Cecil Cornelius DeVille was born as Bruce Anthony Johannesson in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, New York. His interest in music grew after having seen The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show (he was 2 years old at the time). DeVille began playing the guitar at the age of 5 after purchasing a Japanese Telecaster copy for $US27. As his love of music grew, he began listening to bands such as Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Aerosmith, Van Halen, and Cheap Trick.
At the age of 18, DeVille formed the band Lace in New York, which adopted a highly sexual, "glam" image. It was during this time period that DeVille began writing the song "Talk Dirty To Me", which would later appear on Poison's first record.
DeVille began studying music theory at New York University, but never completed his studies. Instead, he moved to Los Angeles in 1981 and played in various bands, including Screaming Mimi, Lace Slip, St James and Roxx Regime, before auditioning for Poison.
DeVille's audition impressed drummer Rikki Rockett and bassist Bobby Dall, but angered vocalist Bret Michaels. DeVille refused to play the songs that had been given to him as preparation, and instead jammed with a guitar riff he had written. The riff, which would eventually be featured in the Poison single "Talk Dirty to Me", would ultimately launch the band's career.
C.C. DeVille during Poison's heyday.
C.C. DeVille during Poison's heyday.
DeVille co-wrote Poison's debut album, Look What the Cat Dragged In with vocalist Michaels, which was released on May 16, 1986. It included three hits, "Talk Dirty to Me," "I Want Action," and "I Won't Forget You." Sales for the album topped 2 million copies. DeVille also wrote much of the material for Poison's second album, Open Up And Say...Ahh!, which was released on May 21, 1988 (see 1988 in music) would ultimately go on to sell 8 million copies worldwide. It included the hit song "Nothin' But A Good Time", co-written by DeVille.
In 1990, DeVille performed lead guitar on the smash hit Warrant song "Cherry Pie". A significant growth in DeVille's songwriting prowess and musicianship also became evident on the Poison record Flesh and Blood, released in the same year. However, by this time, it had also become apparent that DeVille had a problem with cocaine and alcohol. Resulting frictions with Michaels led to DeVille leaving the band for an extended period.
During his absence from Poison, DeVille performed on the Son-In-Law soundtrack, under the name of The C.C. DeVille Experience. He also played in the Los Angeles band Needle Park.
In 1998 DeVille (along with bass player Krys Baratto and drummer Francis Ruiz) formed the band Samantha 7. The band's name was inspired by elementary school teacher Samantha Severn, upon whom DeVille had a childhood crush. The band played at Woodstock 1999 and released their self-titled debut album in 2000 on Columbia Records.
In 2001, C.C. DeVille provided the inspiration for C.C. Banana, an improv comic who impersonated DeVille while dressed in a large yellow banana costume. C.C. Banana has since gone on to have a career of his own by interviewing and harassing other rock stars and celebrities.
DeVille has remained in the public eye during the 2000s, he appeared on VH1's reality television show The Surreal Life in March 2006, the same day he got out of rehab. DeVille recently tasted Billboard chart success with the Poison release The Best Of Poison: 20 Years Of Rock which charted at #17; the compilation celebrates Poison's 20th anniversary, a large United States tour followed the release.
Most recently, C.C. played as a guest on a Motörhead's song "God Was Never On Your Side" from their latest album Kiss of Death. DeVille played lead guitar on the track.
C.C. guest-starred as Ashley Davies' rich, rock-star father, Raife Davies, on the new television series, South of Nowhere. Raife Davies was killed in a car accident in the series' second season premier. South of Nowhere currently airs on The N.
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