The Truth About Bret Michaels' Feud With Motley Crue

The word "drama" gets thrown about a bit too much too often these days, but we can't deny that it's a common occurrence in various music scenes. You can bet your bottom dollar it existed and continues to exist in the hair metal scene, even as the bands who repped the Sunset Strip back in the day are now (relatively) normal-looking dads and grandpas who still pick up their instruments and go on tour when the opportunity presents itself. And when it comes to rock 'n' roll drama, Poison — particularly lead singer Bret Michaels — and Mötley Crüe are no strangers to it.

You may be familiar with the tension within Poison when they fired guitarist Richie Kotzen for engaging in a relationship with drummer Rikki Rockett's then-fiancee. As for Mötley Crüe, the longtime bad boys of the Los Angeles rock scene have had a long feud with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. Bassist Nikki Sixx also has had his share of verbal jousts on social media with the members of Steel Panther (via Blabbermouth), though it's not like Sixx's comments have had much of an effect on the irreverent, controversial band. We are, however, here to talk about how Michaels had a feud of his own with the Crüe a little more than a decade ago. What was that feud about, and how were both sides able to iron out their differences?

Before the feud: Michaels didn't get the Crue's grunge direction with John Corabi

The first real hints of an impending beef between Poison (or Bret Michaels, to be exact) and Mötley Crüe came at some point in the mid-1990s, at which point both bands had long faded from relevance due to the rise of grunge and alternative rock. To their credit, Poison's 1993 release "Native Tongue" did quite well on the charts, and so did the Crüe's self-titled 1994 record. But while Michaels and company stayed fairly close to their roots, the Crüe opted for an uncharacteristic grunge-influenced sound with new vocalist John Corabi (pictured above, second from left) stepping in for Vince Neil, who was fired a few years prior. Or quit. Depends on whom you ask, really.

Michaels was one fellow musician who wasn't onboard with Mötley Crüe's new direction. He told Noisecreep in 2011 that Nikki Sixx once questioned why he wasn't taking control of his band's narrative by rebranding Poison as a harder-edged act that '90s kids might like. "What confused me about that time period was when Nikki said that Vince and I were kind of ridiculous," Michaels recalled. "Now these are his words, 'You and Vince are kind of the same — you don't really pick and choose your fans, you just kind of go out and play music.' Well, I thought that's what music was about. I didn't know I was supposed to decide which fan can like or not like my music."

The Crue rejected the idea of touring alongside Michaels and Poison in 2010

For the next 15-plus years, things between Poison and Mötley Crüe remained civil enough. However, when Bret Michaels told the audience at a Windsor, Ontario, concert in 2010 that he'll try to return to the city during a joint tour featuring his band and the Crüe, the Mötley men were taken aback by those comments. In response to the Poison frontman, Tenth Street Entertainment president Eric Sherman, whose company was managing Mötley Crüe at the time, told People that Michaels was "trying to will" a nonexistent tour into taking place. "Mötley will listen to the fans, not to guys trying to book a tour through the media," he added. Similarly, Tommy Lee emphatically told a Twitter user that there was no truth to the rumor of a 2011 tour featuring Poison and Mötley Crüe.

When quizzed by People about the issue, Michaels admitted that the tour was "simply a pipe dream" at that moment, albeit one that promised a fun, nostalgic time for the fans of both bands while also marking the 25th anniversary of Poison's classic lineup. "Oh well, you can't blame me for trying to put together what I thought would be a great tour for the fans," he said.

As it turned out, Michaels' dream came true, and the Poison-Mötley Crüe tour became official in 2011. But just as soon as the summer tour was announced, the latter band allegedly slagged the former for not being a very good or talented band, while also looking forward to the two groups touring together and giving the fans a good time (via Noisecreep). Talk about mixed messaging.

Michaels made an effort to squash the beef

What followed was a bit of back-and-forth drama from both sides. Bret Michaels told the Arizona Republic that Nikki Sixx apologized to him for dissing Poison, while Sixx insisted he really was telling Michaels that "I personally never had anything against you guys as a people but Motley just sorta thought you sucked as [a] band," as quoted by Noisecreep. Michaels then spoke to the latter outlet, telling the aforementioned story of how Sixx found him "ridiculous" for not choosing his own audience back in the mid-'90s, and explaining that just weeks before that interview, he and Sixx were hanging out, with the latter apologizing for his past negative remarks. "But then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I hear about him talking trash about us again," he lamented.

After stressing that he's never had any hard feelings against Sixx and that he was okay with Mötley Crüe closing all the shows, Michaels emphasized the importance of both bands putting their differences aside for the sake of the fans. "Poison and Mötley don't have to love each other," he said. "All we have to do is go out on the road and put on a great show and be professional."

Thankfully, the beef was quickly squashed. Both bands (along with fellow veterans Def Leppard and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts) were scheduled to go on tour in 2020, though as Blabbermouth noted, "The Stadium Tour" has been moved multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.