Singer/songwriter Bret Michaels has diabetes, but that has never stopped him.
On Thursday, Nov. 8 (November is Diabetes Awareness Month), at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, Michaels will be honored at the Diabetes Training Camp Foundation “Come Experience the Magic” benefit prior to his concert.
Throughout his career, Michaels, who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 6, has been one of the fiercest warriors for finding a cure for diabetes, and his philanthropy and active and powerful life is inspiring others living with (T1D).
He sat down with Press of Atlantic City’s Director of Entertainment Publications Scott Cronick and host of WOND Radio’s “Off the Press with Scott Cronick” to discuss his career, his struggles with diabetes and why he never lets it get him down.
Scott Cronick: Bret Michaels. Welcome to the show, brother. How are you?
Bret Michaels: Scott, I’m doing awesome, man. How are you doing today?
Cronick: You’re the guy who always seems like you’re doing awesome, man. That’s your life motto, right man? You just, you just ride the wind, right?
Michaels: Ride the wind. Even when I’m gettin’, let’s use the right word, getting beat around a few times … I still try to come up with a positive attitude and just keep pushing forward even when there’s a few moments it gets a little ... it can knock you down occasionally but you just get back up and feel blessed that I get to get out on the road and get to play music and do what I love to do.
Cronick: Bret Michaels is no stranger to Atlantic City, but this time he comes to Atlantic City with a little special message and a little special event going on. It’s the First Annual Diabetes Training Camp Foundation Benefit this Thursday (Nov. 8), an evening of show-stopping hors d’oeuvres, legendary drinks, superstar swag bag and a rockin’ auction. It’s happening from 6 to 8:30 (p.m.), where Bret will be honored at Daer Nightclub (at Hard Rock). And then after that is a Bret Michaels concert … at Sound Waves at 9 p.m. right downstairs from Daer.
Bret, before we dig into your music, this is kind of a special night for you. For those that don’t know, you were diagnosed with Type I diabetes at a very early age and it’s been something you lived with, obviously, ever since and as a rock star that can’t be easy, brother.
Michaels: Well, first of all, thank you for recognizing that and bringing it up. I got Type I Diabetes or T1D when I was 6 years old and being on the road and the craziness of travel and all that stuff, I just realized at a very young age that, until they find a cure, it is about management and that means … you want to enjoy your life, you wanna find that balance and, truly, that’s sort of what we’re combining here when we see you on Nov. 8 and … the Hard Rock, we wanna thank them for being so involved in this and everyone there, because it’s not just awareness and raising money to find a cure but it’s managing your lifestyle. And I said to a lot of people, you have to lead that by example and in my case, traveling all over the world, different cities, different places — sometimes I’m in, you know, I’m on the West Coast playing a show and the next day we’re playing in Florida then on to, you know, Dominican Republic … and then back, and it’s a crazy life and I love it, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but … if you want to sustain that you gotta make sure you can balance that as a diabetic, and be healthy, but at the same time enjoy your life. And that’s sort of what this concert … which we’re gonna put on an unbelievable great show, all the Poison hits, the new solo stuff and the solo hits, but also in honor of Diabetic Health Month in November. It’s an amazing feeling and show people you can live with this as a kid, on into your adulthood.
Cronick: And by the way tickets, and again every penny, thanks to Jim and Isabelle Allen and … Dr. Matthew Corcoran (diabetes specialist, founder and CEO of Diabetes Training Camp Foundation) … every penny raised will go to help diabetes research and to the Diabetes Foundation. They’re $150 each, $275 per couple. You can get those tickets at DiabetesTrainingCamp.com, and includes everything that we talked about. Now, you know, Bret, again, you know, when it comes to diabetes you have been a spokesperson for sure. I remember when you were on “ Celebrity Apprentice,” I’m pretty sure you raised well over $500,000 for the American Diabetes Association. That was your charity, right?
Michaels: Absolutely. And, you know what, for that, it was even quite a bit more because then we donated more and then we built the drink Trop-a-Rocka and donated more. Then, for my whole … or since my professional life playing music … I had the Life Rocks Foundation … and we sent a bunch of kids to my Training Camp … I feel grateful and I feel blessed but also leaving something amazing behind, especially in the Atlantic City area, you know, to able to do that, and Jim and Isabelle and everybody that’s involved. It’s just been such an amazing job.
Cronick: I guess this Training Camp, the whole idea of it is this one-week camp that they do and they’re gonna move it to South Jersey — it’s been in Pennsylvania, and they want to have one here as well. You’ve proven over the years, that even though you’re diagnosed with something that can be so life-altering as diabetes, it does not have to rule your life, right? I mean, you can do whatever you want to do.
Michaels: Absolutely. In other words, when you’re diagnosed with it you don’t say, “I’m gonna lead by example.” The first thing you try to do is to get it under control and find out what’s going on. It can be a blessing in certain ways because it causes you to go out there. You start to take better care of yourself. You find that balance and I think that’s what these camps are about. It’s finding you can maintain an unbelievably great lifestyle. It’s not going to stop you from living your life. And that’s the whole motto behind it and the reason I’m honored about being honored — it’s the way I’ve lived my life. I have not let it stop me. I’m still going out there. I race, I take my dirt bikes out, I race motocross, I got out and do sports, football, baseball. I have a great time with my daughters Raine and Jorja … it’s about going out there … and having a great time.
Cronick: (On Thursday) Bret will be there doing pictures and there’s a meet-and-greet, and all that kind of good stuff going on.
As you became, famous and touring and I’m sure that, you know, like any good guy who’s on the road you like to party a little bit. What were the biggest challenges, the biggest obstacles for you to have diabetes and to live this life?
Michaels: Two things. Number one … the truth of the matter is you want to be able to party, you want to have a great time. And sometimes it’s just enjoying yourself — the biggest obstacle is, without a doubt, is the travel, lack of sleep and the food changes — that’s number one. Especially if you’re in Europe and you’re going to different countries. You know, it’s not like you’re going from New Jersey into Pennsylvania. You’re going from Italy into Germany … then all of a sudden you land in Hong Kong and it’s a different atmosphere, then on to Australia. But here’s the thing ... wanting to have a great time ... I surrounded myself with great people, good friends that have also been able to keep an eye on me whether your blood sugars are running high, they’re running low. But they probably want to have a great time and wanna party, stay up all night. (And) there’s nothing wrong with it — there’s no sin in that. Where it is, as a diabetic, is making sure that your blood sugar is under control, you’re watching yourself or, even if you stumble, you get right back on and get your blood sugar back on track.
Cronick: I’m sure that you get honored all the time, but this one’s gotta feel a little special. It’s the first time they’re doing this kind of thing and it’s in the Hard Rock. I mean, you don’t get a cooler place. Atlantic City’s on a bit of a comeback, I don’t know if you’ve heard. But I gotta imagine coming to town to be a part of something, no matter how much you’ve done in your lifetime, things like this … it’s gotta be a little touching, right?
Michaels: It’s very touching, and when I say I’m honored, I really mean that. I’m a person that’s still extremely passionate about what I do, and grateful. And not only the concert, to be honored with this, to be able to meet some great, not just fans, but great people involved with the diabetes group and the fans coming down. And Atlantic City is resilient. I mean, the different things you go through — and I’m not talkin’ about just the storm and the nor’easter and Sandy — everything, to be able to have the resilience you’ve had there and the many years that I’ve had great times there growing up as a kid but (also) in my adulthood … then coming there and be honored with this, it’s always a great feeling. Like I said, I take nothing for granted. I feel, again, to go on that stage and be able to rock, meet people before the show and send some great people to Diabetic Training Camp, it’s gonna be amazing.
Cronick: I know you grew up, I’m a Pennsylvania boy as well. You grew up in, in western Pennsylvania — Pittsburgh — and I guess you certainly had to think about home after you saw those (recent) shootings in Pittsburgh, huh?
Michaels: Absolutely. In fact, immediately I put something out — thoughts and prayers, but also to be able to go back there and be able to do what we can when they’ll allow us to. It’s heartbreaking. I wish I could give you more words than that, but it’s horrific and, it’s just … the act is idiotic and my heart and soul goes out to obviously to the ones that passed, but to the families that will survive this … my heart and soul bleeds for them.
Cronick: I heard that you have a new song coming out with your daughter. Is that true?
Michaels: I do and that is true. And the song, talking about resilience, it, again, all of us have our own things that we go through in life both good and the battles, but she went through a rough spell and we wrote a lot, actually write a lot of music together. It’s therapeutic for her like it is me. This is my youngest daughter Jorja Bleu and we wrote this song together about being resilient and facing adversity and it’s simply called “Unbroken.” And I can’t wait for people to hear it and — we’re doing on the eighth at Hard Rock — the words behind this … it will really hit home for a lot of people.
Cronick: Is she gonna be with you on Thursday?
Michaels: No, no…
Cronick: Kind of a 2019 trilogy — you got a new CD, a DVD, a book. You wanna tell us a little bit about those things coming up?
Michaels: It’s just simply called, I call it the “digital trilogy” but the trilogy … the CD is called “Songs and Stories” … I should say the album but that’s the collection. And then it’s the videos of “Stories” with all the videos that go to these songs. And it’s the first time I’ve ever done this, it’s called “Pictures and Stories Volume I.” It’s the book. And it’s just pictures of the real proof, things I’ve gone through in my life. Moments of my life that are captured and what I was going through. So it’s like an autobiography but also has the proof that goes with it. It’s got great images of back in the day, now — it runs the whole gamut. And I’m a very self-deprecating guy … I hope people will enjoy the humor behind it as well (laughs).
Cronick: When you play a solo show like this, what can we expect? A little bit of mix of everything?
Michaels: You nailed it. It’s a mix of everything and what happens is — it’s energetic, it’s a party, it’s fun and even when we do “Something to Believe In” or “Every Rose,” it runs seamless. So with a solo show, it’s an absolute great vibe from the minute they walk in. I want people to not only feel great during the show, but before and after. Everything’s a party and we try to make people have an absolute great experience. And we play all the Poison hits, mix it with new solo hits and a couple great cover songs that we did on the new CD “Jammin’ with Friends.” When they go there they’ll know what I mean. And our crew’s handing guitar picks out, making people feel at home and it’s meant to be a big, energetic, fun night.
Cronick: You’ve been doing a little country stuff, like you did with your last album. Is “Unbroken” in that same vein or is it a little different when you write with your daughter?
Michaels: To me, it’s just a good song. It’s hard to describe it. It’s a really unique-sounding song. I’ve never been inside a box. So, in other words, you look at “Nothing But a Good Time” or “Talk Dirty to Me” and then all of a sudden we would have a song like “Every Rose”… that crossed over to pop, rock, Country. “Something to Believe In” did the same thing. You write a song and you try to marry the sound to what you want that to be … And that’s what it is — I just write the song to be great for what that song is. And, then it crosses over, that’s an amazing feeling.
All the years that we’ve been doing this … I’ve said this from the beginning of my career ‘til today … whether Poison, whether solo, no matter what, it takes a village and it takes a team. I know that people use that a lot, but it does, and I can’t thank you enough and the fans.
And when I say we’re gonna make this a party at the Hard Rock, it’s gonna be a party.
Cronick: I’m gonna give you the last word, brother.
Michaels: First of all, I just want to say to you, to everybody …I can’t thank you enough. I want them to know I’m passionate about what I do and I still love it to this day.
Cronick: Go to DiabetesTrainingCamp.com and check out Bret Michaels and help a great, great, great organization out this Thursday at Hard Rock. You won’t want to miss it.