When: Oct. 25 at 8 p.m.
Where: Hard Rock Casino Vancouver
Tickets: starting at $69.50 at ticketmaster.ca
As Bret Michaels sees it, there are two defining moments — or “crossroads,” as he calls them — in his show business career.
The first occurred when he tried to buy a microphone stand.
“This was in ‘82 or ‘83,” said the 56-year-old singer. “Other band members wanted to give up, we’re struggling, we’re playing a basement in the winter in Pennsylvania. I was working as a maintenance guy at a resort at the time. I went up to the door of this Radio Shack, I could see the guy working, I knocked on the door, I said, ‘I’ve got the money,’ I showed him the money — I didn’t want him to think I was robbing the place ‘cos I’m a long-haired dude in a leather jacket standing in the cold — and he kept telling me ‘no.’ He refused to open the door. And I remember standing with my boots in the slush looking around this empty strip mall. And I said, ‘Nuh-uh. F*** this. I am packing my s*** up, I’m going to do what I need to do to get the money together to get the gas and I’m going to California and I’m going to play original music.’”
Michaels made good on his vow. He and his band moved out to the West Coast where they found success as Poison, a hard-rock band that stormed the Sunset Strip and produced hit singles such as Unskinny Bop and Every Rose Has Its Thorn.
Even with those calling cards, Michaels could have been consigned to the dustbin of hair-metal history. But he parlayed his talents into a second life as a reality-TV star, including such shows as Nashville Star, Rock of Love with Bret Michaels, and most recently Travel Channel’s Rock My RV.
But perhaps his most notorious (in hindsight) reality-TV turn came when he starred in the third season (2010) of Celebrity Apprentice with future president Donald J. Trump.
“When I won, he was extremely kind to my family,” Michaels said. “And his kids and I have raised a lot of money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for many years before I did Apprentice and up until right now. Politically I won’t speak on it but as a person I will say this, watching him on that show, he was a very very together businessman. He knew what he liked and what he didn’t like.”
Along with raising money for the Memphis research hospital, Michaels’ philanthropic efforts include the Bret Michaels Life Rocks Foundation, which raises money on tour stops to help people in the area. He’s also the inspiration for a contest, Dress Your Pet Like Bret. Post an image of yourself and your pet dressed as Michaels on Instagram and the picture that gets the most “likes” wins US$500 cash, and US$500 donated to their favourite pet charity.
His daughters, Jorja and Raine put the contest together. Raine recently won a Sports Illustrated contest on Instagram to appear in the magazine’s annual swimsuit issue, along with five other newcomers and returning models Kate Upton and Tyra Banks.
“As a dad, I’m extremely supportive and extremely protective,” he said. “But it’s a really awesome, classy magazine, and I spoke to everyone doing the filming and photography and everyone was a class act.”
He’s also written a song with Jorja, the title of which provides the name for his current tour, Unbroken. That song will on the set list when Michaels comes to the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver.
“I can’t wait,” said Michaels, who once owned a home in White Rock and has spent considerable time up here. “I still have the same passion and energy as the day I started. We’re playing all the Poison hits, we mix them up and put a little twist on them, and also bringing in the new hits, like songs I wrote for Rock of Love and Celebrity Apprentice. We make a party out of this from the moment people walk through the door.”
As for that sec