My First Guitar Hero: C.C. DeVille
By Tyler Blue (@tylerblue)
80’s glam rock gets a bad rap and much of it deservedly so. If you look past all the superficial glitz, there was plenty of solid song writing to be appreciated. One of the best debut albums from that era was undoubtedly Poison’s Look What the Cat Dragged In. C’mon, how cool is that name? It was 1986 on the wings of the MTV video for “Talk Dirty to Me” when it seemed like glam rock became an overnight sensation. This song was the Trojan horse delivering this brazen, raunchy music into the collective consciousness. When it came on at the roller skating rink, euphoria would flood my entire being. Everything about it was catnip for my young, impressionable ears but nothing more so than C.C. DeVille’s signature guitar riff. This was the perfect example of the gravitational pull of rock when at its most simplistic.
The members of Poison were poster boys for carefree partying and how much fun it was to be a rock star. They all had cool names (could “Rocket” be the drummer’s real last name I wondered), but none more so than C.C. DeVille. In the 80’s, having initials as a first name was a recipe for success. He had spiked white hair, vaudevillian attire, was vertically challenged like me and played flashy BC Rich guitars. In the prehistoric time before the internet, we formulated our own opinions. Ignorance was bliss as it would later be said that, technically speaking, he was one of the worst guitarists out there. All I knew was that his riffs moved me and instigated rumblings in my pre-pubescent libido.
When the video for “I Won’t Forget You” came out, C.C. was elevated to mythical status in my mind. If the “Talk Dirty to Me” lick was meat and potatoes, the soulful, elegant intro to “I Won’t Forget You” was a strawberry soufflé. Soon I was asking my parents for guitar lessons. They rented me an Eddie Van Halen model Kramer – red with the white stripes – and the world was my oyster. Instead of being patient to learn the fundamentals, I immediately demanded that my teacher show me how to play the “Talk Dirty to Me” riff. Sixth fret, eighth fret, slide between the seventh and eighth fret. Other than learning the intro to “Beat It,” that was about as far as I got. I didn’t practice enough and my parents pulled the plug. This remains one of my biggest regrets until today.
My obsession with Poison and C.C. lingered through their amazing sophomore album, Open Up and Say Ahh. I even led a “band” through a lip-syncing performance of “Nothing but a Good Time” for my sixth grade talent show. However, their novelty was diluted by the popularity of Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Guns ‘n Roses and many more. Before long I would get into Led Zeppelin and start to understand what “real” rock ‘n roll was all about. I have no idea what became of C.C. and it doesn’t even matter. For a couple years there, he was the crème de la crème of six-string gods.