By Rick Coates
If a cat has nine lives then how many lives does Bret Michaels have? This past year has proven he has at least three, and if you toss in the car accident back in the mid-90s that nearly claimed his life, then Michaels is on life number four. But Michaels health issues are not over yet; after a year that has included an emergency appendectomy and a brain hemorrhage, he will have surgery next January as a result of a hole in his heart.
Michaels, the front man for the glam-rockers Poison from the hair band generation, is currently out touring in support of his new solo work Custom Built, released last week. He will make his way to Northern Michigan Thursday, performing at the Kewadin Casino in Sault Ste. Marie as part of the resorts 25th Anniversary Summer Celebration. Motley Crue front man Vince Neil will open the show.
For Michaels his medical issues coupled by winning Celebrity Apprentice and appearing on American Idol have made him a media darling. He has recently appeared on Oprah, The View, David Letterman and a host of other regional talk shows and radio programs.
He has maintained a torrid appearance and touring pace, performing almost nightly for the past two months. His tour will continue through the middle of October. Toss in a new reality TV show, Life As I know It, that will air this fall on VH-1 and the fact that he is considered among the top contenders to replace Simon Cowell on American Idol, Michaels may be the busiest person in show business.
Bret Michaels took time to answer a few questions for the Northern Express.
Northern Express: Your pace is pretty amazing considering your recent medical mishaps and the fact that your doctors have given you the go-ahead is even more amazing. How are you feeling as you approach the halfway point of your tour?
Bret Michaels: I am a little better than 80 percent right now and feeling great. The doctors asked me to take another month before hitting the road. But they saw my determination and desire and told me to go for it and said I need to do this and not do that. They also said if I start to feel sick just to walk off the stage immediately.
NE: You started the tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd and 38 Special but now you are on a headlining tour
Michaels: Those guys (Skynyrd/38 Special) have been friends of mine so it has been very therapeutic for me. Having them with me on the road as I eased back into this as I was only about 60 70% then really made a difference, they were so supportive. Plus, having my daughters has helped me. Now I am doing full-on sets of all the great Poison songs, as well as my new stuff from Custom Built and it is great rocking out for all the fans who also have been so supportive. I think if I was just sitting around all summer thinking poor me that would not have been a good thing. So touring and playing music has really helped me keep my mind off it all.
NE: On American Idol Simon suggested you would make a good replacement for him. What do you think?
Michaels: I was humbled by the suggestion. I think Simon is looking at it from a perspective that I am someone who has been around the industry for a long time. I agree with him. I think I would be a good fit. Not because I would try to be like him. Well not exactly like him, there is always going to be only one Simon Cowell. But in one way I will be like him because at the end of the day, Simon was in search of finding the best talent and thats what I would do; but, I would do it from a Bret Michaels approach. We will see if it works out.
NE: Winning Celebrity Apprentice just adds to this wild year you have been having.
Michaels: Yeah, I wanted to accomplish a couple of things. First of all, winning $250,000 for the American Diabetes Foundation was very important to me. I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 6. It was also important for me to show people that there is more to Bret Michaels than some wild bandana wearing guy who sings rock and roll. I feel that I proved to a lot of people that if you set your mind to accomplish something you can, no matter who you are. Just to have all of this happen and then to have the appendectomy and brain hemorrhage, it has just been a wild ride.
NE: Take us through both emergencies, because it all happened just a few days apart.
Michaels: Yeah, but they were not related to each other. it was just a coincidence. First with my appendix I thought I had the flu and that I would just tough it out and do my show that night. Well, just before I was to take the stage in San Antonio, doctors came on my tour bus and said they didnt think it was the flu and that I shouldnt go on stage. Well, it turns out they were right because after I had my appendix removed that night; doctors told me it probably would have ruptured on stage and I could have died.
NE: Okay, so you are just recovering from this and -- bam -- on April 21 you suffer a brain hemorrhage, the same thing that Gary Coleman had.
Michaels: That was sad about Gary. I was lucky I am among the 25% who survive this sort of thing. It was around 11 p.m. and it felt like someone had come up from behind me and cracked me upside the head. Imagine intensifying your worst migraine by 10 times. I just knew something was wrong. I felt paralyzed and when I got to the hospital I knew things were not good when the room went from two people to more than 10 doctors and medical staff. The one doctor asked me if I was a crack cocaine addict and of course I am not, I am diabetic. He told me well, you have blood at the base of your brain and you are in trouble. If you have kids you better get them here. Well, I made it through from the support and prayer of my family, friends and fans.
NE: You built your career on music, both in Poison and as a solo artist, so this new album has to be exciting for you, especially since it has come out with strong sales and a hit single with Miley Cyrus Nothing To Lose. How did you find time to record this?
Michaels: First of all I am very proud of this new CD. Custom Built is a reflection of where I am at not only as a musician but in life. I have a studio on my bus so that helped in the recording process.
NE: The CD has a lot of new material but you cover that Sublime song What I Got and some songs have a country music flair to them. Are you going country?
Michaels: I love that Sublime song and enjoy singing it at my shows. That song has stood the test of time and it is one of my favorite rock songs of all time. Sometimes we rockers get labeled and I really like a lot of music including country so you are going to hear everything from rock to country on this.
NE: I think you surprised a lot of your fans and Jimmy Buffett fans when you got up on stage with him in Detroit last month and sang Margaritaville. You need all the lyrics, not just the chorus.
Michaels: Who doesnt like Jimmy Buffett? That was an awesome experience.
NE: So you have cheated death more than once. do you look at life differently each day?
Michaels: Yeah, I tell people this: that even my bad days are also my good days.
Bret Michaels will perform at Kewadin Casino in Sault Ste. Marie on Thursday July 22. Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil will open the show. Both artists will perform the hits from their respective bands and both are touring in support of new CD. For additional information or to purchase tickets go to www.kewadin.com/entertainment or call them at 800-539-2346.