How Bret Michaels turned fronting a rather mindless hair metal band into a multimedia career lasting nearly four decades is one of those mysteries that may never be solved. Belting out syrupy power ballads like "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" is one thing, but becoming a reality television star, screenwriter and director is quite another.
Speaking from his tour bus and in anticipation of Friday's show at the Allen Event Center, Michaels spoke about the role Dallas had in shaping his successful entertainment career.
In 2010, you suffered a brain hemorrhage and were diagnosed with a hole in your heart. How are you feeling these days? I feel great. To make a long story short, I've been a diabetic since I was 6. I was diagnosed with Type 1. I always seemed to manage it OK, but then I was playing a solo show at Billy Bob's. I thought I was feeling great, but when I went on to San Antonio, the domino affect hit. First, I had an appendectomy. Then two weeks later, I had this ridiculous brain hemorrhage. I started to feel better after that, but then I had to have heart surgery. I think I got it all out of my system and I feel great.
Do you feel lucky to still be performing? I feel really lucky and blessed. A large part of it is that I am a sports fanatic. When I am on the road, I am really active. I am either on my dirt bike or on my motorcycle having fun. And I think part of being diabetic might have been a blessing. It has actually helped me. As much as I love to party, I am also pretty disciplined in knowing that, realistically, my life is on the line. I am committed to being in the best shape of my life. Even though I have been through all of these things, I have been blessed with great medical attention and a great family.
Do you go through a different pre-concert routine these days? No, I get in there and warm up my throat. I like to do the sound check and get into the music right away. Whether it's solo or with a band, I have my iPod going and I just go out there and have a great time. Right before the show, probably about an hour before, I warm up my throat and get ready to do a great show.
Even though the upcoming show is part of a solo tour, how many Poison songs make their way into the set? I'm going to be playing all of the Poison hits, plus some solo songs, plus some cool cover songs. I have this whole new campaign with Pet Smart called the Pet Rock Collection. They are sponsoring the whole tour and that is awesome. There are the Poison songs, some stuff from Rock of Love and Celebrity Apprentice. I mix in these great songs that I love to cover. My new record is called Get Your Rock On. It is by Bret Michaels and Friends and it is everybody that I have ever jammed with or hung out with: people like Ace Frehley, Joe Perry, Michael Anthony from Van Halen, Loretta Lynn. I redid "Sweet Home Alabama" with the guys from Lynyrd Skynyrd and I gave it my own twist. It was a real honor to have all those great friends play on the record. It comes out June 12.
Who is in your current band? This is all solo guys. It's strange how this works for me. This band is all friends of mine from Virginia. These are all guys I met when I was in Poison. They were in a band called Epic and they were playing before we went on. I am one of those guys that likes to go out and see the other bands and hang out with the fans. I heard Epic playing, so I went up on stage and we played "Sweet Home Alabama," oddly enough. They became my buddies and now they are my solo band. We have a band environment, but it's still me getting to do whatever I want to do.
Your TV appearances are numerous. Is there any place you can't be seen? [Laughs] I just finished up Life as We Know It: Rock of Love for VH1 and we just did a Celebrity House Hunters. And I have a new show in the works. This is one of the funniest shows I have ever created. It comes out at the end of this year. It's called The Rocker and The Doctor. It answers every realistic approach to how to survive. It is beyond funny. When you see this show, you are going to love it. We take real-life situations that people have gone through and have survived. The people are loving it.
Has Dallas played a role in your career? It's amazing how many pivotal times in my life have happened in Dallas, Texas. I remember playing the Texxas Jam. I wrote "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" in a laundromat in Dallas waiting for my clothes to dry. I played a country bar. I actually convinced Poison to play a country bar back then. It was around 1987 and the country bar was called The Ritz. After we got done playing, I was waiting for my only pair of clothes I really had to wash and dry. This is no lie. I had been through a heartbreaking moment with my then girlfriend and I wrote that song about her.
Do you ever get tired of playing it? It's the exact opposite. I get excited because every time I do it, I refresh it. I just got to do it on the new record, with Loretta Lynn singing with and Joe Perry from Aerosmith playing guitar. I still get excited playing that song on stage.
Back in the laundromat, did you feel you had written something special? No, I was just heartbroken. I wrote it on an acoustic guitar. I went in the studio and recorded it just like I felt. You never know. When you write a song, nothing pops up and says that this song is magic. When I wrote it, it came from my heart and soul. We put it on the record. We didn't even try to go out with it until the third one from the album. The record company really didn't believe in it. It ended up being a No. 1 song. It was a rock and country station in Dallas that actually broke the song.
Bret Michaels performs with Aranda on Friday, May 4, at the Allen Event Center.