Volume 97, Issue 2
Thursday, May 29, 2003

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Poison frontman is a true American Rock Star

By Megan O'Toole
Gazette Staff

He's been featured in Playgirl Magazine's "Ten Sexiest Rock Stars" compilation – multiple times.

He wrote, directed and executive produced A Letter From Death Row in 1998.

He dated the one and only Pamela Anderson.

He crashed his Ferrari into a telephone pole and broke his ribs, nose and hand in 1994.

Sound familiar yet?

For almost two decades, Bret Michaels has been in the spotlight as the frontman of hair metal favorites Poison. Now, he's beginning to gain independence as a solo artist: Michaels's latest album, Songs of Life, hit stores just last week. But what does this mean for Michaels' other love child – the band he's fronted since 1986?

"I have no intention of leaving Poison," Michaels states with assurance. "After 18 years and nine records, these guys are still my best friends."

Michaels currently manages and operates his own record label (Poor Boy Records), through which he releases his solo work. Poison, on the other hand, is signed to Capitol Records.

"With Poison, for all these years, we've been in charge of our career. We've always been our own label through Capitol," Michaels explains. "They were able to throw big record money behind us, and they took the [financial] risk. But we made the decisions."

In addition to managing Poor Boy, Michaels is also working on a new reality show with VH1. American Rock Star promises to steer new, talented rock bands in the right direction.

"It's completely different from American Idol," Michaels is quick to point out. "[Idol] gives pop artists a chance, but American Rock Star is not about tracking or lip synching. It's about a band being recognized for who and what they are. I hope [the contestants] are able to discover that you have to work really hard and pay your dues before you get famous."

Currently, Poison is touring with Vince Neil and Skid Row. Yet Michaels holds that their music is constantly evolving – and it's evolving on its own terms.

"I'm living in the here and now," Michaels states. "I look at Skid Row and I see guys who are putting out good, current music. I've known Vince Neil for a long time and I've always liked what he does.

"I can never change what someone thinks; I can only do what's true to me," Michaels adds. "We've been given praise and we've also been beaten about the knees by critics. You can't please everyone all the time."

As Michaels unapologetically moves forward with his career, he will simultaneously break away from a piece of his past: the guitar he used to record the Poison hit "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" is being inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame this Saturday.

"It's a rose and a thorn, a little bittersweet," Michaels says of the honor. "I'm totally psyched that it's going to be a part of rock 'n' roll history, but at the same time it's a guitar that's close to me. I'll be sad to see it go."


Poison, Skid Row and Vince Neil rock the Forest City on Aug. 19 with a show at the John Labbatt Centre. Tickets are available through www.ticketmaster.ca.


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2002 THE GAZETTE