Bret Michaels (born Bret Michael Sychak, March 15, 1963) is an American singer, best known as the lead vocalist of the glam metal band Poison. Besides his career as lead singer, he has several solo albums to his credit, as well as one chart single. He has also starred in the VH1 reality show Rock of Love with Bret Michaels and its sequels, and as a judge on the talent show Nashville Star. He is a contestant on NBC's reality show Celebrity Apprentice 3
Michaels was born Bret Michael Sychak, to Wally and Marjorie Sychak, in Butler, Pennsylvania. He has two sisters, Michelle and Nicole. At the age of six he fell ill, and during a three-week stay in the hospital, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Michaels began playing the guitar as a teenager. With drummer Rikki Rockett, base player Bobby Dall and guitarist Matt Smith, he formed the band Paris, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1983. After playing the Pennsylvania bar circuit, in early 1984 they moved to Los Angeles to seek fame on the Sunset Boulevard scene, eventually changing their name to Poison, and moved to Los Angeles. That same year he met 16-year-old Tracy Lewis, who would become both his girlfriend, and the muse for one of his most memorable songs. Eventually Matt Smith tired of the band's struggle to find fame, and returned home. He was replaced with C.C. DeVille, who would become both Michaels' friend and a source of conflict.
Local publicity about the band eventually led to a record deal with Enigma Records, and their first album, Look What the Cat Dragged In. It did not see great success until 1987, when Michaels convinced the band to film a video for their song, "Talk Dirty to Me", despite the fact that use of videos as a marketing tool was not as widespread a practice at the time. As a result, the album went platinum, and the band became famous. In March of that year, however, Michaels collapsed onstage due to his diabetes. Responding to rumors that he was a drug addict, he announced publicly that he was a diabetic.
1987 also saw the dissolution of his relationship with Lewis, who felt that fame had changed him. Though Michaels contends that Lewis was unfaithful to him, Lewis (now Lewis Crosby) insists that it was Michaels who was unfaithful. Michaels was inspired by the breakup to write "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", explaining that the rose represented his fame and success, whereas the loss of his relationship represented the thorn. The song was released as a power ballad single in December 1988, and is regarded as "the ultimate 80s anthem about heartbreak." The song is also cited as a contributing factor to the eventual end of Michaels' friendship with DeVille, who disliked the song. It is also cited by singer Dee Snider as a contributing cause of the end of the glam rock scene.
Throughout the early 1990s, Poison became one of the biggest glam metal bands in the world, recording other hit albums, such as the multi-platinum selling, Open Up and Say...Ahh!. However, their lives were characterized by the escalating tension between Michaels and DeVille that derived from their mutual drug use, which came to a head during their 1990 "Flesh and Blood" tour. Also cited is the spectacle of DeVille's behavior during the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards. After getting into a fistfight with Michaels, DeVille left the band, and descended further into addiction, as did Michaels, who, one night after partying, crashed his Ferrari into a telephone pole, incurring serious injury, including broken ribs, a disfigured nose, and lost teeth.
Michaels recorded his first solo album in 1998 A Letter from Death Row, the soundtrack to the same-titled movie he directed, wrote, and starred in. In 2003, he released the studio album Songs of Life which featured the singles "Raine" and "Bittersweet". Michaels also served as a judge during the 2005 season of reality television singing competition Nashville Star and released a country rock album in the same year called Freedom of Sound which featured the singles "Right Now, Right Here", "Open Road" and the hit single "All I Ever Needed" (featuring Jessica Andrews). Michaels released a best of album called Rock My World in June 2008 which featured music from his reality television series Rock of Love including the new singles "Go That Far" (Rock of Love theme), "Fallen" and "Start Again", the first 2 also featuring music videos with clips from the series and the album charted at #40 on the Billboard 200 and #4 on the Independent Albums. In December 2008 Bret released a single version of "Driven" (rock mix) which also featured a music video with preview clips for Rock of Love Bus and he also re released the "Fallen" single with acoustic, piano and demo versions included.
Michaels released a 30-minute DVD from (Time Life) in 2008 called Hard & Heavy Confidential featuring Bret Michaels which included acoustic versions of "All I Ever Needed", "Driven", "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" and "Something to Believe In", it also included in depth interviews. The DVD was included in the Hard & Heavy cd/dvd collection from (Time Life) advertised on TV by Bret Michaels. The same 4 acoustic performances were also released on CD which was titled "Bret Michaels Acoustic Sessions."
In 2010, Michaels released a new single called "Nothing to Lose" from his upcoming new studio album titled "Custom Built". The song featured the guest vocals of Miley Cyrus.
Rock of Love
In February 2007, the cable TV network VH1 announced that Michaels would star as the bachelor in the reality television dating competition series Rock of Love with Bret Michaels. Jes Rickleff was the winner of the first season of the series. However, she announced during the reunion show that she and Michaels were not right for each other and told runner-up Heather he was all hers and that he should have chosen Heather. The first season was released on DVD in early 2008.
Michaels went on to star in the second season of Rock of Love, which premiered on January 13, 2008. On April 13, 2008, Michaels selected Ambre Lake as his "Rock of Love".
A third season, Rock of Love Bus premiered on January 4, 2009. When asked about a fourth season of Rock of Love, Michaels said "Now they want me to come back for a fourth 'Rock of Love.' I feel that it should be something that changes up, but I still want that fun element. What you see is what you get with me.
Bret Michaels singing "Talk Dirty to Me" in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.
Michaels and actor Charlie Sheen established a film production company, Sheen/Michaels Entertainment, which produced the movie A Letter from Death Row (1998), which Michaels wrote, directed and starred in, and for which he released a soundtrack album. They also produced No Code of Conduct that same year, which Bret Michaels also directed and acted in. Their company also produced the feature film Free Money, starring Marlon Brando and Mira Sorvino, and the surfer movie In God's Hands in which Bret also had a small acting role.
Michaels appeared in the CBS sitcom Yes, Dear, Season 1, Episode 6, titled Greg's Big Day, first aired 6 November 2000.
On May 1, 2008, Michaels appeared on a special celebrity edition of Don't Forget the Lyrics!, on which he raised $200,000 to donate to charity.
In 2010, Michaels currently appears as a contestant on the NBC reality television series Celebrity Apprentice 3 on NBC.
In other media
Michaels was portrayed in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, which features him singing "Go That Far" and Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me".
Michaels and his band visited troops at Al Asad Air Base on October 6, 2007, while on a tour of U.S. bases in Iraq in support of Armed Forces Entertainment.[
The $140,000 he has earned as task manager on Celebrity Apprentice 3 goes to the charity he supports, the American Diabetes Association.
Michaels was involved with Pamela Anderson. An abridged version of an explicit sex tape the couple made appeared on the Internet in 1988 and was released on DVD on September 7, 2005, by Metro Studios.
Michaels has two daughters with Kristi Lynn Gibson. Raine Elizabeth Sychak was born in May 2000, and Jorja Bleu Sychak was born in May 2005. They live in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Michaels is a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League and the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League. He has a personalized guitar bearing the Steelers' logo, and played the national anthem at Three Rivers Stadium. His favorite player was Jack Lambert, and Michaels has been a member of fan club "Lambert's Lunatics."
On April 12, 2010, Michaels was rushed to the hospital after suffering intense stomach pains, and an emergency appendectomy was performed. On April 21 or April 22, 2010, (sources differ), Michaels was again rushed to the hospital, this time with an "excruciating" headache. Doctors discovered that he had suffered a massive subarachnoid hemorrhage. He was in critical condition, and while some reports suggested that his condition had stabilized, others later stated that this was premature. On April 28, Michael's representatives reported that he was conscious and speaking, albeit slowly, for the first time since he was hospitalized.
In a news conference on May 5, 2010, Dr. Joseph Zabramski said Michaels has been released from the hospital and that "He's just one of those lucky people" and that "he'll make a complete recovery".
Since being released from the hospital Michaels has stated that he is contemplating marriage with the mother of his two children with whom he has recently reconciled. In a May 5, 2010, interview he stated:
As painful as this experience has been, I was given a second chance, right? I don't want to sit around every night worrying this is going to happen again. What I want to do is make a positive bucket list and say, 'I'm just gonna go for it.' There's just so much more I want to do and experience.
[Getting married], for sure, is something I have never done. Kristi's such a great person. We'll see if that happens. But yes, that may be one of the big things on the list. My first goal is to get back (to) 100 per cent. I want to continue to rock the world, and I want to continue to love my family and be a good father.
More recent developments (May 20, 2010) according to his website,
Bret Michaels was readmitted to the hospital this week after suffering numbness on the left side of his body, predominately his face and hands which doctors described as a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or warning stroke. While MRI and CT scan tests were being conducted, Michaels also received a Doppler Ultrasound of his legs and lower abdomen looking for blood clots and most importantly an Ultrasound Bubble Test of his heart was conducted which proved positive for a Patent Forum Ovale (PFO), a hole in the heart. Dr. Zabramski (Bretís neurosurgeon), Dr. Becker (who ordered the test), Dr. Cook (who conducted the test) and Dr. Frey (Director, Outpatient Stroke Program) all confirmed the results.
Dr. Zabramski states "There is no doubt that the positive Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) is devastating news to Bret and his family. The good news is that it is operable and treatable and we think we may have diagnosed the problem that caused the Transient Ischemic Attach (TIA) or warning stroke; however we feel it is highly unlikely this is connected to the brain hemorrhage he suffered just a few weeks earlier. Once again it is great that he quickly reacted to the severe numbness and got to the hospital immediately."