Remember how every two-bit singer from Lionel Richie to the Mandrell Sisters insulted John Lennon's memory after his murder by beefing up their security as if to say, "My God, we could be next"? Made you want to sit those brow-moppers down and say, "Look, you robots will never mean to the world what a Beatle did, not even to a homicidal maniac, so go home to your families 'cause no one cares enough to send you a bullet bouquet."
That was a lifetime ago, before dot-com gawkers, celebrity stalkers, player haters and just plain haters. This week, when Em protégé Proof took an argument-settling bullet on Eight Mile, do we just accept it as an occupational hazard? The same when Em's other emissary Obie Trice got capped twice in the head last December? No.
That's why we're taking this "Poison Rocker Fears Hitman" story extra seriously. Sure, you've thought about murtelizin' Bret Michaels yourself every time "Unskinny Bop" comes on the radio. But really, you'd be just as happy seeing someone rip that bandanna off his head and expose his hair-farmer drought. Michaels is determined to extend the shelf life of this story (if you haven't heard, someone shot at Michaels again) beyond even Art Garfunkel's pathetic pot-bust media blitz of last year. It appears to be working. For the first time in 16 years, Poison has dented Billboard's Top 200 with The Best of Poison: 20 Years of Rock which debuted at No. 17. With a bullet? Well awwwwwllriight!
Just the facts, m'am
Six months ago, the victim was riding in his tour bus en route to an "invitation-only acoustic show" (read: quickie corporate gig) in Chicopee, Mass., at the Rumble Seat Bar and Grille. "Somebody" shot at the bus. Local police downplayed the seriousness of the incident, chalking it down to "a simple case of vandalism" since the weapon in question was a "pellet gun." But that didn't stop the victim from risking bodily harm for your listening pleasure when he uttered in his best Adam West deadpan: "It is going to take more than a cowardice act like this to make me stop performing or stop my tour!"
And a few weeks ago, an honest-to-God bullet shattered the back window of Michaels' Mercedes while he was on his way to a radio interview. Cynics snorted that if your car has never been hit by a bullet in L.A. you're not getting out enough. But it gave the rest of us something to believe in someone wants Bret dead! Let's all get into the Bret mind-set and figure out who it is! It ain't nothing but a good time homicide, that is!
Here is a list of suspects in order of ascending probability:
Reunion shmmooonyun! He could still be holding a grudge for when Bret beat him up in front of Cindy Crawford after a 1992 MTV Video Awards performance when DeVille played a different song from the rest of the band. It's been thorn after humiliating thorn since then getting bounced from Poison, rehab, drunk driving, jail time and played seventh fiddle to Florence Henderson, Tawny Kitaen and the cast of Surreal Life 6. Now he makes an inaudible Sherman Hemsley seem like an extrovert.
Fall Out Boy
Take This To Your Grave, Bret Michaels. Poison is yesterday's arena rock, make way for Fall Out Boy, four guys from Wilmette, Ill., who don't fit the emo M.O. of standing around studying their Thom McCanns. Naw, they leap and fuss and rock, and will kill you if you ever try to bring hair metal back. Don't believe it? We didn't either until the lab unscrambled and analyzed the lyrics to FOB's recent smash "Sugar We're Going Down" and came up with:
I've been dying to tell you anything you want to hear/'Cause that's just who I am this week/Lie in the grass, next to the mausoleum
Lead vocalist Patrick Stump confirms what Bret wants to hear that someone indeed wants to kill him. The bit about the grass and the mausoleum are cultural references to the Dealey Plaza grassy knoll and TV's Dark Shadows. All of 21 years young, Stump has every right to believe that Michaels is way older than 43.
I'll be your number one with a bullet/A loaded God complex, cock it and pull it
Here lead vocalist Patrick Stump makes clear his intent of taking BM out of the world as surely as the man upstairs put him in. The thought of Poison reaching single digit figures on the chart would mean the average record buying age has risen to 38, which would spell the end of FOB's brief and glorious reign as a premier American Top 10 rock band. He continues:
Is this more than you bargained for yet?/Oh, don't mind me, I'm watching you two from the closet/Wishing to be the friction in your jeans/Isn't it messed up how I'm just dying to be him
Clearly the sexually confused Stump has clocked in a lot of hours watching the video of Pamela Anderson going down on Bret's manhood and realizes he'd be out of his league on that jungle gym. Schlubbish and with a slight paunch according to Rolling Stone, his anti-frontman antics will be relegated to Gen Y memory banks should sculpted abs, pecs, onstage cartwheels and fortysomething guys with effeminate voices ever return to style.
Any dear old friend of Jessica Fletcher
As viewers of Murder She Wrote know darn well, if you have any sort of history with the former substitute English teacher and famed mystery writer with a gift for solving crimes, you know she's got an infinite number of friends, nieces and nephews in Cabot Cove, Maine, that keep testing her murder IQ. If Bret is a dear old acquaintance, favorite pupil or distant relation, he's as good as glam chowder.
Lead singer for Kix, the forerunners of Poison who went west only to have their entire stage act stolen by Bret and Poison. It was a bitter pill for Whiteman to swallow when the Kix formula of "less hair, less glamour and more songs about cold showers and blown fuses" failed to win them much support at MTV. Whiteman is sticking with his guns, playing in a local Baltimore band called Funny Money, and is said to be sporting less attractive bandannas.
Still the feyest band in the land, they will embark on a joint 20th anniversary tour with Poison this summer, and could be using inept gunplay to start an unlikely East vs. West Coast rivalry to sell tickets.
Not as outlandish as you might think since Bret Michaels made his film directorial debut while Suge was incarcerated with a little something called A Letter from Death Row. And you know how Suge is about intellectual property. Widely believed to have killed Biggie, he now could be making tracks for "wiggy."
Martin and Charlie Sheen
Maybe he's blackmailing them with the names of hookers, because to date the father and son team has gotten roped into starring in not one, but two Bret Michaels movies! Behind the scenes they must be frantic: "How many movies about guys in bandannas does this guy have in him?"
On second thought, let's go with the police's number one suspect in this case. Professor Plum. In the Jacuzzi. With a cattle prong.
Fall Out Boy appears Thursday, April 20, at the Palace of Auburn Hills, 4 Championship Dr., Auburn Hills; 248-377-0100. With All American Rejects and more.
Poison plays the DTE Energy Center this July.
Serene Dominic is a freelance writer. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org