Bret Michaels, man. He’s sick. He’s got bleeding in the brain and they don’t know how to stop it.
Now, this is where lots of people will say things like “who knew that all those different strains of herpes and crabs (etc.) would result in an aneurysm?” or some shit of that nature but man…I like Bret Michaels. No, for real. I do! Hey asshole! I’m serious!
Okay, okay okay. Let’s back up.
Before Bret Michaels was an orange colored leather bag wrapped in Bandanas and Ed Hardy designs that starred on a reality show about whores, he was the singer of a band called Poison, and man, seriously, Poison was one of my favorite, FAVORITE bands when I was a kid. And they signified a key part of my musical development, which I’ll get to in a bit. First though, Poison.
Now, Poison was kind of like the Fall Out Boy of their time in that they came along after a few key artists had sort of paved the way for a boomingly popular slightly edgy, slightly repackaged genre of music to hit the mainstream and they kind of did it without the blessing of the underground or the other bands doing it, but they got super duper popular anyway. Here’s what I mean:
Poison was technically a “metal” band, as far as marketing went, but in terms of almost nothing else. Compare this to FOB being a punk band (Nerds: before you fire up your keyboards, I refuse to sub-delineate between punk and emo [especially in this dumb essay] and I further refuse to get into any sort of discussion that involves this kind of genre nit-picking. Those dudes [FOB] grew up in Chicago going to punk shows and listening to NOFX, named their band after a Simpsons character and play powerchords and sound like a ‘punk’ band at least as much as poison sounded like a ‘metal’ band. That makes FOB a ‘punk’ band for our purposes here. The fact that US weekly or whoever calls ‘em emo has more to do with how a braindead correspondent in LA repackages something in the service of trying to sell pictures of Ashlee Simpson’s husband to housewives in Tulsa than anything. There’s no one on earth who has a notion about dumb splinter genre distinctions that would hear “Dance Dance” [for example] for the first time, with no knowledge of who the band was, and call it emo…jesus fucking Christ. I’m wasting my time here. This parenthetical notation is over).
Furthermore, while Poison were heartthrobs who played stadiums, they were in no way accepted by their predecessors. Read “the Dirt,” and marvel as Mick Mars refers to Poison as ‘ruining the 80’s,’ or watch any interview with any member of Guns n’ Roses. Bret and his boys were mocked openly and often by everyone. Sound familiar, tubby little scarf clad pillsbury doughboy with the combover under all his velvet hats? Sure it does.
Of course, this was hair metal in the 80’s so there was a more overtly confrontational tone to the whole thing. You don’t hear Green Day talking shit about Fall Out Boy, but you don’t really see them hanging out either. It’s a different time, and FOB gets to instead hang out with Jay Z and the cast of Keeping Up with the Kardashians or whatever…but you get the point:
Part of their genre in hair only, lame dorks to their ‘peers,’ Fall Out Boy and Poison are petals of the same flower.
Here’s the other thing: people love the shit out of both bands. People who thought Motley Crue was too abrasive and didn’t like Metallica could still go to the Poison show and get the fuck down, and why not? Let’s be honest, they sounded a lot more like Bob Seger than they ever sounded like Sabbath. They were playing regular, inoffensive and bluesy rock to masses and marketing it as metal, to the great dismay of ‘purists’ like Mick Mars (which is hilarious, because Motley Crue has exactly three songs that don’t suck, those songs being Live Wire, Too Young to Fall In Love, and Kickstart My Heart and the rest is dogshit. Yes, yes it is. Oh, get the fuck out of here with your bullshit nostalga for an era you weren’t even old enough to wipe your own ass for. Motley Crue sucks balls. I’ve actually seen them live twice (!) and I left early both times. Why? Because they suck. Vince Neil sucks, Nikki Sixx suxx and Mick Mars, while probably the best guitar playing exhumed mummy on the earth, still doesn’t really stack up to his non bandaged brethren, and man, don’t get me started on Tommy Lee…that’s a whole other entry) and fat turds in record stores decrying the ‘death of metal’ as brought forth by bands like Poison and slaughter.
Well, here’s the thing, or rather, the list of things:
1) Poison, unlike say, Slaughter had some pretty fucking kick ass songs.
2) Poison was THE band that made me want to play the guitar (‘every rose has its thorn’ being the first song I could ever play and sing at the same time)
3) Poison had a great image and great videos complete with serious gender bending, stacks and stacks of wacky guitars, pyrotechnics, slo mo sweatiness way before it was cool, awesome live footage (the part in the ‘every rose’ video when Bobby Dahl passes out on the stage (drunkenness? Seizure? Rocking too hard?) is so ballsy in its vulnerability)
4) They broke up on stage at the VMA’s due to some massive wastedness and a total trainwreck of a performance (still better than Axl, that same night, butchering Welcome to the Jungle while sporting a terrible beard)
5) Poison dudes seem cool, even now. Axl’s a dick, Slash hangs out with that dildo from Stone Temple Pilots. Motley Crue is full of complete assmasks (though I loved ‘the Dirt’. One of the best books I ever read. It also confirmed my sneaking suspicion that someone needs to pee on tommy lee.) CC Deville is just awesome, all gravel throated and deadpan and hilarious. When he was talking about his coke mansion: “man, it went from the house of whores to the house of horrors.” So awesome, cuz his PA accent makes ‘whores’ and ‘horrors’ kind of sound like the same word. Bret Michaels, sure he bones drunk skanks on a lame tv show, but who doesn’t these days? He seems like he’s got a pretty good sense of humor about where the grinder of pop culture has spit him out, and good on him.
Okay, let’s make no mistake: Poison had some TERRIBLE songs too. Look no further than Unskinny Bop, the first song I ever heard by a band I liked that I decided was not just “not that good” but actually ‘utter dogshit.’ Of course that song, video cycle wise, followed “Ride the Wind” which was mind meltingly kick ass in a sort of Kenny Loggins-ian way, so maybe it was simply the dichotomy.
But ultimately, my point is, when I was a kid, I was listening to Guns N Roses, Bad Religion, Poison, Jawbreaker and Minor Threat all at the same time, and I loved them. I love poison for what they’ve done for me in terms of my rock and roll taste and personal history. And Bret Michaels is the main force behind poison and as goofy as it sounds (as goofy as it’ll sound twenty one years from now when some kid’s saying this about Pete Wentz) he’s kind of a hero of mine, so get well Bret. I hope you get to make another season of Rock Of Love (which I think should be set at sea, by the way: Rock of Love: The Deadliest Catch) and I hope you get to hang with your family and see yer kid and do all the shit you need to do, because well…you’re way too young to be bleeding from the brain.
Okay, is that everything? Are we good?
I’d make a joke about the wig and the bandanna and all that right now but, well, kind of seems tasteless under the circumstances, don’t it?
Get well soon, Bret!
The rest of you, take care of each other, eh?