Glam-Metal Meltdowns and Drug Disasters

Bret Michael's condition puts spotlight on 80s rockers lifestyle.

ByABC News
April 28, 2010, 8:34 AM

April 29, 2010— -- While Bret Michaels continues to fight for his life after suffering a brain hemorrhage and developing a condition that causes seizures, his rock star lifestyle has come under focus.

Amazingly, the rocker is conscious and talking slowly, his rep told People magazine Wednesday.

As the frontman for the 1980's glam-metal band Poison, Michaels hasn't been shy about his hard-partying, rock 'n' roll past. In a 2003 interview with VH1, he described a "menage a mess" from his Poison days, saying, "It was the drugs, the booze, doing the lines off [exotic dancers]."

Michaels was hardly the worst offender. The glam metal era of the 80s that emerged from Los Angeles' Sunset Strip and gave rise to Van Halen, Motley Crue and Guns and Roses was punctuated by stories of outlandish drug and alcohol use.

"The Los Angeles scene was just like Rome at its peak -- filled with debauchery," Rolling Stone assistant editor Andy Greene told "There were girls everywhere, drugs everywhere. It was the era of AIDS, and they were living like it wasn't."

Some, like Ratt guitarist Robbin Crosby, would go on to contract AIDS. Others died of drug overdoses. The ones who survived tell harrowing tales of near death experiences and irreversible brain damage.

For the most part, Michaels and the other members of Poison managed to avoid the pitfalls of their rock 'n' roll peers.

"Bret is a smart guy -- really sharp, very business savvy," Greene said. "That savvy-ness made him a survivor."

Michaels kept his band together while others were falling apart. Even after guitarist C.C. Deville developed a serious drug problem and left the group in 1991, he made a successful return in 1999.

"For a lot of these bands the drug abuse became worse after their careers faded in the 90s," Greene said. "They started to use heavy drugs. Poison was the exception. They stayed together and stayed popular."