The Poor played raw, driving rock'n'roll in the tradition of Oz pub-rock forebears AC/DC, Rose Tattoo and The Angels. The band started life as The Poor Boys in the Northern Territory capital of Darwin during 1988. The Poor Boys originally comprised Anthony Skene, Julian Grynglas, Matt Whitby and drummer Chris Risdale. The band picked up a loyal following in the watering holes around its home state, before coming to the attention of Oz rock veterans The Angels.
The Poor Boys impressed The Angels' drummer Brent Eccles so much that he became their manager. The band relocated to Sydney in 1991, toured the west coast of the USA with The Angels as part of the Wizards of Oz showcase, and signed an American deal with Epic Records. The Angels' Rick Brewster and Bob Spencer produced The Poor Boys' Australian debut CD EP for Sony/Columbia, the dirty, grungy Rude, Crude & Tattooed (June 1992). By that stage, James Young had taken over the drum position. The Poor Boys supported The Angels on their massive Tears You Apart national tour (July–August 1992), and a year later issued a second CD EP, Underfed. Under the direction of English producer Paul Northfield (Suicidal Tendencies), the band recorded its debut, full-length album, Who Cares? The Poor Boys supported American visitors Alice in Chains and Suicidal Tendencies on their joint Australian tour (October 1993).
In March 1994, The Poor Boys officially became The Poor due to an American outfit also called The Poor Boys. Three months later, The Poor crashed into the national Top 10 with the frantic CD single `More Wine Waiter Please'. Who Cares? made its debut at #4 on the national chart, the same week that one-time touring partners The Screaming Jets held down the #3 spot with their album Tear of Thought. The American release of Who Cares and `More Wine Waiter Please' (March 1994) was greeted with much fuss. `More Wine Waiter Please' was one of the most added tracks to US radio that month, and the rock press responded with raves like `a romping, stomping, foot-thumping, sweat soakin' good time', `ass-kicking rock and roll that breaks all barriers' and `the best hard rock song to come out in a long time'. The album made its debut on the Billboard rock chart at #38.
The Poor toured Australia, the USA, Europe and Japan, but the band was unable to maintain the chart success rate at home when the next CD single, `Poison', only managed a desultory #48 during September 1994. In early 1996, The Poor embarked on an international tour with AC/DC, which involved playing to over 750000 people across America. The band returned to Australia at the end of 1996 and laid plans to record a second, long-overdue album.
The Poor had been quiet on the Australian scene for over a year, then they promptly emerged as Australian tour supports to US visitors Van Halen (April 1998).