Bret Michaels has a mantra these days: “Every day above the ground is a great day. Even the bad days are good days.”
That’s because the veteran rocker and reality TV star came very close to being on the other side this year.
On April 12, before a solo concert in San Antonio, the Poison frontman — already a diabetic — was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Eleven days later, he suffered a near-fatal brain hemorrhage; he was released from the hospital on May 5, dubbed “one of those lucky people,” by his doctor, who predicted “a complete recovery.” But two weeks later he was back in the hospital after suffering a “warning stroke.” Tests found a hole in his heart, which will be operated on later this summer.
Michaels, however, views these episodes as “a bump in the road.”
“I’m thankful,” says the 47-year-old singer, who was born Bret Michael Sychak in Butler, Pa. “I’m one of the few lucky ones — as they say, the maybe 15 or 20 percent that will have a chance to not just live but make a pretty decent recovery.
“I just want to make sure that as much as this is a very traumatic thing to go through, I’m hoping the legacy I leave behind is that I’m a fighter, not that I had a brain hemorrhage.”
Michaels has, in fact, barely slowed down since his latest trip to the hospital. In the midst of his maladies he was Donald Trump’s choice as winner of this year’s “Celebrity Apprentice” show and appeared on the “American Idol” season finale. He’s bringing out a new album, “Custom Built,” on July 6 — featuring a duet with Miley Cyrus on the single “Nothing to Lose” and a country-flavored remake of the Poison hit “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” — and is preparing for a new VH1 reality show, “Bret Michaels: Life As I Know It,” this fall and the publication of an autobiography in November.
Michaels is also maintaining a full summer touring schedule, primarily with Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special, while Poison plans to be on the road in 2011 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its first album.
Given what he’s been through, you’d expect Michaels to be taking it easy right now, but he says that’s just not his way.
“My way of healing is making music, is going back on the road,” explains the unmarried father of two daughters, Jorja and Raine. “I spent almost two months in three different ICU units, right? If I never see the inside of a hospital again, it will be too soon for me. If I have a chance of healing all the way, I need to just be around people and stuff that I feel will help me best. I need to be out on the road and out with my family.”
After watching Michaels on stage at some early shows on the tour, Skynyrd frontman Johnny Van Zant feels that “he’s gonna be OK. We never counted him out. He’s a trouper, man. I was actually a little worried about it, but he came out and rocked the house. I was real proud of him.”
Michaels says singing “Sweet Home Alabama” and part of “Free Bird” onstage with Skynyrd in Houston was one of many moments that have marked his comeback from the health issues. But he adds that he’s been most touched by the support of fans during the past three months.
“I’m really thankful that so many people sent their well wishes and prayers and good vibes and just concern,” he says. “It really helped me a lot, just mentally and emotionally, to deal with it. Just let ’em know I’m not planning on going anywhere any time soon, OK?”
BRET MICHAELS performs with Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 24, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Clarkston. Tickets are $39.50-$59.50 pavilion, $25 lawn with a $99 lawn six-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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