♦ July 28, Ridgefest Reloaded Festival; gates open 4 p.m.
♦ Freedom Park, 6252 W. Birmingham, Chicago Ridge
♦ Tickets, $20-$25
♦ Visit chicagoridge.org
Updated: July 25, 2012 5:52PM
This is Bret Michaels’ encore.
The 49-year-old lead singer of Poison almost died last year from a brain hemorrhage, which is why he’s not taking a minute of the Poison/Def Leppard tour for granted.
“All my life, I’ve been a Type 1 diabetic,” says Michaels. “I’ve always taken life day by day.”
“A brain hemorrhage puts it all in a deeper perspective. I’m one of those guys hit by lightning. I see the big picture. Everything is in perspective now. Let’s just say I’m the kind of guy who knows how to enjoy the moment.”
He will never be too old to rock. His “Get Your Rock On” solo album hits stores in September.
“So many greats are on it from Van Halen to Lil Jon, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Loretta Lynn. It doesn’t just feel good to rock at this age. It feels better now.”
He marvels, “Most bands have a two-year success rate. By the third year, it’s sort of over. Here we are in Poison still together 26 years later.
“I’m playing arena shows with the band and Def Leppard, which blows my mind,” he says. “Then I’ve been on tour solo, too, just playing as Bret Michaels.”
Does it feel different to hit that stage now?
“I’m more fired up and more jacked up than I have ever been,” he says. “I can’t wait to get out on that stage and play. It’s magic time.”
Michaels has been diabetic since age 6. In the last few years, he had to deal with an emergency appendectomy, a brain hemorrhage and a hole in his heart.
“I feel really great. I’m about 90 percent back from the hemorrhage and the heart surgery. I feel better now than ever, but I still have a little further to do. I will be great,” he promises. “I’m a sweat-the-details guy. Being ill taught me a little more patience. Before I would be overly hyper. Now, I’m thinking, ‘Let’s just calm down.’ ”
He isn’t that calm on stage — and that’s also working for him.
“Part is my therapy is playing live. I can feel the immense amount of passion and thankfulness. I love what I do. It really puts life in perspective. I’m thankful for three generations of great fans.”
He says winning “The Celebrity Apprentice” two years ago was a bit of a life changer. “It was always such an amazing feeling to win. I always think in life passion supersedes everything. When you’re fighting for something real close to your heart, it works out for the best. I’m beyond honored to have won it.”
Michael has other business endeavors these days, including a brand-new line of guitars and rocking pet collars and accessories at PetSmart.
As a businessman, he says, “Don’t expect my kindness and respect for weakness. I’m very competitive in business in a non-throw-you-under-the-bus way.”
He recently released a line of pet accessories through PetSmart called Pets Rock. “My first image of me as a baby was with my German shepherd,” he says. “I always have a puppy or dog next to me and another one sitting on my shoulder. I love my dogs. They gave me unconditional love when I was sick. When I came home to recuperate, one of my therapy processes were my dogs. They knew I wasn’t feeling well. They just lay down beside me and refused to move.”
He designed the line of pet collars “to be fun and cool.”
“I was down on the ground with my dogs trying out collars on them like some mad scientist. I’ll only create what works.”
He’s still engaged to girlfriend Kristi Gibson and loves being with his kids.
“I’m in a happy place. I have a great family and my health. Life is really good.”
Big Picture News Inc.