Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1 for 3 weeks) & Mainstream Rock (#11); 1988

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” which is just how a Harrisburg, PA band responded to pundits who claimed that rock ‘n’ roll was poisoning American kids. In response, the hard rockers chose the name “Poison” during a cross-country move to Los Angeles in the spring of ’84. Out West they scrambled to make living expense money, and watched their competitors get signed to major labels. Poison’s turn came in 1986. The following year Talk Dirty To Me – from debut album Look What The Cat Dragged In – burned a party trail to #9 on the Top 40. Next I Won’t Forget You hit #13, followed by two Top 15 tracks from Poison’s second album. For the third album, singer Brett Michaels and drummer Ricki Rockett began writing Every Rose Has Its Thorn in a down-and-dirty Dallas hotel laundry room. Inspired by a Brett’s disintegrating relationship with his girlfriend of the time, Rose rose to #1, the final chart topper of 1988.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Tom Werman

Lyrics Written by:

  • Bret Michaels
  • C.C. DeVille
  • Bobby Dall
  • Rikki Rockett


  • The music video for “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” won the award for Best Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Video at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards