Monday, December 5, 2016

C'MON! (Chapter Nine: Ice Cream Cake)

My Story of Rock, Ruin and Revelation
(The 5th Anniversary Edition)
- Christopher Long -


Ice Cream Cake

After spending the preceding decade establishing myself as a writer, I signed with a publishing house in 2009 to write a book based on my personal experiences with the self-proclaimed “Glam Slam Kings of Noise,” Poison. Entitled A Shot of Poison, my behind-the-scenes memoir arrived in stores and at online retailers via CG Publishing on April 1, 2010.

The group’s bassist, Bobby Dall, and I both spent our teenage years growing up in Melbourne, Florida. Upon hitting the big time, Bobby returned to Florida from Los Angeles, purchasing an oceanside home just south of where I still lived in Melbourne. Although we didn’t know each other as kids, I was delighted to become friends with him in our adult lives through mutual acquaintances. After years of developing my friendship with Bobby and cementing a solid reputation as a music journalist to his fellow bandmates, I graduated to become a member of Poison’s official touring staff in 2006. Over the next couple of years I would travel with the band as one of Bobby’s personal assistants on various stretches of their national concert tours. Many of my experiences with Poison were amazing. Many of them sucked. And I felt that if my book was going to have any value, I had to offer open and honest accounts of both sides of my Poison experiences.


Brutally honest and totally
transparent, my first book arrived
in stores on April Fools Day 2010.
By 2010 Poison had recorded only one full length record’s worth of new, original material in eight years. What new songs were included in their otherwise now predictable concert set list were cover versions of other musician’s hits that were as tired as some of their own. And in my view, frontman Bret Michaels’ painfully obvious, burning desire to achieve solo success indicated clearly that the chance of Poison ever delivering “Talk Dirty to Me - II,” although plausible, likely was slim at best — hence I had no interest in simply regurgitating another one of my many feel-good Poison features. I needed to offer something fresh and unique — something personal and real.

As advance word of my soon-to-be released book began to get out, I was informed privately by one Poison staff member that I had “caused a sh-t storm” within the band’s organization. But drummer Rikki Rockett called me in February 2010 and was quite cool. “I’m not calling to yell at you about the book,” he assured me quickly. “I just have a few questions,” he added. After addressing his concerns, we went on to have a lovely half hour conversation. “I’m surprised there aren’t 20 books out on us already,” Rikki admitted as he wished me well with the project. I never was contacted personally by Bret or guitarist C.C. DeVille. However, a couple of Poison insiders who I perceived to be speaking on Bret’s behalf did confess to me that Bret was the most upset of the four band members. It’s funny that in 2004 Bret autographed my arm in Nashville. I immediately had the signature tattooed (those things are permanent, ya know) and he thought I was a swell guy. But by 2010 his level of fondness for me reportedly had diminished considerably.


Backstage with Bret Michaels.
(Nashville - 2004)
A month or so prior to the book’s release, I was invited under what I thought were friendly terms to meet with two longtime Poison crew members who coincidentally were in Melbourne for the day. They both were touring with another band at the time, that happened to be performing at a nearby concert hall. I was eager to meet with them, as I had worked with both individuals over the years while touring with Poison. It was all "huggie huggie" upon my arriving backstage at the venue that afternoon. However, after exchanging a few initial pleasantries, one of the two quickly ducked out of the venue’s production office while the other directed the conversation immediately toward A Shot of Poison. And he was obviously agitated.

“You’re playing with fire,” he warned — shaking his finger in my face. “But maybe you’ll get lucky. Maybe the band will perceive this as a case of all press being good press,” he speculated. I told him that was exactly my train of thought when I wrote it. “BULL SH-T,” he fired back. “You don’t care about this band. You wrote a book to make a pile of money!” He further added that he hoped that my back was “securely covered.” When I asked if he meant "covered" legally or physically, he replied, “Both.” He also informed me that if anyone in the band took issue with even one sentence in the book, my life would be “destroyed.”

He ended our disturbing chat by enlightening me to my personal financial status. “You’re broke!” he told me. “And we know you’re broke. When these guys sue you, you won’t even be able to afford to show up in court to defend yourself. And when the authorities show up at your door and haul you away for ‘failure to appear,’ maybe then you’ll reconsider having written this book.”


Although I tried to display a cool demeanor during the meeting, I left the room feeling quite insulted and a bit freaked out. But I definitely took the conversation seriously. And to make certain that my back was “securely covered” legally, I immediately retained a prominent publishing attorney in New York. I then reported what I perceived as a physical threat to local law enforcement officials. I now had the peace of mind that I was reasonably protected. And due in part to my last minute legal expenses, concerned parties can now all sleep at night knowing that despite ranking among Amazon’s top-selling rock titles in the summer of 2010, I did NOT, in fact, make “a pile of money” from A Shot of Poison.

At the time, most media outlets were focused completely on Bret’s solo exploits and mega-hyped health issues. And it seemed that perhaps Poison now was becoming perceived merely as Bret’s former back-up band. But in 2010, one guy was publicly discussing Poison as a relevant band with a potentially bright future — and that guy was me!

Okay, so maybe Poison members did appear in my book to be occasionally arrogant, egomaniacal lunatics. But hey, they’re rock stars. They’re supposed to be arrogant, egomaniacal lunatics. That’s part of their appeal. Had I written a book about Wall Street, I would likely have told tales of guys who wear suits, carry briefcases and possibly engage in unethical behavior. I believe most readers would have been disappointed with simply a press release-type book revealing how their favorite rockers are charming and well-adjusted personalities. Fans want their rock and roll heroes to have an edge. And Bobby Dall definitely has an edge. To me, Bobby is one of rock’s most fascinating and compelling characters and that’s how he was portrayed in A Shot of Poison.

Pre-show dressing room hijinx with
Bobby Dall while on tour with Poison.
(Tampa, FL - 2006)

I finally received a phone call from Bobby regarding the book just one week before its release — our first communication in several months. From uncomfortable to comical, our conversation reached various levels of intensity for nearly an hour. At one point he asked me to send him an autographed copy of the book. I did. And on the day it was to have arrived at Bobby’s house, I noticed that I’d been coincidentally deleted from the Facebook “Friends” lists of his closest confidants. I also became the immediate target of nasty, personal online commentary posted by band staffers with whom I once worked.

I remember getting a call in late March from Rob Godwin, CEO of my publisher. He was letting me know that the book had been printed and was being shipped to distributors nationwide that day. “Congratulations,” he told me. “You’re now a published author.” GULP! According to the aforementioned Poison insider, it was now only a matter of days before my life would be “destroyed.”

At about this time I ran into one lifelong Poison insider at a Florida social event. Upon recognizing me, the guy quickly took a physical stance as if he was going to take a swing at me. I approached him boldly, grabbed him by the hair and pulled his face towards my mouth. “I love you, man,” I whispered in his ear. His scowl disappeared quickly and his typical lovable smile returned. I hugged him and we went on our respective ways.

Promoting A Shot of Poison on a
morning radio talk show in 2010.

Immediately upon its release, A Shot of Poison began receiving many favorable reviews from book buyers and critics. I realize nothing in life is unanimous. And I certainly had more than a few detractors, including several (now) former friends, colleagues and media personalities. In fact, one reader commented on that my book “sucked so bad” he wanted to punch me in the face. Another Amazon customer / reviewer referred to me personally as a "pathetic loser." And one member of my own family found A Shot of Poison to be so vulgar and offensive that after skimming just a few pages, she ripped it to shreds and threw it in the trash. However, even some of the staunchest Poison supporters — fans who initially threatened to boycott my book, bought it and — loved it! I soon found myself doing on-air radio and television interviews in which I was not treated as a foul-mouthed rock and roll snitch, but as a knowledgeable music biz insider.

I remember walking into an Orlando, Florida Barnes & Noble store for my first book signing event in April 2010. I was taken aback to discover the store walls were covered with huge, full-color posters — of me! It was completely surreal.

I found the in-store book signing aspect of the promotional phase for A Shot of Poison to be particularly rewarding. As I traveled to various bookstores across the country, I not only had the opportunity to connect personally with Poison fans, but also to meet very young people who were less impressed by my rock and roll exploits and more interested in the fact that I was an author. It was refreshing to talk to kids with a genuine passion for reading and writing. As a result, in 2010, I signed many books to teens and pre-teens, encouraging them to stay in school, study diligently and achieve good grades. Holy cow, I’d become my father!

It was a privilege connecting with young
people while on my first book tour.

I nearly was rendered speechless at one point during my 2010 hometown in-store appearance. As I looked up from the signing table, I noticed a particular group of ladies filing one-by-one into the meet-and-greet area. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Here they were — practically the entire female hierarchy of Satellite High School’s Class of ‘81! I had enjoyed my high school experience tremendously, but I never really fit in with the “popular” crowd. So, to say the least, I was knocked out by these gals showing up to support me — especially after all of these years. Heck, I didn’t think they even knew who I was!

Up to now I’ve experienced no book-related fallout from Poison. I’ve not been shot nor has my house been bombed. But I’ve not yet received a congratulatory ice cream cake from the band either. Although I don’t see myself ever writing another book of that nature, A Shot of Poison does stand as a pretty compelling precursor to this story. And it offered me a plethora of valuable experiences.

Despite a public perception of success in 2010, I’d hit the wall in my personal life. And privately, I was living through some very dark days.

Promoting A Shot of Poison
at KXAN TV in Austin, TX.


Read C'MON! in it's entirety 

Copyright 2012 / 2016 Christopher Long

No comments:

Post a Comment