Clean, sober Michaels on Billings stage Friday

2012-12-28T00:00:00Z Clean, sober Michaels on Billings stage FridayBy Jaci Webb of The Billings Gazette Montana Standard
December 28, 2012 12:00 am  • 

It’s just after midnight Wednesday morning and Bret Michaels, of Poison fame, is doing what rock stars do at midnight — answering emails?

It’s rather bizarre to think of a rock star unwinding after a show by responding to inquiries from the media. Michaels has been a rocker for 33 years and battling with diabetes since he was 6. You don’t stay in the business that long by continuing to party during and after every show. He’s sober and articulate despite a grueling schedule with shows in Winnipeg and Edmonton, Canada, last week.

For those of you who were too young or too old to fist pump to Poison during their wild glam-rock shows at MetraPark during the 1980s, just know this — these guys loved spandex and drama.

During Poison’s “Flesh & Blood” tour in 1990-91, the tension between Michaels and guitarist C.C. DeVille escalated to the point that they got into a fistfight after Deville’s drug-fueled melt-down during the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards. DeVille left the band and Michaels almost killed himself by crashing his Ferrari a few years later after a night of partying.

Billings will see the clean and sober side of Michaels when his “Get Your Rock On” tour comes to Billings on Dec. 28 for a show at the Alberta Bair Theater. Tickets are $39.50 and $49.50 and are available at the ABT box office at 256-6052.

Michaels has a new album coming out in February featuring some unusual collaborations. How about Loretta Lynn, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, and Hugh McDonald of Bon Jovi revamping the Poison hit, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”? He’s also got the original Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington and current Skynyrd guitarist Rickey Medlocke reinventing the southern rock hit “Sweet Home Alabama.”

“It’s a collaboration of me and a bunch of my friends whose music I admire,” Michaels said. “I have some brand new songs, some of my favorite songs from my childhood, and some new versions of my favorite Poison songs.”

The album is appropriately titled, “Good Songs, Great Friends.”

Likewise, you can expect a mixed bag at Michaels’ live show.

“I do everything, the Poison hits, the solo songs, the theme songs to my TV shows, and covers of some of my favorite songs growing up,” Michaels said.

Michaels has lived almost as many lives as a cat, starting with a hospital stint when he was 6 when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. He almost died from his injuries in a car crash in the mid-1990s and again when he was struck in the head by a set piece at the 2009 Tony Awards, leading to a brain hemorrhage. Michaels views simply being alive and still performing cause for a celebration.

“My live show, especially after my health issues, is best described as a celebration of life. You leave your problems at the door because we’re gonna have a good time,” Michaels said.

He credits diabetes with giving him the gumption to keep going.

“I have never and will never let it get in my way. If anything it’s helped me live life to my fullest and taught me that I can survive and triumph anything as long as I’m focused,” he said.

Michaels is like the glam rock version of the Renaissance man, founding a film production company with Charlie Sheen and writing, directing and starring in the 1998 film “A Letter from Death Row.” Oh, and he also released the soundtrack album for the film. Then in 2010, he found a new friend — Donald Trump. Michaels won the 2010 NBC reality show, “Celebrity Apprentice 3” and now calls Don and his family close friends.

“Like myself, he is very driven and very focused,” Michaels said.

— Jaci Webb writes a weekly music column for Enjoy! in the Billings Gazette.

Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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