Also Credited As:Brett Michaels, Bret Michael Sychak
|Actor, Director, Producer, Writer, Editor, Music|
|Bret Michael Sychak on March 15, 1963 in Butler, Pennsylvania, USA|
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Born on March 15, 1963 in Butler, PA, Michaels' family relocated from Butler to Mechanicsburg, where the young man performed in a few bands before forming the group Paris in 1984. The band moved from Harrisburg to Los Angeles, renaming themselves Poison after hearing a group of angry parents protesting that rock music was poisoning their children. They toured the local club scene, gaining a large following, thanks to raucous live performances fueled by their hard-partying reputation. The heavily made-up band - complete with lipstick and eyeshadow - signed a recording deal with Enigma Records in 1986 and released their debut album Look What the Cat Dragged In, which featured their first hit "Talk Dirty to Me." The record went on to sell over two million copies. Their next effort, Open Up and Say Ahh! propelled Michaels and the band into the limelight, thanks to their most recognized hit, the ballad "Every Rose Has its Thorn." By the end of the 1980s, Poison had become a top-selling band featured heavily in MTV's video rotation.
Despite the band's success, the situation behind the scenes began to deteriorate. Michaels and lead guitarist C.C. DeVille came to blows backstage during the 1991 "MTV Video Music Awards" because of the latter's obviously bad onstage performance, a result of his cocaine and alcohol problems. The band replaced DeVille with two other guitarists of little consequence and soldiered on, though they never duplicated their previous success. While recording their sixth album, Crack A Smile, Michaels suffered multiple injuries, including several broken bones and missing teeth, after he crashed his Ferrari into a telephone pole in Burbank in 1994. The near-fatal collision put the album on hold until 1996, and then went on to only sell a million copies worldwide. By then, the band's decline was in full evidence.
Meanwhile, Michaels ventured into other avenues, notably filmmaking. He joined actor Charlie Sheen to make "A Letter From Death Row" (1998), writing, directing and starring in the low-budget thriller about an innocent man writing about his life on death row. Michaels directed Sheen again in the made-for-TV movie "No Code of Conduct" (USA Network, 1998), a crime thriller about two undercover cops trying to crack a Ph nix drug ring while battling the city's crooked politicians. Michaels continued to work with Poison, finally going on tour in 1999 to support the band's Greatest Hits album, a tour that featured a rejuvenated DeVille. The band enhanced its newfound popularity after taking part in an episode of VH1's "Behind the Music" (1997-2006), which highlighted their well-known partying lifestyle. After a successful reunion tour, Poison hit the skids again with Hollyweird, a mess of an album that was panned by fans and critics alike. Meanwhile, Michaels made more headlines, thanks to a sex tape with Pamela Anderson that made the Internet and DVD rounds before he successfully stopped continued distribution.
Taking another path, in 2007, Michaels became the latest celebrity to land a reality show, starring in "Rock of Love With Bret Michaels" (VH1, 2007-09), a "Bachelor"-esque style competition for the big-haired crowd that pitted a group of female suitors against each other in a series of challenges - including an album photo cover shoot and a phone sex competition - that ultimately determined which one could keep up with Michaels' notorious lifestyle. Michaels picked the eventual winner, Jes, from two finalists, but she obviously felt otherwise and said he had better chemistry with runner-up Heather. The show was renewed for a second season that aired in January 2008, but ran into problems when the owner of the mansion, Ray Sahranavard, filed a breach of contract lawsuit against both the producers and Michaels, claiming they failed to purchase insurance and caused over $380,000 in damage to his property. So for the third season, the show transformed into "Rock of Love Bus with Bret Michaels," where 23 contestants followed Michaels around on a tour bus.
Continuing to make music with Poison, Michaels and the band put in a special appearance at the 63rd Tony Awards in June 2009. After performing "Nothin' But a Good Time" with Rock of Ages, the band made a quick retreat to the back of the stage to make room for a rather large stage prop that was descending from the rafters. But Michaels hung out in the middle of the stage a bit too long to blow kisses and soak up cheers. When he turned to join his band mates, the backdrop came down on his head, knocking him onto his backside and flattening his face. Though relatively okay, Michaels suffered a fractured nose and split lip that required three stitches. Handling the injury and embarrassment with good humor, Michaels hit the road along with Def Leppard and Cheap Trick on a 42-city tour just a couple of weeks later.
Back on the small screen, the glam rocker appeared alongside the likes of Sharon Osbourne, Darryl Strawberry, disgraced former governor Rod Blagojevich, and Sinbad for the 2010 season of "Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 2004- ). During the run of the popular show, Michaels was suddenly rushed to the hospital on April 22, 2010 after complaining of a severe headache. He was diagnosed as having suffered a "massive subarachnoid hemorrhage" (bleeding at the base of his brain stem) and was said to be in critical condition. After a seemingly miraculous recovery wherein he was able to leave the hospital earlier than expected, plan to appear on the "Apprentice" finale, and give an interview to Oprah, he was suddenly rushed back to the hospital a month later; this time after complaining of numbness on the left side of his body. Doctors called the event a "warning stroke" and diagnosed the rocker with a hole in the heart that was likely unrelated to the brain hemorrhage. On a better note, Michaels not only attended the live "Apprentice" finale that pitted him against actress Holly Robinson-Peete, but was hired by Trump, winning the competition.