POISON at the Texxas Jamm

Date September 30, 1987 / 1731 reads

Circus Magazine (Sept, 30 1987)
by Paul Gallota
Scans by Bob Mattingly

The day after Americas biggest heavy metal event, the Dallas Morning News critic would blithely refer to the Texxas Jam as "a musical black eye." But when the scorecard was finally tallied, there were only seven arrests for public intoxication and only a single bust for disorderly conduct. Not bad when you consider 80,000 fans of bands as diverse as Boston and Whitesnake baked together under 90 plus heat for 11 hours. A near miracle when you consider that the Port-0-Sams looked like Iranian hostage cells.

Only 11 people had to be treated at Baylor University Medical Center for heat-related ailments; the figure inside the Cotton Bowl was, however, estimated at being close to a thousand?though there was plenty of water sprayed on the crowd from firehoses. There were plenty of male (and female), rockers in various stages of undress. And then them was Poison. Most people picture the DallasFort Worth area as being redneck heaven, but if this is the case, its hard to understand how a band from Pennsylvania that wears more make-up than Tammy Faye Bakker on a bad day can go over so well. Never ones to be subtle about anything, Bret Michaels, Rikki Rocket, C.C. DeVille and Bobby Dall took no chances on that late-spring day. Not only did they appear in full regalia (a feat in itself considering the blistering heat), but to ensure a good reception, they shot the bulk of the video for "I Wont Forget You," the fourth single off the double platinum Look What the Cat Dragged In, on location. And if they felt they needed added insurance, they got it in the form of Kiss guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley, who joined them onstage for a hyperdriven version of "Strutter".

Backstage after their set, vocalist Bret Michaels seemed content to dissipate his post-concert adrenaline by bouncing off the walls of the bands dressing room. Clad in only a pair of light blue gym shorts. Michaels held three separate conversations simultaneously. Speaking to everyone (or perhaps, no one), he observed, "Texas has always been a special place for us. The fans here have always supported us, even before we had the album out. They were always extremely dedicated, so we figured, lets get them in the video. And what better an opportunity than to film it at the Texxas Jam?"

For Poison. the story of the Jam actually started the night before. While most of the other acts on the bill participated in either press conferences, a massive party at the Dallas Hard Rock Cafe or a stars studded softball game. Poison spent the night before playing at the Merm weather Post Pavillion in Maryland. "God. I felt like, Rambo getting up on time this morning," laughs drummer Rikki Rockett. "Weve been working on filming the video for -I Wont Forget You- for about three days now so we were all messing with that last night. None of us got much sleep But I did make it to the plane on time..." He pauses twisting his smile into a distasteful frown. "But I think I committed a crime. I ate quiche on the plane. And everyone knows that real drummers dont eat quiche...."

"Whats that got to do with you?" deadpans bassist Bobby Dall, bares chested and clutching a half-drained bottle of Jack Daniels. "Hey Bobby, sit on my drumsticks." snorts Rockett. Dall counters with an unprintable suggestion and the two erupt in a convulsive wheeze of laughter. "We managed to get here about 20 minutes before we were supposed to get onstage," Rockett continues, "So it was just a matter of running around. I didnt even get a chance to peek out at the crowd before we went on...," "I did," cuts in Dall. "I almost had a fucking heart attack. I died, my heart stopped. As I was walking from the dressing room to the stage, I sweated all the way through my clothes. Once we hit the opening chord [of "Let Me Go to the Show"], I was fine. I got a totally big rush." Rikki, turning his attention to a leggy blonde whos planted herself on his lap, picks up the conversation. "Were all usually nervous before any show, but because I didnt have time to look out from backstage before we went on, I really didnt know what to expect. In the arenas were playing with Ratt, you cant really see past the first few rows because of the lights. Playing in the daylight is different?when I went out and saw those people it blew my fucking mind," he intones in an awe-struck voice. "I was nervous out of my mind. Add to that the heat ... it was like I was playing under water". "Yeah." snickers Dall. "Usually the make-up evaporates by the first song. Out there, I sweated it off before we even got to the stage." CC. DeVille followed by a small entourage which includes his parents, kicks in the door of the trailer and announces "Im here, you may all rise." Disregarded by the other occupants, the bleached blond guitarist plow down in a chair, rolls up the sleeves of his Paul McCartney sweat-shirt and sighs loudly . "Two months ago when they told us about our playing here. I got a hard on," he points out, none too quietly "I had heard that Aerosmith would be on the bill?thats always been a fantasy for me, to share a bill with them. And then, having Paul Stanley onstage with us." he says reverently "I mean, the man is my idol! I still cant get over the fan/hero thing. Everytime he tries to talk to me, I cant hear a word he says, Im in such awe of the man. Hes incredible, hes my mentor, he helps me with my bowling and my softball..." "Yeah," cuts in Michaels, "but when you have someone youve admired for years sanction your band by actually putting his rep on the line by playing with you in front of 80.000 people...Im glad I wore brown, cause I almost shit in my pants. Plus the fact that there are so many great bands here...Tesla, Whitesnake, Aerosmith... it was magical." "Magical," echoes DeVille. "You had to many egos that had to be put aside to make that magic happen. Old heroes, new heroes, and all for the sake of the music," he concludes. "Thats what made this whole thing so special."