In 2013, Bret Michaels is more than just an iconic glam rocker, reality TV star and bandana enthusiast — he's a brand.
The former Poison front man has a Snapple flavor, a line of guitars sold on HSN and a top-selling Pets Rock Collection of pet products sold at PetSmart, among other ventures. He even gives motivational speeches at business seminars.
And of course there's still the music. On Friday, he'll perform Poison hits and new material at the Palladium in St. Petersburg.
We talked with Michaels by phone a day after he was in San Francisco to present a veteran with a free home and play a benefit for Operation Homefront.
TBO: What was the better TV experience, “Celebrity Apprentice” or “Rock of Love?”
BRET MICHAELS: They're all completely different. “Rock of Love” is still VH1's most popular show, to this day. Each one showed a little part of my life and who I am, which was important to me. “The Apprentice” showed I wasn't just lucky, but I got things through hard work. If you can hit the lottery, God bless, but for me success came from a lot of hard work. “Rock My RV” (on Travel Channel) completely re-framed who I was. Nobody knew I was a mechanic, but I grew up in a small town fixing my own cars and bikes.
TBO: You almost died a few years ago from a brain aneurism. How are you now and how did that change things?
BM: With therapy and everything, I definitely feel like I'm at 100 percent, but realistically, I'm at least 90 percent back to normal. I had surgery on my brain, my heart and my appendix within a year and a half. It was a tough battle, but every time something got thrown my way, by the grace of God and good medical attention, I stayed on the right side of the dirt. Having two daughters really adds to your will to get through that kind of stuff.
TBO: People still love '80s rock, even younger people who didn't necessarily grow up with it. Why is that?
BM: Because it's good energy, good songs and good live shows. It feels like a community. We had a connection with the fans long before MTV even. It comes down to songs that are memorable. Our songs crossed genres into pop and country. We play the instruments for real and we put on a great show.
TBO: You're involved in a lot of ventures, and you keep touring. How do you have the energy?
BM: I've been diabetic since age 6. Back when I was diagnosed, 21 or 25 was a good life, so I thought 'I better get this in fast.' Even though I've doubled that, I still have the same mentality. I love creating stuff and seeing it through.
TBO: Do you have any particular memories of being on the road here in Tampa or in Florida in general?
BM: I prefer to live present day, but one of the best backstage parties ever was one of my birthdays at the Ice Palace in Tampa. We had everyone backstage. I even got to meet Jon Gruden.