Jeff Pack
Staff Writer

There’s a lot more to Bret Michaels than one might guess if they have only been exposed to his wild life as the 1980s Poison frontman.

During a phone interview with the multi-platinum selling musician, the winding conversation covered everything from family, to veterans, to his charitable foundation and activities.

First and foremost, he talked about music and his continued passion for creating.

“I still play it with the same passion as the day I started in my, let’s just say this soaking wet indoor, outdoor carpeting, basement in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, the metropolis of Mechanicsburg,” Michaels said. “In my basement standing there with the wet the carpets, like damp from the sump pump not working and just jamming and playing in that with that excitement to sitting here speaking with you, truthfully, no bull—-, it’s still there. Attitude and gratitude and positive attitude is my thing. 

“I still get up with that fight of wanting to make it better and make new music like I just did with ‘Unbroken.’”

He wrote the song with his youngest daughter, Jorja, who shares her father’s passion for music and attends a school for music and the arts. 

In the video for the song, Michaels explains that the song is about “triumph over tragedy.”

That theme and title of the song have inspired the Unbroken World Tour which will stop at Pechanga Resort Casino on Saturday, Nov. 30, with special guest Warrant. 

Michaels said he’s endured much over the past three decades as an artist and embraces all of it.

“You’ve got to have, to do this for one year, let alone 30, the one thing you’ve got to possess is the ability to have nerves of steel and let (expletive) slide off your back,” he said. “Because if you let that bitterness take over, and I’m saying from the ups and downs, all of it, you still got to keep your eyes on the music, which is the prize in the end. That’s what I love to do.”

Michaels said the Unbroken World Tour kicked off in January and it’s been a blast ever since. 

“It’s an incredible, not just concert, it’s a party,” Michaels said. “Like when people come in, I even cherry-pick out the music for people coming in to listen to. Even up at the merge booth, I brought my cousin and he’s a true Purple Heart Marine, but he greets everybody that’s buying stuff. I want to make it a truly great experience and it’s always, always a party. Now we have three generations of fans singing, having a great time.”

Michaels said the concert will feature a good mix of material from his lengthy career. 

“I know I have not played that area a lot, so they’ll get to experience it and you know, it’ll be a good combination of all the Poison hits with a unique twist on them, but still sound like the song,” he said. “And then mixing that with some of the new Bret Michaels material and then some of the cover stuff that I did on ‘Jammin’ With Friends.’”

During the concert, Michaels said he likes to honor first responders and veterans. 

“I want to make sure I’m very clear about there being zero political message, that’s just not my thing,” he said. “I bring all the vets up, everybody, the first responders, utility workers, we bring them up on stage and on them during ‘Something to Believe In.’ We do it really cool, we break the song down in the middle, everyone lights to place up and just tell them thank you for the freedoms that we get. And that way it’s done in just the good spirit and celebration it’s supposed to be.

“I come from a family of all veterans, including my father, who I just recently lost was a Navy vet and again, it’s just to thank them for the freedoms that were allowed and make it a celebration.”

Bret Michaels pulls veterans up on stage during some of his performances to honor their service to the country. (Courtesy photo)

Michaels’ commitment to community and dedication to helping others has earned him recognition recently and he will receive the Humanitarian of the Year Award at the 88th annual Hollywood Christmas Parade on Dec. 1. 

Hosted by Erik Estrada, Laura McKenzie, Dean Cain, and Montel Williams, with special co-host Elizabeth Stanton, the parade will be shown as a two-hour special on The CW Network at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13. 

As a lifelong Type 1 diabetic, Michaels in the midst of serving as spokesperson for this month’s National Diabetes Month.

And after suffering a life-threatening hemorrhage in 2010, he credited the  Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz. with saving his life. As a thank you, he rebuilt and modernized the hospitality suite so families and children could be more comfortable. He is in the process of rebuilding it again. 

The Bret Michaels’ Life Rocks Foundation benefits everything from childhood cancer to diabetes to military support and pet charities.

He said he learned the value of generosity at a very early age from his parents. 

“I’m a loyal guy and I’m continual, I’ve been doing it since the beginning of our career and being myself being a lifelong Type 1 diabetic it started when I was young, my parents helped to make one of the first diabetic camps,” he said. “I noticed this. They had such a good heart. It’s a lot of work, in other words, you’ve got to make an effort and I do. Mine is a dollar in dollar out and no, zero administration fee.

“Mine’s boutique, I can go in and say we’re going to send these six kids to diabetic camp. We’re going to donate this to this organization and this is going to go to veterans, this will go to St. Jude’s. I think why people believe in what I’m doing is they actually, physically see the results. You see a face, the price that was paid, here’s where the money went and then we make sure they make a comment, so it’s real.”

Michaels readily admits that giving back makes him feel good. 

Bret Michaels’ Life Rocks Foundation benefits everything from childhood cancer to diabetes to military support and pet charities as a dollar-for-dollar charity foundation.

“There’s a completeness to it,” he said. “Doing something that is good. I say this always, it can’t hurt for that good karma, good vibe, good spirit to pay it forward. And that’s the reason I do it.

“I’m extremely grateful for what I’ve gotten to do, which is to play music, to travel, to get to do crazy reality shows, all of it comes with a lot of hard work, but I feel blessed that I’m still getting to do what I love to do.”

Michaels said that early in his career, doing work with nonprofits and charities never made a blip in the story of his young rock career. 

“People never even talked about that stuff, you would go to talk to the rock press and no one cared,” he said. “Now I think since years ago winning ‘The Apprentice,’ it brought it to light. Sometimes something happens and it brings to light that I took all that money and donated it to the JDRF and to the ADA.”

As for music, Michaels won’t be putting his guitar down anytime soon and is enjoying where the music industry is headed. 

“I think today in the digital age, I love all of it, and I think it’s a blessing that a lot of the gatekeepers have gone away and now people are exposed to a lot of music they may not have gotten to listen to,” he said. “And I think that’s a good thing. I think it’s a great thing.”

Michaels also has advice for people getting into the business. 

“You sorta have to go into the music business or any kind of business that you’re going to, you’re going to bet on yourself,” he said. “You have to go in with an entrepreneurial spirit, meaning, it’s also good to make yourself smart about what you’re going to step into and meaning there’s no shame in ever being intelligent about what you choose to do. When and if you write a song, let the creative process be awesome, and then once you got something great you, you feel good about, then being able to take that out there. You have to realize that now you’re going to give away some of it, but it’s also going to build up people wanting to come to see you play music.”

Bret Michaels’ Unbroken World Tour with special guest, Warrant, will be performed at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30 inside the Pechanga Theater at Pechanga Resort Casino, 45000 Pechanga Parkway in Temecula.

Tickets start at $69 and are available at the theater’s box office, by calling (888) 810-8871 or at www.pechanga.com

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com