stereo. The music sounded good so I wondered into her room, plopped down on the floor, and began riffling through her stuff, until I found a cassette tape cover with a square of four hot girls on the front. 

So, I say to my sister, “hey these chicks are hot.” 

She replies in a smug big sister get of my room way, “those aren’t chicks, those are dudes, that is Poison.” 

I was looking at the album cover of “Look What the Cat Dragged In.”   I will never forget that day.

Many groups in the 1980s can be classified as what is now referred to as ‘glam rock’ or ‘hair bands.’  

The list of groups that fit into those categories is long, but Poison sets the standard for categorization as well as stature within said category.  They were the epitome of both glam rock.

Poison (formerly known as Paris) was formed in 1984 by Bret Michaels, bassist Bobby Dall, and drummer Rikki Rockett, but living in Pennsylvania with no guitarist means not much rock star life style potential. 

They had three-quarters of their band, but they obviously needed a guitarist, and to get the hell out of Pennsylvania if they had any chance to make it in the music industry.

Following a relocation to Los Angeles, they held auditions for a guitarist, C.C. Deville of course got the job, but the band did make the infamous pass on future Guns ‘N Roses guitarist, Slash, who-well let’s face it- would not have exactly embraced being a glam rocker anyway.

With the band fully intact, the hair band bonanza was in full-swing, as Poison blazed the cross-dressing kick ass rocker trail.

Following the release of their first album “Look What the Cat Dragged In” (1986), the band became a blip on the national music radar with “Talk Dirty to Me” and “I Won’t Forget You.”

“In a decade fueled by party anthems and power ballads, Poison enjoyed a great amount of popularity, with only Bon Jovi and Def Leppard outselling them,” according to Gary Weber of Billboard biography.

“Open Up and Say…..Aah!” (1988) created a national Poison frenzy pushing Poison into the elite glam rocker category with “Fallen Angel”, “Nothin’ But a Good Time”, and “Every Rose Has Its Thorns”.

Poison was now part of the steamroller shaping the place of hair bands in rock and roll history.  They had gained the clout, respect, and ability to be rock stars.   

As with many things in the hair band era, usually the best and brightest starts did not shine for long, and sometimes when they burned out, they exploded.

Poison released “Flesh and Blood” in 1990, which included “Unskinny Bop” and “Something to Believe In”, but this album is final thorn in Poison’s rose.

A fairly messy end at that according to Billboard.com, “while touring in support of Flesh and Blood (as documented on the double-disc concert album Swallow This Live), the band began falling apart, and an infamous appearance on MTV showed Deville performing “Talk Dirty to Me” with his guitar unplugged. The band broke into a brawl backstage after the disastrous performance.”

C.C. Deville was fired from the band following the fight after frustrations mounted over his battles with substance abuse.

Poison has never been the band it once was since that time.  There have been attempts at substitutions and differentiating group members, but nothing that was the kings of glam rock Poison.

Rock and roll history is made every decade in a different way and in a different style.  The 1980s will always be remembered for having glam rockers and hair bands.

Forever, when discussing the greatest in rock and roll hair banders, Poison will always be in the upper echelon of musical rock bands.  However, the only band that be crowned King of Glam Hair Band Rock and Roll is Poison.

Chris McDonald

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