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Hair-metal heroes recall the Sunset Boulevard scene - and songs - that inspired 'Rock of Ages'
June 11, 2012

Bret Michaels, singer: "The Sunset Strip was its own world, and it was surreal. It was like a carnival in the street. There were rockers everywhere, and beautiful women. The streets were almost shut down because people were getting out of their cars and partying on the Strip. I watched it happen.

"I think Poison made such a big scene because, after our concerts, we had this big party that stayed right in the same room we were playing. It was pretty smart, because we loved doing what we were doing - but it wasn't easy. We were really struggling to get by. I would go up onstage, and whatever money we had left to eat, I thought, I'm going to buy a bunch of beer and stick it out on the stage, and hand it out to people. We made it a 'nothing but a good time' atmosphere.

"'Every Rose Has Its Thorn,' in the movie, is the emotional turning point of the film, which was great to see. But as the guy that wrote this song, it was a really amazing moment for me. I wrote this song in Dallas, Texas, at a laundromat, waiting for my clothes to dry, on tour. I had played a country-western bar that I talked Poison into playing - a cowboy bar, a honky-tonk in Dallas, and I'm not sure they were thrilled about it, but I loved it.

"I was waiting for my clothes to dry, and made a call on the pay phone, and it was, let's put it this way, a very heartbreaking moment for me. The rose was that I was out there making music. The thorn was my personal life took a complete crap. So -roses and thorns, you know what I mean?"

"Rock of Ages" songs: "Any Way You Want It," "Don't Stop Believin' "

Jonathan Cain, keyboards: "My first show on the Strip was the New York Dolls, featuring David Johansen all in drag at the Whiskey a Go Go. My brother and I looked at each other and went, 'What. The. Hell.' Everybody was wearing glitter, that was the big thing.

" 'Don't Stop Believin'‚ÄČ' really is from my days there [on the Strip]. I lived in Laurel Canyon from '72 to the '80s, and I watched that circus every night. I used to go to the Rainbow Room, I used to see Van Halen at Gazzari's, I saw Aerosmith play the Starwood. I remember those crazy days of the 'Hey, baby' record guys. When the WB in Warner Brothers stood for 'Where's the blow?'

"And I got to see the real seedy underbelly of the music business 'cause I played softball with a lot of these guys on Sunday afternoon. I was a struggling artist, I got dropped from Warner, so I sold stereos and just survived, and that's when my father called me and said, 'Don't stop believing,' and I wrote it down somewhere. I [later] found what I had written and said, 'This is a song!'

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