VH1’S ‘BEHIND THE MUSIC’ ON THE LIFE OF BRET MICHAELS
October 2, 2009
The “Behind The Music” episode narrating the life of Bret Michaels premiered last night, allowing viewers to get an in-depth look into the life of one of glam rock’s famed stars. Bret Michaels took his seat in front of the camera to dish out how he went from growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania to rocking out stages in sunny California.
At the age of 21, Bret decided to form a rock band that at the time went by the name of Paris which included Bret on vocals, Matt Smith on the guitars, Bobby Dall on bass, and Rikki Rockett on the drums. After relocating to California, Paris became Poison and then began the Poison rollercoaster that would sky rocket to fame thanks to the band members and their reputation to party on and off the stage.
Living and performing in the very demanding city of Los Angeles proved to be too much for guitarist Matt Smith, which prompted him to move back to Pennsylvania. C.C. Deville would later win the group over with his impressive guitar skills and would later take the place of Smith.
By 1986, Poison signed to independent label, Enigma, and released their first album “Look What the Cat Dragged In”. The album did considerably well but not well enough. As a result of this, Enigma execs were ready to pull the plug on Poison. Thanks to Bret’s idea to shoot a video for one of the songs on the album “Talk Dirty to Me”, by 1987 “Look What the Cat Dragged in” went Platinum.
While Bret was witnessing increased success with Poison, his relationship with then girlfriend, Tracy Lewis, started to take a turn for the worst. Traveling on the road paired with the temptation faced by the hordes of “groupies” throwing themselves at Bret eventually caused him to sever ties with Tracy in 1987. Bret claims that the relationship ended when he heard a male’s voice in the background when he called Tracy at home. Tracy on the contrary says that there was infidelity in the relationship, but not on her part.
Heartbreak turned out to be Bret’s ticket to fame when he wrote “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, a power ballad written to help him deal with the break-up with Tracy. Bret explained the metaphoric al meaning behind the rose and thorn by saying that the rose was that his career was taking off, and the thorn was the fact that it was costing him his relationship with Tracy. “Every Rose Has its Thorn” ended up being Poison’s only number 1 hit record and became the 1980’s break-up anthem.
Poison’s new found success proved to be bittersweet as the whole band began to dibble dabble in drugs and limitless nights of partying. Bret, who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was 6 years old, could not keep up with the partying paired with an improper diet and eventually passed out during a show at Madison Square Garden. Bret best described the event by saying that “sometimes success can be a disaster.”
The group’s guitarist, C.C. Deville, started to fall into a deeper slump of excessive drinking and substance abuse as Poison experienced increased popularity. Poison’s constant behind-the-scenes quarrels bubbled to the surface when the band performed at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards. Deville was so intoxicated and high on drugs that he disrupted a performance of “Unskinny Bop” and launched into “Talk Dirty to Me” in mid-performance forcing the rest of the band to switch songs. After their performance, Bret and Deville got into a fistfight backstage which later resulted in Deville being fired from the band.
After Deville left the group, Bret started to drown himself in alcohol; an addiction that would almost cost him his life. In May 1994, after a night of drinking Bret hopped into his car and traveled down L.A.’s Sunset blvd. Bret would later find himself in a head-on collision walking away from the accident with a broken nose and ribs. He described the event as traumatic and said that it was weird seeing his own teeth on the floorboard of his car.
As Bret struggled to get back on his feet, the genre of glam rock began to see the end of days. Music videos and radio stations started to turn their backs on Poison. To help move past Poison, Bret turned his attention towards film making and Country music songwriting.
Bret spoke briefly about his sex tape with Pamela Anderson that made its way to the internet in 1998. He said that he and his ex-girlfriend Pamela were simply recording themselves like any other couple would for their own personal enjoyment. Unlike other celebrities that would turn the event into a lucrative one, Bret did not appreciate his personal life being revealed to the world without his consent.
Bret’s new claim to fame came via his infamous dating reality show “Rock of Love With Bret Michaels”; a show in which Bret admits to having a foursome with some of the contestants. The reality show succeeded at showing a somewhat softer side of the rocker helping to rev up Bret’s solo career.
Interestingly, Bret took looking for love using a reality show to heart and finds it difficult to understand why the love he found on his show never worked out for him. Perhaps it is because it is a reality show that isn’t quite reality.
As a music enthusiast that is not too familiar with Bret Michaels, his episode did the job of explaining who he is and how much of a contribution he and his band Poison was to the glam rock movement. His ability to evolve from rock to country music; molding to the standards of music and the culture today shows that even when Bret reaches the age of 99, he will still have a place in pop culture effortlessly maintaining his rock star status.