Bret Michaels is known nationally for his big hits and the big hair he sported as the singer of glam rock band Poison. More recently, his reality TV appearances on VH1's Rock of Love, and The Apprentice, have brought him to the attention of people who couldn't sing a single lyric from "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."
Michaels has made Scottsdale his home base since then, and when he suffered a brain subarachnoid hemorrhage and it was discovered he had a hole in his heart (you'd never guess, considering how nice he was to some of the most annoying contestants on Rock of Love) and the doctors at nearby St. Joesph's Barrows Neurological Institute saved his life. Since then the singer has been a part of numerous charity and fundraising events including his Life Rocks Foundation Super Concert and Charity Auction that will take place Saturday, December 1, at Celebrity Theatre.
Up on the Sun: What can fans expect to see at the Life Rocks Foundation Super Concert and Charity Auction on Saturday?
Bret Michaels: First and foremost; it's a concert, it's a lot of fun. It's a solo show and we'll be mixing it up and doing this with Rocks Foundation, which is my charity, and all that money in return will go right back in to Phoenix and Tucson. It's a concert event and there are a lot of items that are very cool to purchase.
We bring people on stage who have already prepaid on a guitar and then they come onstage and get the guitar and play "Nothin' but a Good Time." Then, I'll be playing "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" and they get to come up and do a song with us and then we do live karaoke and people can pay to get up and sing a song. People can buy cowboy hats from the stage and we have different items from celebrities. I don't want to make any long-winded speeches; it's just gonna be a lot of fun and a lot of good music and people having a great time. That's the spirit of what it's all about.
You're really starting to be recognized for your local philanthropy and being a Scottsdale resident. What do you love about the Valley and what made you get involved in the community?
I spend a lot of time here and have played here a lot, but I fell in love with the desert when I was eager to leave Pittsburgh. When I turned 17, I got in my van and loaded up all my music gear and drove across the country with the guys who I would eventually start Poison with. I fell in love with the Southwest -- it's beautiful. I lived in California for a really long time, and then bought my permanent place in Scottsdale. [The treatments received for] the brain hemorrhage and the heart stuff at St. Joseph's Barrow's pretty much saved my life. Now, I'm able to rock and give back to the amazing people in the area.
What do you remember about the early days of music videos and shows like Dial MTV?
It was such an amazing time for me. Everything was so brand new and I remember [the video for] "Talk Dirty to Me" was shot for nothing. We had to bring in our friends just to put people in the building so we could play.It looks like every video from the 1980s was shot during sound check.
I think you're pretty much right, that was the extend of our budget.
When you think of Bret Michaels these days the first thing you think of isn't Poison. How have you been able to establish yourself as a solo artist?
If you're around me everyday, I'm just one of those guys who -- even [when I'm] shooting on the set of this RV show I'm doing -- I literally have my guitars on the set and I sit down and I play music. It's still fun for me and anyone around me knows that. I think that we got to a point with Poison that the others guys wanted to tour a couple months out of the year, and for me, this is what I like to do so. I do it as much as I can, year round.
Between the success Poison had in the '80s and Rock of Love, are there different generations of fans now?
I've been fortunate to have three generations of fans. I look back to the music that I grew up listening to, like Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and those bands are still around. [It's] now classic rock. You hope that you're around long enough to still go out and play venues and have a great time. I think for most of us, regardless of if you still play big places, smaller places, or whatever -- if you still love what you're doing, that's an awesome thing. It's been 26 years for me and that's a great feeling.
Bret Michaels is scheduled to perform Saturday, December 1, at Celebrity Theatre.