The C.C. DeVille Experience

There have been many great guitarists in the annals of rock music – Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Slash, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Stevie Ray Vaughan…the list goes on and on.

Of all the rock guitarists I’ve enjoyed listening to, the one I love the most is C.C. DeVille of the glam metal band Poison.

C.C. is not the best guitarist to ever pick up the instrument, but his style is distinctly his own. And I love that sound he creates.

C.C. Deville is a native of Brooklyn, New York and began studying guitar at the age of five. He studied music theory at New York University before quitting school and moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a rock guitarist – taking with him his song “Talk Dirty to Me” that would eventually be the second single on Poison’s debut album Look What the Cat Dragged In. It was the band’s first international hit and their first Top 40 hit in the U.S.

C.C. joined Poison in 1985. He beat out a number of other guitarists for the job, including Slash who would go on to be the lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses. Reportedly, C.C.’s audition impressed drummer Rikki Rockett and bassist Bobby Dall, but his insistence on playing his own songs rather than the ones the band had given him to prepare angered vocalist Bret Michaels.

There would be many ego clashes between Bret Michaels and C.C. over the years. Some sources state C.C. left Poison voluntarily in 1991, while others report that he was fired.

In 1993, Poison released their fourth album, Native Tongue, featuring C.C.’s replacement Richie Kotzen. Although a better guitarist than C.C. in terms of technique, Kotzen’s style marked a musical departure for Poison. I did not care for the album. It didn’t have the “Poison sound” that I had grown to love.

Kotzen was fired from Poison in November 1993 and replaced by Blues Saraceno. In 1996, Bret Michaels and C.C. DeVille patched up their hard feelings and C.C. was welcomed back into the band.

In addition to being my favorite guitarist for musical reasons, C.C. is also a favorite of mine because of his personality. He’s a real character. I really enjoyed getting to know C.C. via television when he appeared VH1’s The Surreal Life in 2006 and The Surreal Life: Fame Games in 2007.

During the heyday of Poison’s fame, C.C. and his bandmates were well known for their wild partying ways. C.C.’s drug use, particularly cocaine, is said to have paved the way for him being replaced by Kotzen.

I myself have had my battles with addiction. In my case it was alcohol. I’m happy to say I’m over six years sober myself, and C.C. has been sober since 2006. In 2007 he and girlfriend Shannon Malone welcomed the birth of their son Vallon.

Over the years I’ve had the chance to hang out with several of my musical idols, but I’ve never had the chance to even meet C.C. I have a feeling, though, that I would get along well with him. Like me, he’s a little bit crazy – but now clean and sober.

Poison hasn’t released and album since 2007, but they continue to tour. Since their 2020 stadium tour with Motley Crüe, Def Leppard, and Joan Jett was canceled due to President Trump’s disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic that has led to over 100,000 deaths, I am hoping C.C. and the boys consider using the time off the road to record some new music. I think all Poison fans would welcome a new album.

Peace. Love. Trust.

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